Blog Archives

Is Your Child Safe From These 3 Dangers?

April 13, 2015

Keep your child safe from these 3 dangers | MothersCircle.netI am not an alarmist, or a worrier, or overprotective, but I’m aware. I feel like being aware of dangers can help us take precautions and be mindful as we parent.

Being conscious of these three dangers can help us keep our children, and other children, safe. The stories of those effected by these dangers make me so sad for the families who have suffered losses.

Even when my kids were little, I tried to give them space to learn and test their limits at different ages of development, but it’s always important to be smart and alert to possible dangers. Being mindful without being petrified is a healthy approach. (Here are three playground rules for parents that delve into this idea.)

I’m linking to the stories shared by parents who have experienced these dangers and who want to spread the word to help other families avoid their pain.

A New Tool For Internet Safety

April 7, 2015

A New Tool For Internet Safety | MothersCircle.netRegular Mother’s Circle readers may know that I’ve recently had you all vote on my next Naked Parenting topic and I’m taking on the one I find the hardest to write – Naked Parenting: Social Media and Technology.

There’s so much to it that it makes a parent’s head explode, doesn’t it? That’s why I’m happy to share a new tool for internet safety.

As parents, we’re still learning, experimenting with different rules and systems, and keeping ourselves educated. It’s a continual process and important to seek tools to support our family values and to keep our kids safe online. I believe in teaching them good skills but while they learn, it’s great to have a safety net.

Think Spring!

March 30, 2015

Think Spring! Activities and tips | MothersCircle.netAs much as I love snow days, I’m happy to see the mountains melting. I’m ready to think spring and am enjoying the hints of buds and other harbingers of spring.

Here’s a wrap of of some spring season posts to help you think spring!

How to force forsythia – Bring some spring inside with these yellow blooming branches!

Creative ways to dye Easter eggs – This is our Good Friday tradition. What fun Easter egg traditions does your family do?

Setting Technology Limits for Kids

March 27, 2015

Setting Technology Limits for Kids | MothersCircle.netThank you to Amy Williams for this guest post. It’s a topic that’s been on my mind as I’m currently writing the second book in the Naked Parenting series on social media and technology. I asked readers for their input on the next parenting topic to address and this is the one I’m tackling now.

Guest Post by Amy Williams, journalist and former social work specializing in teen behavioral health.

The rapid advancement of technology in our world poses new challenges for parents who are already trying to achieve what is best for their kids in different areas of life. As more kinds of technology become accessible to kids of all ages, it is essential for parents to consider how best to protect their children as they grow and develop. How do you set technology limits for your kids?

What is Considered “Screen Time?”

“Screen time” is a common term that professionals in child development use to cover all kinds of screens – such as televisions, tablets, smartphones, video games, and movies – that children are exposed to on a daily basis.

The term “screen time” more specifically refers to any passive time that children spend in front of a monitor. Generally, there is very little movement as people are in front of a screen, and there is no interaction with the larger world. This is a concern as young children grow and develop.

Recommended Technology Limits for Kids

7 Fun Yogurt Ideas for Kids

March 20, 2015

Fun Yogurt Ideas for Kids | MothersCircle.netI’m not a nutritionist, I’m a mom who has always had an interest in reading and learning about nutrition. I feel good about providing my kids with an example of healthy eating, moderation, balance, and variety as I help guide them to make their own healthful choices about what they put into their bodies. Here are some creative yogurt ideas beyond smoothies and breakfast as a great way to start in offering kids healthy options.

*I received no compensation of any kind for this post.

The Health Benefits of Yogurt

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that yogurt is an ideal first food for toddlers and is a great source of protein and calcium.
  • Yogurt contains live and active cultures which are beneficial bacterias for a healthy digestive tract and immune system. My GI doctor said that we should be having these kinds of probiotics in our diets daily.
  • Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium keeping kids, and you, satisfied longer while also contributing to bone health.
  • Like other dairy foods, yogurt is a good source of not only calcium, but B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.
  • In our family, we are partial to Chobani’s products. They contain 25% less sugar than competitors and more protein per serving – there is no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, modified cornstarch, or preservatives and I love that Chobani donates 10% of their profits to charity. Click here to read about Chobani’s beliefs.
  • Click here for more health benefits of yogurt on WebMD.

7 Fun Yogurt Ideas for Kids and Families

1. Yogurt Pops

Freeze your kids’ favorite yogurt flavors mixed with a little bit of unsweetened fruit juice in ice cube trays and put Popsicle sticks in each cube. Allow to freeze, pop them out and into a plastic freezer bag or container. They’re the perfect summer treat or great for a teething child. It’s a dessert or snack you can feel happy about giving them!

2. Healthy Party Fun – Yogurt Bar

Vote on the Next Naked Parenting Book

March 1, 2015

vote for parenting book, parenting book topics, social media for parents, money and finance for kids, teaching kids money, technology and parenting, When I wrote Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence, I had it planned to be a series. I will be taking the seven keys and applying them to different topics.

I need you to vote on the next Naked Parenting book topic.

Now that I’m in a good place with my first novel and querying agents (He’s Such a Fork), I’m ready to start working on a second Naked Parenting book.

I have outlined three topics, please leave a comment and let me know which you’d like to read about next.

50 Things No One Ever Told You About Babies

February 17, 2015

50 Things No One Ever Told You About Babies | MothersCircle.netWhen you’re a new parent, there are plenty of things you can’t prepare for and may not expect. You’ll hear stories from friends, parents, in-laws, it’s hard to sort out what you should believe, what advice you should follow and even with all of those tales and tips, there will still be things no one ever told you about babies.

I’ve surveyed past doula clients and other new moms and tapped into my experience with families adding a new baby to the family to bring you this list of 50 things no one ever told you about babies in five areas of postpartum adjustment.

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle

November 26, 2014

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle | MotherCircle.net Do you live in the Gratitude Circle?

It can be tough sometimes but it’s so worth it when I get there. I find that the more I give thanks, the more I have to be thankful for. The Gratitude Circle builds gratefulness from gratefulness. The more you count your blessings, the more blessings you have to count.

Looking actively for things to be thankful for multiplies those very things. By seeing them, we automatically increase them. I have a 5-year gratitude journal that I love, it’s a quick way to remind myself every day of all I have in my life and it helps to make gratitude a habit. Create a structure for yourself that builds thankfulness into your day.

Book Journeys

November 13, 2014

BOOKJOURNEYSI’m excited to be speaking with Dr. Angela Lauria of The Author Incubator this afternoon on her Blog Talk Radio show, Book Journeys. Click this link to listen live at 3:00 pm EST today or for listening in after.

Angela is the creator of the D.I.F.F.E.R.E.N.C.E. process for writing your book and she has been helping authors birth their books for over 20 years. You know I love the birthing analogy as a doula!

Almost two years ago I worked with Angela on my novel (which, after many rewrites, going through an editor, and more rewrites, is currently out with beta readers for feedback! YAY!) She helped keep me accountable and taught me so much about working with editors, book marketing and the world of publishing. I loved our sessions and I was able to talk through plot Blog Talk Radio, Book Journeys, Angela Lauria, help writing a bookpoints and structure.

Though we worked together on my novel, The Fork Book (a working title), today, we’re talking about Naked Parenting. For anyone interested in writing and/or publishing, Angela is a tremendous resource.

If you’re interested in a signed copy, send me a note here and I’ll ship you out one for your or for a gift.

Listen in here at 3:00 pm EST today. See you on Book Journeys!

Cut and paste this url if you have trouble with the above link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/book-journeys/2014/11/13/leah-decesare–book-journeys-author-interview

Introducing Stempaks

November 10, 2014

introducing stempaks, what is STEM, what is stempaks, STEM projects for kidsI’m thrilled to introduce you to Stempaks. Just in time for Christmas, Hanukah and winter birthday gift giving comes Stempaks, “sparking curiosity through discovery and creativity.”

When you subscribe, your kids will receive a package each month ready-made with projects for them to explore. It’s easy for parents to get as engaged in the topic as they want, or let kids dive in on their own.

Stempaks is targeted to kids aged 5 – 10 and each month will feature a different theme or topic. This November is focusing on paleontology.

As a blogger, I receive an influx of email requests to review items and I delete the great majority of them, but something stempaks package, science for kids, math projects for kidsin the email from the founders of Stempaks made me reach out to them. Not only are these young entrepreneurs innovative and creating a product that encourages family learning, but one of the founders also served in the military. From the first phone call, I had a great impression and love the concept of this product, I immediately agreed to not only be a beta tester but also to serve as an adviser because I believe in what they’re doing.

When our package arrived, the kids couldn’t wait to open it. Our dinosaur kit came with eye goggles and a face mask which went right on as the kids read through the materials to see what they needed to do.

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stempaks, science projects, dinosaur activities, paleontology

Decked out in their protective gear, they transformed into archeologists and little by little excavated dinosaur bones. They took it very seriously, brushing away the dust and being cautious not to harm a fossilized bone.

goggles and mask, STEM projects

Parents Set the Tone for the Family

November 5, 2014

parents set the tone, parents set example, culture in family,

You are the Single Greatest Influence

October 16, 2014

know it all, teen years, parents influence in kids lives, parenting teens

5 Ways to Create Happy Memories With Your Kids

October 8, 2014

Thank you to Deborah Shelby for this guest post on ways to create happy memories with our kids. I love her ideas and nodded reading this as they reinforce so many of the principles I write about in Naked Parenting. Enjoy the read, and your kiddos!

Guest post by Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom.

owl, create happy memories, no regrets parenting, have fun with your kids, messy projects, Motherhood is tough. Trying to take care of your family, your home, your work, balancing it all, and making your family’s lives run smoothly are exhausting.

I know you’re busy and tired and at times overwhelmed. But imagine five years from now, or ten years from now, what do you want to remember about this time in your life and your children’s lives? In twenty years, how do you want your children to remember their childhoods? What kinds of memories will they have of their mom and their family life?

As a mother of teenagers, here are a few lessons I’ve learned to create happy memories and bond with my kids:

The best memories and most fun are the messiest activities!

I can’t tell you how many of my kids’ friends loved playing at our house for Play-doh alone. Most of them were not allowed to play with it at home because it’s so messy. There’s real work involved in the cleanup, and it’s time-consuming. It gets ground into the carpet. I get it. Yes, it’s a pain. But 10 years from now, your kids will treasure those fond memories of creativity and squishy, moldable fun! Put an old shower curtain under the table that you can roll up and take outside to clean.

I also gave my children plastic aprons, and I allowed them to paint and have stamp pads and make mess pretty much any time, as long as they followed the rules. They learned quite young how to be respectful of our home and help clean up and how to be responsible with their supplies. They took care of rinsing paint brushes and cleaning their rubber stamps.

Another messy activity you shouldn’t deny your kids is letting them jump in mud puddles! We always kept rubber boots for the kids, and stomping in mud puddles was incredible fun. Yes, you’ll have more laundry. But again, you’re giving your kids wonderful, happy childhood memories.

Nurture your relationship with your kids by giving them your undivided attention.

Make sure your children understand how important they are. If you want them to talk to you about their lives when they are teenagers and young adults, you’ll have to listen to those excited, shrill, little-kid voices first. Listen when they want to tell you something. Whenever possible, stop what you’re doing when they want to show you something. Make time for what is important to your children.

We Shouldn’t Engineer Childhood

September 26, 2014

engineer childhood, let kids fail, failures and mistakes as parents, let kids be kids

Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks

September 2, 2014

praising kids, how to praise kids, giving specific praise
Sounds awful, right?

Read my latest post on FamilyShare, Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks to learn why I wouldn’t quite say it that way, but why I won’t give hollow praise, either.

Do you ooh and aah at every scribble and pencil mark? Here are some practical tips on how to best praise children and on organizing their artwork. Children sense insincerity and feel really proud when they know they’ve earned your praise.

Okay, I know. Telling your kids their artwork stinks sounds horrible. I wouldn’t quite say it like that, and I would keep in mind how young the kids are. But if you “ooh” and “aah” at every scribble, pencil mark or blobbed together Play-Doh sculpture, this is for you.

If you find yourself telling your child that every piece of artwork is wonderful, ask yourself if you may be saying, “That is so pretty,” without really thinking or paying attention. Sometimes praising kids, how to praise kids, kids artwork, we say something just to acknowledge a child who’s madly chanting, “Look, Mommy, look! LOOK!” Yes, it is easy to just stop the crazy with a quick compliment, but piling on hollow words is exactly that: hollow. Instead, I believe in being truthful with our children.

I find that when complimenting a child, it’s important to be specific and comment on things they have the control to improve. The details in praise let kids know we’re really paying attention. It gives them a glimpse of themselves from a parent’s point of view. In my work with new parents, I’ve experienced that throwing around the “good jobs” doesn’t work to improve kids’ self-esteem in the way so many parents imagine that it would.

Keeping Your Child Safe From Cyberbullying

September 1, 2014

Thank you to TeenSafe for this guest post and helpful infographic on Keeping Your Child Safe From Cyberbullying.

Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat. . . Each of these sites can be a great way for teens to build relationships and connect with their peers. Judging by the growing popularity, it doesn’t look like they’ll be disappearing anytime soon. And while social media sites do have their perks, they are also becoming a breeding ground for hurtful comments and humiliating photos.

Cyberbullying has transformed the bullying of years past, where school hallways and playgrounds took the brunt of the problem. Now, children have no place to hide from their tormentors. Bullies find it easy to inflict emotional pain from behind the safety of their computer screens and often believe that their actions will not have any consequences. However, it’s time for parents to step up and gain the knowledge necessary to fight back against this epidemic.

 

Being aware of what your child is doing online is the first step toward ending cyberbullying.

Check out the infographic below, by TeenSafe.com, for tips on how to help your kids online. Knowledge is power, parents. Let’s do what we can – starting today.

Naked Parenting Offers Tools for the Journey

August 25, 2014

EGnews header, EGreenwich news, east Greenwich RI, EG blog, Elizabeth McNamaraEGNews is a wonderful, local blog covering “Everything About Our Town.”

I’m grateful to editor, Elizabeth McNamara for her story on Naked Parenting, EG Mom’s Book Naked Parenting Offers Tools for the Journey.

If you’re an East Greenwich, Rhode Islander, you’ve got to subscribe to EGNews to be in the know!

Click here to read the story.

Follow EG News on Twitter @egreenwichnews

Like EG News on Facebook

east greenwich town hall, yellow building, east greenwich ri, main street east greenwich

Naked Parenting Webinar Available

August 21, 2014

naked parenting webinar, parenting webinars, parenting tips, parenting advice, parenting teens, parenting toddlers, bargain parenting books,If you missed my Naked Parenting webinar this week, here is the recording. The book is still on sale until August 25, 2014 so it’s a great time to download Naked Parenting and share it with your friends.

I had a great time doing the webinar and the feedback was rewarding, attendees polled felt that they had learned something that they could apply to parenting right away.

Some quotes from reviews of Naked Parenting on Amazon:

The content is straightforward and to the point – with highly organized “take-away” messages that stick with you throughout the day … helpful techniques that every parent should have in their toolbox!

Practical, reasoned and full of real-world experience.

Many parenting books on the market focus on strategies starting with children’s behavior, Naked Parenting starts with parents-which is often overlooked in other parenting books. Leah provides thoughtful and wise suggestions for parents to consider in many different situations and scenarios of parenting.

This book reads like a good friend kindly whispering in your ear the things you need to hear about parenting.

Such a wonderful read! Leah’s quick strategies started helping me with my 2 year old almost immediately…

It’s an easy read with tons of valuable information!

I am encouraged as a mom from your words.

Naked Parenting is eye-opening. Chock-full of priceless advice for parents with children of all ages.

I’m grateful for these and other wonderful reviews. I hope you, too, enjoy Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence. I hope you enjoy it enough to share it and recommend it, too. Get it now while it’s on sale!

Click here to listen to the Naked Parenting Webinar.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

top mommy blogs, mommy blog directory,

 

10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism

August 19, 2014

10 tips to teach kids, volunteerism, teaching kids to serve, serving and giving, teaching kids to appreciate what they haveThank you to Prayerful Mom for allowing me to guest post. I love this post and have been wanting to write about service and volunteerism for awhile now. It’s so important to teach our kids perspective, giving, and gratitude in our world of plenty.

Check out my 10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism.

Do you struggle to teach your children about the value of “stuff” and the importance of helping others? Do you search for ways to teach your kids to appreciate what they have and to offer some perspective?

Set the example and volunteer together, locally and globally. Explain to your kids why you give money to whom you do. Use a variety of ways to teach the lessons of serving and gratitude. Multiple experiences and regular volunteerism, or involvement in a cause, will have a greater impact on children than the once-in-a-blue-moon approach.

Here are 10 tips to teach kids about volunteerism

Thank you, Mother’s Circle readers, for your support, your sharing, your votes on Top Mommy Blogs, and your kind emails and comments!

Enjoy volunteering with your kids!

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

Naked Parenting On Sale This Week

August 18, 2014

Naked Parenting book, Naked Parenting on sale, parenting book promotions, parenting books discounted, parenting books on sale, Have you been meaning to read Naked Parenting but haven’t gotten it yet? Here’s your chance to get it at a discount – Naked Parenting on sale this week only. Click here to get Naked Parenting on sale.

Thank you to my loyal Mother’s Circle readers, I promise to get you some posts that aren’t about Naked Parenting as soon as this week’s promotion is over!

Thanks for your support and for the comments and emails you’ve sent, for the tweets and social media sharing you’ve done – it means so much and I am so grateful!

Please keep sharing your feedback on Naked Parenting – I love hearing from you! Join me this Tuesday for a webinar on Naked Parenting.

Click here to get Naked Parenting on sale.

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

Naked Parenting on the Patch

August 12, 2014

Click here to read: What is Naked Parenting? article on East Greenwich, RI Patch.

Naked Parenting book, image Naked Parenting, raising kids with confidence, honest parenting, tips for being confident parent, parent book for teens, parent book for tweens, parenting book for all ages,

Tattling or Telling? 2 Questions to Teach Kids

August 4, 2014

tattling or telling, more than mommy, mostly together mommy, guest post Leah DeCesare, 2 questions,

I’m grateful to Mostly Together Mommy {More Than Mommy} for allowing me to guest post.

You can read the full post, Tattling or Telling? on MTMommy.

It can be hard for kids to understand if something is tattling or telling, in this post, I offer two questions as a simple guide to help us teach kids the difference.

As always, thanks for being a Mother’s Circle reader!

The Day of Big Parenting Talks

July 23, 2014

talking to teens, talking to kids, big parenting talks, parenting triumphs, tough parenting days, Naked ParentingWhew – I’m exhausted.

Today was a day of big parenting talks, ever have those days? The kind where topics arise that spur in-depth discussions, or behaviors warrant longer sit-downs. Today, I had both types of big parenting talks, and I had them with all three kids at different times throughout the day. It felt like tag from one kid’s situation to another one’s – topped off with a teary moment at bedtime that needed an energetic mommy-pick-me-up.

There were moments of utter frustration and feeling like I wasn’t being heard or getting through, followed by instances of triumph where I felt like I said or did the exact right thing. I’ve joked that we have our “Oprah Days” and our “Dr. Phil Days,” the picture-perfect and the ugly, and the everything in between. Today had it all!

3 Playground Rules for Parents – Guest Post

July 11, 2014

playground rules, tips for parents at playground, playground parenting tips, red swing, naptime reviewerI am happy to share my guest post on The Nap Time Reviewer on:

3 Playground Rules for Parents

 

Click here to read my guest post on The Nap Time Reviewer.

As always, thanks for being a Mother’s Circle reader!

Naked Parenting Book Trailer

July 10, 2014

Yesterday I posted about my new book – Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence. It’s now available on Amazon.

Here is the Naked Parenting book trailer, come on – Get Naked!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SnD4FkV3go

 

naked parenting book trailer, naked belly, belly button,

Naked Parenting – New Parenting Book from Mother’s Circle

July 9, 2014

Naked Parenting book, image Naked Parenting, raising kids with confidence, honest parenting, tips for being confident parent, parent book for teens, parent book for tweens, parenting book for all ages, I’m proud and excited to announce the publication of Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence.

Over the thirteen years working with new parents and helping families transition to parenthood, I’ve received many calls and emails from clients, from the immediate postpartum period to years later, asking parenting questions. Many clients and blog readers have asked or suggested I write a book – so here it is!

Naked Parenting is parenting stripped down to the bare basics focusing on seven keys to raising kids who are self-sufficient, confident, respectful, and resilient. Nudity not required.

Naked Parenting describes my parenting principles and philosophies and allows readers to apply these ideas to their own style of parenting using their own household rules and values. I share specific tips, examples and suggestions that families can begin using right away.

It’s a quick read that will leave you ready to try new techniques in your family. One early reader was heading on vacation after finishing Naked Parenting and told me she was going start the next day by focusing on one aspect she’d learned in the book that really resonated with her. Another early reader felt like she was sitting talking with me over a cup of tea as she read it – what a compliment – and I hope you feel that way, too. Pour yourself some iced tea and join me!

I’d love to hear how Naked Parenting impacts your family – use the contact form or share your thoughts in the comments below. As a Mother’s Circle reader, you already know a lot about my writing style and parenting ideologies, and I hope you will enjoy Naked Parenting. Click here to see Naked Parenting on Amazon.

Thank you for your readership and your support!

I’m grateful for the advance praise for Naked Parenting

Top Ten Ways to Help a Friend Whose Child is Facing a Medical Crisis

June 23, 2014

helping a friend with sick child, how to help a friend, friend with baby in NICU, what to say to friend with sick baby


Do you know the best ways to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis?

My thanks to Kerry Sheeran, Author of The Marathon, a powerful memoir about their daughter’s journey and struggle for life, for this guest post.

It’s not always to know what to do or what to say or how to be genuinely helpful to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis, but Kerry’s post guides us through her top ten pieces of advice, from someone who’s been there.

 

 

 

Top Ten Ways to Help a Friend Whose Child is Facing a Medical Crisis

Watching a family member or friend suffer through the illness or hospitalization of their child can leave a person feeling utterly helpless. It can be hard to determine when and how to offer your support. Where is the line between being too pushy and not the least bit supportive? How can you be the person your friend needs during a difficult time in their lives? I have some experience in this department, having been on the receiving end of a tremendous amount of help during the course of five years, eight major surgeries and countless hospitalizations of my six-year-old.

What I learned during those difficult times has served me well when my own friends have found themselves in similar situations, and so I want to share them with Mother’s Circle readers. Without further adieu, I’m pleased to present you with the top ten most important ways to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis:

10. DON’T ASK, DO TELL:

Don’t ask your friend: “How can I help you?” Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, your heart is in the right place – but you need to use your head on this one. This is your friend, after all. You should be able to anticipate his or her needs to a certain extent. Think about it before you ask, then propose a way you might be able to step in. Is it garbage night? Is one of their other kids on a travel soccer team? Is their business suffering as a result of their absence?

Figure out what might be the most efficient way to lighten their load, and propose it to them in a matter-of-fact way. “I’ll take Danny to and from his soccer game on Sunday, okay?” “Can I make those deposits for you so that payroll stays on track?” “I’d like to take your garbage out and bring your mail in while you’re at the hospital”. “I’d like to clean and disinfect your house so that it’s all ready for Katie when she gets home.”

Your friend will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind your good deed, given the state of mind he or she is probably in. The last thing a parent of a sick child has time to do is brainstorm ways for you to help them. Not to mention, many people have a difficult time asking for help in the first place. So eliminate that part of the equation by tweaking your offer from “What can I do?” to “Here’s what I plan to do – is it okay with you?” Guaranteed they will be eager to accept a well thought out offer to help.

9. OPEN YOUR EARS:

Resist the urge to talk and constantly advise when your friend is unloading to you. Unless they specifically The Marathon, Boston Marathon book, book cover pink sneakers, The Marathon book cover,call seeking advice, be the friend and confidant your were called to be. Processing the magnitude of a child’s poor health is extremely hard for a parent. Talking through it can be helpful in many ways. Sometimes just saying something out loud is a way for a parent to accept a recent diagnosis, a bad turn or an all around crappy day for their child. Listen to your friend when they are sharing their story with you.

8 Parenting Lessons from Frozen

June 17, 2014

parenting tips, parenting lessons from Frozen, lessons from the movie Frozen, kids watching Frozen, drawing of Olaf, Olaf the snowmanI know, I know, we’re all “Frozened-Out,” but I had to finally share the parenting lessons from Frozen that I’ve been thinking about. I’m a little delayed in putting these Frozen thoughts to paper – um, to blog post – since I’ve been busy writing a parenting book, Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Your Kids With Confidence. Details coming soon!

So back to the parenting lessons from Frozen …

How many times have you seen Frozen in your family? Three? Five? Eight? Have you hit a dozen times? How many times have you sung/heard/hummed “Let it Go”? That’s got to be nearing the hundred mark at least! Hasn’t “Let it go” become the new theme song and theme phrase for everything? Don’t stress – let it go – then your head goes right into the lyrics.

Frozen is one of my favorite movies, not just my favorite Disney movie, but I think I have to add it to my list of all favorite movies. And, having seen it more times than I’d like to admit, I can’t help but see some great parenting lessons from Frozen.

1. Accept your children for who they are – and nurture it.

This one hits you right in the face at the start of Frozen. Poor Elsa wasn’t accepted unconditionally, sure, her parents, the rulers of Arendelle, thought they were doing the right thing, but they squelched her essence, even made her ashamed and embarrassed by who she was. Her parents didn’t let her be herself, instead she had to hide her true self.

I cringe to admit it, but there are times we do this as parents, sometimes in small ways that are almost hidden. The key is to recognize it and take a different action course. Do you want your book bug to be more athletic? Do you want your daughter to play field hockey like you did? Do you encourage your art-loving son to join the soccer team? Do you expect A’s from your B student?

Encouraging them to fulfill their potential and offering opportunities for diverse experiences are wonderful but there can be a fine line, can’t there?

In Naked Parenting, Naked Love is the first key – 100% full, generous, crazy-love for our kids and making sure they know it to their core, without a question. Wholly accepting them for who they are, helping them shine in their strengths and learn from and grow from their weaknesses, that’s our job as parents. I think the Frozen trolls are a wonderful example of unconditional love and acceptance.

2. Family first and love conquers all.

Tagging onto the first lesson, sisterly love and bonds are a main Frozen theme. Didn’t you think for awhile that the “only an act of true love can save her” was a kiss from Kristoff? I let the screenwriters take me right along that thinking for most of the film – but then the ultimate lesson was that it was a sister’s love that saved her, not a romantic love.

Sexting at School

June 10, 2014

sexting at school, book about sexting, girls and sexting, parenting teen girls, advice for parents of teen girlsMy thanks to Benjamin Dancer for this guest post. As a mother of two teens, I am happy to learn and share this information as a means to continue to keep updated and aware. There are so many challenges and things to keep on top of with kids in our high-tech world, it’s important to stay vigilant and educated to best guide and protect our kids.

I love Benjamin’s advice in Sexting at School which is so important to remember: “She needs you to be confident in your role. … Jessica loves you, and she knows that you love her. This is universal: the teenager wants desperately to have her independence, and she is terrified of it. Jessica is not aware of the fact that she is conflicted about this. She’s just a kid. As much as she pushes you away, she wants you to be strong, to love her.”

This is a great, quick read written for parent’s of teen daughters. Download the article-length ebook for free.

SEXTING AT SCHOOL by Benjamin Dancer

I’m a high school counselor, which means I work with parents every day who could use a little grace in their lives. Because I’ve made a career out of my work with adolescents, I see as a matter of course what a parent might be seeing for the first time. This includes a long list of unfortunate life events.

As a parent, I have a lot of empathy for other parents. It’s not easy, especially when you’re going through something for the first time. My life, on the other hand, is a little bit like Groundhog Day. In a sense, I’ve never left high school. Every school year I see the same things. Different kids, but the same behavior: alcohol, drugs, tobacco, bullying, kids running away from home, pregnancy and something newer: sexting.

Baby Names

May 15, 2014

I’d like to introduce you to a new feature on my site to help you pick baby names.

When you were growing up, did you have a list of names you wanted to name your future children? Then, as you realize that you’re naming a real person, it feels weighty and there’s so much to consider.

We think of giving them a name that sounds good out loud, that looks pretty written, that works with your last name, that doesn’t remind you or your spouse/partner of the boy who picked his nose in math class or the girl who made faces at you from the bus window. Lot’s to think about when it comes to baby names!

So give this fun tool a try – have fun with it, get others involved, and maybe you’ll uncover a name you hadn’t considered which fits just right.

I hope this will be helpful to those of you who are expecting. It’s a fun tool that helps you figure out your favorite name for your new baby! You can add your own to pick baby names or search a list, then you can invite your family and friends to play the game.

Rather than just a one-click poll, this game elicits your deeper preferences. Click Get Started below to build and share your very own baby names poll.

Child Development Birth to Age 5

March 26, 2014

Developmental Milestones
Source: Early-Childhood-Education-Degrees.com

Motherhood: Juggling Eggs

March 17, 2014

motherhood tips, juggling eggs, long to do lists, mothers job list, gratitude for moms, managing lots of tasks, mom managersIt’s not just that I have too many balls in the air, it’s that it feels more like I’m juggling eggs. Juggling eggs that at any point I may miss catching.

One, or two or three, could fall from the air at any moment and leave me with another mess to deal with on top of the piles of laundry, the never-ending dishes, crumbs and dust, and the towers of papers on any given day.

The eggs are all labeled, there must be at least a dozen up there: carpool, doctors appointments, manage a fundraiser, check homework, write a book, supervise play rehearsal, doula work, grocery shop, teach childbirth classes, read for book clubs, read for work, read for pleasure, read emails, endless emails, more emails, sort mail, sort school papers, sort junk papers, donate clothes the kids have outgrown, purge the kids’ toys, paint the chips in the trim, buy birthday gift, go to the gym (how long has it been?), make eye doctor appointment, and the to-do eggs go on and on and on …

Yet, even when I’m feeling rushed and busy, even overwhelmed and invisible at times, I’m grateful for the things my eggs don’t say. I’m not juggling eggs that say sick child, ill parent, unemployment, bad marriage, poor health or any number of other things people all around are managing right along with their dirty clothes and dirty dishes.

The Science of Raising Happy Kids – by Happify

March 12, 2014

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7 Ways to Make your Own Luck

March 11, 2014

4 leaf clover, make luck, lucky 7, lucky clover, I'm unlucky, happy st. paddy's day, st. patty's day luck, be generous, attitude, what's luck got to do with it, law of attractionI wish people, “Good Luck!” as a vote of confidence, a hope for success, but I only have a limited belief in luck. Instead, I believe we make our own luck.

Two people could be handed the same situation, the same resources (or lack thereof) and can create completely different outcomes. Some might dismiss it as “lucky” or use it as and excuse, “I’m just unlucky,” or “She’s luckier than me.” I don’t believe that’s luck, it’s attitude, how you choose to look at the world and interact within it.

These are lessons Nick and I work to instill in our kids at every opportunity. We believe in these principles in our own lives, as parents and contributors to society. Let’s call it “The Luck O’ the Italians,” since we don’t have a lick of Irish between us! It’s a recipe to make your own luck!

Here are LUCKY NUMBER 7 Ways to Make your Own Luck!

7 Ways to Make Your Own Luck

1. It all begins with attitude.

Attitude is everything in life. How you view the world and your corner of it, is up to you. No one says it better than Charles Swindoll in his Attitude poem. Every moment of every day provides you with a choice. How will you approach it? Will you embrace it, run from it, complain about it, greet it with joy? You can bemoan your lot in life or you can do something about it. That takes me to tip number 2.

2. Do the work.

Even when it seems like things come easy to some people, they’re working for it. Sure we all have our talents and skills that make certain things more pleasurable or easier for us. Even when using our gifts and strengths, making our own luck takes forethought, planning, effort, and a go-for-it spirit. Dreaming alone doesn’t do it, it’s the action that gets you to your goal.

It takes work – hard work – to be the parent we want to be. Thinking about it, reading about it, hoping for it won’t do it – they’re tools and can help – but we need the action. It can take a lot of work to reevaluate what we’re doing that’s not working or to reflect on why we keep getting the same unwanted behaviors from our kids.

Floating Wishes – Fun Activity for Kids and Adults

February 20, 2014

floating wishes, flying dreams, fun family activities, fun youth group activities, activity for churches, sunday school activities, blessingways, activities for families, family rituals, traditionsFloating wishes has become a tradition for Valentine’s Day in our family but could be used for birthdays, New Year’s goals, Blessingways, or to mark any special celebration or ordinary day.

How to Make Floating Wishes:

1. Cut squares out of any color tissue paper you like.

Match the color to the theme of your event or celebration. Cut the squares about 3″ x 3″ with very even edges to help them stand up later.

2. Pass out the tissue paper squares and pencils and write on the squares.

Distribute the papers to your guests or family and ask them to write their wish, dream, prayer, gently with the pencil on the tissue paper.

You may provide different directions to your participants depending on the occasion. For example, this Valentine’s Day, Anna handed out three pieces of hot pink tissue paper to each family member and told us that one was for a wish, one was for a dream and one was a thought for the world.

If you used this for a church retreat or youth activity, perhaps you’d have everyone write a prayer in general or for a specific person or cause. As a part of a Blessingway for moms-to-be, you might have everyone write a special thought for the new mother, the new baby and her family.

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3. Roll the paper up around a pencil.

Use the pencil and roll the tissue paper into a tight tube around the pencil. When you take it off it will loosen, that’s okay, but you want it to be able to stand up on one side like a toilet paper tube.

Short And Well Rehearsed: Kids’ Plays and Performances

January 15, 2014

kids plays, kids performances, acting kids, school plays, kids creating, shakespeare for kids, Growing up, I put on my fair share of plays and performances for my parents and babysitters. I remember one in particular that must have been torturous to my parent’s friend who was put in charge of us while they were at a funeral.

After she took us to see the newest Superman movie, her daughter, my brother, sister, and I acted out the entire movie. The ENTIRE movie, scene by scene. Now the props were exceptional, mind you, we even upended all of the dining room chairs to build the perfect recreation of a cave of icicles, but as an adult I think of what a saint Jo-Ann was to sit and watch us just play. Sure we had rehearsed it a little bit, we had some rough guidelines we all went by, but really, we were just playing and having fun while she sat captive as our audience of one.

[caption id="attachment_3731" align="alignright" width="225"]kids in plays, tree costume, kid dressed as tree, tree in a play, playing as a tree, Michael as a tree.[/caption]

As a parent, we have experienced (and sometimes endured) a litany of our kids shows, dances, plays and performances. I do love to see their creativity and cooperation, I just don’t necessarily care to sit there while they’re creating and cooperating. There is truly great value in kids producing their own shows from their imaginations and in learning to navigate the give and take of each of the participant’s contributions and ideas.

Goal Setting for Kids

January 9, 2014

goal setting for kids, setting goals, new years goals, notebook paper on bulletin board, how to have kids set goalsGoal setting: it’s way better than “making resolutions!” Goal setting is a life skill and a gift to teach our kids young.

I love the Napoleon Hill quote, “A goal is a dream with a deadline,” we can dream, but we need to quantify it to help us achieve it.

Teaching and modeling goal setting to kids is setting them up to strive in life, it’s putting action behind the words: “You can do anything you set your mind to” or “you can be anything you want to be.” Teaching kids how to set goals and map out mini-goals along the path is giving them the tools to really be anything they want to be.

Effective goal setting includes writing it down. Good, old-fashioned pen and paper! You can have your kids illustrate the goal or cut out magazine pictures and make a collage around their written goal. Hang itset goals, alphabet blocks, goal setting tips, activities for goal setting, I want to be a better reader, get straight A's, mini-goals, quotes on goals somewhere prominent, above their bed, beside the bathroom mirror, somewhere they can see it during daily tasks (like teeth brushing, hopefully!)

Ten Warning Signs of Teen Marijuana Addiction: What Parents Need to Know

December 19, 2013

signs of teen pot use, signs of marijuana addiction, marijuana addiction, signs of weed use, teen grass use, teen weed useMy thanks to Scott Brand for this guest post on recognizing teen marijuana addiction. Taken one by one, some of these signs may appear to be typical teenage behaviors, but use these signs with an open mind and to be aware of patterns.

For a lot of these signs, the key can be if you’ve noticed a CHANGE in these behaviors. It can be hard for parents to face and accept tough issues in our kids but they need us to advocate for them if they get on a troubled path.

Guest Post by Scott Brand

Do you know the signs of teen marijuana addiction? Do you know what to do if you suspect your teen is addicted?

Marijuana is also referred to as cannabis, or weed, grass, pot, dope, ganja, Mary Jane and countless other slang terms. Whatever the term, marijuana has been hypothesized by some researchers to be a gateway drug that leads to more serious teen drug abuse. Marijuana is the most often used illegal drug in the United States.

Ten Early Warning Signs of Teen Marijuana Addiction

The Grace Box

November 13, 2013

saying grace, teaching kids to pray, faith and family, faith and kids, prayers, dinnertime prayers, ideas for grace, box of prayersThe Grace Box sits on our kitchen table and represents more than the slips of paper it holds. I believe that the key to happiness in life is gratitude and daily grace before meals builds in both being thankful and teaching thankfulness to our kids.

The Grace Box used to be a small envelope that Ali decorated in Sunday school, over the years, we’ve collected short prayers and dinnertime graces and upgraded to a larger container. The prayers came from Sunday school classes, magazine clippings and the weekly prayers our old church in New Jersey used to distribute in the Sunday bulletin. We have a small children’s book of prayers that fits in neatly and an embroidered prayer on the wall that Anna favors reading when we sit at the table that’s closest to the framed words.

5 Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

November 4, 2013

tips for conferences with teachers, ideas for successful teacher conference, communicating with teachers, school conferencesIn the season of parent teacher conferences, how can you get the most of those 15 minutes with your child’s teacher?

5 Tips for Successful Parent Teacher Conferences

1. Be prepared

Think ahead about what you’d like to discuss with your child’s teacher and what questions you’d like to ask. Ask your child ahead of time if there is anything he’s concerned about or would like you to talk about in your conference. What they share may surprise you. You may also seek input from a spouse or a childcare provider, anyone who spends a lot of time with your child.


2.Write it down

communicating with teacher, woman holding books, math on black board, school success, tips for school success, improving reading speed, third graders, tips for conferences, communicating with teacher, woman holding books, math on black board, school success, tips for school success, improving reading speed, third graders,Inevitably, you have some specific thing you’d like to ask the teacher and you’ve forgotten what it is when you walk into the classroom. So often, the teachers are on a tight schedule with parents stacking up outside their door, so you want to maximize your turn. Especially if you have more than one child, writing down some notes and questions is even more important.

Besides questions, you might jot down some things you’d like to share with the teacher, such as an activity or project your child particularly enjoyed or a family or health issue that you want to bring to her attention.

3. Listen

Hear what your child’s teacher wants to share with you about your child. Does she see things that you’re not aware of? Can she provide information about your child’s social interactions, respectfulness of others and general manners and behavior when they’re outside of your purvey? Perhaps he has some worries about your child academically or organizationally.

Hear what she is saying without evaluating or judging. Listen with an open mind to learn more about your child and how she may be perceived or where he may be struggling. Your child’s teacher sees your child in a unique setting for at least six hours a day. She has a valuable perspective and insight into your kiddo.

Should You Let Your Kids Watch Scary Movies?

October 30, 2013

Many thanks to Kate Oliver of www.help4yourfamily.com for this guest post on scary movies and gauging your child’s developmental readiness for viewing them.

By Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

scary tv shows, kids and scary movies, kid with bowl of popcorn, what age is it ok for kids to watch scary movies, when can kids see scary moviesIn my house, Halloween is second only to Christmas. My children are still at an age where they want to dress up and trick or treat. They are eight and ten and they love to get a little bit scared sometimes as well. It is all part of the Halloween fun. Many holidays have special movies attached to them as well. Unlike Christmas, with, tales of Santa Claus and reindeer, and Easter, where we learn about a sweet bunny that brings treats, Halloween has movies of a different sort.

Sure there is Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin, but then there are the other movies…the scary movies.
In my work as a child therapist one issue I help kids overcome is sleep problems including nightmares. It is interesting to me that many times when children have nightmares, they are linked to watching scary movies, or even just the news. During this season of scary movies, let’s be especially mindful of the impact of what we decide to let our children watch.

teens and movies, teen nightmares, TV and teens, teens eating popcorn, boy in striped shirtI am certain my husband and I are not the only ones who have thought back to a movie we watched as kids, looked it up on Netflix and excitedly introduced it to our children only to be surprised at just how many four letter words were in say, ET and The Karate Kid. I certainly do not remember, as a kid, taking note of the language that was flying through those movies. I think many times when parents watch a scary movie with their children; they do so because they remember that excited and scared feeling they had watching the same movie.

5 Ways to Enjoy Parenting More

October 25, 2013

Are you enjoying parenting? Or are you just plodding through the days, bogged down in the tedium of caring for and redirecting little ones (or bigger ones) day in and day out?

5 Ways to Enjoy Parenting More

enjoy parenting more, are you enjoying parenting, sunflower parenting, how to be a better parent, love parenting, how to enjoy being a mom, 1. Slow Down

Yeah, I know, SO much easier said than done! I too often feel like we’re always in a hurry, rushing to pick one kid up only to race to the other side of town to get another kid to a doctor or activity. With three kids all wanting to participate in sports, music, robotics and other enrichment activities, even the best laid schedules end up with some overlap. As parents, we want to provide these opportunities to our kids and allow them to explore something they’re interested in, but it’s worthwhile to strive for balance.

On the days that we have less going on, or a rainy day that cancels a sports practice (thankfully!), I savor the calm pace, the chance to leisurely cut vegetables for dinner, to chat with a child over a cup of afternoon tea. I build in at least one week day in which we have no after school activities and no set place to be. The kids can run around and play with the neighbors after their homework is done and can take a long, prune-making bath instead of a speedy shower.

I find I enjoy parenting more when we slow down. Our weekends, since no one plays soccer, are usually an oasis of slow motion, extended time in PJs, big breakfasts together and working together in the yard. We value the time to play a family game, watch a family movie or do a project together.

2. Focused Time

Every day, I check in, touch base and give focused attention to each child. Even taking a 15 minute chunk to hear about their day, to ask about friends, to ask their opinion on something, makes a big difference in connecting to your child. Connecting, in turn, helps us to enjoy parenting more. Isn’t that the whole reason we had kids in the first place – for the prospect of a special relationship.

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