5 Ways to Connect as a Family this Spring

family sitting on grass near building

The weather has been pretty crazy…hot, cold, windy, rainy, and completely and totally unpredictable.  Kind of like a child’s moods, right?

Mood swings are hard to predict, but one thing that can help kids regulate and feel more in control of their emotions is to feel more connected to us!  At their very core, a child deeply desires to feel connected to their parent/guardian. They want to be seen…heard…valued…listened to…understood…loved.  They want to be noticed and they will do ANYTHING to get us to notice them…including misbehave.  Behaviors like…

  • doing things they are not supposed to be doing
  • getting into things they are not supposed to be getting in to
  • whining
  • complaining
  • throwing tantrums
  • fighting with their siblings
  • doing poorly in school

are all behaviors that get our attention.  And some kids do these behaviors JUST to get our attention.  They are saying…”see me”…”notice me”…”pay attention to me”.  

But what if we set aside time each day just to play with them…hang out with them…talk to them…just be with them?  How would their behaviors change?

Well, definitely for the better. 

  • smarter choices
  • calmer emotions
  • higher self-esteem

are just some of the benefits of children feeling connected to their parent/guardian and to their family. 

Here are 5 Ways to Connect as a FAMILY this SPRING…

  1. FAMILY GO-TO-THE-MOVIES NIGHT:  Surprise your kids by taking them to the movie theater to watch a movie together.  NOTE: To cut down on cost, go before 4pm and bring your own popcorn, candy, and drinks like I do! ūüôā
  2. FAMILY BAKE COOKIES NIGHT:  Bake some cookies together and then enjoy eating them together too!  You could even bake a few extra to share with a neighbor. 
  3. FAMILY HAVE-A-PARTY-FOR-NO-REASON NIGHT:  Any night can be a reason for a party. One mom of 8 shared that she would randomly do a “Nacho Birthday Party” and have nachos and give each kid a little gift for no reason.  How fun is that? 
  4. FAMILY PLANT FLOWERS NIGHT: Now that the weather is getting nicer, you can plant some flower together and you can water them and take care of them together and watch them grow all throughout the spring, summer, and even into the fall.  Impatiens are $5-$10, and they bush out and grow quite a bit.  You could even get a seed packet for a few dollars and plant seeds and watch them sprout and grow! 
  5. FAMILY KICK BALL NIGHT: Grab a ball and head to an open area for a friendly game of family kick ball.  We just use jackets and shirts for the bases and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. 

Pick one of these to try this weekend and put Family Time on the calendar each week throughout the spring and do something to connect.  If you use none of these ideas…that’s OK. Find YOUR own way to connect as a family.  So even if the weather isn’t predictable this spring season…your child will know that Family Time will be!

Here’s to some fun Family Time this spring…
Christine

CHRISTINE LEEB

Child Development Specialist


We strengthen families and promote positive parent-child relationships. 

For parenting questions, concerns, and support, call or text our non-emergency Parent Support Line: 920-7FAMILY (920-732 6459)

3 Tips to End Bullying

Did you know that Bullying Prevention Programs in the schools often don’t work? Why is that? Well, there are several reasons…

1.  They focus way too much on bullying—what it is, what it means, ways you bully—which then ends up teaching kids how to bully.  Research has shown that bullying increased after some school anti-bullying programs and some students have shared that they actually learned more ways to bully!!

2.  They post signs everywhere that say: END BULLYING or DON’T BE A BULLY.  What does a kids’ brain see?  The words BULLY and BULLYING.

3.  Bullying starts and ends at home more so than anything else.  If there is no parent involvement, than nothing is going to last long. Even if a bullying prevention program “works”, it will only be short-term. 

So, what’s the answer?  I have a few suggestions…

  • Kindness is the opposite of bullying so we all need to stop talking about bullying so much and start focusing on kindness!  Teaching kids about kindness—what it is, what it means, and ways you can show kindness.
  • Post signs EVERYWHERE about being kind.  In fact, every school, grocery store, gas station, restaurant, and home should have a sign that says BE KIND.
  • Recognize the power of OUR influence as parents.¬† Bullying may start at home, but kindness does too.  When we focus on teaching kindness in our homes…we can make a BIG difference in spreading more kindness in this world.¬† ¬†When we…
    • set boundaries around being kind…
    • watch things that promote kindness…
    • read books about kindness…
    • do kind things for others…
    • thank our kids for being kind…
    • ask them every night how they showed kindness in their day…

Focusing more on kindness is how bullying ends, so parents, let’s do this!!¬† Because, together, WE can be the GREATEST Bullying Prevention Program out there.

Here’s to spreading kindness together–¬†

Christine Leeb

Child Development Specialist

4 No-Yelling Strategies

Parent Question:¬† What if I’m constantly yelling at my kids because they won’t do anything unless I yell??

Answer: We are human.¬† Our kids are human.¬†¬†And because of that, we will all have our moments.¬† (Trust me, I’ve had many!!)¬† Every single one of us will lose our cool at some point because parenting is HARD.¬† Finding enough patience is HARD.¬† Life is HARD.¬† And kids can be…well…HARD to deal with.¬†¬†¬†

The key is to put things in place so that yelling doesn’t become a habit because it’s when we yell constantly that it becomes damaging to our relationship with our child.¬†Trust is broken, respect is lost, and eventually kids will stop listening altogether and may even rebel.¬†

Here are a few no-yelling strategies to try…

  • Be proactive:  Identify times of day when you yell the most and put a plan in place in advance.  Maybe it’s getting up a few minutes earlier…maybe it’s starting the bedtime routine a bit earlier too.  Maybe it’s setting clear expectations and consequences BEFORE you go to a restaurant or grocery store. 
  • Use a checklist:  Checklists can empower kids of all ages to do their jobs so we don’t have to constantly remind nor lose our cool if they aren’t listening.  They have a job to do and when the checklist is in charge, you can help them and encourage them and even offer small incentives for completing them (an allowance each week or extra screen time) or clear consequences for not completing it (dock in pay or loss of screen time).
  • Take care of your Emotional Balloon:  Often times we yell at our kids simply because we are stressed about something else.  In other words, our Emotional Balloon is already full even before they misbehave and then we “pop” when we may not normally have lost it, right?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled because I was stressed about something else that had nothing to do with my kids and they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Taking care of your Emotional Balloon means finding healthy ways to release negative emotions and stress like walking, yoga, playing a sport, counseling, mindfulness exercises, journaling, prayer, having a date night, finding a hobby, or a night out with friends. 
  • Stay connected:  When kids feel connected to us, they will be more willing to listen and obey us and follow our advice, but did you know that when WE feel more connected to our kids, then we will have more patience with them and be more willing to speak or treat them respectfully? Plus, it just helps us like our kids more—get to know them better, understand their personalities, see their side, hear their thoughts and opinions, and build our respect for them. 

When we give ourselves grace each day–recognize that we are human and our kids are human too—then we can be willing to learn new strategies, find what works for us, and make tomorrow a better day…even if it’s hard!¬†

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT–Looking for more no-yelling tips and tools?¬† GREAT NEWS!!¬† We have launched our On-Demand Parenting Workshop Program where you can take our workshops¬†free¬†ANYTIME online!!!¬† And guess what?¬† Our first workshop is:¬†¬†NO MORE YELLING

You can watch the full workshop all at once or scroll down the page to watch it part by part if you just have time for a few minutes here and there.  Plus, there is a notes packet you can print out if you’d like (but it’s not required).  Go at your own pace and rewatch any parts as needed.  And there will be more workshops to come!   CHECK OUT NO MORE YELLING ON-DEMAND NOW! 

Here’s to no more yelling at our kids–

Christine Leeb

Child Development Specialist

What If My Child Says “No”

Question:  What if my child says “No” to me?

SUGGESTIONS:  Parents ask me this question often—especially parents of toddlers.  When kids say “no”–no matter what their age–it can feel super irritating and make us parent out of our Parent Ego which says:  “YOU CAN’T SAY “NO” TO ME!!!”, which only creates an even bigger power struggle and soon our child turns into a “No Monster” and they will use that word over and over and over to irritate us, get a rise out of us, and create a lot of conflict and chaos.

My biggest suggestion is to: Focus on the goal:  Ignore the “no” completely.  Take away its power.  If you ask your child to pick up their toys, take out the trash, or do their homework, etc. and they say “no”, focus on the goal only of getting them to do what you have asked. I know it feels disrespectful when they say “no”, but YOU have power over how much power it has over you. Does that make sense?  Otherwise, you’ll be angry about 2 things and dealing with 2 problems–them not doing what you asked them to do AND them saying “no” to you.  Let’s just focus on the goal and ignore the “no”.  

Here are some other suggestions for you to try and see what will work for you and your child…

For Preschoolers and Grade schoolers…Let’s say you have asked them to clean up and they say “no”…

  • Make it a game:  See if you can engage your child in a race to see if they can pick up the toys before the timer goes off or before a song is over.
  • Offer teamwork and power:  “Can you clean up the toys all by yourself or would you like some teamwork? or “Are you old enough to clean them all up by yourself or do you need mommy/daddy to help you?”
  • Use When/Then:  “When the toys are cleaned up, then it will be time for Family Movie Night (or snack time or going to the park or having a tickle fight or playing electronics, etc.).  

For middle schoolers and high schoolers…this age group is a bit trickier with the “no”, but remember that we still want to focus on the goal and not give the “no” any power nor let it create a power struggle.

  • Use humor:  I heard you say “no”, but I know what you really meant to say is (and then use some silly high-pitched voice): “Sure thing, mom. I’ll get right on that.”  Then you say: “Thanks, son!” 
  • Rewind and Give them Their Lines:  “Can you try that again without just saying ‘No’. That doesn’t feel respectful. Can you say: ‘Do you mind if I finish up this TV show and then I’ll put the dishes away?’ That respects you and me. Thank you.'”
  • Empathize and Compromise:  “I know you’re playing something you’re enjoying and taking out the trash isn’t your favorite thing in the world.  How about I’ll set a timer for 5 more minutes so you can finish up and then you can take care of the trash?”
  • Offer power:  “You don’t have to do your homework right now, but what is your plan for getting it done on time?” Let them tell you their plan and then you can just hold them accountable for their own plan. 


When we refuse to give the “no” any power and we focus on using other strategies to get the goal accomplished, not only can we avoid LOTS of power struggles, but more importantly, we can protect our relationship with our child…and destroy the “No Monster” for good!

Here’s to focusing on the goal…not the “no”…
Christine

Christine Leeb, Child Development Specialist

Celebrating Black History Month with Your Kids

Black History Month kicks off this February. With any celebration or awareness-raising days, I believe their message should be carried with us throughout the year!¬† With Thanksgiving, for example, we should be thankful and grateful EVERY DAY…not just on one day of the year.¬† Or when my kids and I slept in a box one night a few weeks ago to raise money for the homeless, I want them to be aware, compassionate, and giving towards the homeless every night…not just one night.¬†

So with that in mind, let’s celebrate and learn about different cultures and people—-who they are, how they contribute to our society, the very real struggles they face, and even ways we can help—as often as we can.¬†

With respect to Black History Month, here are some ideas to learn and grow as a family…


THE TEACHING TOOL—Our primary job as a parent is to be our child’s greatest teacher.¬† Their views of themselves, of others, and of the world are shaped by our own views.¬†

EDUCATE OUR KIDS—Set a positive example.¬† Take time to talk about and teach about contributions and positive role models in the African American community.


For example, did you know…

  • that George Crum, chef and restauranteur, invented the potato chip? 
  • that George Washington Carver not only invented peanut butter, but also resourcefully used sweet potatoes and peanuts to invent 518 new products like ink, dye, soap, cosmetics, flour, vinegar, and synthetic rubber?
  • that Marie Van Brittan Brown filed a patent for the first home security system?
  • that Madame CJ Walker became the first self-made millionaire with her invention of hair care products for African Americans?

And there are SO many more!  

In fact, this book is AWESOME: 100 African Americans Who Shaped American History

EDUCATE OURSELVESBe willing to learn.Take time to educate yourself, as a parent, on the real struggles some African American families face. 

No matter what color your skin is or what your background is, take time with your family or on your own to learn about and understand your own culture or those of another.  And that’s what will bring more unity to this world, not just one day or one month out of the year…but EVERY day! 

Lord, You are the God of peace…of harmony…of unity.  Allow our hearts to align with Yours to bring light where there’s darkness…hope where there’s hopelessness…peace where there’s conflict…harmony where there’s discord…and unity where there’s division.  

Here’s to bringing more unity to the world together—Christine

Sibling Rivalry–3 Ways to Promote Kinder Sibling Interactions

3 Ways to Encourage Kinder Sibling Interactions
“STOP LOOKING AT ME!!!!”¬† Classic sibling line.¬†¬†

Since when did looking at someone become the most annoying thing in the world?  My guess was when siblings were invented.  LOL!

I remember growing up when my brother would draw a line in our velour car seat and tell me not to cross it (and I always would just to tick him off).¬† I remember shouting at him to “GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!!!”¬† I even remember us fighting over who had the most Captain Crunch Berries in our cereal bowls.¬†¬†

If you’re kids fight with each other…they are normal.¬† If they argue…they are normal.¬† If they bicker and pick and peck and poke at each other…they are normal.

Sibling rivalry is normal.  It is. 

Now, not to say that we can’t make it better.¬† Not to say that we can’t put some teamwork tools in place to make it better…because we can!

But I just wanted to start by saying that it’s normal. And it’s healthy–to a certain degree–especially if we use this rivalry as a teaching tool for life.

Because there is no greater place to learn to resolve conflict, to grow in cooperation, to work with different personalities, and to understand the art of compromise than in our families!

I truly believe that’s why God brought our families together.¬†

Sibling Rivalry gives us an opportunity to teach and encourage our kids how to work together as a team…and that’s something they will carry into their future jobs, friendships, marriages, and even into their own parenting.

So before you make a wish to the next genie you meet that sibling rivalry would just end…I hope you can see it a little differently.

And learn to handle it a little more effectively.

Here are 3 ways to encourage kinder sibling interactions…


1.¬† Teach more…punish less:¬†¬†When siblings fight constantly, it can be so easy to get caught in the trap of just policing their behavior and dishing out punishments left and right. It’s exhausting and not our job.¬† Our job is to teach. Let’s be proactive.¬† Let’s identify the problem, pray about it, get ideas from our spouse and kids on how to solve the problem and work as a team. Then make a plan.¬† And practice!¬† Yes, practice sharing. Practice riding in the car without fighting.¬† Practice using kind words with each other. Practice kindness in whatever area that they are not choosing to show kindness. Teach them what to say and what to do…even when someone looks at them funny.¬†

2.¬† Let them work it out:¬†¬†Once you’ve involved your kids in making a plan on working more as a team, give them space and time to work it out together. In fact, when I hear an argument going on, I just stay away.¬† If someone comes running to me for help, I say “Work it out please. I know you can solve this problem as a team.” And then give them more space. It’s not easy and yet it’s so freeing. Eventually, they do work it out and then I can come in and thank them for using teamwork to solve the problem! It’s great.¬† Now, let’s get real here…obviously, we all know to step in if there are any safety concerns, but if it’s just good ole’ normal sibling rivalry…let them work it out. And if they need more practice…practice more. Don’t settle for their disrespect.¬†¬†

3.¬† Provide more time together:¬†¬†When kids fight all the time, the first thing some parents want to do (and understandably¬†so)¬†is try to separate them as much as possible. Instead, let’s provide opportunities for them to spend time together as much as possible.¬†It is so important that kids see each other as being on the same team, and in my opinion, nothing says “team” more than time.¬† Give them more time together as a whole family like serving the community, or doing a movie night or game night. And give them more time just as kids like letting them stay up a little later after bedtime to play a game together in one of their rooms or build a fort and watch their own movie.¬†

Obviously giving them space is great and sometimes much-needed (especially to parents who are dealing with constantly annoying interactions), but find balance. Separate them in the moment if needed…give them time (especially those introverts) to just be alone, but always make sure there are plenty of opportunities for togetherness and fun too.

Until our kids stop looking at each other just to annoy and until our kids can stop being annoyed at someone’s look, there will always be sibling rivalry.¬† But I hope that after you apply some of these teamwork strategies, you will hear more laughter than loud shouts and a lot less annoyance from annoying looks!

Lord, Just as You instruct us and teach us in the way we should go and counsel us with Your eye upon us (Psalm 32:8), lead us in doing the same for our children. Allow your kindness and love to flow through our homes creating brothers and sisters who respect and live in peace with one another. 

Here’s to building better families–
Christine