Category Archives: Everyday living

How to Ready Your Kids for Financial Success from the Beginning
Understanding finances

As parents, our goal is to prepare our children for adult life, independence, and successful living. A key component of this is ensuring they have the best understanding of personal finance as possible. However, this can be a daunting task, especially if we, as parents, may not be modeling the best behaviors when it comes to our wallets. Here are some helpful ways to set an example and educate your children on the importance of understanding their finances. 

Examine Your Own Relationship with Money through the Eyes of Your Children

As we know, children mirror us, watching everything we do and imitating both our best and worst behaviors. Extensive research done on this topic shows that kids copy us all on their own, and that these behaviors become part of their personalities. This extends to watching parents and caregivers navigate their relationships with money. Think about how you act when you take your kids shopping.

  • Do you make expensive purchases to relieve stress? If so, your kids will likely follow suit, creating a pattern early on of emotional spending. 
  • Do family conversations about money always turn into an argument, or are they simply non-existent? This will teach your kids shame and secrecy. Arguing about money can trigger a stress response in children.

Putting down an impulse purchase with a shrug and leaving the store teaches your child that it’s normal to pass on spending if it’s not in the budget. Setting an example by making the discussion of finances comfortable and open will teach your kids to be at ease when planning financial decisions. Look inward and examine your own attitudes and habits surrounding money, and as you improve, your kids will begin to reflect those healthy habits. 

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The Powerful Meaning of Play

Q: Our bedtime pattern seems to be my 4-yr-old daughter pushing limits until there’s a consequence; then she sulks. Two nights ago, for example, she had a couple of little stuffed animals that she was giving voices to that kept interrupting story-time. I said she could hold onto them as long as they didn’t interrupt but they’d have to go downstairs until tomorrow if they couldn’t be quiet. Of course they weren’t. Last night she got a balloon out and was playing with it and wouldn’t put it away. Same thing until I raised my voice. She is getting very silly and defiant around bedtime, often with her older sister’s encouragement. Any ideas?

A. It’s your interpretation that she pushes to get you angry or until there’s a consequence. Almost all kids push or act out to be heard and accepted. Nothing she is doing here is wrong. It’s simply an inconvenience—but it is unacceptable to you.

Read over this question and see that your daughter is being reprimanded for playing. Yes, it’s disruptive to what you want, but it is play. And she wants your engagement in that play.

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Expert Advice to Design the Ultimate Kids Playroom at Home – Porch
Playroom
April 15, 2022 This article first appeared in Porch Playing involves so much more than just having fun. It’s an essential activity for kids to have a healthy development. As parents, you can adapt any space at home and design a playroom where your kids can explore, get creative, and learn. We asked experts for their tips and input on how to create the perfect playroom for your kids at home.

What are the  activities that help with the development of children’s skills?

“PLAY! When children play, they are in fact learning. This is true for adults too. For infants, parent-guided play is great for eye tracking, voice and face recognition. These can all be done by holding, talking and singing to a baby or moving an object left and right so they can follow it with their eyes. The PlanToys PlayGym is great for infants. As they get older, they will work on fine and gross motor skills. Pulling our Rainbow Alligator or moving beers from one hive to another with our Beehive set. My favorite type of play for children is pretend play. They get to use their imagination and there is no limits with that. Children can develop those creative skills by playing with our Victorian Dollhouse,  playing make believe with as a chef with our Wonky Fruits, or recording their adventures to share with the world using our Vlogger Set.“

PlanToys

What activities can parents implement for their kids to learn different languages?

“To learn a new language, repetition is the key. Also, children learn better from a friend than from a formal teacher. Parents can buy language companions like ROYBI Robot which teaches children new languages through conversation and repetition. They can create fun family moments, for example bringing the toy to the dinner table and playing the lessons related to food. This way not just the child but the entire family can learn and creates an exciting family bond. Parents should consider language tools that have a variety of lessons so they can incorporate these into their daily and fun activities. Language learning should be fun!”

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3 Ways to Solve Being Late to School
Sleeping girl

Q. How should I respond to a child (12yo) who is always late (takes too long to get dressed, takes long showers, keeps skipping breakfast because she takes too long to get ready for school) and she responds: “I am lazy”. What can I do to assist her in being more motivated to be on time?

A. The cause of being late likely has one of three motivating factors. Motivating her to be on time will require a dig into why she is always late rather than focusing on simply the fact that she is. The phrase “she takes too long” leads me to think that you are setting an expectation that she cannot meet right now—and making a judgement that she is wrong. We typically look at behavior and define it as good or bad and react to the behavior accordingly. In doing so we miss the most important factor: what provoked the behavior.

To determine what the motivating factor is in this case, you want to know:

1) Is it school she is resisting?

2) Is the transition from home to school difficult?

3) Is it her innate slow temperament?

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Trying to Bottle Up a Tornado?

Q. My 6 yr. old son is worrying me to death. He seems to wake up in the morning with a wish to hurt as many things as he can – including me and sister. He has even screamed at his grandparents. If anyone so much as looks at him funny or tells him to do anything, he starts to punch and yell. I have tried everything. Time outs and putting him is his room only seem to wind him up more. If I tell him he can’t watch a program unless he can stay calm for an hour, he screams at me. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m afraid I’m letting him get away with it because I don’t have the strength to fight him anymore. Help.

A. Let’s first think about what might be going on from your son’s point of view:

  • Is he feeling angry because he thinks he is not being heard?
  • Is he afraid that no one thinks the same things he thinks? Does he feel alone?
  • Does he believe he is a bad child—someone the most important people in his life don’t want?
  • Does he look at his sister with jealousy and think, she is the right one, she is the one my parents love most?
  • Does he hear words coming back at him every day that hurt, belittle, and tell him he is not okay?
  • Does he try and try to get a point across, only to be sent away, yelled at, ignored because no one can deal with his anger?
  • Is he upset because he is not able to do what he could pre-covid?
  • Is he feeling worse about himself because he can’t keep up with his class, can’t get the directions his teacher is trying to give, can’t be silly with his friends?

Before connection can be made, it is important to see the world as he might. That means getting out of your own head with your fears and expectations. You do not have to agree with him, just be able to see that, given who he is and what he experiences, he hurts, he feels angry, alone, misunderstood, powerless. This is true empathy, no “buts” about it. Only compassion will get you to connection.

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Shift Your Perspective on Screentime

Q. I don’t know what to do anymore about screens. My 9 and 12 year olds are not only on screens all day for school but then they crave playing their games and it’s all I can do not to just give up. I hate the way they behave when they get off and we end up in some kind of fight or argument because their attitudes are snarky and rude. What can I do to get a handle on it?

A. It seems that across the board everyone is hitting a Covid wall. Everything that is normally a simple problem turns into huge emotional upheavals. We all want to escape and feel normal again. For most kids, their escape—Covid or no—is into the world of gaming and watching gaming.

Kids who feel some level of incompetence at school, athletics, and/or friendships find solace and mastery in the video game world. With Covid, kids are stuck at home with parents who are always telling them what to do. Especially when school is online, they are less engaged than ever and feel frustrated and bored. It doesn’t matter to them that they have been staring at a screen all day. It’s what they gain in the gaming world that we need to pay attention to.

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Less is More in the New Year

The key to becoming a better and happier parent is NOT to add on more to-dos. Especially expectations of yourself and your kids none of you can be successful meeting. You’ll all feel worse. You may want to do things better, but I promise that most likely means doing less—worrying less, fearing less, nagging and shouting less.

We are doing so much more “parenting” than in past generations, and then giving ourselves grief about all we’re not doing. Think about all that stuff in your head telling you what is going wrong, why your child is a rotten monster, and why you are a terrible parent. That’s the stuff I’m talking about. This is what exhausts you and what you would do better leaving behind. Easier said than done, I know.

Here are some of the things my Facebook followers want to drop:

~ feeling less anxious

~ hovering

~ always being in control

~ worrying about what I’m doing wrong

~ impatience

~ trying to get him to be the person I want him to be

~ yelling, dictating, interfering, and catastrophizing

~ so much screentime for all of us

And add:

~ more adventures

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Engaging Kids in Housework

Kids don’t want to do chores. That’s a fact. Expect this. That doesn’t mean let them off the hook. It is essential for our kids to be contributing members of the family to develop an investment in and consideration for their family members. A family is a team. When you are on a team, every team player is important to the working of the whole.

But when you yell, bribe, or threaten them to do their chores, the underlying assumption is that they should want to but they don’t. This unrealistic expectation means you will yell when that expectation is not met. But if you understand that kids don’t want to do chores, you will be more effective at ensuring they get to work.

Remember when your toddlers and preschoolers begged to run the vacuum, fold laundry, wash windows, and sweep the floor? It would have taken the entire morning and you’d have to do it over anyway. You didn’t have the time or patience so you got them out of the way to just get it done. Well, you might have missed your chance. Little children want to help — until we make them.

By the time they are capable of doing a decent job, time has elapsed since toddler enthusiasm, and they no longer want to be with you every minute of the day. They are into their own thing and household tasks take them away from their own thing. Of course they don’t want to.

Now, you know your kids are going to fight you, moan, and complain when you ask them to do their chores. Who wants that? Plus you’ll have to police them, and then what if they don’t do them? That’s when consequences come in to play — usually taking something away that they care about, which turns into a battle and you erode any inkling of desire. Certainly no self-esteem is developed.

Requiring help is not about teaching them how to clean house or making them do chores for the sake of doing chores. Your kids will most likely keep a decent house one day even if they never clean yours. And they will learn to do what has to be done when it’s their responsibility. Requiring help is about helping. It’s about team work, taking on responsibilities to help the team run more smoothly. It’s about the relationship a child has with his family. It’s about seeing oneself as a helper. A helping child will be far more invested in family events and planning when she feels like an important member of the team, and she will feel more connected to her family as a source of support (the most important protective factor in anything you fear for your child).

It feels good to know that you help your family out. You feel proud of being needed, of doing things that save time for someone else. I once overheard my twelve-year-old son and his friend trying to best each other as they compared household jobs, griping as their chests swelled. That doesn’t mean they want to or would offer help if you didn’t require it. Don’t expect the offer to help for many years. Instead expect grumbling.

 

Here are some key points to help your kids be better helpers:

  • Ditch the word “chores”. No one wants to do chores, but people like to be helpful, useful. Use “help” or “jobs”.
  • Understand and be considerate of their agendas, even things you hate them doing or think of as trite. Remember, your child’s agenda is as important to him as yours is to you. Expect them to want to play rather than help.
  • A child’s job is to get what she wants, when she wants it. We are all like that. Maturity opens the perception that other people want what they want, too. So, consideration and compromises become necessary for relationships. You don’t have to teach your child this (the teaching comes in the doing), and if you try too early, your attempts will fall on deaf, egocentric ears.
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    Getting Your Kids to Listen to You. Could There Be Anything Better?

    When your kids don’t listen, how long does your patience last?

    You think you’ve tried everything. You ask nicely, you keep asking nicely until you explode, you lecture about all you do for them, you give them consequences for not listening, you give them extra privileges if they do — but your kids still won’t listen.

    You can’t seem to get them do what they should: brush their teeth, go to bed, get off the computer, quiet down in the car, eat a healthy meal, pick up their dirty clothes, etc. What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with you?

    What if: They do listen, but they don’t like what they hear? (That’s not okay, is it?)

    Now ask yourself: Are you asking them for cooperation or obedience?

    You must be clear about what you’re expecting. If you expect obedience (I know, you don’t think you are), your kids hear it in your tone. There’s a “if you don’t do what I say, you’re in trouble” attitude that determines your tone and expectation.

    The key to understanding why your children won’t do what you ask lies in understanding if and why you expect them to. Simply put, they are just being kids, doing what kids are supposed to do — get what they want when they want it. They’re probably not being disrespectful or rude. But you expect more. You expect them to do what you say because you’re the parent and kids should do what they’re told, right? After all isn’t that the way you were brought up? That’s expecting obedience. Nothing wrong with that as long as you take responsibility for it and understand that you are likely to get push-back, especially from strong-willed children.

    When you expect obedience and you don’t get it, the natural and logical progression is for you to feel angry, resentful, frustrated, and/or incompetent. Then you naturally react by nagging, blaming, threatening or worse — because you’re taking it personally and not recognizing that it is normal for your child to resist doing what he doesn’t want to do.

    If you consider yourself to be a “progressive” parent, that means you are not willing to hit your children, threaten the switch or belt, lock them in their rooms with no dinner, or ground them for days on end. No, you don’t want to do what was done to you. But that is what is needed if you expect obedience. You can get it if you are willing to use fear as the motivator to do as you say.

    You’re not willing to do that, but you want the same results. When you expect obedience without the same coercive tactics, you will likely start out patient and calm and end up playing one of your parents. You think because you are being “nicer” than your parents, your children should respond accordingly. But you have to adjust your expectations as well as your motivators.

    The answer is simple. Instead, expect them not to want to do what you say.

    Use the Of Course mantra. Of course my child doesn’t want to brush teeth, go to bed, get out the door on time (your time), pick up toys, do homework, go to the dentist, do the dishes, clean the bathroom and feed the dog.

    Understanding that they don’t want to do this doesn’t mean they don’t have to.

    You will get far more cooperation when you adjust the expectation from they should do what they are told when they are told, to kids just want to be kids and that’s ok.

    When you expect this, you know they need motivation to do what you ask, not threatening coercion. When you expect this, your kids feel your consideration. When you expect this, you are asking your kids to help you with your problem.

    When expectations are realistic, emotional reactions are far calmer, problem solving is much easier to come by, and children do not feel powerless, misunderstood and put upon. When your expectations of your children are set for an adult, your children will feel unfairly treated — and much less likely to cooperate. You’re the same way. No reason your children should feel differently.

    When kids don’t listen it’s because you’re telling them to do something that is not their problem. Picking up toys, getting to bed, brushing their teeth, etc. is your problem—they don’t care. You have to make sure those things get done. You have to get them to do a lot of things they don’t want to do. That’s why kids have to spend approximately eighteen years with parents.

    Your authority as a parent is insuring your kids do what they shouldn’t have to want to do. Because they’re kids. That’s why they need you. But things get much messier than they have to be when you expect that should want to, that it is their job, and they shouldn’t make life hard for you. They should just do what you say.

    Here’s an example of using your authority:

    “It’s time to get your room cleaned up. Of course, that’s the last thing you want to do, right? You’d probably be fine with the strange filing system you have mapped out on your floor! I need to make sure that little critters don’t decide to keep house with you. So how do we make it happen? What would be a good time for you in the next week? How long do think you’d need and let’s get it on the calendar. Do you want my help or do you want to handle it yourself?”

    Then when the time comes, stick to the agreement. At this point, it’s the agreement you are holding your child to. You never have to expect her to want to do it. But you do want to teach her that agreements are important, and her word is trusted.

    “I’ll be happy to take you to your friend’s/to practice as soon as your room is cleaned up. Let me know when you’re ready.”

    Rules and limits can be firm without ever needing to yell, blame, threaten, bribe or punish. It all depends on what you expect.

     

    The When Your Kids Push Your Buttons Audio Course

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    How to Get to Calm: Lessons from the Oregon Trail

    Getting to Calm

    What would it take for you to stay calm when it comes to managing your kids’ behavior? Sometimes it feels like a herculean task.

    Remember the Oregon trail? One wagon after another followed the tracks made by earlier wagons. The ruts got deeper and deeper as more wagons rode west. In places, a person could stand in ruts up to their waist. It would have been impossible for a wagoneer to veer off in another direction.

    When we react to our children the same way over and over, we dig ourselves into emotional and behavioral ruts. Ruts run especially deep when they stem from beliefs we hold about ourselves learned in childhood. If you believe you’re never good enough, a disappointment, or unlovable, etc. from remarks made by parents or teachers, those beliefs stick and can drive your behavior.

    The early pioneers stayed in existing wagon ruts for safety. So do we. It’s often safer to believe what we do about ourselves than to venture out on a new trail to believe I am good enough. I can do whatever I put my mind to. Try changing deep down beliefs. It’s not easy. It’s much safer to stay in familiar patterns, even though they may be self-destructive. Bad feelings about yourself lead to negative, damaging reactions toward your kids — in turn, sending negative messages to them. And the cycle perpetuates. Venturing into new territory to see things from a different perspective feels too unfamiliar, unsafe.

    How many times do you think, If only I were a better mother…. Even if you have a great moment with your child, you might discount it thinking, Why can’t I do that all the time? Do you tend to focus only on your failures and your child’s?

    Which thoughts make you feel calm?
    • I never know what to do – or – I really listened to my daughter this afternoon.
    • I always end up screaming – or – I didn’t yell when I asked him to come to the table tonight.
    • I never have enough patience – or – When I take better care of myself, I have more patience.
    • I‘ll never be able to stop blaming – or – I can do this as soon as I decide to.
    • I’m a lousy parent – or – I am a perfectly good parent and I know my kids love me.

    The negative thoughts are assumptions — your perception only. They logically cause feelings of despair and hopelessness, which in turn lead to beating yourself up and yelling at or threatening your child — leaving you thinking you’re a lousy parent. Can you see how the reframed thoughts lead to more self-compassion? But we rarely go there. It’s much easier to think negatively. We don’t even see that we have a choice. Oh, that’s just me. That’s how I am. What are we trying to prove?

    We’re control freaks. We want to be right even when being right is wrong. My child is so self-centered. He never thinks of anybody but himself. That is a judgment that could be seen from a different perspective. Kids are naturally self-centered. He wants what he wants but is also very loving and kind. Do you see how you might respond with more understanding when he is acting self-centered?

    Our negative assumptions are automatic. They fly through our brains at lightning speed, and we jump to conclusions in a nano-second. Those automatics come from the old, outdated beliefs we hold about ourselves. Those ruts we are stuck in.

    In order to step out, pay careful attention to the moments you do connect, say words you mean, and are able to stop yourself before reacting. It is the little moments that build up when, and only when, we shine a light on them. Focus more on what you want rather than what you don’t. Baby steps build the ladder to help you out of even the deepest ruts. Start by reminding yourself you can do this, even when you make lots of mistakes.

    Change can’t happen until you first recognize what it is that comes so naturally. Here’s how:

    1. Pay attention to your feeling first. Ask yourself, If I felt so angry, what must I have been thinking about myself or my child?
    2. Pat yourself on the back when you recognize a thought that led to your feelings. Why can’t I ever get anything right? He never listens. This is a big step forward.
    3. Take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings as well as the behavior they fuel. Don’t blame them on your child or anyone else, even yourself. They can change when you pay attention.
    4. Go back to your thought and see if you can reframe it until you feel calmer or more understanding. I know I can do better when I am not so hard on myself. My child is having a problem, not being a problem. When she hits, she’s probably feeling misunderstood or ignored.

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