Category: Parenting

Building Responsibility: How To Motivate Kids To Do Household Chores

Struggling to keep up with work around the house? Want to get your kids to take on a larger role in doing their part to keep things clean? If you’re struggling to motivate your kids to do their chores, you’re not alone. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some top tips to get your kids to pitch in. 

Do It With Them

There’s no need for your kids to do all of their chores on their own. Your child might enjoy doing their chores with you. For example, putting away laundry as soon as your child folds it can be a great way to get something done together while also taking some time to catch up. Drying dishes after they wash them can also be a fun way to incorporate teamwork into a daily chore routine. 

Make a Schedule

There’s no right or wrong way to make a chore schedule. The key, no matter what schedule you choose, is consistency. Writing out a weekly chore list can help your child stay aware of what chores are expected each day. Posting the list in a place they pass often (such as on the fridge or on their bedroom door) can help to ensure that they stay on top of what needs to be done. 

Consider Incentives

It’s up to you whether you think your child should earn an allowance for doing chores. Instead of providing kids with money for chores, some parents allow kids to exchange their chores for screen time or other special activities. If you do decide that you’d like to give your kid an allowance, you might want to think about giving it only for going above and beyond (completing additional optional chores after their bottom-line chores are complete). 

If your child is too young to understand the concept of an allowance, giving them stickers each time they do a chore can also be effective. If you’re feeling fancy, create a sticker chart for your child to place their stickers on, and after they get a certain number of stickers, allow them to participate in a special activity or win a special prize. Give your child the chance to choose the incentive themselves, and see how creative they can be with their reward. 

Compliment Your Kids

It can be tough for kids to get the hang of a new chore, and it’s important that you compliment their efforts no matter what the outcome. If there’s an issue that’s easily fixable (such as a shirt that was put away inside out), quickly show your child how to fix it. If the issue is more complicated (such as not mowing the grass in a pattern), take some time next time the chore rolls around to show your child how to do it correctly, while also complimenting them on how hard they tried the last time. 


How To Help Your Autistic Child Sleep Better

Getting a child to fall asleep for a full night’s rest can be difficult. If your child is autistic, it can feel like a full time job. With an estimated 2.3 percent of children having autism, there is a growing number of parents that are worrying about how to get their kids to bed every night. If you are one of these parents, here are some tips on how to get better sleep for your autistic child.

5. Quiet TIme

In the hour or two that leads up to bedtime, you’ll want to make sure that there’s a quiet period to help your child adjust. While there are many people that can simply watch television or look at their phone up until the minute that they go to sleep, that’s typically not true for autistic children. Try to set screen time to an absolute minimum before bed, and eliminate a lot of the noise in the house. This could include air conditioning/heating running at high volumes or music that you’re playing while doing the evening chores.

4. Use the Right Fabric

It might be an afterthought for a lot of people, but the type of fabric that you’re using in bed can be very important. For autistic children, it’s paramount. You don’t want to use fabric in clothing or bedding that contains a lot of zippers or tags as they can be distracting and cause unrest. There isn’t one particular fabric that’s right for everyone, so try to find the right fit for your child. This could even be in the form of a stuffed animal that helps to comfort your child and get them to sleep.

3. Right Routine

Routine is one of the biggest aspects of helping someone with autism no matter their age. Changing anything on the schedule can lead to a streak of unrest, so you’ll want to try to adhere to a sleep schedule as strictly as possible. The routine should be short for a young child, about 15 minutes or so, and at the same time each night. Try to make a visual guide on the nighttime routine that shows brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a story, etc. Visual guides combined with a schedule are almost guaranteed success.

2. Weighted Blanket

In recent years, there has been a focus on the benefits of weighted blankets for those with autism. While extensive studies have had mixed results, it could be a tool you’ll want to try if your child is having trouble falling and staying asleep. You can try out a few different weighted blankets, making sure that you find one that’s not too heavy or too light. It won’t be the cheapest option, but if you find one that works, it will be worth every penny.

1. Physical Activity During the Day

Just like you would with any child, you’ll want to make sure that your child is getting enough physical activity throughout the day so that they can rest at night. For autistic children, the amount of energy at night can prevent them from getting any sleep at all. This doesn’t mean that you should have your child run a marathon every day, but they should be getting about 30-60 minutes of outdoor physical activity.

The Facts About Screen Time And Your Kids

With every generation, we are becoming more dependent on electronics, it seems. It started with the television, then evolved into computers and handheld devices as time went on. Because of this, many are glued to their screens every day, and children are the most likely to spend the larger portions of their days with screen time. How is this affecting your children? Let’s take a look at some of the facts about screen time and what it means for your child’s life.

5. Social Problems

When your kids are spending too much time on social media, they’re much more likely to spend less time being social in real life and it affects your child’s behavior. Studies have shown that children who spend more time on their phones are more likely to feel lonely. “Parents should encourage kids to hang out with peers in person, as this is protective against loneliness and depression,” said study leader Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. “And is good for mental health and developing friendships.”

4. Academic Performance Suffers

When your children are locked onto their screens, it’s obvious that they’ll spend less time studying and focusing on schoolwork. Sure, technology can be a fantastic teaching tool, but kids are more likely to be playing video games, watching YouTube videos or hanging out on social media. Two to four hours per day is the sweet spot for academic success, actually. Studies showed that the worst grades came from those that had seven or more hours per day. The second highest grades came from those that spent 0-2 hours.

3. Lack of Sleep

Even as adults, we’ve all heard about how you should limit screen time leading up to when you’re going to sleep. This is true for children, as well, as parents should be limiting the amount of blue light that they’re getting in the two hours before bed. Screen time has been linked to the severity of insomnia, with people spending seven or more hours per day getting the least amount of sleep. It’s tempting to play on your phone or laptop in bed, but it should be very limited at nighttime.

2. Screen Time Linked to Obesity

Think about what you do when you’re eating. Typically, you’ll sit down and watch something on television or perhaps on YouTube. Your children are doing the same thing, and it actually affects them more. When children are watching video after video, they’re more likely to mindlessly munch on convenient foods. It’s not usually apples, unfortunately, as kids are prone to grabbing potato chips and other fattening snacks. Try to get your kids moving, which leads us to our last point.

1. Double the Outdoor Time

Studies have shown that these days, children are spending more than twice as much time on their screens than they are outdoors. “Until recently, children spent many hours every week on this sort of physical, imaginative, social play,” said education expert Sir Ken Robinson. “‘Real play’ like this is not only enjoyable; it is vitally important in young lives.” Kids need to be active, make friends and focus on their health overall, and getting outdoors is a great way of doing just that.

How To Help Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits

If you’re like most parents, you want your children to grow up healthy, strong, and happy — and you may be worried that you won’t be able to teach them healthy eating habits. Most children seem to have a natural preference for foods and beverages that are high in sugar and fat, and parents often struggle with getting them to even try healthier alternatives. Teaching healthy food habits doesn’t have to be a battle, though. Here’s what you can do to help your child learn positive eating habits. 

Involve Children in Food Shopping

Children are more likely to want to try different foods if they’re involved in the shopping and selection process. Once children are out of the toddler stage, taking them for short shopping trips to the supermarket can spark an early interest in food, and even young children can help pick out their favorite fruits. Another way to engage children in food shopping is to make visits to your local farmers market a regular family activity. 

Involve Your Children in Meal Preparation

Even children as young as six or seven can help with simple meal preparation tasks. Keep in mind that the point of this is to create positive associations, so make it a pleasant, happy time. Young children can help wash fruits and vegetables, while those over seven with better fine-motor skills can peel potatoes, make salads, and mix basic ingredients. Children over the age of 12 should be able to prepare simple meals themselves. 

Eat Meals as a Family 

Eating as many meals together gives parents and older siblings a chance to model good eating habits. Family meals provide another opportunity to create positive associations around food. This should be a low-stress time of day, so don’t make a big deal out of it if your child refuses to eat certain foods. 

Plant a Family Garden

Because children are naturally curious, growing a family garden provides an excellent way to get their attention in a good way — and they’ll be far more likely to want to eat produce from the garden than its counterpart from the supermarket. Freshly picked food grown in home gardens tends to taste much better than grocery store fare and is more nutritious. 

Avoid Forbidding Treats and Sweets

Children are typically drawn to anything that’s forbidden, so telling them they can’t have certain food items usually backfires. This doesn’t mean they should be allowed to gorge on whatever they like — it’s okay to tell them they can’t have that second piece of cake. Just keep in mind that forbidding cake altogether will only make them want it more. 

Keep in mind that the big picture is what really counts here. Occasional sweets and treats won’t do your child any harm when balanced with an overall healthy diet. 



How To Get Your Child Into Reading

If you’re like most parents, you want your child to be happy, healthy, and to do well in school — and this means providing a foundation for good lifelong habits. Reading is one of the habits you should work to develop in your child for a variety of reasons. Research shows that reading on a regular basis has both physical and mental health benefits. In general, those who read experience less stress, have a better vocabulary, and even live longer than their counterparts who don’t make a regular practice of reading.

Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to help a child develop an interest in reading. Here’s what you need to do.

Read With Your Child Every Day

A child’s interest in reading starts to develop before the child actually learns to read. Parents who make a practice of reading to their children every night spark that interest at any early age. Choose books with pictures and fun stories. Although many parents read to their child right before bedtime, reading is an appropriate activity for any time of day. No matter what time you choose, making it something to look forward to helps your child create positive associations. 

Enroll Your Child in a Library Reading Group

Nearly every public library has a reading group for young children. Some have several that are separated according to age. There are some library reading groups that meet every day, while others meet once or twice per week. Find the one that works for your schedule and your child’s age and make it part of your routine. You can also enroll school-age children in summer reading programs.

Make Reading Materials Easily Accessible

As your child grows older, always make sure he or she has access to plenty of reading materials. You can get free library books from public libraries as well as the library at your child’s school. Swapping books with other parents is another good way to provide your child with a diverse supply of reading material. 

Set a Good Example 

Children naturally want to emulate their parents. If your child sees you reading on a regular basis, he or she will most likely follow your example. Discussing the books you are reading with your child will spark their interest and imagination. As your children get older and are capable of reading books on their own, consider setting up a family reading time, where everyone reads silently for 30 minutes. 

Above all, don’t despair if your child is among those who don’t take to reading right away. Some children just learn more quickly than others, but slower learners invariably catch up at some point. Avoid making children feel bad if they aren’t reading at the same level as others — this may cause them to resent reading, which they may later transfer to learning in general. 



5 Principles to Help Kids Sleep Better

Getting the kids to bed can be a struggle every day, or bedtime can be a relaxing end to a great day. Ideally, you want the latter, but this can be challenging to achieve especially if you have kids who resist sleep. Want to make bedtime successful? Keep these five sleepy time principles in mind.

1. Be active but not right before bed. 

Being physically active during the day can help your child to sleep at night. Make sure your child has ample time to shake out their energy during the day. If you work out regularly, you know just how helpful this can be for people of all ages.

However, you shouldn’t try to “wear out” an active child right before bed. When you’re active, your brain and body can stay stimulated for a couple of hours after the activity. This can backfire when you’re getting your child ready for bed. Keep the mood quiet and soothing during the two hours before bed.

2. Use a consistent bedtime routine. 

A consistent bedtime routine cues your child’s mind and lets them know that it’s time for sleep. It also helps your child to wind down and transition from activity to resting. Depending on the age of the child, this may take about an hour. Focus on activities that are naturally calming. For instance, a bath and a book are the classic cornerstones of a bedtime routine.

When you’re ready to go to sleep for the night, your body’s temperature naturally drops. A bath helps to stimulate this process. When you’re in the bath, you’re warm and cozy, but after you get out, your body cools down, naturally signaling that it’s bedtime. Books are also inherently relaxing. Reading is linked to lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

3. Talk about their day. 

Speaking of stress, if your child feels stressed in the evening, their cortisol will spike, and they won’t be able to sleep. Let your kids get their worries off their shoulders by having a chat with them in the evening. Let them tell you about their day and help them work through their concerns.

4. Create a relaxing environment.

The right environment is key. Ideally, you should only use your child’s bed for sleep. If they associate bed with playing, it won’t be as relaxing.

Keep in mind that blue lights reduce melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone. So, put in red night lights instead of blue ones and try to stay away from screens. If you decide to incorporate a quiet video into your child’s nighttime routine, use a blue light blocker. It’s okay. Some kids like this option better than a book. You have to do what works for your family.

5. Look into resources for more serious problems.

In some cases, a more serious problem may be the culprit. If you’ve been trying all the tricks for years and still haven’t gotten your child to be able to go to sleep without huge hassles, you may want to consult with a doctor. Issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, and separation issues can all prevent children from going to sleep easily. But you can get help for these concerns.

5 Fundamentals of Parenting

People tend to talk about how difficult their job is, but the hardest job that you can have is one that doesn’t pay you. Of course, we’re talking about parenting, which is a 24 hour a day job filled with constant learning and reminders that you don’t know everything. Just because being a parent can be difficult doesn’t mean that there aren’t some basics that you can’t easily learn. To be an effective parent, here are a few of the fundamentals that you must have to be successful. 

5. Be Proactive

Think about the best coaches, managers and other people in a position of power that you’ve had in your life. What did they all have in common that made them so effective? Chances are that they were all proactive instead of reactive. Children, just like anybody else, are less likely to take any advice if you’re simply reacting to something that happened. When the consequences have already happened, the lesson has been learned and you’re basically rubbing salt in the wound by being reactive. Instead, paint a picture for your child regarding their choices that they make.

4. Set Good Examples

There will be no bigger role model in your child’s life than you. As a parent, your child will emulate almost everything that you do. This can be a double edged sword. If they see that you’re aggressive and fall into bad habits, then your children are more prone to copying that behavior. If you’re practicing healthy habits yourself and walking the talk, then your children are going to follow that example. This will be beneficial to yourself in the long run, too.

3. Listen

One of the biggest complaints that children will have is that they don’t feel like they’re being heard. As a kid, you can’t wait to grow up, and one of the key reasons is because they believe that they’ll finally be listened to and taken seriously once they reach adulthood. That’s not always going to be the case, but it’s better to make a child feel better when growing up by hearing what they have to say. It might be a story about a video game or they could be having serious issues at school. No matter what it is, always listen.

2. Show Respect

Listening to your child sort of goes hand in hand with showing them respect. When children don’t feel like they’re being respected, they’re more likely to shut down and not fill you in on how they’re feeling because it will fall upon deaf ears. This can set the tone for a rough upbringing that causes your child to feel isolated. Always ask for their input on decisions that are being made in the family so that they feel included and respected.

1. Be Involved

The other big complaint that children have when growing up is that their parents weren’t involved in their lives. You see it all of the time in reality shows where people talk about how they ended up in a bad situation (such as addiction) and it stems back to their parents not being around. So go to the parent/teacher meetings, attend the sporting events and get them to their school dances. You don’t have to be a helicopter parent but make sure to get involved.