Proactive Parenting Blog

Yelling is Emotions on Steroids

by Sharon Silver on May 19, 2015

live_photo16734172We’ve all been there, you've had “one of those days!” Those are the days when you fantasize about running away! Before packing your bags, know this, there’s a reason why your kids force you to yell, and a way to change it. Yes, I said it. Your kids force you to yell, but not in the way you might think.

The Habit Begins

Since young children aren’t finished learning language yet, even though they sound totally fluent, they fill in missing gaps of knowledge by focusing on their parents’ facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice and then use their immature reasoning to interpret what they’ve observed.

We’ve all heard the cute misuses of language on YouTube, but there are also some behavioral misunderstands kids make that can cause a parent to yell, and that’s not so cute!

Nothing packs the energetic punch that yelling does! Think about what you do when you yell. You stop what you’re doing, you turn around, you lock eyes with your child, and you focus all of your words on him. That’s a bunch of attention!

Yes, kids adore loving words and actions, but they also want attention and they should have it. Since yelling packs such a huge energetic wallop, younger kids make the incorrect assumption that the best way to get that much focus and attention is to misbehave. I know it’s counterintuitive, but it’s true.

Shift the scales

If a child's habit of getting attention through misbehavior goes unchanged by a parent, then the child grows up seeking attention through misbehavior, and no parent wants that! To prevent that from happening it's best if parents can stop reacting and yelling during early childhood and shift to responding to correct behavior. What does that look like?

Be honest

Yelling is nothing more than your emotions on steroids. That means you have to look at what your triggers are. Do you expect perfect behavior? Are there too many things on your plate leaving you no energy to deal with the kids? Are there other adult situations impacting your feelings or stamina? Be honest and ask yourself, am I releasing my frustration on my kids becasue they can’t fight back at the same level as an adult would. If so, review what’s happening in your life and make some changes.

Remain Empathetically Connected

When your child misbehaves take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and make a conscious effort to connect with your heart before you say anything. This simple act engages empathy, which is a critical component for a child to feel in order to listen and cooperate.

Focus on the End

All parents want their kids to think before doing something. The best way to create a child who thinks before he leaps is to teach him how to reverse engineer a situation, and that’s a two-step process.  

          1. Ask questions

Ask him, “Is this what you thought would happen when you did that?” Then ask, “Can you think of a better way to do that?” This teaches him to review his decisions before acting on them.

           2. Personal Wisdom

We all know that learning from the results of our actions is the most powerful form of teaching. Parenting is not a license to interfere in that learning. The goal of parenting is to love our kids, keep them safe from danger, and let them learn as we empathetically support, guide and teach them. One aspect of responding means letting life teach your kids, if you can. Let things play out so your child learns from within, from their experience, versus imposing the lesson from outside by punishing.

Those are 3 basic tips to get you started. Are you looking for the meat and potatoes of how to apply these and many more principals to stop yelling? If so, consider our BreakThrough Series. It’s a Master Class designed to be your roadmap to guide you from the preschool years thru the high school years. It’s broken out into three age groups, preschool, school age, and tween/teen. It contains scripts that share the words that tranform your reacting into responding. And most importantly, it’s going away! Yes, what’s now all in one package, and at one low price, is being broken up into many packages and will cost much more soon. Take advantage of the low price and get yours TODAY.

Did you like those tips? If so, please share them on social media by tweeting or posting: Yelling is emotions on steroids! Stuck in yelling mode w/no results? 3 tips to take u from reacting 2 responding


“He’s Breathing My Air!” Or Fighting Part 2

by Sharon Silver on May 12, 2015

Solutions-Sibling-Fighting-2By now you’ve figured out that family life isn’t a fairytale filled with hugs, kisses and sweetness, only. Even though many times it is. By now you’ve realized that family life is complicated.


Part one in the fighting series was about bickering. That irritating snippy form of communication that attacks something a sibling has or something she's done. Today I’m talking about fighting. Not the potentially dangerous type of fighting that needs parental attention immediately, today I’m talking about the “He’s breathing my air!” type of fighting.

It seems like the moment child #1 meets child #2 there’s an inaudible question floating in the air, “ Who do you love more?” And that my friend is the question that’s at the core of most sibling fights. How a parent deals with fighting determines the direction the fight will head, either toward resolution or mutual destruction! Kidding, sort of!

When a parent says things like, “I know you started this?” or “Stop picking on your sister?” or “You know better than to do that to your brother!” they’re unintentionally throwing another log on the fire, so to speak.

Sibling Fighting Strikes at the Very Core of a Parent’s Heart

When a parent hears the kids fighting, a predictable stream of thought emerges. “Why don’t my kids love each other?” then your mind move on to, “Will they grow up hating each other?” then you end with, “Did I do something to cause my kids to act this way?” No wonder parents will do almost anything to make the fighting stop, that mind chatter can drive you mad!

Unfortunately, some of the ways parents attempt to make fighting stop actually fuels the fight and keeps the kids from resolving the issue at hand. Let me explain.

This post is another nod to the wisdom makers on the topic of sibling rivalry, Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber, authors of Siblings Without Rivalry. These ideas are truly game changers for families. However, in some cases, no matter what a parent does siblings just don’t like each other. From birth they seem to react to each other like oil and water, they don’t mix and never will. If you suspect that your kids are like oil and water, never fear, your family will still benefit from these ideas.

The ideas I’m about to share are life skills, plain and simple. All kids need to be taught problem solving techniques so they can resolve issues with everyone in their lives, not just siblings. Your kids will need these skills to resolve issues with you, other relatives, friends, classmates, and future working and romantic relationships.

Daily Actions to Take

Many parents believe sibling fighting is an issue that’s created by the kids, only. Here are 6 areas where parents unconsciously contribute to the mix.

1. Equally Rights for All

“Children don’t need to be treated equally, they need to be treated uniquely.” Faber and Mazlish

When you try to make sure everything is equal, three things happen.

  1. Neither child feels truly known.
  2. They become suspicious of each other, not satisfied.
  3. They begin to compete with each other hoping to force mom or dad to reveal who the favorite is.

Michelle Borba stated in an iVillage article (July 2007) “As much as we try to not show favoritism, studies reveal that kids do pick up our preferences.” When favoritism appears, jealousy rears its head causing siblings to resent each other and fight.

Solution: Even if you know who probably started the fight, stay away from casting a perpetrator and a victim.  

2. The Fairness Trap

We’ve all heard, “Life isn’t fair.” Family life needs to prepare kids for the real world outside their front door, not protect them from it. I’m not advocating that you be unfair, not at all. What I am saying is be honest, and let kids learn from that.  

Solution: Let children make choices based on what best for them as individuals. This satisfies their basic unconscious need to be seen for who they truly are and may help reduce the need to fight with a sibling.

                 Old version – Child: "He has a bigger piece than I do!" 

                  Mom: "There, now it’s fair, you each have the same amount."

                  New version – Mom: "I’m slicing the pie. What does your stomach have room for, a small or large piece?"

3. The Squeaky Wheel

There are times in all families when one child just needs you more than the others. If you spend most of your time with the sibling who’s acting out, you’re showing both kids that the best way to get one-on-one time with mom is through misbehavior.

Solution: Do what’s needed with the child who acts out, but don’t forget to spend time with the child who isn’t acting out.

4. Comparing Apples to Oranges

Nothing makes a child feel like fighting more than being compared to a sibling.

Solution: Acknowledge each child’s individual style and way of doing things.

Old version – Dad: "Why can't you be as neat as your brother?"

New version – Dad: “I like how you lined your books up. Do you think that idea would work to organize your shoes, too?”                                                                                                                                          

5. Constant Comment

If you pick at and argue about the small stuff all day long, you’re sending a silent message that says, the way we resolve things in our family is through fighting not through cooperation and problem solving.

Solution: Pick your battles, and remember there’s more than one way of doing things. It may not be how you would do it, or the best way to do it, but things will get done just the same.

6. Don’t Stare

There are many different ways to problem solve. In order to learn about them you have to respectfully listen to see how others do things.

Solution: Watch how other families solve problems on the playground or on TV. Highlight what’s good and bad about the way things are being resolved. Ask your child for her opinion. Ask her if she has other ideas about how to resolved things.

Let the Fight Begin

Many parents believe sibling fighting is something kids should handle all by themselves. I think that’s like giving a 2 yr. old a knife and asking her peel a carrot. She’s using the wrong tool to do the job and will most likely hurt herself or someone else along the way. Parents have to teach their kids the skills needed to resolve fights first, before the kids can handle things all by themselves. The best way to do that is for a parent to act as a facilitator versus judge and jury.  

What’s facilitating?

Parent Power defined facilitating as, “to help forward, to assist the process.” Here are 7 things a parent can do to facilitate a fight, instead of react to it.

1. Be fully present

Nothing is more upsetting than talking about your feelings while the other person is doing something else. Put technology away and focus on both kids.

2. Make physical contact

Instead of remote parenting, walk over to the kids. If they’re open to it, touch them lightly on the shoulder. Look them in eye before speaking.

3. Acknowledge feelings

Mom: “I hear two kids who are angry at each other. Let’s talk about it instead of shout about it.”

4. Use the Same Question

Begin by asking one child a question. After she answers turn to the other child and ask the exact same question. This allows them both to have their say and truly feel heard.

Mom: “Julie, tell Ashley why you’re mad? Ashley, tell Julie why you’re mad?”

5. Repeat what you heard them say

Mom: “Julie, you both were playing dress up when Ashley took the scarf you needed, right? Ashley, you took it because you love blue and always use that scarf, right?”

6. Rock bottom feelings

You may get the sense, even after steps 1-5, that the kids are still mad at each and not ready to problem solve yet. If so, ask them to deep breathe for a minute then express what else they’re feeling, then restate the new feelings.

Mom: “Ashley you were mad that Julie and I read a story this morning so when she took the scarf you got really mad and grabbed it back, is that right?”

7. Problem Solve

Obviously it’s easy for you to come up with ways to problem solve, but that won’t teach the kids the skills they need. Let them dig deep to come up with ideas. This will get easier with time.

Mom: “This is a problem! But it’s one I’m sure you two can solve. What ideas have you seen others do in situations like this? Who has an idea of how to fix a hurt heart? What should you do next time you feel like the other person got more time with me?”

There’s no magic wand here. Every situation, child and parent is different. The key is to use empathetic-active-reflective listening as you ask questions and let them express how they feel without stopping them or correcting them. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they resolve things after that!

Next week, I'll tackle when fighting gets physical. I hope this was helpful, if so, please share the link on social media. 





Siblings-400Yesterday it was in the low 80’s here, and today we’re fogged in and COLD! Big temperature changes remind me of how quickly things can shift between siblings. One minute they’re laughing and the next minute they’re bickering. It happens fast.

When situations change quickly it’s hard for parents to do anything but react…unless they have a plan.

Yesterday Parent Educator Shelly MacDonald inspired me to spread a detailed topic over several newsletters, so that's what I'm going to do for a few weeks, discuss a big family topic—arguing. 

During my 30-yr. career I’ve only used one book to guide me on the topic of siblings, Siblings w/o Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It was published a long time ago, so the book’s conversations are a tiny bit out of date, but the concepts are unparalleled. I have adapted the methods suggested in their book so I can show you how to respond, not react, to sibling fighting. The methods I’m sharing can also be creatively applied to other situations as well.

Today we’ll focus on something that tends to send a parent up the wall, bickering. The tiny, stupid little arguments that can cause a parent to act as judge and jury in order to stop things from getting any worse. What I’m about to advocate will be counterintuitive to you until you try it about 10 times and see that it works.



Two points you need to keep in mind as you read further.

1. Your parental job is to teach, not control your children.

2. Pick your battles.

The Scenario – Breakfast Bickering

Brother: “That’s my bowl, give it to me!”

Sister #1: “It’s not your bowl!”

Sister #2: “That’s my cup!”

Sister #1: “Mom got that cereal for me, it’s mine!”

Sister #2: “I can have some; you’re not the boss of me!”

Need I go on?

Every parent’s tendency is to rush in to “Stop it right now!” We either angrily attempt to identify who started it, or lump all the kids together and begin yelling. That’s reacting, and as we all know, things will get worse pretty quickly from there. That’s why I asked you to remember two things, your job is to teach, and pick your battles.

I know every fiber of your body, especially in the morning, wants to shut down the bickering immediately. But, believe it or not, this is a great learning opportunity.

If you rush in and insert yourself into the mix, your silent message teaches the kids that they’ll never need to, or be able to, resolve things without your help. Kids need to learn how to resolve things without your help, because you won’t always be there to help! So what can be done? Here’s a three-step process to try. 

Step One-Reminder only

Do not rush in and hand out a consequence, not yet. But do go in to deliver a reminder. Pretend that you need something and casually say, “There’s no name calling in this house” and walk out. That’s being proactive and reminding them of the rules, aka your job.

Why not try and stop it at this point?

I know bickering is annoying, however, bickering is pretty harmless in the grand scheme of things, remember… pick your battles. Bickering is what kids do to establish pecking order in a family. It’s a child’s form of communication. As long as all that’s going on is bickering, then just deliver the reminder.

Step Two-Cooling off

Continue listening closely to the bickering and banter between them. Listen for the moment when hurtful words are said or labels are being slung, or someone’s character has been attacked. At that moment calmly walk in and call for a mandatory 5-minute cool-off.

Kids don’t fully understand how to control themselves in every emotional situation yet, they’re kids. They haven’t had enough experiences in life yet to figure out how to dig deep to access their internal resources so they can control themselves. They learn how to do that by experiencing what happens when they don’t do that. In other words, when they experience the consequence of not controlling themselves, they become motivated to figure out how to control themselves.

Mom: “I’ve already reminded you that there’s no name calling in our family. Everyone please get up and go to your rooms for a 5-minute cool-off.”

Sister #1: “What about breakfast? I won’t have time to do my hair! I’ll be late if we don’t eat now!”

Mom: 5-minutes for all of you!

Remember this is not punishment; it is a cooling off moment to settle any ruffled feathers so they can return, apologize and try again.

3-5 minutes is good for older kids, 1 minute is good for younger kids. The time needs to be short so the situation remains fresh in their minds when they come back to the table.

Step Three- Apologies and A Try Again

Mom: “In this family we apologize when hurtful words have been used. Please apologize to each other from your heart, now.”

Mom: “I know each of you knows what hurtful words feel like and are totally capable of not using them with those you love! You guys decide how you want the rest of the morning to go. We can certainly do another cool-off, if need be. I’ll be in the office quietly drinking my coffee.”

That statement sends the silent message, I know you’re now fully aware of what will happen if you use hurtful words, a 5-minute cool-off will occur. And I trust you to figure out how to control yourself or there will be another cool-off period and another, even if it makes us late, until you stop. 

Bickering, teasing and taunting actually serve a purpose. It teaches kids how to reject harsh words, which can help when/if they ever face a bully. Shows them that when mean things are said, an apology must follow. Models that you believe in their ability to control themselves. It shares your family’s values—we don’t speak harshly to those we love. Repeatedly requires them to resolve things by facing them, apologizing, and beginning again.

See you next week! Let me know how this works for you.

Now go hug your kids.



Clarita-800Every week you deal with siblings fighting, kids wanting to use your cell phone, words that can damage a fragile tender heart, upsetting situations that your child experiences, and the need to somehow make it clear that You. Are. Not. Allowed. To. Behave. That. Way! And that's just a regular day in most homes! 

This week Yahoo and PopSugar ran 5 different articles I either wrote or was quoted in. Each article addresses one of those topics, so I decided to post them all at once. Pass it on to others who may be dealing with these things as well.

The topics include:

Sibling fighting and why that's not always a bad thing.

Whether or not it's a good idea to let a child have a cell phone?

How to make a time-outs work. Since we all know time-outs don't usually do much except give you both a break.

Something you should NEVER say to your child, and why.

And whether or not it's a wise idea to let kids deal with the bad things that happen in their lives. With your support and guidance, of course. 

6 Ways to Prevent Sibling Rivalry

Giving a Kid a Cell Phone: How Young Is Too Young?  

One thing You Should NEVER Say To Your Child

How to Make Time-Outs Work

Why It's Good to let Bad Things Happen to Kids

There seems to be some confusion about what I write and what I don't. I don't write the headlines, sometimes I like them, and sometimes they're a bit more intense than I would post. I can not control all the things that appear in print with my name. Sometimes an editor changes things without my permission, and sometimes the writer adds things to frame my quotes. Just thought you'd want to know. 


Win-Child-crop400When you sign up to get Proactive Parenting's weekly newsletter, and I hope you do, I invite new followers to send in one parenting question for me to answer in the newsletter, anonymously, of course. If you haven’t done that yet, What are you waiting for? Hint, you get a free e-Book when you do!

Here’s this week’s Q&A

Q: “[I’m] looking forward to receiving your newsletters. My question regarding parenting is ' How can I improve my child's self esteem?' I know how to do this in obvious ways but I would like to learn other methods. I have three daughters!” 

A: I get different versions of this question All. The. Time.  Other variations of the same question are, “How can you help your child be a strong individual?” Or “How do you create an empowered person?” Or, “How can I help my child become less fearful?” My answer addresses something that’s broader than just giving you a few self-esteem tips, although higher self-esteem will be one of the by-products of applying this principal. Confusing answer? I know…read on.

Let me begin by saying, as far as I know, there isn’t one magic answer here. Even if you do what I’m about to suggest, there are no guarantees that your child will grow up to be strong, empowered, courageous or fearless. All you can do is try. All you can ever do is be the best parent you can be. There are no guarantees in life, of that I am sure.

Each one of us, kids included, have life-lessons to learn. However, these days it seems as if more and more parents are protecting their kids from experiencing, and learning from their life lessons. Parents seem to make excuses for behavior or try to stop their kids from feeling any kind of disappointment or unhappiness. The by-product of that type of parenting is that kids never get to stretch themselves. And stretching yourself is how every one of us learns to be strong, empowered, courageous and fearless, and have high self-esteem.

Think back to a challenging moment in your life, or better yet, a challenging moment in your childhood. When you faced that situation, no one could help you. You had to dig deep and find your own resources to handle the situation. When all was said and done you felt powerful. You felt like you could do anything. You felt yourself smiling from deep inside your soul, you had triumphed.

What you didn’t see, as you went through that experience, is what your parents were feeling. You weren’t aware of their pain or discomfort as they watched you struggle or challenge yourself. My guess is they wanted to rescue you. They wanted to stop your pain. They wanted to scream, ”I told you not to do that, now look at the mess you’re in.” But they were wise, gifted parents and they knew you had to learn for yourself, in spite of the pain they felt letting you do it.

I truly believe that no parent wants his or her child to be in pain. All parents feel tremendous apprehension and pain as they watch their children struggle, but struggle they must. Struggling to learn is what moves a human being forward and allows them to grow.

I’m not saying you should cause pain. I don’t believe in punishment or causing physical or emotional pain of any kind. And of course, being who I am, I don’t believe in spanking.

Having said that, I believe there are ways parents can help their kids become strong, empowered, courageous and fearless.

1. Raise your expectations of what your kids are capable of! Raise the bar, so to speak. Always hold the mindset “I know you can, you just haven’t figured out how yet.”

2. Challenge your kids, and I don’t mean academically. Let them figure out for themselves how to handle the problems and mistakes in their life. Let them face the results of their choices, with your support and empathy of course.

3. Teach them the life/emotional skills they’ll need to be successful in this world. That means you have shift the way you think about behavior. Instead of thinking that mistakes are bad, think of mistakes as learning opportunities.

Most people I know who are strong, empowered, courageous and fearless have high self-esteem, it’s the wonderful by-product I spoke of before.

Use last week’s analogy of spring flowers here, too. When your child was born all the gifts, talents and strengths (s)he will need in life are buried deep within. As (s)he grows you water them with love, empathy and support. You fertilize them by enforcing the boundaries and rules you set. And each season a new bud, a new empowered skill, rises up in all its glory and takes its place within the garden of your child’s life. When (s)he leaves home and goes off to college they take their fully bloomed garden with them and allow it to nurture and empower them forever.

I believe that’s how you create strong, empowered, courageous, fearless kids with high self-esteem.

See you next week. Now go hug your kids!



What’s The Story About Your Life?

by Sharon Silver on April 1, 2015

Spring-flowersWhat is The Story You Tell Yourself about your life?

The title is sort of an odd question, I know. But let me ask it again in a different way. What is the story you tell yourself about your life, about your kids, and about yourself?

Do you see yourself as a glorious whole being? Or a small damaged one?

Do you see your child as a shining light ready to reveal the secrets of who she is? Or do you see her as her behavior, the one who causes chaos all day long?

Do you see your life as a journey, an opportunity to grow and discover who you truly are? Or do you see your life as a series of irritating hurdles you have to face each and every day?

What’s the story you tell yourself about your life?

It’s spring. Even if what you see from your window still looks like winter, it’s spring! Close your eyes and ask yourself, am I looking forward to blooming flowers, longer warmer days and magical nights filled with stars? If you’re looking forward to any of those things, then your internal clock has notified you that spring has sprung.

And now for the “bigger” question—What Will You Do With the Power of Spring?

Spring gives us all a fresh start, a chance to plant new seeds and pluck out the old growth. A chance to let go of old wounds and old habits, a chance to insert new words and refresh our connections with those we love. Spring allows us to begin again.

How will you create yourself anew? What do you want to change?

Do you want to change the way you speak to others? Maybe you want to change the internal dialog you have with yourself? Or the way you extend your purpose into this world? What will bloom for you this spring?

When I see the daffodils in bloom I know they are only here for a short time. They signal an opportunity for me to focus on something I want to change in my life and remind me to get on it.

This week the spring blooms struck me in a way that reminded me to let go. I saw daffodils in perfect bloom surrounded by hundreds of other spring flowers and became inspired to adjust the way I’ve been feeling about a situation in my life. I became aware that old issues have been clouding how I feel. When I saw tender shoots emerging from the ground I realized that, in this situation, old wounds will never be resolved, and in order for me to heal, I need to let go. I need to let the anger stop blooming and let new shoots of love take its place.

Let me ask you again—What Will You Do With the Power of Spring?

Here’s an example of someone who has changed the way they handle a sensitive subject. This conversation is being brought to you by The writer overheard this conversation while getting dinner at Wendy’s. Read her post below first, and then I want to add something, of course!

“Random goodness: at Wendy’s picking up food for dinner. Saw an older man with two boys. The older boy (6-8) says to his I assume grandfather, “I need to go home and change my underwear…”

Grandfather says, “Why?”

The kid looks uncomfortable and shrugs, looking down.

I brace myself for shaming.

Grandfather comes close and says, “Okay, no problem. We’ll swing by the house and change. I shouldn’t have asked you like that. I should have waited until we were in private or just trusted that you know what you need. I’m sorry. I’ll remember next time.”

Those are some pretty respectful words, and a beautiful way to handle a delicate situation. And why shouldn’t a parent or a grandparent treat a situation like this as respectfully as possible? That’s the question, why do we usually handle situations like this with anger, frustration, disappointment or shame? Is it really necessary? Is there another way to teach, empower, and create independence and respect while still being the authority in our child’s lives? Yes, there is. I hope those grandfather’s words will inspire you to change your words and let the connection between you and your child bloom and take center stage in as many situations as possible.

Don’t let my question, What Will You Do With the Power of Spring? wither on vine, so to speak. Focus on it. Look inside and make some changes. Begin by always taking a breath before speaking to your kids.

Happy Spring! Now go hug your kids!



Is it your job to entertain your kids?

by Sharon Silver on March 12, 2015

IMom-Play-with-meThis helpful article comes from "Parenting Power" Thanks for sharing ladies! 
We are constantly hearing about the word 'Busy'. Robert Holden, in his book Success Intelligence, calls 'busy' the new status symbol; wherein appearing busy implies that one has greater status and value.

Perhaps this status symbol is trickling down to our children. It seems that there are more and more classes and events for kids. Weekends, which were once down time, are now just a series of activities – off to the pool or sport ball, birthday party, hockey game, skating session or lesson. 


Many parents tell us that they feel frazzled, spending so much time doing things with their kids that there isn't time to get everything else done. 


Today's question is:


Is it your job to entertain your child?



The answer is: NO. 



Does that mean we just hand off the iPad, turn on the TV or the computer and let technology entertain our kids? Again – NO.



All children 2 and over need to learn independent play. 


Do you need to be watching them if they are toddlers or preschoolers? Yes.


Do you need to be playing with them or showing them how to use a toy? Not all the time. It is perfectly acceptable and in fact, responsible to teach our kids how to entertain themselves without technology.



If your child is older, and still seems to need you every moment of the day, it is never too late to teach that independence. Be aware that as you distance yourself from your child, there may be an increase in attention-getting misbehaviours to bring you right back. 


That's why it can help to teach independent play in steps – setting everyone up for success. Start with small increments of time (really small- something you know that they can handle) – providing something for your child to do while you chop veggies or fold laundry. Return to the child before she fusses and notice, "I knew that you could entertain yourself – you are capable."Gradually increase the duration of time when you are not entertaining your little-one. Ideally, the child will begin to choose his own entertainment. 


If you've got older children, set aside some non-technology time and get your kids to make a list of what they can do that isn't electronic. This is a great thing to do with Spring Break around the corner.


This week: Make time to sit and read a book or the newspaper in a space in your home. You can invite your kids to join you or just be present around them. There is a lot of value of just being present with your kids rather than doing things with them.


PS. Being present with your kids does not mean being on technology around them. Screens are so distracting that we can easily miss something we need to attend to as parents when we 'just check the phone for a second.'



Chores, Kids and fun – You’ve got to be kidding?!

by Sharon Silver on February 2, 2015

250• Window WasherChores are a hot topic in most households. Parents simply want the kids to do them, and do them without reminders.

Chores can easily turn into a constant battle, unless parents first do some basic training during the preschool years. If parents create what I call the foundation of participation then chores become a normal, expected part of family life. Let me explain.

Most parents don’t really think about having preschoolers do chores. They want them to go to school, and play as much as they can. Parents figure there will be plenty of time to insist on chores when they get older.

I agree parents shouldn’t insist that preschoolers do chores. But, if you wait until your child is older before engaging them in chores, you’re missing a golden opportunity, the opportunity to capitalize on your child’s interest in doing what adults do.

Chores have so many benefits it’s hard to focus on just one or two. Many of you asked me questions like, “How can I help my child with impulsivity and transitioning?” “How can I stop my child from hurting her sibling?” “How do I deal with step-kids?”

Being involved with a parent and doing chores can help with all of these issues. When a child is hurting a sibling, she needs to feel like she holds a specail place in the family that her younger sibling doesn't hold. Doing chores her sibling is too young to do will help. Step-kids need to realize they’re all equal, all loved in the same way, in order to feel like a united family, chores will help. Doing daily chores helps with impulsivity and transitioning, too.

In order to gain cooperation with chores let’s go back to the need to create a foundation of participation. The foundation begins with a house rule my sweet husband created many years ago. He said, “We all make the mess, we all clean the mess.” Begin there. Make that your new family rule.

Also begin inviting kids to join you as do chores, around the ages of 3-6. That’s the time in life when kids think the normal everyday chores adults do are fun. They think that chores are what adult’s do when playing. We of course know better. Hey, I’m not going to taint their idea about adult play, are you? I didn’t think so … moving on.

So how do you introduce chores to kids so they don’t become a fight? Treat chores like play, of course. Play is how teachers teach everything in preschool.

Let’s go over the “don’ts” for 3-6 yr. olds.

• Don’t insist they do a chore from start to finish. Let them help out in short bursts. Let them participate till they’re bored, then let them stop and go play. Bailing on an activity before it’s complete is age appropriate. After a few months of inviting them to help out with chores you can begin teaching them to how to stick with an activity, but right now you’re goal is to create a foundation of participation.

• Don't call them chores. Simply ask them to come and help. Save the word "chores" for when they're older.

• Don’t insist they do a chore without you. That’s just not fun. Do things with them.

• Don’t insist they do a chore without a reminder.

• Don’t be sporadic about doing chores. Kids need routine in order to create new habits.

• Don’t punish or remove a precious item if they don’t want to help out. Just keep inviting them to join you, and mix up the chores you invite them to do with you till you find one they enjoy. 

Remember you’re creating a foundation of participation by participating with them. Doing chores independently, without reminders, is something slightly older kids can do easily, if you wait for that developmental time. However, if you argue, nag and punish, chores will always be a fight, and no one wants that.

Here are the “dos” for 3-6 yr. olds.

• Do invite them to do the things you do, but in age appropriate ways. They can wash plastic dishes, sort laundry, unload the dishwasher, wipe off their chair, sort toys, stack plastic containers, plant flowers. If you want a list of things kids can do at this age, visit my Pinterest page under Teaching Life Skills

• Do use blue painters tape to make a square on the floor so little ones have a big area to sweep the mess into.

• Do invite the kids to help out every day, but don’t punish if they refuse. Kids love routine. It makes them feel safe. They also love to do what mom and dad do. That’s why they play house, they want to do “big people” stuff. If they don’t like one chore, invite them to do another. Keep inviting them to help out till you find something they like. When they’re older they can help out with the “real” chores.

•Do expect them to do things in a messy way. They’re learning. They won’t do things as neatly as you would.

• Do expect to feel like it’s easier if you just did it yourself. But think again. Parents have been lead to believe that learning is only done through academics. Fine and gross motor activities activate executive functioning in the brain. Chores help kids with time management, decision-making, planning, and organization, all aspects of executive functioning. Locating and wiping up small crumbs uses fine motor skills. Sweeping and raking leaves use gross motor skills. Deciding where to sweep first, then where to sweep next, activates planning and organizing skills. There’s so much learning that occurs by doing chores, as long as there’s cooperation, not power struggles and threats.

So instead of demanding that your 5 yr. old do a weekly chore by himself, even though he may be capable of it, try building a foundation of participation instead. You’ll thank me in a few years.

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