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Category Archives for Parenting

Discover How to Easily Teach Neuroscience to Your Kids

Five Terrific Reasons to Do This Now

Looking for some new learning material to engage your kids with, but maybe don’t know where to start?

Well, here’s a fresh idea for you – teach them neuroscience.

Wait, what? Isn’t brain science really hard, scary and difficult? Don’t I have to be a Brainiac?

Take a breath friends, it’s actually a lot of fun, and we promise to make it easy for you busy caregivers.

Actually, we’ve even found that this is fun. Parents enjoy learning about our brains too – it’s a unique way to help families connect.

Once more, you can learn this all by doing fun experiments  with your kids - at home right now. No, you don’t need to read a ton or memorize things – you get to just have fun.

But first, just why should kids learn about their brains?

We asked Dr. Eric Chudler, Executive Director of the Center for Neurotechnology, for his expert opinion on this.

Based on our discussion, here are five key reasons we should teach kids brain science:

  1. Great Introduction to Science – our kids can easily learn the process of science and experiments – as we can easily test on ourselves and others. No beakers or lab coats required!
  2. Understanding Ourselves – De-mystifying how our brains work can help us understand the immediate world around us, how we react, and how to support positive health.
  3. Understanding Others –  Statistically speaking, it’s likely we will all known someone with a brain injury or mental struggle in our lives – the more we understand, the better we can help.
  4. Promotes Literacy – Most of what we read in newspapers, magazines and online talks about perception and sensory issues. The more context we can give our kids here, the better they can analyze and build their own critical thinking skills.
  5. Decision Making – Our modern courtrooms are already filled with evidence from neuroscience. Many legal teams use brain imaging to bolster their case.

Okay, if this all makes sense to you – want to know how you can easily do this?

Dr. Chudler shares that the best way to learn neuroscience is by doing – “we are all walking, talking labs.” One of the best ways we learn is by performing the real process of science. This approach is especially useful for kids who are hands-on or visual learners. They will especially welcome this approach.

The good news is that you don’t have to make this up either. One great way to start is to make use of the resources at Neuroscience for Kids. Their email newsletter and website have practical, fun and easy experiments you can do with your kids, right now.

Doing experiments with  your kids gets you all engaged in learning. Once more, many of these experiments are a break from the online-only environments we spend so much of our days in. Phew!  

You may just surprise yourself and find that teaching your kids brain science may be the most fun you have this week!

You can see our full interview with Dr. Chudler below. We’d love to hear how it works out for you!

Adopt These Five Innovative Education Changes Now

Deploy Practical Technology That Improves Our Trajectory

Our kids are schooling from home, in masse, for the first time.

Let’s take this opportunity to improve the schooling environment, from this day forward.

Our school system is setup for in-person learning only. This requires large real estate and staffing expenditures. In this model, teachers are also being pushed to handle large class sizes and complex issues. These teachers have to be specialists in many topics. Schools in rural areas can struggle to attract talent to teach.

Today, Data about our kids learning is mostly anecdotal. There are notes and some grades, but not a lot else to help guide a student’s success through their schooling.

Kids who have disabilities are often forced to fit in, in ways they cannot naturally accommodate, due to how they were born. For example, expecting a child with autism to be still in a chair for six hours and self-regulate is not reasonable. When they erupt, we are somehow surprised by their reaction.

Let’s stop these absurdities and take this opportunity to move our educational system forward.

Here are six approaches education policy professionals should enact now

Make Use of Specialists, Where They Are

If there’s  a teacher who is amazing at chemistry, or fifth grade literature, or art – and they live 600 miles away – still use them. Let that teacher give classes live or recorded, and the best skilled teacher be able to reach students. This benefits the teacher who may love this niche more than the rest of the things they are required to teach. Also, these frees up teachers from having to be excellent at everything. They can have some focus in what they are naturally strong and interested in.

Separate Learning Opportunities

Make use of social activities and peer learning. At the same time, allow for kids to use Zoom to connect to meetings from a different room (or home) if they are prone to being distracting. When there are social activities, have more tolerance for movement and the like to allow more balance. Expecting young minds and bodies to have perfect behavior in chairs for six hours has considerable issues. Split out individual online activities from group ones to better the learning environment.

Evaluate Mastery Differently

With online learning, you have many more data points to evaluate students by, instead of a handful of tests. You can look at each lesson, comprehension and other data factors to assess how a learner is progressing, and what they are retaining.

The data insights will tell a better story of a child’s progression in a topic, as well as their struggles. This can be used to assess achievement, certainly. But perhaps more powerfully, can directly shape specific teaching to their strengths - as well as discovering new ways to percolate their success.

Support Small Class Size and New Roles

If a portion of a class could be online – either for a fixed time or if a parent had them at home some – the physical class size would be smaller. Instead of 40-50 kids in a class, one could see 20.

This also creates an opportunity for a new role. Sometimes our kids need some 1-1 help to get through that one math concept, say for 15 minutes. What if there was a battery of specialists available online, to walk them through this one part. Yes, there could certainly be a set of online lessons, ready to go

Ecology – Stop Pollutants

If we are commuting less, driving to and from school, and then work, we will produce less greenhouse gasses. What would one day a week, or 20% less commuter traffic do for our air, water, and sanity?

Clearly computers and datacenters burn energy. However, power plants (green or not) are much more efficient than the engines in our cars.

Of course, not all parents can work from home due to their profession or employer’s support. That said, what if employers were given considerable tax incentives for creating some work from home days for their employees? This would enable them to support this change, or perhaps a flexible work schedule. They could also have online learning options for their workforce to work from home and learn a new skill - that benefits employee and the organization.

Use Data for Good

Over a very short period of time, schools could use data to help as private industry does. Yes, ethics must apply and this must be used for good. That said, the patterns of learning and shape of this data would help confirm that this teaching approach is effective (as a product) in student retention vs. another. The system would learn who the student is, how they learn, where they struggle, and customize an approach to their success. Data insights could also show larger patterns for different types of learners, subjects and approaches – that cannot be seen at all now.

Thank you, teachers!

Let me be clear, teachers do an amazing job, every day. They are heroes, pure and simple.

However, the system they operate in needs a makeover, and positive use of existing technology would help them, our students and our society. We have an incredible opportunity here to build on what’s happening and move forward. If this inspires you in any way, please reach out to your state’s department of education and district, and share your ideas. Your voice here will make all the difference.

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This Will Make You a Stellar Parent

You Already Are - 11 Learnings to Help

If you are a new(er) parent, this can be a scary time. With coronavirus news, you may be nervous and wondering what world did I bring my kid into? Your home may be chaotic with all the different things going on. Your mind may not be as clear as normal.

It’s okay.

My daughter was born a few days before 911. We took her home from the hospital, and I remember holding her and sobbing, watching the twin towers collapse.

Years later, my son had a rare disease as a 1 year old, and had a 50% survival rate. Overwhelmed doesn’t begin to describe that feeling.

However, fast forward to today and both of my kids are okay. We averted the world catastrophes I had in my head, physical ailments beyond explanation - and there are lots of great memories to enjoy, and moments to laugh at.

While it might not seem possible to you right now, know that this too will pass. Keep loving on your kids.

And, if you are reading this, you already are a stellar parent. Parents who invest in bettering their skills and care about their kid’s outcomes are already doing an amazing job. Thank you for this contribution.

So, from one parent to another, here are eleven key things I learned parenting. Your mileage may vary.

Kiss Sleep Goodbye

Sure, I could sugar coat this and yes there are strategies to make this not as bad. However, being honest – you will never get the same amount or quality of sleep again, ever.

Small Amazing Miracles

Your kids will do and say things that make you stop in your tracks, and realize it’s all worth it. Often these are small things they’ll say in the car, or a kind gesture they do, or often something funny.  Be ready, they will come at all times and are one of the best parts of being a parent.

Everyone Else’s Junk Comes Up

Similar to weddings, everyone else’s issues will come up. You’ll get advice from everyone on everything. It’s overwhelming. Ultimately, you decide your own path based on the information sources you value. Certainly, do your research and do your best to have an open mind – new great ideas are coming all the time. Then decide and do what’s right for you. If it doesn’t work out the way you wanted, decide again. You’ll be doing the right thing for your family, and you will do great.

Kids Forgive You

The ability of kids to forgive your mistakes is amazing. They understand you are doing your best and idolize you more than you realize. You’ll make mistakes, and sometimes big ones. The best thing you can do is own up to them, and ask for forgiveness. This shows a model to your kids of how they should act when they make mistakes.


This took me a lot to totally understand and learn. On the surface, it seemed like  a nice to have and one should “just get over it.” But, what if they can’t? There is 50+ years of brain science studies that show empathy has a major impact on physical health and mental health (Think:Kids). There are also studies that show, unchecked, stressors on kids have lifelong effects (CDC - ACES). Even if (or especially if) you don’t agree with your kids, hear them and let them know they are heard. This alone has worked miracles in my family.

Structure and Schedule

The use of predictable structures and schedules makes a huge difference. Having wake-up routines, bedtime routines, and things happen near the same time give predictability to your family. While it may not be as fun and spontaneous as single life, you have other goals now. This helps with setting expectations, life skills, and family relationships more than you may expect. While it may seem controlling and freedom-crushing at first, it’s actually the exact opposite for a family.

You’ll Get Through It

Whatever it is, you’ll get through it. There will be some big things that you would never imagine yourself in. You’ll have awkward situations that you’ll later laugh it. Just know you will get through it. In the moment, it may not seem that way. Trust me, I’ve been in the Emergency Room, ICU, Principal’s Office, and so much more with my kids – and we all ended up okay. Do your best to remember that the event will pass, and you may even laugh at parts of it later.

Ask for Help

One of my biggest mistakes was not receiving or asking for help. In my head, I had this invincible, I can do everything mindset. After a few months, it was obvious that there weren’t enough hours in the day for this. Think about where you may need help most – cleaning, yard work, sitting to get another extra hour of sleep, transport to/from activities – and strategize how you can make this happen.

Include Kids

Whether you are washing cars, doing yardwork, or cleaning house – include your kids with you. Yes, it will be slower at first and maybe even frustrating. However, before you know it, they will be capable of helping around the house with you, and it can even be fun. There are a ton of logistics to running a household, and having everyone help out makes a big difference. When it comes time for them to leave (it will happen, sorry), they will have life skills to manage their own household.

Save for School

Put whatever you can into a college (or vocational school) fund now. Yes, money is tight and this is challenging. Make use of 529 plans that have tax advantages. The sooner you can put money into these, the better outcome for your kids 18 years later. Even if college is not their path, these plans support vocational schools and other paths.

Teach Money Management

For most of us, money management was not something we learned in school or from our parents. However, it’s a very important life skill. Teaching kids to set aside money for savings, donating, and purchases can start very early. There are lots of great models for this. I happened to use the Dave Ramsey plan that sets aside thirds from their allowance for savings, donating, and purchases. My son decided at an early age to set aside some of his birthday money for school. Yes, he still had fun with toys with some of it. He also was very proud that he put money into his bank account. My hope is he has a better head start, and avoids going into debt early.

You will have your own top eleven- and some of these might seem obvious or come natural for you. That’s totally fine and normal. Please make sure that you enjoy every moment with them – it goes way too fast. We’ll keep posting ideas and motivation on Rad Dad Rules to keep you encouraged.

Also know that if you come from love, and seek the best for your kids, they have phenomenal outcomes ahead of them.

You do too!

Do These Six Things to Enjoy a Clean Home

Practical Ideas Busy Families Use for Spring Cleaning

Looking to take everyone’s mind off coronavirus? Get to work and do some spring cleaning!

Having a cleaner house will make you enjoy it more – and working together as a family will remind you of the strength you have together! In times of uncertainty or feeling lack of control, activities like this help you realize your power.

We put together these six ideas to help you engage your family and tidy up your house. You may be surprised how much easier it is when everyone pitches in.


Family Planning Meeting

Have a kick-off meeting and brainstorm all the tasks to be done. Think of an order of events and make simple checklists for each family member to help. In your plan, ideally look for a 4-6-hour window everyone can participate. If you can dedicate 6-8 hours on a day that’s great, and you can also split it up in 2-3-hour windows. Having a start and finish time within a few days will ensure it doesn’t slide and go undone. 


Involve Your Kids

Children of almost any age can help when it comes to spring cleaning.  Good work candidates can include dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, and of course tidying up their rooms. Think about jobs that can be finished in 20 minutes, or broken into chunks of time for your kids. For older kids, you can also give them a defined area – like a bathroom, closet or other area, that they are accountable for. Make a checklist for them for tasks on their own, and also think of tasks they can help you with (teach them skills for next time).


Make a Donate or Give-Away Stack

Along local charities, the Salvation Army and Goodwill, you may find a local Facebook or Nextdoor “free” group that you can list items and have your neighbors pick them up. Some prefer this over Craigslist, while that certainly is an option too. Make sure this stack leaves the house – rent a truck if you need to. 


Research Annual Events

See if there are any annual community clean up activities you can take advantage of. Often your local trash company will offer a time where you can dispose of larger or awkward items. They may include hazardous materials like paint or oil that you want to get rid of. These events are less costly than fees you will see at the dump.


Consider Outside Help

Depending on your circumstances and resources, you may want some outside help. You can find reviews of services in your Nextdoor app, local Facebook groups and Angie’s List. You may know someone who could use the extra work right now. Potentially research specialized jobs for things like blowing off your roof and gutters, pressure washing outside, doing a yard clean-up, or deep cleans in bathrooms and the kitchen.


Make it Fun

We recommend playing music, making games of some chores, and having something to celebrate at the end. You can do a before and after house tour, and maybe after eat a favorite meal or watch a special show. Make sure to give direct and specific compliments to your kids for their work, so they can be proud of their efforts.

While the idea of cleaning up gross parts of your house isn’t the most exciting, working together and enjoying the accomplishment is a great way for your family to bond. If there’s any way you can introduce goofiness to the process, you’ll find it’s less painful, and potentially even a little fun.

You've got this!

Avoid the Guilt Complex – How to Handle Summer Camps

Stress Less and Plan Your Kids Best Summer Ever

When I first sent my daughter to a summer day camp, I felt like a failure. Somehow, in my mind, I felt I was abandoning her. Never mind that this was an amazingly fun camp for her age group at the local children’s museum – somehow, in my head, I was abandoning her. Summer was the first time I couldn’t arrange after-school care, and it was a big stretch mentally for me.

However absurd my belief was, many parents feel the same. Somehow, we can feel like our children would be best served if we were not working and we are the sole care providers for our children.

Believe it or not, March is the time many summer programs start offering registration, many of which fill up quickly. Take a breath, and review these four ideas to help ease any guilty feelings, while planning for a great summer for your kids.

Here are four ideas to help relieve your guilt, and realize you are doing the best for your kids (and yourself).

Do Your Research

Look online about the program you are seeking to enroll your child. If it’s a chain, see what you can find out about the specific location you have in mind. Use online search tools to find out all you can about the facility. If possible, talk to other parents enrolled. Tour the facility with your child. If at all possible, have at least one backup location, in case this one does not work out. Having this will reduce anxiety in the event you have to change, because you already have a plan B.

When you are at the facility, notice all the kids having fun. Take note of how the staff are treating the kids. Imagine your kid being treated well and having fun too. Knowing that you have done thorough research should relieve some stress – you are seeking to put your child in the best possible situation.


There’s a balance to this step – once or twice a day, for the first few days, is good. More than this and you aren’t helping your child or yourself out much. Remember, you do want your kiddo to build resiliency when you aren’t around. They need that life skill. It would be ideal if there are many environments, they can thrive in.

When you check-in, know that kids sometimes give one-word answers or not much at all – that’s normal. Make sure to listen to the childcare adults and what they say too. You may also want to ask a good time to check-in. During nap would be particularly bad, for example. Some facilities do offer cameras and live views – if that’s important to you, make sure it’s on your must have list.

Fiscal Responsibility

Take the time to really look at your finances. If you are in a relationship, can you actually live off of one income? Can you honestly give-up things to make that happen? If so, are you also able to care for 1-2 more children? Perhaps caring for others will make it fiscally responsible. Do be honest about that workload though, you are tripling your responsibility daily. Also, look at the flip side of this – you may have to do this to be able to work and provide for your family. If in either case, use the facts about income to help guide your decisions. Also let yourself off the hook if this is something you have to do. You are teaching your child about responsibility here in your actions, whatever they are.

Make Use of Child-Free and With-Child Time

Given a chance to have down-time, make great use of it. This makes you a better parent. If you can find something to get rid of anxious energy and get you in a calm, know it’s the perfect activity. It’s perfectly normal to want some me time and you are still being a great parent.

Now, when you are with your kid next, plan something special with them to connect. This can be a simple routine like reading favorite books, playing a game, or dancing. It doesn’t need to be expensive or food-based. This is a reward for you too!

After picking up my daughter from this day camp, and hearing how much fun she had, I knew I made the right choice. She made new friends and was excited about the next day. She had a craft she was really proud of, and was tired from a fun day.

She also now wanted to go to zoo camp, because one of her camp friends told her how fun it was. She also had two new friends she wanted to have play dates with. We listened to a few of her favorite songs on our way home, and she asked me about some of my favorite camps as a kid.

There’s nothing quite like a happy kid to soothe a parent’s nerves.

You’ve got this!

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Four Essential Schedule Secrets You Need To Know

Busy Schedule? How to Balance Work and Still Have Quality Time with Your Family

Does your day start and end with a mad rush of preparing your kids for their days? Do you feel exhausted and maxed out much of the time? Does it feel like just one more thing will throw you over the edge?

If so, you aren’t alone. Today’s demands of families are great. With both parents working, kid’s extracurricular activities, and commuter traffic, it can be a stretch just to exist some days.

While there’s no easy fix to the demanding world we live in, we’ve compiled some tips to make it a little easier for your life to be amazing.

Four Schedule Secrets


Say No and Set Limits. 

One of my good friends used to share “if you can’t say no, what does your yes mean?” It’s a poignant point. If it’s our kids, our boss, or even ourselves, we need to set limits and say no once and awhile. Sometimes guilt can get in the way of our health.

For your kids, understanding you aren’t a demand-fulfilling engine may be new. Helping them understand and meet some of their own needs may be in order. Consider assigning them some chores or other tasks to relieve you a bit, and perhaps to earn something special they have been wanting. This teaches them responsibility and what it’s like in the workplace.

If you are feeling stretched, you may to say no a bit more to allow yourself to recharge. Make sure you create activities for this – whether it’s a long bath, relaxing with a good book, taking a nap – do an activity that recharges you.


Create and Update Your Calendar. 

With multiple schedules and a face-moving world, a calendar can help your busy family life out. Ideally, use a calendar many can access, like Google Calendar. This can help answer questions like “when is the next soccer game?” After you put an event in, you can now “forget” it and like the calendar do the work for you. This also makes planning your week out a bit easier.

Pro-tip for your calendar – schedule in downtime for every family member and make sure it happens.



Thriving with a busy family, school and work life, while keeping up a home, is a monster task for any one person. Make a list of all the basic duties that have to get done – house cleaning, grocery shopping, bill paying, etc. Consider which tasks your kids can do. You may want to schedule a couple hours one night (or weekend) for the whole family to clean. Put on music and make it as fun as possible. You may also want to look at your budget and see if you can afford things like grocery delivery or house cleaning. The sanity may well be worth it.


Empathy and Extra Communication. 

It’s okay to be honest with your kids, and let them know (at times) that you are exhausted. You can also say things like – "we can do that Saturday" – or “no” (see the first tip). Your kids will see you modeling this and use it later in their life to set limits and communicate.

Another part of communication is upping your listening game. Instead of sympathy or thinking you are getting another item on your “to do” list – hear your kids out. Really listen. Then let them know you heard them and understand them (“I can understand why you are upset that we aren’t buying you that new video game.”). While it might sound simple, brain science has shown that empathy helps us get out of anxiety and achieve calm – both for the listener and speaker.

Apply these four tips a little bit every day. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your family (and your life) a lot more. Remember to always be kind to yourself!

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Overcome Divorce Drama – Five Quick Tips for Busy Parents

Overwhelm and drama don’t begin to describe the world of divorce. In this time, just about everything is changing all at once – where you live, sometimes your work, time with your child, finances, family and friends. Any one of those changes can be a major stressor. Combined, it’s more than overwhelming.

However, the good news is that you can get through this and do not need to stay in this crazy situation for long. While we offer a full course for Divorced Dads, this article touches on some top points to help you navigate.

Here are five quick ways to minimize the drama and overwhelm.

Step by Step:


No matter how busy you are, find part of your day to take time for yourself.

This may include simple breathing and relaxing exercises. You may also want to find healthy ways to release your upset. This can include lifting weights, running, or doing push-ups. While it may sound silly, some of our students have found putting a one pound crushed ice bag in a pillow case, and banging that on the garage floor for 10 minutes can help. Seek out healthy ways to release your upset and anxiety, and get back to a calm, resourceful state.


Focus on your kids, and let go of the guilt complex.

Your kids are also going through trauma, and often will blame themselves. They may be more quiet with you than normal or upset at you. For this time, allow a little extra grace and understanding. Within reason, for a short time, you may want to reduce the demands you have on your kids. Some kids will internalize their stress, and put on a good face to act like everything is fine.

One proven way to support them is to increase your empathy. Slow down and really listen to your kids and paraphrase what they said to make sure you understand. It can be especially helpful to let them know you understand (“It’s got to be hard going from house to house.”). Remember this isn’t sympathy – it’s empathy- you don’t have to agree or even like it – you are just confirming you understand. Brain science shows that this creates calm for both, and helps get kids out of a trauma-like state.


Keep Adult Stuff for Adults.

Remember that your kids are not adult friends.

If you need to vent to someone, talk to an adult friend when your child is not around. Do consider a counselor or coach to help you navigate these strong feelings. However, avoid bad-mouthing the other parent. This creates long-term damage for you and your kids. If you slip and do this once, forgive yourself and get back on track.


Make a One Year Plan. 

Many collapse after the stress of a divorce and go on auto-pilot. While they might feel invincible, this can be a dangerous time. Because of all the change and trauma, you are not at your best decision-making point. Without a plan, you can end-up doing crazy things you wouldn’t normally do. Create time to think about where you want to be in a year – your job, where you live, what you do, what you drive – and create milestones every few months to get there. Find a friend or family member to check-in with on these, and put check-ins every week or two on your calendar. Just this act of planning and organization, regardless of the outcome, can ensure your success. We offer this in our LEAP training program.


Get Outside Help.

Divorce is a major life change and not getting some outside help is a recipe for disaster. While counseling may be great for you, also consider things like goal-setting workshops, trying out a new hobby, or meeting up with old or new friends. Remember you have a ton of your life left, and many gifts to share with the world. As much as it sounds like fun, be careful with rebound relationships, Vegas trips and other things of the sort. While you probably don’t want to hear it, your best decision- days are a few months out, and you want to be careful.  Absolutely plan some fun in your life, and just give yourself time before taking on anything else big and new. 

Using these tips can reduce your post-divorce drama and help you focus on an amazing relationship with your kids.

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Discover Three Practical Ways to Instill Responsibility in Your Kids

With my friends, we often joke when our kids will be “of the payroll” – out of college and working on their own. However, the money and education part are just a part of the equation. Having our kids be able to cope well in situations and be responsible are key to their lifelong success.

Before we dig in to this – please keep the following in mind. Your kids are doing the best they can. They are not looking to be defiant or lazy. If they struggle with responsibility, they may have a skill deficit that you can help boost. Going at it at this angle will help you achieve results with them, instead of more arguments.

Top Tip One – Model and Live Responsibility

Children learn a ton from watching what you do. If they see you keeping your word, they will learn to model that. If they see you saying one thing and doing another, they will learn that too. If they observe that you will do things for them, they’ll also learn from that.

Yes, we may have to look in the mirror and realize that our adult behaviors are not always the most responsible. That’s okay. Take a breath, and pick something new. Maybe you agree to do something with your kids 3 times a week for 30 minutes each. There are two teaching moments here – one is keeping the agreement, no matter what comes up. The other is how to handle changing the agreement, if something major does come up. Both of these are teaching moments for your kid. In the off chance that you cannot keep or change the agreement, do acknowledge that and make a plan to get back on track. Just blowing it off will teach your kids they can do the same.

Top Tip Two – Be Creative and Start Small

Sometimes, our children respond better to drawings or hands-on activities than verbal queues. Due to their learning modality, it is more difficult for them to translate your verbal commands to actions. In this case, you may want to be creative to get results. Often, having a visual checklist of what you want them to do can help. The visual can be a picture and/or text, and can more easily support them being accountable.

Start with something small to begin with – even if it seems trivial. You are teaching the pattern not necessarily a large outcome. Make sure that you teach your kiddo how to do the task and answer any questions they may have.

Some ideas to start with can be to dust a room, sweep an area, bring their dirty clothes basket to the laundry room, and the like. Some ideas to avoid starting with are taking care of a pet or cleaning a bathroom by themselves. They’ll get there – but don’t start there.

Top Tip Three – Avoid Punishment/Reward

While counter-intuitive, and not likely the way you were brought up, avoid punishment/reward for your kids, whenever possible. Over fifty years of brain science shows that this is not the most effective way, and can backfire in certain situations.

Stay with us here for just a moment – we know it’s know for most of our readers. If your child misses on a responsibility, you want to go after the reason behind it – not the behavior. Check-in with your kiddo, make sure they know they aren’t in trouble, and ask them about it – “hey honey, I noticed your chore list seemed hard for you – what’s up?”

As hard is it may be right now for a busy, active, tired parent – listen. This is time for empathy. Making sure your kids feel heard and understood will have better long-term effects than you realize. After they feel heard, express your adult concern. Make this short Something like “hey my concern is that we had an agreement you would dust your room, and that didn’t happen – does that make sense?”

At this point, you may need to turn the empathy up again, depending where they are at. “But Dad, I had a movie I wanted to see and we were late getting home from school.” Again, just hear them out and be understanding. It’s worth the work.

Once they feel heard and you are sure they understand your concern (remember, keep it small and direct) – then ask them to brainstorm ideas. Yes, your kids do the problem-solving. Have them come up with ideas to get back on track. Just acknowledge each idea without judgement as best you can. If a few seem especially agreeable to you, talk those through and how you will do it.

What’s the difference here? You have taught your kid a pattern of expressing their feelings respectfully, listening to yours, and trouble-shooting the situation. That pattern is a much more useful gift than a piece of candy and the process is much more pleasant than fussing at your kids all the time. There’s also a good chance they will learn responsibility and repeat the undesired behaviors less.

When in doubt, crank up the empathy and investigate what’s behind the behavior. As the award-winning Think:Kids program says, “Kids Do Well If They Can.” If they don’t, something is in their way.

You’ve got this!

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Avoid Superparent Syndrome and Just Be a Parent

Many times, well-intentioned parents fixate too much on being perfect parents. It can be like they see an image in Pinterest or Facebook, and judge their life against this image.

There always seems to be something that needs to be done - and there is always going to be someone who can do more. Many times, as a parent, you are going to struggle with the idea that you aren't doing enough, and that there is much more you could be doing, if only you had the time.

Superparents seem to be everywhere. They can do it all – work and cook and take care of their children and be fitness models, and they never seem to need or want anything at all.

However, these people aren't really real, and what they are doing might not be the best way to go. The best way for you to be a parent is to simply be the best parent you can be. Only judge yourself by your own criteria – not others. Remember that images are not reality, and that others may idolize your parenting life (as broken as you think it may be).

The first thing that you have to remember as you are dealing with the superparent syndrome is that you are going to run into a lot of barriers. You want to be sure that you are able to take care of your children, first and foremost. Focus on doing your best, and use tools that work for you (calendars, classes, books, downtime) to stay strong.

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What a lot of parents don't realize is that the most important part of being a good parent is not making sure that they get home baked cookies, get to their soccer games on time, and also get everything in the world that they could possibly want. You are going to make mistakes and may have to ask for forgiveness. When that happens, your children will actually be closer to you. It will demonstrate to them how to handle their mistakes in life too. You’ll also find that people can relate to you more, because they are also imperfect.

Take a moment and reflect on what were some of the best times you had growing up – what moments with your parents, teachers or others were really special to you and lasting. Think about what made those moments up. Was it someone who helped you out? Was it achieving a big goal? Was it laughing about a family joke?

Those memories stick with us, and are defined by love, devotion and honesty. They aren’t defined by looking great in social media posts or bragging about achievements.

As hard as this can be for us, doing more for our kids can backfire to the point we are all exhausted and empty. Think of 3-5 simple things you can do with your kids this week. This can be a walk, playing a favorite game, drawing together, playing a board game – simple stuff like this. Do your best to be in the moment during these – no devices, just time with family.

Be kind to yourself and remember everyone is doing their best in the moment. Parenting is not a competition with others.

You’ve got this.

Enjoy Home Peace – Practical Parent Tips for Sibling Rivalry

Five Proven Patterns to Create Calm

Tired of your kids going at it? Sibling rivalry can be exhausting. Constant fights and bickering take a toll on any parent. Often, our reserves are already taxed by work stresses, long commutes, and wanting to be a great parent.

The good news is, with a few tweaks, you can enjoy much more calm in your family.

Part of preventing the squabbles from sibling rivalry involves understanding what’s behind the behaviors.   While a combination of things can result in jealousy and competitiveness among brothers and sisters, you don’t have to live in this constantly.

Here are five major patterns that can occur with siblings, and some practical steps to achieve peace:


New Child Syndrome

A common cause of sibling rivalry is the loss of attention when a new brother and sister is born. This is natural and normal, and your new baby needs additional care that your older child doesn’t anymore.

Listening and understanding goes a long way here. Attempt to plan some 1-1 time where you can, and find ways for the older child to help you and their baby sibling out. You’ll be extra tired with your new baby, so make sure to forgive yourself for not being perfect here, and just keep leading with love.


Favored Child Syndrome

Even if it’s not accurate, one child can feel unfavored, and think you love them less.

Sometimes, siblings will try to become the favored child by competing for their parent’s attention.

For your child that seems to struggle, you may simply have a different communication style than they do. Remember kids do well if they can, and if they are struggling, something is in their way. Just hearing your troubled kiddo out and understanding their perspective (listening, not agreeing here), can go a long way.

Later, you can have them present ideas for resolving things, and agree which ones to act on. Yes, you are still in control here. Remember that having them own their own solutions will help in the long term.


Getting the Other Child in Trouble

Sometimes, one child will seek to get another in trouble. This is typically done for attention and to feel like they have to “win”. 

This can be a tricky situation for a parent to navigate. Do your best to focus on what came before the undesired behaviors. Was there a certain situation or event that triggered it? Become a bit of a detective and zoom out to see if you can see any patterns or causes.

When things calm down, involve both children in the resolution, and seek to avoid the triggers or patterns that created this. Over time, this will dissolve this pattern. You can also use an equal consequence (i.e. time out for both of you, no screen time for both of you), so they understand they both “loose” in this situation.

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Hovering Parent

Some disagreements are normal and natural, and it’s important to let your children learn to express themselves, disagree, and respect others.

Where possible, let them learn to work out conflicts on their own. If you allow them to develop healthy conflict-resolution styles chances are they will develop mature friendships and relationships when they are older. Encourage them to learn how to get along, apologize for mistakes and to forgive one another when hurt has been caused.

One useful apology formula can look like this (modify to what works for your family):

  1. I’m sorry for what I did.
  2. I understand it hurt you because … (be specific)
  3. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make it right.
  4. [Other Person] Thank you for acknowledging it and I forgive you for your mistake.

Avoid Treating Kids Like Adult Friends

Sometimes parents compare kids to each other, and even complain about their siblings. Avoid this and remember they are not adults or friends – they are your children. Statements like “why can’t you be more like …” can be incredibly damaging. As hard as it is in the moment, remember something is triggering your child to act out. They don’t enjoy feeling this way either.

Do your best to encourage all of your children to develop into the unique beings that they are. If you are reading this, it means that you are a caring parent who is seeking the best for your family. That’s exceptional, and you should be proud of that.

Sometimes you may need outside help. If that’s the case, it means you are brilliantly smart and an even more capable parent for realizing the need and acting on it. Your family of origin or other factors may be at play, and a professional can often help resolve these quickly.

Thank you for seeking the best for your family!