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5 Tips for Teaching Your Children What a REAL Hero Looks Like

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It can help them build up their own self-esteem and self-worth.

Mentors and role models, we all know, serve great value in our lives. They teach, inspire, excite and support us.

Sometimes, however, our culture’s obsession with celebrity and wealth can create an environment where children are choosing their heroes or role models based on status or power.

That’s why I wrote a book to help children identify positive role models who will empower them to be their best, The Hero Book: Learning Lessons from the People You Admire. We need to help children think about what makes their ‘heroes’ admirable; encourage them to seek out positive role models whose examples will provide positive guidance and empowerment; inspire them to emulate the traits and actions of those they admire; and strengthen their self-esteem by showing them all the admirable qualities they possess.

Here are some top tips on helping your children find positive role models:

1. Turn it upside down.

When you talk to your children about their heroes or role models, get them thinking first about the qualities and traits that they admire in people; that way, they’ll begin to view people through the lens of those qualities that they find inspiring.

2. Talk to your children about your role models, and, when you do, be sure to highlight WHY the person is your role model.

Mention the qualities that inspire you—like the person’s kindness, integrity, hard work and courage—so that your child can see that heroes might be well-known people, but can also be people who they see everyday who act in ways that inspire others.

3. Show them they are heroes too.

Once you’ve shown your children that people can be admired for their qualities and characteristics, it’s then easy to let them think about the great qualities that they possess—helping them to build their self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

4. Show them how they can learn from their role models.

Now that they’ve thought about the qualities they admire in others, who they choose as role models, and what they like about themselves, you can explain to them the best way to show you admire someone is to emulate the things you think are great. For example, if they admire someone for being kind, suggest they think of some kind things they can do. If they admire someone for being talented at a skill, have them think about a skill they want to be good at, and how they plan to practice and work hard to improve it.

5. Plan a HERO party and make it fun.

There’s a free parent’s guide that offers activities for planning a children’s party that inspires children to think about role models and celebrate the hero inside themselves.

 

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

Get Your Kids to Spring Clean With You

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It’s springtime, and many of us will be taking on spring cleaning tasks like washing the windows or deep cleaning our kitchen appliances. Many spring cleaning tasks involve heavy lifting and require stronger cleaning solutions than we use for our day-to-day chores, making them less than ideal for kids to help with. But there are some tasks that are suited to doing with your children, should you want to get them involved in your spring cleaning routine.

We take spring cleaning very seriously at Lifehacker. Far be it from us to let an opportunity to refresh, reorganize, and declutter our homes lives pass us by. We’re also pretty psyched to hit the reset button on our tech usage, take a close look at our finances, and give the heave-ho to the day-to-day habits that have gotten a little musty. Welcome to Spring Cleaning Week, wherein we clear the cobwebs of winter and set the stage for sunny days ahead. Let’s clean things up, shall we?

A few general tips to consider: First, take the time to clearly explain and/or demonstrate the task ahead. Sure, it will add a little time to the process, but it will also help them learn, and save you from having to do their work over. Speaking of doing the work over: Try to avoid that if you can so you don’t inadvertently send a message that their best wasn’t good enough. It’s also a great idea to get them dressed for the job at hand—have them wear old or sturdy clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty. And, of course, you’ll want to take into account the age and skill level of your child, as well as any other concerns like allergies or respiratory problems that may make it less than ideal for them to participate in a given task.

Washing the Car

It’s my personal opinion that washing a car is one of the most fun chores around and when the weather turns, it’s a great job to get the kids involved in.

Start with the interior and have them help sort through any trash and recycling that are cluttering up the car, take out any stuff like toys or a stray sneaker or books that need to be returned to their rightful home. Then, have the kids use a handheld vacuum to vacuum the seats and floors.

Once the interior is clean, the real fun can begin! Washing a car’s exterior isn’t rocket science, but there are a few best practices to know: Work from the top down; wash and dry the car in sections so that soap and water residue doesn’t dry onto the car as you work, leaving sudsy residue and water spots; use car wash soap instead of dish soap, which can dull the car’s clear coat.

Dusting Baseboards

The great thing about turning kids loose on the baseboards is that they’re already low to the ground anyway! Plus, dusting baseboards requires nothing more than microfiber, like this dusting cloth from Casabella, which makes it perfect for kids—no harsh chemical products, no sloshing buckets of cleaning solution, just a rag and some crawling action are all that’s required.

Vacuuming Furniture

You can add a little extra fun to this chore by letting your kid keep any change they find hidden in the cushions. The job is easy and can/should certainly involve making a pillow fort out of couch and chair cushions, decorative pillows and throw blankets as you take them off the frame of the furniture. Then, put the upholstery or crevice attachment on the vacuum for your kids and have them do the honors, starting with vacuuming the frame, then giving the cushions and pillows a good THWAMPING to redistribute stuffing and knock out dust. Then, replace the cushions and vacuum them as well. Finally, launder blankets and throw pillows if needed.

Doorknobs and Lightswitch Plates

This is an easy little task that only a rag or paper towels and a small amount of a gentle all-purpose cleaner: Have kids wipe off doorknobs and light switch plates—which, by dint of being touched all the time, get quite grimey and germy—going room by room. You can divvy it up by room or give one kid doorknob duty and another light switch duty and have them count to see which one you have more of in your home, to make it a little bit more game-like.

Cleaning and Organizing a Bookshelf

Bookshelves, like baseboards, get quite dusty but deep cleaning really only requires a good microfiber cloth, making it a good task for kids to help with. Remove all the books and knick-knacks from shelves and work from the top down, since dust will travel south as you clean. Smaller kids can be tasked with wiping books off while taller kids can work on the bookcase itself. Then, have the kids pitch in with putting everything away by having them organize books by color, or alphabetically by author.

Washing Trash Cans

Trash cans and recycling bins get super dirty, even if you’re diligent about always using liners. While you don’t need to clean them regularly, it’s not a bad idea to wash them out once or twice a year, and it’s a great job to do outside on a nice day. Much like washing a car, it can be a lot of fun for kids to splash around with a bucket of sudsy water and/or a hose. A large car washing sponge, dish soap, water and a rag for drying are really all that’s needed for the job, and you can have the kids start by finding all the trash cans and recycling bins in the house, emptying them if they’re full, then bringing them all outside to be washed. Once they’re clean, dry them using a rag (an old bath towel would be perfect here) and have the kids bring them back inside to be put away.

 

This article was written by shared by Jolie Kerr to Lifehacker and Jolie Kerr on Offspring from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

A Trick to Teach Kids Compassion

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It’s easy to conclude that people generally suck. Don’t they, though? There’s the driver who cut you off, the lady who appears out of nowhere to swipe the last Costco sample off the tray when you’ve been waiting patiently in line, the “friend” who’s forgotten your birthday three years in a row. I get why we’d assume others just aren’t trying.

But this, of course, is a damaging outlook to take. It closes us off from connection, and makes us cranky and bitter. As a parent, I want to teach my daughter to view others with compassion over judgment—a tough skill to learn, but one that will serve her every day. Sabina Nawaz, writing for Harvard Business Review, shares an activity that I like a lot. She and her kids play what they call Multiple Meanings, a simple people-watching game that promotes empathy. Here’s how it works:

We take turns creating stories from observations of people and events on trips to and from school. For example, if we see a man walking rapidly on the sidewalk with tattooed arms and a sleeveless vest, we might make up a story that he’s late for work because his car broke down, so he’s walking fast to get help. Maybe he owns a tattoo parlor across the bridge and is a walking advertisement for his business. Or maybe he’s meeting someone in the park and is running late. Our children then use the skill when they’re upset about something at home or at school. This is especially helpful when my sons argue and come to me for mediation. To reduce the heat in the conflict, I ask: “What other meanings can you make about why your brother borrowed your Lego airplane?” The goal is to be able to calm themselves down and be more empathetic, so they approach someone else with curiosity instead of judgment.

We often teach kids to mind their own business. But what if we didn’t? What if we taught them to wonder about people, even those who might hurt them? What if we reminded them that everyone is fighting a hard battle? What if will pushed them to challenge their assumptions and give others the benefit of the doubt—or even better, ask them about their lives? In Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong, she asks her husband if he believes people are doing the best they can. His response was this: “I don’t know. I really don’t. All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.” That is exactly it.

With your kids, help them use their natural love for stories to come up with their own narratives for the toddler throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, the man who’s getting upset at the bank or the bully in the book their reading. In the end, the story they’re changing will be their own.

 

This article was written by shared by Michelle Woo to Lifehacker and Michelle Woo on Offspring from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Don’t Have Time to Exercise? Do it With Your Kids

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As a working mom with a to-do list longer than the refrigerator, trying to find time to workout and raise happy, healthy children is nearly impossible. But who says you have to compartmentalize exercising and parenting? By exercising as a family, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Staying Fit as a Family

Unless you’re a professional athlete or trainer who works out for a living, exercise shouldn’t be something you separate from the rest of your life. Between work and other responsibilities, you’re already away from your children enough. By bringing them into your workout routine, you can spend quality time with them and stay fit.

There are numerous advantages associated with working out with kids. One of the biggest benefits is that it helps your kids see exercise as normal and healthy, as opposed to something that’s strange and unsatisfactory.

“Not only is including your kid in your workouts an effective way for him or her to have positive associations with exercise, it’s a great way for you to remember that working out shouldn’t always be a chore. So many adults are focused on sets and reps, when they could really benefit from playing,” trainer Naomi Nazario writes in Men’s Health..

The question is, how do you exercise with your kids in a manner that’s safe, effective, and challenging for all ages? The following suggestions may help:

Go For Walks Before or After Dinner

One of the easiest ways to get exercise is to take a nightly walk, either before or after dinner. While this isn’t rigorous exercise, it’s enough to get your blood flowing. Even more importantly, it provides an outlet for having conversations and seeing how your kids are doing on a heart level.

Play Games on the Trampoline

Older kids may enjoy neighborhood walks, but younger kids will get bored pretty quickly. Switch things up to keep each of your children fully engaged.

One idea is to play around on the trampoline – which is an extremely good platform for exercise. It engages your muscles and builds core strength. If you have a trampoline in your backyard, jump together. Don’t have a trampoline? Visit a local trampoline park and play games like H-O-R-S-E or dodgeball. This probably isn’t something you’ll do every day, but it’s a good weekly activity to mix things up.

Play Sports in the Backyard

If you have athletic kids who play sports – or even kids who like the idea of sports – you can get some really good exercise in by playing various games in the backyard or driveway.

For example, you and your kids can have a lot of fun playing basketball, kickball, or even four square. Over time, these may even become family traditions.

Create Fitness Competitions

Kids love competition. If you’re able to make fitness into a game, you’re much more likely to get your children involved on a regular basis. One idea is to have a weekly competition. Something as simple as the loser of a round of a game having to do certain exercises can result in a great workout.

Watch YouTube Workout Videos

As your kids get older and become more interested in organized workout routines, you may think about doing YouTube workout videos together. YouTube has a huge collection of workout videos from both amateurs and professional trainers. They’re free and can be accessed on demand in your own living room.

Finding Balance in Your Life

If you spend too much time working out on your own, you won’t have much of a relationship with your children. If you don’t workout enough, you’ll be unhealthy. Life is all about balance, and you need to look for ways to balance parenting and fitness. As this article shows, a little tweaking makes it possible to do both.

 

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

A Short List of Summertime Safety Essentials

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Have you found a summer camp program for your child yet? A high-quality summer camp often means spending a lot of time outside soaking up the sun and exploring the world. While outdoor play is a great way to keep children active and happy (and learning!), there are some summertime essentials every parent needs to protect their children from the potential hazards of summertime.

  • Sunscreen is necessary to protect your child’s skin from harmful sun damage;
  • Children should wear sunglasses to shield their eyes from the UVA and UVB rays;
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children wear a wide-brimmed hat that can shade the cheeks, chin, ears and back of the neck;
  • The AAP also recommends that children wear clothes made of tightly woven fabrics, such as cotton, which is protective and cool;
  • Insect repellent is another important tool in a summer safety arsenal. Current AAP and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommend using insect repellent that contains 10% to 30% DEET in children older than two months;
  • Have plenty of water on hand – even if an activity isn’t overly physical, children (and adults!) need to remain hydrated in hot weather.

 

How to Overcome Your Child’s Picky Eating Habits

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You were a picky eater when you were a child. Now your own child is, shall we say, highly discriminating on what he or she eats, too. Coincidence? A recent study says maybe not.

The study, by researchers from the University of Illinois, gathered information from the parents of 153 preschoolers. They found that while many factors can play a role in a child’s choosy eating, genes that are linked to a child’s sensory responses could be one of them.

What does this mean if you’re the parent of a picky eater? Do you simply throw up your hands and say it’s genetic?

Keep trying

Don’t give up on efforts to entice your child to eat a broader range of food, says Jennifer Hyland, RD, CSP, LD of Cleveland Clinic Children’s. It’s important to continue to expose children to new foods over time to get them to try them, she says.

There is a wide spectrum of behavior when it comes to picky eating, Ms. Hyland says. But for most children, picky eating does not go away on its own unless parents really work at it.

Research has shown it can take anywhere from 10 to 20 tries for a child to like a particular food, she says.

But you don’t want to force foods upon your child. Keep meals an enjoyable experience, Ms. Hyland says. One strategy is for parents to ask their children to take no-thank-you bites – which means they can say, “no thank you,” but they have to at least try the food. This leads to continued exposure, and over time, it’s hoped they will learn to develop a taste for these foods.

At meal time, Ms. Hyland says, it’s helpful to have at least one food on the plate that you know your child will eat. Also, but be sure to give everyone at the table the same foods.

“Try your best to cook the same meal for the whole family,” she says. “The child may not eat all of it, but it’s important that you encourage them to at least try, and that you set an example of trying these foods yourself, so that over time, they will learn to eat these foods.”

It begins during toddlerhood

It’s typical for picky eating to start during the toddler years, Ms. Hyland says.

“Normal picky-eating can start anywhere as early as age 2 or 3,” she says. “Usually during infancy, children are adventurous eaters and they’re trying new things. The picky eating really creeps up around the time they become toddlers. Parents will say, ‘My kid ate vegetables and they liked this and they liked that and now they don’t eat anything.’ We see that pretty frequently.” 

Should parents worry about a picky eater? If your child is underweight, you might be worried that your child isn’t getting enough nutrition. This results in parents giving their children whatever they want to eat to make sure they’re getting enough calories.

If this is you, it’s a  good time to meet with a registered dietitian or physician, because there are ways to combat that problem, while still improving the picky eating habits, Ms. Hyland says.

The most important thing a parent can do with a choosy eater is be consistent and not give up, Ms. Hyland says.

However, if a child has chewing or swallowing issues, or shows severe anxiety about trying new foods,  talk to a doctor, because you child may need the help of a behavioral specialist or multidisciplinary feeding program.

Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics.

 

 

This article was written by Children’s Health Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Learning through Meal Prepping: Five Benefits of Encouraging Children to Pack Their Own Lunches

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Letting children assist with packing their own lunches can be beneficial. You can teach your children about responsibility and portion control and boost their creativity and decision-making skills by inviting your children into the kitchen with you for a lesson. Here are five benefits of allowing children to help prepare their own lunches.

It emphasizes portion control. Bento-box lunch containers are an easy and exceptionally helpful tool for teaching your child about portion sizes and meal organization. When your children select their lunch items with you, provide them with a bento-box container and explain what healthy meal portions look like. They can use the bento box to pack their lunches, which helps them visualize and be aware of the portion sizes they are packing.

It introduces the importance of nutrition. Your children’s favorite go-to treats, such as fruit snacks and cookies, don’t necessarily make some of the healthiest snacks. When they’re in the kitchen with you, teach them about what the key food groups are and how those food groups keep their minds and bodies well nourished. Provide different vegetables, fruits, proteins, grains and dairy products, and let them choose what to put into their lunch bags. Guide them to pack meals with all the food groups.

It aids in independent learning and decision making. When your children are preparing their lunches with you in the kitchen, give them options for what to pack. Allow them to choose from two or three different things. Do they want a chicken sandwich, a turkey sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Do they want carrots or cucumbers? Do they want strawberries, apples or grapes? Once they decide, let them gather and pack their choices, and then help them focus on the next food group. Once you establish a routine, they will make quicker decisions. Picking their own meals lets them feel independent and accomplished.

It boosts creativity and introduces the art of cooking.
Getting your children into the kitchen at a young age helps them start cooking and learning the steps it takes to create a meal. Instead of providing them with premade and wrapped turkey sandwiches, let them make some with you. Start by letting them select the bread, get out the condiments and select the meat, cheese and toppings they want on their delicious sandwiches. This shows them how much time, effort, creativity and skill it takes to make a proper lunch.

It teaches responsibility, routines and time management. Whether you pack meals after dinner or after your children get home from school, make sure to schedule a meal-preparation time that works best for your family. Meet in the kitchen at your designated time, and start preparing the lunches. By establishing a routine, such as meeting every night or twice a week at 7 PM, you will be familiarizing your children with following a schedule, helping them plan meals. If you want to make meal preparation more fun, consider getting a small chalkboard or whiteboard to keep in your kitchen. Have your children write out the days of the week and the foods they want in their lunchboxes each day. This can keep you organized, and it encourages your children to start planning meals.

How to Make Your Own Slime

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Slime can be a great teaching tool that incorporates STEAM learning. Help your children learn about science by creating slime with them. Use technology to research slime recipes, and use math to measure out ingredients.

Try this recipe for making slime, and then use the slime for the fun activities below.

  • Use slime to teach your children about shapes. You can create more than one batch of slime. Use one batch to demonstrate things to do with slime, and encourage your children to use the other batches to mimic your actions;
  • Make silly slime masterpieces. Encourage your little ones to use food coloring, confetti, glitter, various buttons and other trinkets to decorate the slime;
  • Optimize the use of sensory learning. Incorporate scents by adding scented food coloring or essential oils, and ask your children how the different smells make them feel. For example, ask how a discreet calming scent makes them feel compared to a more distinct scent;
  • Boost your children’s exploration skills by having them search for hidden items in the slime;
  • Strengthen your children’s gross motor skills by working with them to imprint objects into the slime, such as letters or numbers.

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

8 Ways to Make a Weekend at Home Feel Like a Family Vacation

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You don’t need to go anywhere to capture the vacation vibe.

Spring and summer school breaks are coming up, and while many of my friends hop on the first plane, train, or rental car outta the city year after year, my family and I have found ourselves stuck at home many times in the past. The thing is: We’re all feeling it, the vacation itch. That’s why I like to bring the vacation vibe to us for special weekends. From decor to activities–and most of all, mindset!–we make weekends at home feel like the best family vacation ever.

Unplug

This is a tough one (at my house, anyway), but at least try. Put your phones, tablets, and computers in a drawer–padlocked if necessary–and spend the weekend like you’re on a desert island, devoid of news updates, texts, and annoying robocalls. You will survive, and maybe even feel refreshed.

Change the Decor

Go nuts with colorful flowers and funky lighting, and hide your regular artwork and rugs to take “your house” out of your house. So maybe you’re not at a fancy hotel in the Swiss Alps, but you’ll barely recognize your digs and will have a blast setting up (and then luxuriating in) this alternate universe.

Eat Exotic Foods

Roll your own pasta (it’s not as hard as it sounds!) and toss in a little Puttanesca sauce to bring the flavors of Naples to your kitchen. If you’d prefer to take a break from cooking, order a lavish Mediterranean meal or a Spanish feast if there’s a tapas restaurant in town, or get something decadent online, like Russian caviar. And don’t stop there. Go the extra mile by bringing in exotic dessert or candy to go with it. After a wedge of Turkish Baklava or a box of Baci (y’know, the delicious Italian chocolates that come with a message inside), you’ll feel like you spent the day anywhere but home.

Switch It Up

Do you usually eat dinner in the dining room? Try a picnic on the bedroom floor. Maybe you’ll get leave some crumbs, but that’s what the vacuum is for. Similarly, skip your queen-sized bed and have a slumber party in the living room or under the kitchen table (maybe vacuum first, in this scenario).

Bring Camping to You

If you have a yard or garden, pitch a tent out there and eat dinner under the stars before cozying up to sleep. Once you’re zipped inside a tent, you really won’t notice if you’re in your yard or atop the Rocky Mountains. This way has some added conveniences in that you can wash your hands after they get covered in s’mores and the beer will stay cold in the fridge.

Have a Rave

Glow sticks: check. Bubbles: check. Techno: Well, my daughter will make sure it’s Selena Gomez–but, check. If you can’t make it to Ibiza this summer, turn out the lights, have a fashion contest to see who can come up with the wildest outfit, and boogie down till sunrise.

Throw a Film Festival

Pick a theme, from beach movies to French thrillers, and hunker down for a lazy weekend of nothin’ but movies. Create a themed cocktail or amuse-bouche for each film and see if you can borrow a projector from a friend to get the full experience. To really build a retro vibe of a drive-in movie experience, serve a classic snack like Entenmanns’s Minis Apple Snack Pies–what’s more of an American staple than apple pie made by a baked goods company founded in 1898?

Make It a Spa Weekend

Go to Sephora and load up on sheet masks, then start lighting scented candles, ripping off rose petals, and running a hot bubble bath. If you really want to feel decadent, find a local masseuse who does house calls and turn those muscles to mush in the comfort of your own home.

*This piece is sponsored by Entenmann’s.

 

This article was written by Alex Richards from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Ways to Make Tough Conversations with Kids Easier

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1. Time it right.

Weekend mornings are preferable because you’re not rushing to get everyone out the door and your kids can return to you—and the topic—if they have more questions or fears later in the day. Many kids (and grownups) are grouchy and exhausted by the evening.

“And even if your kids seem to be in a great mood, a drowsy brain can’t take in information as well, and any tears or anxious questions make it hard to wind down for sleep,” says Dawn Huebner, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of the self-help children’s book

2. Rehearse beforehand.

If the situation is emotional for you—for example, your pet needs to be put down or someone in your family is sick—take time to practice what you’re going to say, either in front of a mirror or with your partner or a close friend. That will help you keep your composure and deliver the news in the way that you want, says Dr. Huebner. “It’s okay for kids to see that their parents are sad, but the initial conversation sets the tone, and if you’re sobbing or stumbling over your words, your children may feel frightened.”

3. Speak on their level.

Complex concepts such as moving, divorce, or death are difficult for children to comprehend, says Paige Greytok, a family psychotherapist in Greenwich, Connecticut. If you flood your kids with all the nitty-gritty details, they may get overwhelmed or shut down. Instead, use short and straightforward sentences with age-appropriate explanations.

4. Validate in the moment.

Labeling emotions can help your young child put words to whatever feelings bubble up. For instance, you can say, “It sounds like that makes you sad” or “Is that scary?” But resist the urge to jump into fix-it mode. “It’s tempting to minimize feelings by saying something like ‘Don’t be afraid,’ but remember, whatever your child is feeling is real and valid to her,” says Dr. Huebner. “Children need to ‘feel felt’ before they can move on to things like processing and problem solving.”

5. Check back in.

The conversation isn’t over when it ends, points out Greytok. With a hard topic, kids will have further questions, so make it clear that you’re always available to discuss this again and that they can come to you with any questions or worries, big or small.

 

This article was written by Kate Rockwood from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.