School age

Stress-free meal prep with kids

baking with kids

There are so many positive outcomes from letting your child help you cook or bake!  Like we’ve discussed before, it gives them the opportunity to learn through doing, and it just gives them something to do instead of whine about being hungry while you’re trying to cook!

Plus, kids are more interested in eating something they made themselves (helping them overcome pickiness!).  And, of course, one day they’ll have to cook for themselves, so they have to learn somehow.

But let’s be real:  If you’re like me, you sometimes really don’t want to deal with having them “help” in the kitchen, especially when they’re little.  It’s the control issues we have, right?

They’re gonna make a huge mess.

This will take way longer than if I just did it myself.

They’ll just squabble over turns while they’re at the counter.

I’d really just like the chance to do something without them.

I can do it better.

And I’m not saying this in a judgy way.  I’m saying this because these are exactly the things that run through my head when I consider letting my kids get involved in cooking.

And certainly, there are days when it just won’t work to let your kids help in the kitchen.  But if you can set aside a time or two a week to let them get involved, it will allow them to build self-efficacy and self-confidence, two things they’re going to need their whole lives (and certainly not just in the kitchen). (more…)

How to give your kids a growth mindset

learning through play

In one of my favorite scenes of How I Met Your Mother, older Ted opens by talking about how smart phones have ruined conversation.  It shows a time, years before, when the gang is arguing over what the most popular food in America is.  Pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs:  they’re all passionately defended, as well as pancakes with maple syrup by the resident Canadian.  Fast forward to 2011, when someone brings up the same question, phone in hand:

“Hey, remember when we were arguing about the most popular food?”

“It’s bread.”

Everyone says, “Ah…” in a bored manner, and the debate is killed.

So how does this relate to parenting? (more…)

5 ways to help your picky kid eat better

baby eating spaghetti

Almost every night, I set a plate down in front of General Leia, and for at least one food on there, she whines, “I don’t like this!” which is inevitably parroted by Bella Bean:  “I don’t like dis!”  Yet they end up eating at least some of it. My kids actually have a pretty varied diet, and I feel confident that their palette will continue to expand as they get older.  So how is this happening?

In Parts I, II, and III of this series, we established the pros and cons of buying organic food.  In Part IV, we talked about how you can get the most bang for your buck, nutritionally speaking, by buying groceries selectively.  But we all know that the most healthful food in the world isn’t going to help your kid if he or she won’t eat it.  So what do we do when our child is really used to a narrow diet and is unwilling to try new foods?

First and foremost, relax.  Think back to yourself when you were a kid.  Did you refuse a lot of foods then that you like, or even love, now?  Or do you at least know of someone else who you saw grow up to eat a more varied diet?  So see?  It’s going to be okay. (more…)

How parenting and discipline styles affect your children

reading to kids

Positive parenting is trending right now! But what is positive parenting? How is it different from other parenting styles? Is it effective?

(By the way: Want help coming up with ways to get your kids to cooperate with you? Grab your freebie list of ideas to gain your child’s cooperation without yelling or nagging now!)

Think about the last time your child was really being troublesome. There’s a good chance that something like this popped up in your head: If I don’t do something about this behavior right now, this kid is gonna to grow up to be a hooligan!

toddler sitting in bowl
The cutest hooligan!

When we’re really upset by our child’s actions, isn’t that the fear? That you can’t control the situation and that you’ll be responsible for raising a “bad” person? Maybe you’re a bad parent!

I know when I’m the most triggered by my kids, deep down, it’s really a fear about the future:

I’m freakin’ going to be waking up three times a night with this kid for the rest of my life!

Oh my gosh, she’s never going to learn to share!

He’s always going to be disrespectful.  He’s going to reflect badly on me!

So the initial thought: we have to crack down on this kid, now.  We gotta get that child under control before everything goes haywire.

But is this line of reasoning actually the most effective strategy for the long run? Let’s examine our thoughts about parenting styles for a moment here.

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Teach your kids to take turns

It’s so hard to teach kids to share. In any household with more than one child, a conversation much like this is heard almost every day:

“But I want that!”

“It’s not fair!”

“It’s my turn now!”

And so on, causing parents to want to tear their hair out.

Eventually, we snap. “Okay, you’ve had it long enough!  Give the toy to your brother now!  You have to learn to share.”

And it only makes sense that you lose it. There’s only so much whining you can take, and you’re probably trying to fix dinner, check backpacks, and peel the one-year old from around your leg at the same time that this is all going on.

But what if there was a better way? Continue Reading