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Five Things Your Kids Can Do that You Might Not Expect

Five Things Your Kids Can Do that You Might Not Expect

Kids are awesome.  Pretty much across the board, they’re funny, creative, and full of love. Most of them can tell you pretty good knock-knock jokes, entertain younger siblings with puppet shows, and remind you just how much fun a swing is.

What a lot of us parents might not realize about our kids, though, is that they are capable of amazing things that we don’t expect. But given a little encouragement (ok, maybe a lot of encouragement for a really long time), most kids will thoroughly impress you with good manners, kind gestures, and a clean bedroom.

Once your kids have mastered these, you can tackle bigger projects like initiating world peace and ending global warming. Trust me, they can do it.

Be Polite

By the time kids are about 18 months they can be encouraged to use the words “please” and “thank you,” although it may be more of an emerging habit at that point than true understanding of the concepts. However, a short six months later, kids more or less understand when and why they should use those polite phrases.

Of course being polite goes beyond “please” and “thank you.” As young as two years old, kids can grasp the concept that serves as the Emily Post Institute’s definition of etiquette: “treating people with consideration, respect, and honesty, and being aware of how our actions affect those around us.” Although at such a young age you can’t expect kids to always behave with such grace, you can begin encouraging it.

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What You Can Do

Beyond infancy, you can start encouraging polite behavior in your kids at any age. Decide what your goals are (there are a lot of great suggestions in the book, 365 Manners Your Kids Should Know) and then demonstrate them yourself while consistently encouraging them in your kids. It may be a long process but the first time you’re complimented in a restaurant because your kids are so delightful, you’ll know it’s worth it.

Share

Parents of toddlers will no doubt shake their heads at this one, but it’s true. By the time kids are in preschool they’re primed for empathy, the basis of sharing.

What You Can Do

First, let’s back up and define sharing as to willingly offer or distribute something. Forcing a child to give up a toy because another child wants it isn’t the same as sharing and is more likely to instill resentment than encourage empathy. Instead set up a standard of taking turns, reward your child with a kind word when they offer toys to siblings and friends and always keep the whole experience upbeat with positive reinforcement.

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Harvey Karp, MD, author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, also suggests letting your child choose a few special things to set aside before play dates, giving them some control over what they share and what they don’t.

Demonstrate sharing yourself and point it out when you see other people sharing. Talking about it positively, even when your child isn’t actively sharing, will help your child see it as an activity that he can enjoy.

Be Patient

How many times have you stopped talking to someone mid-sentence or abandoned what you were doing mid-movement to address a child’s need (or want)? I doubt I could even count the number of times I’ve done it. That is until I read the book, Bébé Day by Day by Pamela Drukerman and learned that isn’t how things are for French parents. If in France, why not in my house too?

What You Can Do

Basically, you have to make them wait—often. It’s that simple. Start by slowing down your responses and finishing whatever it is you’re doing before addressing their needs (unless they’re truly urgent, of course). Explain that you’ll look at the artwork, read the book, answer the question (whatever it may be) in a minute or two.

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Treat your kids like they are capable of waiting. When they don’t wait patiently for you (and they surely won’t the first million or so times), calmly remind them to wait and explain why. Make it clear that you expect them to show patience and eventually—if you’re patient—they will.

Help Out

You’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to do everything for everyone until the kids go to college; and you may be sending some irresponsible young adults off to that ivy league school, on top of it. Helping out around the house instills responsibility in kids and actually increases their sense of self-worth because they know that they’re an important part of a team.

What You Can Do

Match the chores to your child’s age—it shouldn’t be too difficult or too easy for them. You know your child best, but here’s a pretty good guide to give you some ideas. You can also make it a family event: have your kids do their chores while you’re doing (some of) yours. It feels less like a chore when the whole family pitches in (and you put on some fun music). You’ll be amazed at how fast a job can get done when it happens before something everyone is looking forward to: “we can’t go to the pool until the playroom is nice and neat.”

Be Friends with Siblings

It may seem like kids come wired to fight with their siblings but in fact getting them to interact peacefully is easier than you might think.

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What You Can Do

Be fair. Kids as young as 18 months have a sense of fairness and will protest (often loudly) when something seems unjust—particularly if a sibling is involved. Your actions don’t have to be exactly the same for each child all the time, they only have to be perceived as fair by your kids. Christine Carter at the Greater Good Science Center offers suggestions for determining what’s probably fair in the eyes of kids in this article.

Talk about your kids as best friends—all the time. Kids believe what we tell them and if we encourage their friendship (when they’re getting along and when they aren’t) they’ll absorb it and act accordingly.

Encourage them to comfort each other. While most parents fly into action when a head gets bumped or a Lego structure is smashed to bits accidentally, you can do a lot to build a strong friendship between siblings by quietly encouraging the sibling to step up with the hug, kiss or helpful Lego-building hands.

Folding these good habits into your family life will benefit everyone: your kids will elicit praise from teachers, family members and restaurant patrons everywhere and you’ll no doubt discover that managing your brood is easier and more enjoyable.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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