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Posts Tagged ‘Parenting Tips’

Why you shouldn’t sneak away from your kids when you leave the house (even if they cry)

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

It’s very normal for babies and young children to be attached to their mother. Children want to feel protected, and the closer they are to their parents, the safer they feel. So it’s understandable for a child to start crying if their mother suddenly disappears from sight. To avoid this automatic crying fit, moms will try to sneak out of the house when someone else is watching the kids, but it’s better if your children see you leave.

Why should children see us when we leave home?

Before parting, it’s best to tell your kid where you’re going and that you’ll be back soon. Although it is painful to see them cry, it’s the healthiest thing to do. As they get older, they’ll understand that you always return after you leave.

It took me a while to understand this. With my youngest son, I often left the house unannounced and disappeared from his sight when he was distracted. He spent a lot of time running around the house looking for me after I left. Because of my pattern of sneaking away when going out, he sometimes got scared and thought I had left him when I was just in another room of the house.

To help reduce his anxiety, I began to look at things from his point of view and react accordingly. When I had to leave the house, I explained that I would only leave for a few minutes and then return. I also would explain that I was still at home (even when he couldn’t see me) I was just in the bedroom. I now could let my son happily play with his father in the kitchen because he knew I wouldn’t leave for the market without saying goodbye.

But won’t they suffer more if they see me go?

Depending on the child’s age and relationship with their parents, their reaction when their mother leaves may vary. However, it is always better to say goodbye when you leave so your child can start handling their emotions when mother and child separate.

It’s also important to explain to your child that you’ll leave but will return, or else even a five-minute absence can cause children to panic. In early childhood stages, 10 minutes feels much longer for your child than it does for you. Over time, the child will understand that Mom comes back after all, and their crying fits will lessen in time and frequency.

Will they every stop crying when I leave?

The crying won’t stop immediately, and maybe not even soon. But just because you don’t hear them cry when you leave doesn’t mean the babysitter doesn’t have to handle their tears when you leave. However, it’s not the end of the world if they cry. Always allowing your child to say goodbye even when he cries will allow him to get used to the pattern and thus eventually balance out his emotions.

Disappearing from your child’s sight without warning can generate feelings of insecurity and lack of protection. Never leave home without saying goodbye to your child. Remember that good communication and emotional bonds (even when they are young) generate an emotional support in your child that will affect them for their whole life.

 

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

One-Minute Ways to Calm Down During the 5 Most Chaotic Moments of Your Day

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Keep your cool, even when you’re feeling hot.

Life demands more from us every day, thanks to everything from a nasty political climate and natural disasters to cranky kids. Moms need ways to deal with stress swiftly and with ease. Life can feel overwhelming and exhausting much of the time, which is why we need simple and effective techniques to help us come back to center when life gets tricky. It only takes one minute for all hell to break loose at work or at home, so we need tools to center us that work just as fast! Here are some tips that will help you go from chaos to calm in one minute or less:

1. How to Stay Calm During the Morning Rush

Each new breath we take is another opportunity to decide how the next moment will unfold. If our morning starts to go a tad haywire with kids who don’t want to get out of bed, or we realize we never picked up the cleaning and have nothing to wear, it doesn’t mean we can’t regroup and move forward in a way that feels better to us and our family.

In these moments where we are one step away from losing it, it feels helpful to find an anchor point. Pause for just a moment and notice where you feel your breath the strongest. Is it moving in and out of your nose? Is it your ribcage expanding and contracting, or your belly rising and falling? Wherever it is, spend a few moments breathing and focusing on your anchor point. You will be calming your nervous system so you can respond to each part of your morning thoughtfully instead of simply reacting and usually having regrets about how that went. Return to this anchor point anytime during the day as you need to.

2. How to Stay Calm When Your Kids are Fighting in the Back Seat

There were days during the “hot mess” phase of my life when my kids would fight in the back seat on the way to school. I’d be yelling and inevitably someone would get out of the car crying, and I’d feel remorseful all day for allowing their day to begin like that. It felt terrible!

I began implementing “morning mindfulness” into our car ride routine and now everyone gets out of the car feeling great and excited for their day. We started years ago, and even now at 13 and 11 my kids still want to do it, and so do the friends we carpool with. They love it!

Here’s what to do:

  1. Have everyone close their eyes and take 3-5 deep breaths, really feeling their belly rise and fall. I suggest having them imagine they are blowing up a balloon in their belly on the inhale, and then letting all the air out on the exhale. You can join them, just keep your eyes open while you drive!
  2. Have each child think of three things they are grateful for. They can be big or small, and they can decide if they want to share. If the kids are under seven, they can think of one thing.
  3. Everyone shares out loud why today is going to be awesome.

If you don’t drive your kids to school, this can be done waiting for the school bus or at the breakfast table.

3. How to Stay Calm When You are Exhausted

When you are exhausted, you need a little extra TLC. I find that creating a mindful pause with a cup of tea always does the trick to soothe my soul.

When making your tea really pay attention to your senses. What does the warm mug feel like in your hands? What does your tea smell like and taste like? Find three descriptive words for each. Using your senses is a wonderful way to be present in the moment, and who doesn’t love a cup of chai with a bit of almond milk and honey?

4. How to Stay Calm When Your Calendar is so Full It May Burst

When I feel overwhelmed, I use my favorite affirmation. I repeat “I get everything done with ease and grace” to myself until I feel calm and centered. It reminds me to take my day one step at a time, and to mindfully make my way through each task.

5. How to Stay Calm When You Walk in From Work and Get Hit With Everything At Once

The trick to this one is actually acting before you walk in the door. Spend an extra minute in your car before you get out to give yourself a minute come back to center and recalibrate. You want to walk in your door feeling like the best version of you, so take a moment to decompress and release any stress you are still holding from the day. While sitting in your car you can do a quick body scan. Relax your body from head to toe, hitting all of the major areas of the face, neck, shoulders, chest, belly, hips and legs. You will be amazed at how much tension you are holding in your body.


Ali Katz is a certified meditation teacher, and creator of the Hot Mess to Mindful Mom brand. She has been featured on ABC, NBC, FOX News and many other outlets. Find out more about Ali, her work, and her books at www.hotmesstomindfulmom.com. You can find many more tips and tools like these in the latest book in her series One Minute to Zen: How to go From Hot Mess to Mindful Mom in One Minute or Less available on Nov. 6, 2018.

 

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

Sleep Tight! Sleep Solutions for Preschoolers

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When adults experience a particularly stressful day, they have coping strategies in place to wind down before bed.  Some rely on herbal tea, some choose a good book, some get lost in a favorite show, and others pour a glass of wine. 

Did you know that preschoolers are also prone to experiencing stress throughout the day?  The difference is that they don’t necessarily know how to cope with that stress.  When the lights go down, the stress creeps in.

Preschoolers spend a fair amount of time each day engaged in fantasy play.  They get lost in a world of princesses, superheroes, construction sites, and even monsters.  And they truly enjoy every second of it.  Fantasy play gives preschoolers a chance to try on new roles and gain mastery over new, and sometimes scary, information.

But it’s difficult to simply leave it behind.  Cognitively, preschoolers struggle to separate real from imagined dangers.  Just as adults struggle to process the stress of the day, preschoolers are flooded with things they learned at school, on the playground, in books, and on TV.  They can’t just turn off their imaginations the minute the clock strikes seven.

Add to that the fact that somewhere between the ages of 3-4 most kids become aware of the fact that there are real dangers in this world (strangers, cars, dogs, getting lost, etc.) and it’s no wonder some preschoolers struggle to settle down at night.

Not to worry, there are ways to decrease nighttime stress and improve the bedtime transition.

 Establish a routine:  Preschoolers need between 11-14 total hours of sleep per day.  Preschoolers experience less stress when they have some control over their environments and they know what to expect.  Keep the bedtime consistent and create a relaxing bedtime routine that works for you.  Put a sign on the door with pictures of the various steps of the routine so that your preschooler knows exactly what to do each night.

Confront daytime stress:  Not only do preschoolers have their own stressors, but they also pick up on ours.  Factor in 10 minutes at the end of the day to sit and talk about worries and stress.  Label it for them.  Although it seems like they move on quickly, preschoolers are prone to carrying big feelings around.  Help your child verbalize her worries at night to ease into a relaxing bedtime routine. 

Tell a relaxing story:  A great way to ease your child into sleep is to tell a five-minute relaxing story.  Turn out the lights, lie down on the floor next to the bed, and weave a story that helps your child drift off into positive imagery.  It might be a walk on the beach, a picnic in the park, or a trip to a magical garden.  Allow your child to help choose the destination and then tell the story in a quiet voice.

Provide a happy thought:  Many kids worry about having nightmares.  Ironically, worrying about the possibility of nightmares increases the likelihood of nightmares.  Leave your child’s room on a positive by whispering a happy thought in her ear.  “Have a nice dream about fairies”, gives your child positive imagery to hold onto as you leave the room. 

Provide reassurance:  Preschoolers are prone to separation anxiety at night.  It’s lonely in there when the lights go out!  They might fear for their safety or wonder when you will return.  Developmentally, most children don’t understand the concept of time until somewhere between ages 5-6.  Provide reassurance that you will see your child in the morning and you will check on her before you head to bed.  “I can’t wait to play with you tomorrow morning,” reminds your child that sleep is temporary.

Do your preschoolers struggle to get to sleep at night?  What strategies work in your house?

 

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

Want to Boost Your Child’s Health? Make These Easy Swaps Today!

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As a parent, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about how to help your little one grow up happy, healthy, and strong. Sometimes though, despite our best intentions, our kids can form habits that aren’t the healthiest. Whether grandma has your little one hooked on sweets or business forces you to hand over the iPad while you finish cooking dinner, it’s easy for your tot to form habits that won’t serve them well in the long run.

Developing a love of physical activity, a taste for fruits and veggies, or a desire to spend time reading can impact them for their entire life. Check out the health swaps below to find out how to easily bring health habits into (or back into) your little one’s life.

Swap juice for water

While most kids do enjoy the taste of juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics now says that little ones simply don’t need it. Besides adding lots of empty calories to a child’s diet, filling their tummy with juice can make them feel full and less willing to eat nutrient-rich foods. Make the swap by diluting your babe’s juice with increasing amounts of water until they’re drinking 100% water again.

Swap cookies for fruit

Many parents offer cookies, chips, or snack crackers as a first option when their little ones complain of hunger. Instead of offering these sorts of snack foods, consider offering fruit instead. Not all kids like all fruit, but many find the (naturally!) sweet taste of apples, grapes, or melon to be delicious!

Swap screen time for play time

There’s plenty of evidence that kids who spend too much time using screens struggle in ways that their screen-free peers don’t. Consider offering your child engaging activities that don’t involve a screen. Many kids enjoy arts and crafts, listening to audio books, or flipping through their favorite books.

Swap indoor time for outdoor play

One way to get kids moving is to get them outdoors. Because of the limited space indoors, many indoor activities are somewhat sedentary. By moving playtime outdoors, you’ll be giving your child the physical space they need to run, jump, and play!

 

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

According to Experts, This Is How Old a Kid Should Be Before Crossing the Street Alone

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In parenting, there is so much information, but so little consensus. Still, whether you helicopter or free range, install blackout shades or blow through naps, serve vegan grain bowls or Coco Krispies, it’s the rare parent who doesn’t adhere to at least some of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines (and by “adhere,” we mean have a passing awareness of them so we know when to feel extra guilty).

And now, in addition to advising us on when we should introduce solids and how many hours of sleep kids need, we’ve learned the AAP has thoughts on how old our kids should be before they try out some independence, like walking to school on their own or even crossing the street solo.

Their conclusion? Age ten at the earliest.

This information comes via a fascinating Wall Street Journal article called “The Overprotected American Child.” The gist, per author Andrea Petersen: “Overzealous parenting can do real harm. Psychologists and educators see it as one factor fueling a surge in the number of children and young adults being diagnosed with anxiety disorders.” The real heartbreaker? “For children who are already anxious, overprotecting them can make it worse. ‘It reinforces to the child that there is something they should be scared of and the world is a dangerous place and I can’t do that for myself,’ says Rebecca Rialon Berry, a clinical psychologist at the NYU Langone Child Study Center.” The antidote, say the experts? More autonomy.

And, to that end, it turns out crossing the street without an adult’s help is a major milestone marker. Still, when it comes to the maturity, danger awareness and traffic savvy it takes to navigate a crosswalk, researchers caution that even some ten-year-olds may not be up to the task.

“Research has found that young children walking to school often don’t look for traffic or stop at the curb before stepping into the street,” writes Petersen. She cites the AAP’s policy statement that parents “are likely to overestimate their children’s ability to safely cross the street.”

Bottom line? You know your kid best. After studying a range of age groups, the AAP concluded: “Development of pedestrian skills was highly variable such that a few of the 5-year-olds did better than some 11-year-olds on the overall pedestrian skills score.” So guidelines aside, it’s still a parent’s job to figure out where on the capability continuum their child sits (or rather, walks).

 

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

Bored Kids Are Distracting: Things Your Child Can Do While You Work

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Identifying activities for your kids to do while you’re busy with other things can be a daunting task. This is why work-at-home parents need all the help they can get.

A majority of kids lack knowledge of how to engage in solo play. Typically, kids appreciate having access to a daily routine of exciting things to do, but they require gentle encouragement and training. Providing your children with exciting and enjoyable activities helps them extend their attention span as well as experience in keeping themselves busy.

According to Linda Acredolo, a psychology professor at the University of California, play is an important activity during childhood. Although you might regard it as mere child’s play, childhood play involves several interrelated undertakings, ranging from problem-solving and learning new skills to mental and physical challenges.

Below are some few things you can do to foster your child’s learning.

Stretch Your Child’s Imagination

It’s been noted that kids who engage in make-believe play are often good at keeping themselves busy according to Dr. Willard. Children typically have their imagination even when participating in boring activities. You could try engaging your child’s imagination. Perhaps, you could provide your child with beads and string for making keychain animals. Doing so helps improve your child’s ability to count and make patterns.

Introduce technology

You can give your child an iPad for a few minutes and let them play with an educational app. This way, your child can play and learn at the same time.

Letting them occupy their time with mobile apps can provide tremendous benefits. Nonetheless, kids need guidance on the use of mobile applications. For this reason, you need to keep close tabs on how your kids are using or interacting with any mobile apps you choose for them.

Reward Your Kid for Playing Alone

Keep in mind that your kid has many playmates at school. But at home, they are denied this opportunity or only have access to their siblings. This is why your kid may resort to the B word. To resolve this problem, you need to create a plan that lets your kid hang out alone.

Try engaging your kid in activities such as playing Lego, puzzles, or browsing through picture books. You can improve this process by letting your kid come up with his own ideas instead of dictating what he ought to do. Jennifer Kolari the author of Connected Parenting recommends rewarding your kids every time they play alone in their bedroom. For instance, you could go out on a date with your kids.

Be Creative

Often, it seems convenient suggesting activities for your kid whenever they are bored, and they can’t seem to come up with something on their own. Note that the most common entertainment platforms teach kids to expect instant gratification. In the short term, these distractions-be it TV, movies, or mobile apps- will keep your kid temporarily occupied. However, in the long term, your kids will become intolerant of quiet moments as they induce hypertensive states. Instead, you should engage your children in summertime long projects. Perhaps, you can encourage them to tend a windowsill, flower, or vegetable garden to occupy their free time.

 

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

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.

How To Measure Whether Your Child’s Tantrums Are Normal

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In the throes of your toddler’s rage, it’s perfectly healthy to wonder whether you’re observing normal childhood behavior, or the beginnings of a behavioral problem. Here’s how to know for sure.

Fortunately, there’s a way to measure whether your child’s tantrums are abnormal. The temper tantrum scale, developed by Lauren Wakschlag of Northwestern University in Chicago, identifies normal tantrum behaviors and duration. Her study also highlights red flags parents can use to determine whether their children are acting out more aggressively than expected.

Meet The Temper Tantrum Scale

Answer the following questions with “never in the past month”, “less than once per week”, “1-3 days per week”, “4-6 days of the week”, “every day of the week”, or “many times each day”:

How often does your child…

  1. Have a temper tantrum
  2. Stamp feet or hold breath during a tantrum
  3. Have a tantrum that lasts more than 5 minutes
  4. Keep on having a tantrum even when you tried to calm him/her down
  5. Break or destroy things during a tantrum
  6. Have a tantrum until exhausted
  7. Hit, bite, or kick during a tantrum
  8. Lose temper or have a tantrum with a parent
  9. Lose temper or have a tantrum with other adults
  10. Lose temper or have a tantrum when frustrated, angry or upset
  11. Lose temper or have a tantrum when tired, hungry, or sick
  12. Lose temper or have a tantrum to get something he/she wants
  13. Lose temper or have a tantrum during daily routines such as bedtime or mealtime
  14. Lose temper or have a tantrum “out of the blue” or for no clear reason
  15. Become frustrated easily
  16. Yell angrily at someone
  17. Act irritably
  18. Have difficulty calming down when angry
  19. Become angry very quickly
  20. Get extremely angry
  21. Have a hot or explosive temper
  22. Stay angry for a long time

OK, I Did It. Now What?

Certain behaviors on the list are normal even when they happen quite often—others, less so. To figure out which behaviors were truly abnormal, Wakschlag and colleagues surveyed nearly 1,500 preschoolers. She found that 95 percent of children engaged in certain behaviors with predictable frequency, and established this as the baseline. Presumably, abnormal behaviors are those behaviors along the tantrum scale that fall outside the 95th percentile—in other words, behaviors that 95 percent of children do not engage in. None of the tantrum behaviors on the list are abnormal if they occur less than once per week. When these behaviors crop up more frequently, however, there may be cause for concern. Here’s the breakdown:

The following are “abnormal” behaviors only if they occur 1-3 days per week, or more:

  1. Hit, bite, or kick during a tantrum
  2. Stay angry for a long time

These are “abnormal” behaviors only if they occur 4-6 days per week, or more:

  1. Stamp feet or hold breath during a tantrum
  2. Have a tantrum that lasts more than 5 minutes
  3. Keep on having a tantrum even when you tried to calm him/her down
  4. Break or destroy things during a tantrum
  5. Have a tantrum until exhausted
  6. Lose temper or have a tantrum with other adults
  7. Lose temper or have a tantrum during daily routines such as bedtime or mealtime
  8. Lose temper or have a tantrum “out of the blue” or for no clear reason
  9. Become frustrated easily
  10. Yell angrily at someone
  11. Act irritably
  12. Have difficulty calming down when angry
  13. Become angry very quickly
  14. Get extremely angry
  15. Have a hot or explosive temper

These are “abnormal” behaviors only if they occur every day, or multiple times per day:

  1. Have a temper tantrum
  2. Lose temper or have a tantrum with a parent
  3. Lose temper or have a tantrum when frustrated, angry or upset
  4. Lose temper or have a tantrum when tired, hungry, or sick
  5. Lose temper or have a tantrum to get something he/she wants

My Child Is Abnormal. What Now?

First of all, don’t panic. Most children will, at some point, do most of the things on this list, and not all abnormal tantrum behaviors are created equal. Wakschlag and her colleagues write that the most rare behaviors should be the most worrisome for parents. So if your child is, with any regularity, staying angry for a long time, or hitting, biting, or kicking during tantrums, that should concern you more than observing that your child “becomes frustrated easily” more often than average. The authors include a ranking of each tantrum behavior, broken down by severity.

If your child is experiencing tantrums that fall well outside the average, especially if those behaviors are ranked “severe” by Wakschlag, it may be time to seek professional help.

But if your kid is on the cusp of abnormal tantrum behavior, or tantruming more frequently than you’d like, there are some simple ways you can use tantrum research to tame your wild child. The key is to figure out what your children wants to obtain, and ensure that they do not get it by tantruming. They then learn, over the long term, that tantrums are ineffective negotiating tools.

Behavioral scientists recognize three types of tantrums: a demand for attention (hold me), a demand for tangibles (food, games, activities), and an escape from demand (I don’t want to get dressed). The first two can only be solved by ignoring the tantrum—age-old advice. But the third type of tantrum requires finesse. Because in this scenario, children pitch fits in the hopes of making their parents ignore them and not make them do what they don’t want to do. Instead, when a child throws a tantrum to avoid doing something, the correct approach is to “help” them do it. Placing your hands over their hands and forcing them to get dressed or eat their dinner teaches them that tantruming to avoid tasks leads to a worse outcome—loss of autonomy.

“Kids learn very quickly that you’re serious about this intervention and they comply,” tantrum expert Michael Potegal once told Fatherly. “They may grumble and fuss, but they will comply.”

 

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

10 healthy family rituals to cultivate

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Family rituals can make all the difference when family life gets tough. You may think you don’t have time for rituals. Some days you barely have time for the essentials, which is why it’s important to keep things simple.

Here is a list of rituals that you should implement in your everyday life to enrich family time:

Family dinner

Family dinner used to happen every night, in every family. That was before the days of working moms, a twenty-four hour society (and the constantly changing shift work that comes with it), and the crazy schedule of extra-curricular activities many kids are involved in these days.

Family dinner has an impact though, so it’s worth preserving. According to this Washington Post article, simply eating dinner with your family is the most important thing you can do with your kids. It doesn’t have to happen every night, and it doesn’t have to be elaborate or even home cooked. Take-out pizza on a Friday night is still family dinner, as long as you all gather around the table to eat it together and enjoy some conversation and bonding.

Family game night

One night a week, or month, devoted to playing games as a family can be a ritual you all will enjoy. They don’t have to be board games. You can play cards or do something physical like playing Twister or Charades. You can even make a family game night about video games. Anything goes, as long as everyone’s involved.

Family movie night

Many families spend way too much time in front of the TV, without necessarily watching anything worthwhile. Instead, try setting aside a regular night where you all watch a movie together. Take turns picking out the movie. Make popcorn. Snuggle under an old quilt. Do whatever it takes to make it feel like a ritual rather than an ordinary night in.

A driving ritual

As kids get older we spend a lot of time driving them around. So develop a driving ritual. It could be a game you play, or a favorite soundtrack you always listen to (and sing along to) in the car. As a parent, you can have a different, and highly personalized, driving ritual for each child, especially if you regularly drive them to an activity where it’s just the two of you.

A change of season ritual

Everyone can find time for a change of season ritual. It only happens once every three months, after all. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It could be a family trip to the lake on the first day of summer, or collecting and preserving the most dramatically colored fall leaves in your backyard each year.

An achievement ritual

Many families have a favorite restaurant they go to when they have something to celebrate. Put a twist on it by incorporating a few things you always do to celebrate an achievement. A small gift or a printable certificate for younger kids works. As they get older it might be something as simple as the child who’s achieved something gets to ride in the front seat of the car.

Be careful with this one. Some kids achieve more than others, or they achieve more of what society sees as important. But all kids hit milestones or shine in at least one or two areas. Done right, an achievement ritual can be a way to show the less academic or sporty kids in your family that you recognize and value their achievements too.

A holiday ritual

Every holiday should have a ritual, and most have quite a few, but they’re very generic: trimming the Christmas tree, making the Valentine’s cards, carving the jack-o’-lantern. Try and develop at least one ritual for each holiday that is unique to your family, or just take one of the common holiday rituals and do it in your own way.

A bedtime ritual

Bedtime happens every night and it’s a great time to implement a simple ritual you do together as a family, or that you do with each child. Many parents will read a story or say a prayer with their child before bed, but it could just as easily be a fist bump and saying a “love ya.” That’s a ritual that might even last through the teenage years.

A daily ritual

Technically, this could be your bedtime ritual, but sometimes it’s inspiring to make the mundane or necessary parts of life sacred and enjoyable. Can you think of one thing you have to do every day that you can make into a daily ritual with your kids? It could be walking the dog with your teen after dinner, strolling to the mailbox hand-in-hand with your preschooler every morning, or sorting laundry with your toddler after nap time. Make the mundane everyday stuff into lovely little rituals you look forward to.

A self-care ritual

Teaching your children self-care is a wonderful gift. Whether it’s a pampering evening with your daughters, a short relaxation and meditation session with your teens, or a weekly trip to the farmer’s market to pick out healthy food, showing your kids that it’s fun to take a little time out to look after yourself is a great ritual.

No matter how strapped for time we are, we can all find a few family rituals that don’t take up too much time, but help all family members connect and communicate.

 

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

Road Trip Snacks That Won’t Make a Mess in Your Car (and the Snacks to Avoid)

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Keep fueled on your upcoming road trip with these relatively clean, easy-to-eat road trip snacks.

As the summer winds up, there might be a road trip somewhere in your future. Whether it’s just a couple of hours in the car on your way to grandma’s, a weekend away at a lakefront resort, or a week long cross-country journey, you’re surely going to need a backseat full of road trip snacks. And, unfortunately, good road trip snacks probably aren’t the first thing you’re thinking about when you’re planning for your trip—likely, they’re one of the last things you do before heading off, either stopping at the grocery store the night before you leave or, let’s be real, even when you’re already on your way!

But this year, we can all aim to do better and plan ahead to make sure you’ve packed the best road trip snacks possible. Thankfully, we’re here to do the heavy lifting for you (you’re the one that has to lug those heavy suitcases to the car, after all!). Here, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts in regards to good road trip snacks (because who wants to come home with a sticky backseat to deal with?), healthy road trip snacks to make, and of course, the best road trip snacks to buy (because you’re probably not going to be all packed the night before). Read on for your road trip survival guide:

Good Road Trip Snacks, Dos and Don’ts

Do: Pack individually portioned treats. The fact that you’re strapped into a moving vehicle makes passing handfuls or ripping off portions a little tenuous. Make things easier for everyone by separating snacks into individual zip-lock baggies or buying pre-portioned snacks in bulk.
Do: Bring two bags. Bring a cooler bag for things that should be kept chilled like sliced cheese, fruit, carrot sticks, sandwiches, drinks, and more. Your pantry bag can be filled with trail mix, cookies, crackers, etc. Keeping the two separate make sure that the dry pantry foods don’t get soggy from condensation or spills.
Do: Focus on dry foods. While you might have the aspirational urge to become a health guru on your road trip, it’s a good idea to stick to self-contained fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges. Although they do leave waste, they’re relatively clean compared to melons and berries, which are prone to dripping and leave behind a wetness that can expand outside of its container.
Don’t: Pack anything that could melt or spoil. It may feel like a no-brainer, but many yummy pre-packaged foods won’t last long without refrigeration. Instead of packing chicken salad or milk for the kids, just plan to make stops to pick up along the way. And while chocolate may seem like a fun treat, it melts quicker than you’d think—so keep it to a rest stop treat unless you want to deal with a sticky mess in your backseat.
Don’t: Pack foods that need utensils. Avoid a last minute lunch meltdown when you realized you forgot to pack forks or spoons and just plan to have everything edible by hand and bite-sized. Since you’re likely to be eating out of the packaging, these foods are logistically easier to eat than those that would need forks and knifes.
Don’t: Pack messy foods. Unless you’re planning on a full car detailing post-trip, stay away from foods like crumbly granola bars, croissants, cheese puffs, and quinoa. “Foods that make you brush off your pants while eating are a no go,” says Food Director, Dawn Perry. Additionally, you might want to stay away from things that come with shells like pistachios or peanuts
Do: Pack food in mason jars. Just because you’re driving doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on the road trip snacks. Fill up a mason jar that easily fits into a cup holder so the person at the wheel (or the trusty, hungry copilot) can snack along too.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks to Make

Trying to stay away from processed foods? Load up your cooler with these homemade healthy road trip snacks. From DIY Kind bars to addictive party mixes, these snacks will help the time roll by.

Kamut-Banana-Walnut Muffins
Break and Bake Kitchen Sink Cookies
Pizza Pretzel Nuggets
Cookies and Cream Crispy Treats
Honey Mustard Snack Mix
Nutty Superfood Breakfast Bites
No-Bake Lemon-Chia Bars

Best Road Trip Snacks to Buy

Planning on taking the “There’s No Way I Can Get Snacks in Order Before I Leave” route? No worries at all! There are plenty of delicious, healthy, and fun snack options to be found at the warehouse club, grocery store, or even gas station! Pick a couple of options from this Real Simple-editor approved list.

Oreos
Nuts
Water
Granola or nut bars
Grapes
Beef jerky (We tested more than 100 and these were our favorite jerkies!)
Cheese and crackers
Popcorn

 

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