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An Accidental Discovery That Resolved Many of Our Family’s Discipline Issues

Sibling Rivalry and Discipline Issues... Aargh!It’s infuriating isn’t it?

You read a million articles about how to be a better parent and study a million new techniques to master this discipline thingie, and still your kids are masters of misbehavior and will tear each other apart at the slightest provocation.

What gives?

I am a committed skeptic when it comes to parenting know how. But I recently discovered something that helped our family resolve sibling rivalry, discipline issues and more, and changed our family forever.

Mindfulness.

When I started, I had no idea that it had a new-agey name or that it was being hailed as some new fangled parenting mantra. I stumbled upon in by accident – and all the hype and hope aside – it really worked for us.

What it boils down to is this; mindfulness is simply taking a moment to notice what’s happening in your family and accepting it.

It’s noticing your own thoughts, noticing your child’s behavior and choosing how to react without letting your emotional baggage and your bad temper stomp all over your life.

It all started like this. [Read More...]

How to Get Your Kids to Open Up to You About Their Fears and Worries

Getting Kids to Talk -- Expert AdviceDo your kids always tell you what’s going on in their impenetrable little worlds?

My daughter is a certified chatterbox. She’ll tell me about the space-camera-binocular-thingie she is building with Legos until I’m blue in the face from listening. Or about a fancy new restaurant she is going to open. Or the new obstacle course she’s designing.

But ask her what she did in school today, and I get nothing. Zilch. Nada.

She doesn’t get past two sentences about her day before getting sidetracked about something in her imagination that is too fantastic to ignore.

At times, it can be a bit frustrating not knowing what’s going on in her real world.

If you have kids who don’t tell you what they’re up to, for one reason or another, you know that feeling!

I sometimes wonder, if something ever really goes wrong or bothers her, will she tell me? Is there something I can do to make sure that she will?

So, I did what I’ve been doing lately… I reached out to 6 amazing experts in the parenting field and asked them -

How can we get our kids to open up to us about their fears and worries?

The answers they gave me were every bit as insightful and helpful as I’d hoped.

Here’s what I learnt about what we can do to get our kids to open up to us about their fears and worries -

[Read More...]

Got Kids With Irrational Fears?<br/> 5 Powerful Strategies You Should Try

Childhood Fears: How Parents Can HelpDon’t you think one of the most helpless and frustrating moments as a parent is when our kids have irrational fears, and nothing we say seems to make a difference?

It may be something common like the fear of darkness or monsters under the bed. Or something completely out of ordinary like the fear of ants, or everyday sounds, or imaginary little men living under the nightstand.

How can we help them overcome these fears?

For my daughter, it was an irrational fear of water. Even a splash on her leg from stepping in a puddle made her scream like she’d been cut with a knife. She ran away from dogs because she was afraid they would lick her. I could only bathe her with a sponge in a bucket in front of the TV to distract her. Once, she punched a one year old in the face because she was so afraid the baby would suck on its fingers and then touch her with wet hands.

I had no idea how to help my daughter overcome her fear of water. What help I was able to offer, I mostly discovered by trial-and-error. But recently, I read a book about childhood anxiety that I wish I’d had when my daughter was younger.

The opposite of worry, by Lawrence CohenIn The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears by Lawrence Cohen, I found many of the strategies I stumbled on over the years, as well as others I wish I’d thought to try. Cohen explores ways to help kids overcome worry by replacing it with its opposites: things like connection, mindfulness, courage, playfulness, and confidence.

If you have a child struggling with irrational fears, here are 5 things you should try -

[Read More...]

How to Give Your Kids Freedom in a Dangerous World

Raise you hands if you think we’re raising our kids in a dangerous world…

Kidnappers. Child molesters. School shootings. Bullies. Internet. Rusty nail. Red dye #40.

If you feel like the world is scarier today than when you were a kid, you’re not alone. In a survey of parents in the UK, nearly half said they don’t let their kids play outside because they’re worried about safety.

Are we all turning into overprotective parents?Overprotective parenting has become a lifestyle for many families. When I tell my neighbors that I’d like to let my 6 year old go to the playground without me soon, they’re shocked. If I remind them that I walked all over my neighborhood without an adult when I was just a year or two older than her, they reply, “The world is different today.

But protecting your kids too much is just as dangerous as not protecting them enough. It might seem safer for your kids to spend all their time in supervised, structured activities, constantly observed by qualified, caring adults. But researchers are discovering that kids need more than supervised exercise: they need freedom. They need to organize their own activities, not just follow adult direction. They need to solve their own problems, negotiate the social world of other kids, and regulate their own actions without adult interference.

In other words, they need for us to stop protecting them from everything. They need for us to let them get out in the world, despite the danger.

Because our job as parents isn’t just to protect our kids. It’s also to prepare them for life.

We can’t wait till they’re adults to start practicing; they need to start now to learn the skills they’ll need to thrive and succeed.

Here’s how we can stop being overprotective parents and give our kids the freedom they need to grow.

[Read More...]

The Secret to Letting Go of Parental Guilt Once and For All

Parental Guilt -- Yikes!Isn’t it amazing how even the smallest things can so unexpectedly trigger a tsunami of guilt in us parents?

The way another mom at the playground rolls her eyes when you pull out a bottle to feed your baby. The shocked look a dad at Target gives you when you hand your toddler candy to get him to sit in the cart. The look in your 6-year-old’s eyes when your temper snaps after her tenth time out of bed after 10 pm.

If you’re like most parents, guilt is your constant companion, right?

But, parenting wasn’t always this hard. Nor did it go hand-in-hand with the feeling of guilt.

As a matter of fact, when I was a kid (and probably when you were, too!), gangs of unsupervised “latchkey” kids biked around the neighborhood in idyllic freedom while their parents were at work. And, when my parents were kids, moms held a cigarette in one hand and a baby in the other while the big kids watched TV all day long, and no one batted an eye. Go back a few more generations, and you’ll find eight year olds running the house and taking care of their siblings while their parents are out farming.

Compared to our ancestors, our kids have it made.

And, this generation of parents might be the best parents in history. We start educating babies before they’re born. We track every developmental milestone throughout their lives. We hover over every failure and rejoice over every success.

How did we get from there to here? If we’re such great parents, why do we feel so guilty? And is there anything we can —or should —do to stop feeling so guilty?
[Read More...]