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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 May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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