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Delicious And Nutritious Pregnancy Diet Plan

Delicious And Nutritious Pregnancy Diet Plan

Let’s start with what you can’t eat for your pregnancy diet plan. If before you got pregnant you couldn’t eat like a glutton you still can’t. But now the list of things you can’t eat has grown considerably. You can’t eat deli meat or some types of fish (that would contain mercury). Of course at some point, usually in the early stages, you won’t be able to keep any food down. Morning sickness is common for most pregnancies, and will eventually subside.

Iron rich diet

pregnancy diet plan

    Any red meat will work, and you can take prenatal vitamins but the best source of iron is cooked animal flesh. Certain vegetables are good as well and chicken is a great source of iron if you prefer something with less fat. Steak is a perfect carnivorous treat for your growing baby. Make sure to order a side of broccoli because that too is iron rich.

    Crab Salad Sandwhich

    Got crabs? You should get crabs, I’m telling you they are the best. Seafood is full Omega-3 and this recipe for crab sandwiches is the best lunchtime snack for you and your baby. Catfish is not allowed.

    NUTRIENT TOTALS

    Calories: 564.4
    Protein: 33.2 g
    Carbohydrate: 69.6 g
    Dietary Fiber: 11.9 g
    Total Sugars: 9.441 g
    Total Fat: 20.8 g
    Saturated Fat: 2.286 g
    Cholesterol: 110.5 mg
    Total Omega-3 FA: 1.186 g
    Calcium: 183.2 mg
    Iron: 6.462 mg
    Sodium: 1103 mg
    Vitamin D: 0 mcg
    Folate: 87.6 mcg
    Folic Acid: 0 mcg

    Parmesan Chicken Tenders with Marinara dipping Sauce

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      Who says you can’t go out and still eat healthy? These nutrition facts are a great guide for eating right at any restaurant, where you’re sure to find chicken of a similar fashion.

      NUTRIENT TOTALS

      Calories: 649.2
      Protein: 50.9 g
      Carbohydrate: 69.6 g
      Dietary Fiber: 10.7 g
      Total Sugars: 19.7 g
      Total Fat: 22.8 g
      Saturated Fat: 4.002 g
      Cholesterol: 92.5 mg
      Total Omega-3 FA: .222 g
      Calcium: 231.4 mg
      Iron: 3.678 mg
      Sodium: 1171 mg
      Vitamin C: 68.1 mg
      Folate: 86.5 mcg
      Folic Acid: 11.1 mcg
      Food Folate: 75.4 mcg

      Pork and Pineapple Kebabs

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        Dads are sure to love this one, men have always prided themselves as being the steward of the grill, whether it’s steak or these healthy kebobs you can bet your man will grill them to a perfection that will satisfy your pregnancy cravings and then some.

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        NUTRIENT TOTALS

        Calories: 640.6
        Protein: 35.6 g
        Carbohydrate: 86.8 g
        Dietary Fiber: 15.2 g
        Total Sugars: 28.6 g
        Total Fat: 19.2 g
        Saturated Fat: 3.429 g
        Cholesterol: 71.4 mg
        Total Omega-3 FA: .187 g
        Calcium: 75.1 mg
        Iron: 4.212 mg
        Sodium: 366.8 mg
        Vitamin C: 103.2 mg
        Folate: 101.5 mcg
        Folic Acid: 0 mcg
        Food Folate: 101.5 mcg

        Nachos

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          Being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t have a party! Nachos are the best party treat that you can provide, and if you already have a little one they will love them as well.

          NUTRIENT TOTALS

          Calories: 656.8
          Protein: 36.9 g
          Carbohydrate: 70.4 g
          Dietary Fiber: 11.9 g
          Total Sugars: 9.806 g
          Total Fat: 29 g
          Saturated Fat: 7.082 g
          Cholesterol: 30 mg
          Total Omega-3 FA: .44 g
          Calcium: 712.1 mg
          Iron: 4.461 mg
          Sodium: 1517 mg
          Vitamin C: 9.557 mg
          Folate: 140.6 mcg
          Folic Acid: 0 mcg
          Food Folate: 140.6 mcg

          Soup and Bread

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            The comfort of a warm soup will melt away the stress that carrying a baby will bring. Add some bread and your taste bud and baby will thank you. They might give you a little kick after but don’t worry that just means they like it. This recipe for one of my favorite comfort foods is healthy and delicious.

            NUTRIENT TOTALS

            Calories: 200.7
            Protein: 7.689 g
            Carbohydrate: 33.7 g
            Dietary Fiber: 3.416 g
            Total Sugars: 2.67 g
            Total Fat: 4.44 g
            Saturated Fat: 1.277 g
            Cholesterol: 3.283 mg
            Total Omega-3 FA: .892 g
            Calcium: 126.4 mg
            Iron: 2.498 mg
            Sodium: 625.9 mg
            Vitamin C: .723 mg
            Folate: 76.5 mcg
            Folic Acid: 4.82 mcg
            Food Folate: 71.6 mcg

            Vegetarian alternative

            pregnancy diet plan
              A dish of delicious hummus

              Chickpeas, lentils, and tofu are natural sources of iron that won’t offend your ethics. If you don’t eat meat there are more ways than one to make substitutions for a carnivorous craving of meat. This means that your pregnancy diet plan doesn’t need to include meat, so you can stay healthy if you don’t eat it. The Vegetarian Society recommends vitamin C; a small dose of this will help your body absorb iron better.

              Hummus

              Here’s a great homemade recipe for hummus,

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              NUTRIENT TOTALS

              Calories: 210
              Protein: 6 g
              Carbohydrate: 32 g
              Fiber: 3 g
              Fat: 7 g
              Saturated fat: 1 g
              Sugars: 2 g
              Calcium: 24 mg
              Sodium: 597 mg

               Frozen Yogurt Pops

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                Frozen yogurt pops anyone? It’s as easy as buying some yogurt and adding a stick. Just make sure to get a cute tray for your frozen treat and store it in your freezer. Great for any hot summer day, especially if you’re pregnant and wanting to cool off, it’s also full of nutrients, and more so than a flavored ice pop.

                NUTRIENT TOTALS

                Calories: 100
                Protein: 6 g
                Carbohydrate: 18 g
                Fiber: 0 g
                Fat: 0 g
                Saturated fat: 0 g
                Sugars: 16 g
                Sodium: 130 mg

                Creamy Strawberry Mousse

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                  This treat needs no introduction, I’m practically salivating myself and don’t have the extra amount of hunger of a pregnant woman. If you’re planning on making this treat it does make enough for two. Sharing is caring they say, who better to share it with than your baby’s father?

                  NUTRIENT TOTALS (with non-fat yogurt)

                  Calories: 132
                  Protein: 8 g
                  Carbohydrate: 25 g
                  Fiber: 2 g
                  Fat: 0 g
                  Saturated fat: 0 g
                  Sugar: 20 g
                  Calcium: 105 mg
                  Sodium: 29 mg

                  Prep: 20 mins
                  Total Time: 30 mins 

                  Fiesta Salad

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                    Salads are low calorie meals that won’t send your gastrointestinal system into a bind. They also have, with the right ingredients the variety of nutrition that you and your growing baby need.

                    NUTRIENT TOTALS

                    Calories: 542.7
                    Protein: 27.4 g
                    Carbohydrate: 66.9 g
                    Dietary Fiber: 20.7 g
                    Total Sugars: 7.892 g
                    Total Fat: 21.4 g
                    Saturated Fat: 5.26 g
                    Cholesterol: 20 mg
                    Total Omega-3 FA: .401 g
                    Calcium: 360 mg
                    Iron: 5.411 mg
                    Sodium: 394.3 mg
                    Vitamin D: 0 mcg
                    Folate: 415.8 mcg
                    Folic Acid: 0 mcg

                    Loaded Pesto Veggie Burger

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                      Portabella mushrooms are the steak of vegetarians, and if you’ve never eaten a veggie burger you are missing out on a delicious and rather nutritious meal. Meat eaters and vegetarians alike will enjoy this recipe.

                      NUTRIENT TOTALS

                      Calories: 549.1
                      Protein: 33.2 g
                      Carbohydrate: 55.4 g
                      Dietary Fiber: 11.8 g
                      Total Sugars: 13.3 g
                      Total Fat: 22.2 g
                      Saturated Fat: 7.257 g
                      Cholesterol: 30.1 mg
                      Total Omega-3 FA: .356 g
                      Calcium: 413.5 mg
                      Iron: 3.905 mg
                      Sodium: 867.8 mg
                      Vitamin D: .312 mcg
                      Folate: 125.3 mcg
                      Folic Acid: 0 mcg

                      Stuffed Acorn Squash

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                        Stuffed acorn squash has tons of nutrients that all pregnant women need. Cut 1 medium acorn squash in half and remove those pesky seeds. Place it on a baking sheet or pan and slide it in the oven. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. You can throw whatever you like on it but here’s a great recipe.

                        NUTRIENT TOTALS

                        Calories: 641.7
                        Protein: 23.6 g
                        Carbohydrate: 110.2 g
                        Dietary Fiber: 16.2 g
                        Total Sugars: 6.101 g
                        Total Fat: 16.5 g
                        Saturated Fat: 3.59 g
                        Cholesterol: 6.8 mg
                        Total Omega-3 FA: .438 g
                        Calcium: 362.5 mg
                        Iron: 7.457 mg
                        Sodium: 763.8 mg
                        Vitamin C: 55.4 mg
                        Folate: 198.2 mcg
                        Folic Acid: 0 mcg
                        Food Folate: 198.2 mcg

                        Natural sources of DHA

                        DHA is found in most pregnancy supplemental pills, and can be found naturally in fish. Some fish however, are not okay to eat. Levels of mercury will hurt your baby so any fish that would be exposed to it is not healthy to eat. Your baby shares your blood and mercury never gets filtered out of your blood by any of your organs. It stays there, and adding any additional mercury to your blood is unwise during your pregnancy. With that said, DHA is great for your diet and halibut or mackerel is safe for you to eat.

                        Energy drinks

                        Careful — not too much! One of them would be okay, and many have things like niacin and B12 in them. You’re safe to have caffeine in small amounts, but some energy drinks would exceed the recommended amount for a pregnant woman. You can find natural sources for any of the supplements found in prenatal multi-vitamins.

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                        pregnancy diet plan

                          Folic acid

                          Any of the vegetarian examples I gave for sources of iron can also be great sources for folic acid. Other natural sources include beets, and the before mentioned broccoli. One cup of beets is about 35% of your recommended daily intake of folic acid. They also happen to be a good source of antioxidants. Your pregnancy diet plan is not complete without a varied diet of vegetables.

                          Egg Wrap: Full of Folates

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                            Wraps are quick and simple to make. Just scramble some eggs and throw in some vegetables and seasoning, and wrap it up!

                            NUTRIENT TOTALS

                            Calories: 453.4
                            Protein: 26.2 g
                            Carbohydrate: 44 g
                            Dietary Fiber: 6.86 g
                            Total Sugars: .941 g
                            Total Fat: 21.2 g
                            Saturated Fat: 5.989 g
                            Cholesterol: 231.5 mg
                            Total Omega-3 FA: .164 g
                            Calcium: 353.8 mg
                            Iron: 4.448 mg
                            Sodium: 856.6 mg
                            Vitamin D: .438 mcg
                            Folate: 123.6 mcg
                            Folic Acid: 16.8 mcg

                            You’re hungry right?

                            Things that are high in fat might be the perfect junk food, or a nice way to ease your anxiety, but too much of things like lipids and glucose will harm your baby. It’s, obviously, not as bad as doing drugs, but your diet is important for your baby’s development in the womb. I really don’t think I should have to say that your diet should not include alcohol.

                            You will need to eat more than you have been eating, but not too much. Most people don’t eat the right things; many of us eat at fast food restaurants or other places that serve food that isn’t healthy. The recipes here will help you fulfill the specific diet needs that your baby will require. All that is missing is someone to come to your house and cook it for you.

                            The Pregnancy Diet Plan Regimen

                            You may have a busy schedule, and need a tightly regimented pregnancy diet plan that’s convenient for you. Here are some easy meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack:

                            Breakfast

                            Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or if you just enjoy the taste of the sort of meals people usually eat at breakfast have them at midnight.

                            1. Spinach Smoothie – Mix 1/2 cup of plain, non-fat greek yogurt, a handful of spinach, 1 cup of frozen fruit (the fruit covers the flavor of the spinach), 2 tablespoons of chia seed, and a little water in a blender. This one is fast and easy, covers every essential nutrient, and is ideal for mamas with morning sickness because it’s easy on the tummy.
                            2. PB&J Oatmeal – Make 1/2 cup of organic old fashioned rolled oats as directed with 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries. Add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (peanuts only, no sugar, salt, or oils added) and mix.
                            3. Egg Muffins – Add chopped veggies and lean meat of your choice to a non-stick muffin pan, pour whisked egg over the top, bake at 350 until browned, about 20 minutes. You can prepare a large batch of these and refrigerate, then reheat and eat each morning.
                            4. Sweet Potato Hash – cook scrambled eggs, turkey sausage or leftover lean meat, chopped veggies of your choice (I like spinach and onion), and diced sweet potato together in a skillet.
                            5. Breakfast Tacos – scramble eggs, add lean meat like turkey sausage, sprinkle a little organic shredded cheese on top and serve in a warm corn tortilla (make sure the only ingredient in your tortilla is corn, available at Whole Foods). I eat this with a side of sliced bell peppers. Make a big batch of these, freeze and reheat.
                            6. Cookie Dough Cereal – 1/2 cup organic old fashioned rolled oats, 2T nut butter, 1t organic raw honey, and a sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa powder mixed together until crumbly. Add 1/2 cup milk and enjoy.
                            7. Blueberry Waffles or Pancakesrecipe here
                            8. Veggie Omelet – make an omelet with any chopped veggies you like, I prefer spinach, tomatoes, onion, with a sprinkle of pasteurized goat cheese, or go with broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, asparagus – the possibilities are endless. Add fresh herbs like basil, oregano and chives for more flavor.
                            9. Southwestern Scramble – 2 eggs, hatch chiles, onion, shredded chicken, and avocado scrambled together
                            10. Greek Yogurt and Berries – use organic, plain greek yogurt, mix in fresh berries, cinnamon, and vanilla. For some crunch add sliced almonds. Quick and easy.

                            Lunch

                            silasfount568

                              Lunch is one my favorite meals, in fact instead of the “second breakfast” that hobbits tend to enjoy, I prefer second lunch.

                              1. Whole Wheat Pita Sandwich – stuff it with greens like baby spinach, chopped veggies, and lean meat. Add a little pasteurized goat cheese or spicy mustard.
                              2. Super Food Salad – start with a leafy green like spinach or kale, add a chopped veggie of every color (red/yellow/orange bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, celery, carrots, etc.), add high omega-3 nuts or seeds for crunch (walnuts, pumpkin seeds) and a super fruit like pomegranate seeds or berries. Dress with a little extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, like balsamic or apple cider. Top with grilled chicken, hardboiled eggs, smoked turkey breast, or another lean meat. Prep all your veggies and meat on the day you buy them, so all you have to do is assemble the salad at mealtime.
                              3. Healthy Chicken Salad – instead of mayo, use a combination of avocado and plain, non-fat organic greek yogurt to make a chicken salad (I like to add celery, green and red onions, cilantro, lime juice). Serve on a bed of leafy greens, lettuce cups, or use a collard green leaf as a wrap.
                              4. Quinoa Salad – Prepare quinoa (you can do this ahead of time and store in the fridge), season with your favorite spices and fresh herbs, add chopped veggies (asparagus, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, or artichokes for example), lean meat, and avocado for a healthy fat, mix together. You could also add garbanzo beans for extra protein and fiber, or sub for the lean meat. Here’s a recipe.
                              5. Chili or Soup – Make a large batch of turkey chili or vegetable soup, store in the fridge to reheat and eat. Here’s my favorite Turkey Chili recipe and my favorite stew recipe.
                              6. Burrito Bowl – Heat up cooked brown rice (or you can make a batch of cauliflower riceto to get in an extra veggie), add roasted red peppers, black beans, lean meat (I like shrimp), and mix with a little salsa or fire roasted tomatoes. Top with avocado and a splash of lime juice.
                              7. Turkey Burger – mix together ground turkey breast with hatch chiles and seasoning, form into a patty and grill. Serve in a collard green wrap or on a bed of spinach. Top with tomato, onion, and sliced avocado. If you’re craving fries with your burger, cut up a sweet potato into fries, coat with a teaspoon of grapeseed oil, season and bake until crispy. You can also make these ahead of time, freeze and reheat.
                              8. Veggie Pizza – Layer wilted spinach, fresh basil, minced garlic, carmelized onions, thin-sliced roma tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes, fire roasted red peppers, and cubed chicken on a piece of whole wheat naan. Optional – sprinkle with skim mozzarella or parmesan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
                              9. Beef and Broccoli – Take leftover or prepared beef (I like flank steak, grass-fed if you can find it), toss with baked spaghetti squash (or wilted bean sprouts), steamed broccoli, sesame seeds, sesame oil, white wine vinegar, fish sauce, chopped green onion and chopped peanuts. You could also add shredded carrots.
                              10. Taco Salad – make your own taco shells by rubbing whole wheat tortillas with a little olive oil and sea salt, press into an oven safe bowl, and bake at 400 degrees (tortilla side up) for 10 minutes or until crispy. Add shredded greens like romaine, chopped veggies of your choice and/or pico de gallo, sliced avocado, mexican-seasoned cooked ground beef (grass-fed and lean), and a sprinkle of colby-jack cheese if desired. Top with a dollop of plain greek yogurt mixed with fresh salsa.

                              Dinner

                              1. Baked Salmon and Veggies – an easy meal, place a wild-caught salmon filet in a foil packet, top with sliced tomatoes and onions, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake in the oven or grill until fish is tender and flaky, and serve with a side of roasted broccoli and garlic
                              2. Grilled Chicken Tenders – marinate chicken tenderloin all day in the fridge with Worcestershire, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt/pepper and minced garlic. Grill and serve with a side of baked sweet potato fries (see above) and cucumber salad (sliced cucumber, diced red onion, apple cider vinegar, plain greek yogurt)
                              3. Spinach, Strawberry, and Chicken Salad – Baby spinach, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, diced cucumber, grilled chicken tossed with homemade vinaigrette dressing (olive oil, touch of raw organic honey, lemon juice, white wine vinegar whisked together)
                              4. Spaghetti and Spinach Meatballs – prepare whole wheat spaghetti or spaghetti squash, toss with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, pepper flakes, basil, and a pinch of salt. Make meatballs with ground turkey breast or grass-fed lean ground beef by mixing with chopped spinach, kale, or broccoli, minced garlic, onion, and egg, and baking in the oven. Serve with a small side salad.
                              5. Stuffed Butternut or Acorn Squash – Stuff a roasted squash with cooked lean meat of your choice (seasoned lean grass-fed beef or ground turkey is my fave), black beans, chopped veggies, spinach. Bake in the oven until hot, sprinkle with cheese.
                              6. Zucchini Boats – We love this recipe
                              7. Salmon and Veggie Kabobs – Marinate Salmon, zucchini and/or summer squash, onion and bell peppers in the fridge (I use a marinade of hummus mixed with olive oil) for a few hours. Layer fish and veggies on skewer and grill until salmon is firm but flaky. Great with a giant slice of watermelon in the summertime!
                              8. Greek Chicken Salad – chopped romaine, grilled chicken (marinated in lemon juice and olive oil), grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber, a sprinkle of crumbled (pasteurized) feta, olives, red onion, and homemade dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic.
                              9. Thai Meatballs, Broccoli and Noodles – Make a peanut thai sauce by whisking coconut milk (canned), peanut butter, curry paste, a touch of honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Make meatballs by combining lean grass-fed beef with soy sauce, egg, chopped spinach, and chopped green onion, bake or brown in skillet. Add broccoli and serve over baked spaghetti squash or wilted bean sprouts, add sauce and toss. Garnish with chopped peanuts and green onion.
                              10. Roasted Shrimp and Veggies – Toss peeled and de-veined shrimp with cauliflower, broccoli, onion, minced garlic, chopped tomatoes and a little olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Roast until shrimp is pink and veggies are tender.

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                                Snacks

                                Snacks are going to be a big part of your pregnancy. No one has the time or energy to cook full meals constantly. So be prepared to snack often and not regret one bit of it.

                                1. Apple slices and almond butter
                                2. Steamed edamame (make sure any soy product you buy is organic, non-GMO)
                                3. Baked Sweet Potato with cinnamon
                                4. Toasted pumpkin seeds and sea salt
                                5. Raw veggies (bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumber) dipped in hummus or greek yogurt
                                6. Baked Kale “chips” – toss kale leaves with a touch of olive oil and sea salt, bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until crispy
                                7. Texas Caviar – pinto beans, lime juice, cilantro, and pico de gallo
                                8. Frozen Blueberries or Grapes
                                9. Celery Sticks and Almond Butter
                                10. Endive Spears stuffed with chopped pear, (pasteurized) goat cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
                                11. Greek yogurt with Strawberry slices, vanilla and cinnamon
                                12. Watermelon Popsicle – puree watermelon, greek yogurt or coconut milk, raw organic honey, pour into popsicle molds and freeze
                                13. Sugar Snap Peas dipped in warm goat cheese
                                14. Crab Stuffed Avocado – slice an avocado in half and stuff with a mixture of seasoned wild-caught crab meat, cucumber, carrot, and a little plain greek yogurt. Tastes like a california roll
                                15. Banana “Ice Cream” – Puree Bananas and walnuts with a splash of coconut milk (or your choice of milk) in a food processor. Put in freezer until it has consistency of ice cream.
                                16. Cherry Tomatoes (sliced) topped with pasteurized goat cheese
                                17. A handful of roasted almonds sprinkled with sea salt with 2 squares of dark chocolate
                                18. Whole wheat bagel, scooped out, with ricotta cheese and berries
                                19. Clementine sprinkled with cinnamon
                                20. Cucumber Salad – mix cucumber slices, greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, chopped red onion, dill, and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar

                                Featured photo credit: Photo credit: JefferyW Title: Rib eye steak and fries via flickr.com

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                                Published on January 24, 2020

                                5 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills (Psychology-Backed)

                                5 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills (Psychology-Backed)

                                There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parenting is hard. It takes a great deal of effort to be even a decent parent. My husband and I are raising our three children ages 6, 6, and 7.

                                Yes, I have my hands full. Twin six-year-old boys and a seven-year-old girl keep me on my parenting toes, so to speak. It is not easy, but I do my best to be a good parent. Having a PhD in psychology is helpful, but I still devour plenty of parenting books and research articles to continually try to do better. I am still a work in progress just like all parents.

                                  It would be great if we knew exactly what to do and how to do it with our kids. But not all kids are the same and they are not born with a manual that provides us with instructions on how to raise them right. However, we do have research on parenting and psychology that can help us out and point us in the right direction.

                                  Below I have five tips on how to improve your parenting skills starting today! These tips are backed by research. The first step toward being a great parent is knowing how. It is difficult to be a good parent without knowing first and foremost the how and why.

                                  1. Practice Loving without Conditions

                                  Loving unconditionally seems like a given that we all assume we are doing as a parent. However, we may have behaviors or words spoken that undermine our ability for our children to feel unconditionally loved.

                                  For example, asking our child if he wants another mom when he is acting out is not practicing unconditional love. The message that is being sent to the child is that if they act out or misbehave, they are at risk of losing you as a mother, since you ask “do you want another mom” or “do you want to live somewhere else?”

                                  If you have ever made these statements, it doesn’t mean you are a terrible parent. However, if we want our child to feel loved unconditionally, then we need to stop saying things that make the child feel like the relationship could ever be severed because of their behavior.

                                  Another way to look at these threats is comparing them to threatening divorce. If you have ever been married, or lived in a home with married parents, then you know that when one person threatens divorce, it cuts to the core.

                                  Threatening divorce damages the relationship, because trust is lost. The other person begins to feel that that their relationship may not be forever, and that the relationship can be ended because their spouse is threatening divorce. Even if the person threatening doesn’t really mean what they are saying and they truly love their spouse, the words are damaging none the less.

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                                  The same principles go for parent and child relationships. If a child has been threatened with loss of their current home life, the parent leaving them, or being placed in foster care, then that child does not feel loved unconditionally. They will believe that love from their parent is contingent on their behavior. It is conditional love which means that they are only loved under certain conditions.

                                  My son Charlie has recently gotten into the habit of saying “I love you Mom” every time that he gets in trouble. He kicked the dog the other day. Not hard, but nevertheless he kicked our family dog. I was fuming. I yelled at him and he was sent to his room for a long time out (I know the yelling was not a good thing to do). I couldn’t even think of a consequence in the heat of the moment so I said “go to your room, I don’t want to see you right now, I will think about your consequence later.”

                                  He cried, and as he was running up the stairs and he was saying “I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy.” Why was he saying that? Because in his six-year-old mind, he is worried that I will stop loving him if he has bad behavior.

                                  Kids don’t know that we love them unconditionally. They are learning though and we must teach them that we do. My response in this situation and always is to say “I love you too.” I then usually follow it up with “I don’t like your behavior right now, but I will always love you.”

                                  Kids need to be told that they are loved regardless of their behavior. It needs to be ingrained that they are loved even if they act out, break the rules, or misbehave.

                                  An article by Elite Daily examined several research studies on unconditional love.[1] The findings from these studies showed that children become more well-adjusted, emotionally healthy, and physically healthy adults when they experience unconditional love in childhood. When children are exposed to conditional love in their parent-child relationship, the research showed that, children have higher levels of anxiety which in turn negatively affects their long-range health, such as heart health.

                                  Loving unconditionally means loving without conditions. Unconditional love is loving someone just the way that they are, flaws and all. Tell your children that you love them, even when they break the rules, misbehave, or they tell you that they hate you (most kids say this to their parents at some point in time).

                                  You must always respond with “I love you regardless of your behavior.” It doesn’t mean that you are accepting or allowing the bad behavior. There should always be reasonable consequences to match the behavior. However, they shouldn’t ever be made to feel that the love of their parent can be revoked because of bad behaviors.

                                  2. Develop a Bond That Will Last a Lifetime by Creating Memories

                                  You need to spend time with your kids in order to create a bond. Quality time matters, but so does quantity time.

                                  Kids want to be with their parents. Spend time together as a family. For example, make it a point to have dinner at the kitchen or dining room table at least a few nights a week. Make a rule that no technology is allowed at the table during that time, so that you can talk and spend time together.

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                                  Before you know it, that child will be grown and out of your home. Take the time to spend meal times together, talking and truly getting to know your child before they leave your home as an adult.

                                  Barking Up the Wrong Tree looked at research on how to create happy memories that last a lifetime. Some of the things discovered in the research included:[2]

                                  • Memories are made when our senses and emotions are elevated.
                                  • If we are pulling out the camera phone, it is likely an elevated experience that you want to remember.
                                  • Celebrating milestones and praiseworthy moments (graduations, winning seasons, etc.) helps to create positive lasting memories.
                                  • Struggling together creates a bond. If you have worked through conflict in your relationship and made it better in the process then you have created a bond. Fraternities haze, soldier fight together, and families overcome struggles together. These all make for lasting bonds. When you struggle together as a family, celebrate the success at the end of your victory, once you have overcome the challenge together.

                                  Take the time to make memories with your children. They are only little once. Go on those vacations, hike to the top of a mountain together, sail across an ocean, go camping, or teach them to ice-skate.

                                  Do anything and everything that will help create memories, bonds, and experiences that will last a lifetime in their memory. Those memories are what will carry them into old age with happiness in their heart.

                                  3. Stop the Yelling

                                  Yelling at our kids is not good parenting. Yet it is still happening on regular basis in most homes. I admit, I am still continually working on this one. I think this quote summarizes the situation.

                                    However, I know I need to continually work to not yell or raise my voice, as I would prefer a household with zero voices ever raised.

                                    Yelling causes our children to become anxious. It also affects them emotionally and mentally in a negative manner. If you have ever been yelled at by a boss or superior, you probably remember it and it is not a fond memory. It made you feel bad. It is hard enough to be reprimanded in a calm voice.

                                    When someone, whether adult or child, is yelled at while being reprimanded it causes anxiety, stress, and negative emotions to abound. When the yelling involves name calling or insults it becomes emotional abuse.

                                    Heathline Parenthood examined research on the topic of yelling and found that parents who yell at their kids end up with children who are more aggressive verbally and physically.[3] Children learn from their parents’ example. If yelling is a regular occurrence in your household, then your child is learning that when dealing with behavior or situations that they don’t like, it is appropriate to yell. None of us want to teach that to our children, so we must take action to stop the yelling.

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                                    Healthline provides some tips on how to stop yelling:

                                    • Know what triggers the yelling. What are the behaviors occurring or situations where you find yourself yelling at your children?
                                    • When you feel that you are going to yell, give yourself a time out or count to ten.
                                    • Practice responding in a calm, even tone. Practice makes the action a habit.
                                    • If you do yell, then admit the mistake and apologize to your child. They will then learn that it is not an acceptable behavior and that they too should apologize if they make a mistake and end up yelling. (Yes, I apologized to Charlie for yelling and he had to apologize to our dog Max.)

                                    My article about yelling less at your kids less is also helpful: The Only Effective Way to Talk With Children When They Are Acting Out. This article outlines the steps to use the “one-ask” parenting approach. This approach is used to help parents follow up with consequences more quickly so that situations don’t escalate to worse behavior by the children and yelling from the parents. Some tips from this article on talking to your children without yelling include the following.

                                    • Get on their level, talking face to face in a calm voice.
                                    • Don’t make repeated threats about a consequence that is coming to them and wait for the situation to become more heated.
                                    • Follow through with the consequence (i.e. loss of playtime or time-out) immediately after they violate your warning. Don’t wait for them to repeat the bad behavior several more times. One warning is all that is needed. Then, if they break the rule or don’t obey, the consequence should be immediately implemented.

                                    If you find that your yelling is so entrenched in your daily behaviors that you have a hard time kicking the habit and you need more support, then buy, or find at your local library, the book Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. Their tips were even featured on the Focus on the Family national radio program and were rated as a number one show for 2019. Their gentle parenting methods simply work.

                                    A quote from the book:

                                    “Peacemaking moms produce peacemaking kids.”

                                    Wendy and Amber also have a Facebook group that is free to join. It is Gentle Parenting with Amber and Wendy. In this group, you will find thousands of other parents looking for support to yell less in their homes. Check out the group if you want more connected support to stop yelling at your kids. I am a member of this group too. Nobody is perfect, but we can do better as parents by yelling less starting today.

                                    4. Provide Experiences Over Toys

                                    Toys are fun. But our kids don’t need an excess of overcomplicated, electronic, and expensive toys in order to be happy or develop in a healthy manner. Focusing on experiences over toys is a way to improve as a parent now.

                                    The next holiday or birthday that comes up, think about gifting your child an experience, for example, a year membership to the children’s museum or zoo. Another experience is a trip to someplace interesting such as a National Park. These experiences help to create memories. They also help to make your child a more well rounded individual as they are out in the world experiencing activities rather than sitting in their room playing the newest video game.

                                    Motherly posted a recent article that delved into the science that experiences are better for our kids than toys. Here is a quote from that article that is worth noting.[4]

                                    And if we need one more reason to cool it on the toy giving, researchers have discovered that gratitude and generosity increase when experiences are given instead of objects. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, conducted many studies over many decades and found that happiness is derived from experiences, not things. Bottom line: The happiness derived from a childhood experience is far more significant than the fleeting excitement of toys under the Christmas tree. Giving experiences that involve spending time together instead of gifting toys brings greater and longer-lasting joy. Don’t stress about the number of toys, mama. Focus on making memories.

                                    Creating family experiences and making memories go hand-in-hand. Our money and resources get more bang for their buck when they are used on experiences for the family instead of things. The research from the Motherly article shows that families are happier overall when they have more experiences together and less toys.

                                    5. Let Them Play and Be a Child

                                    Play and childhood development go hand-in-hand. However, the amount of playtime our children are getting has been diminishing in recent decades.

                                    We are so intent on our children learning, that we take away from their playtime. Play is learning. We need to get our children back to basic playtime so they can develop and learn in a natural way.

                                    Increase their playtime and limit the electronics. Research by Very Well Family found that too much technology is damaging to our children.[5] When children get too much time on electronic devices, their research found that children have sleep issues, obesity, behavior problems, academic problems, and emotional issues. Limit your children’s time on technology.

                                    According to We Can, we need to aim for less than two of screen time per day for our school aged children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends far less time for children under the age of five. We Can offers a free screen time chart so you can track your child’s time on digital devices.

                                    The goal is to get children playing and off the technology. Playing will help them developmentally. In my book Let Them Play, I explain the importance of play and provide 100 child developmental play activities. Some great play activities that promote development and learning that are listed in the book including Play Doh, magnet blocks, Legos, puppet shows, and hopscotch.

                                    Parents can teach their children different play activities while they actively play with their children. Fifteen or twenty minutes of playtime together can help to create bonding time between parent and child. Then the parent can allow their children to continue playing the activity on their own. This play time is crucial to the child’s healthy social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

                                    They are only little once. Let them be a child when they are little. Two-year-old children aren’t meant to sit at desks for hours completing school work. They were made to play, explore, and be active physically. This is how they learn and develop best.

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    These are not the only ways to improve as a parent. However, these are five ways that you can begin improving as a parent starting today.

                                    Nobody is a perfect parent, which means we all have room for improvement. Look at your own parenting methods objectively and decide where you can improve. Then do something about it.

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                                    Featured photo credit: Jonathan Daniels via unsplash.com

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