parenting help

How To Communicate With Your Husband

“And you’ll never sleep 12 hours again,” I half joked with a bunch of moms with toddlers. ⠀

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“Oh, but that’s not true,” they said, “you do sleep again.”⠀

And then it hit me. They had slept again because they had asked for help. I hadn’t slept again because, honestly, I hadn’t asked to sleep again. ⠀

So, I asked! ⠀

And, in a time of healing and growth with my husband, we sat down and came up with a plan. ⠀

Mamas, you don’t have to do everything alone! ⠀

You don’t have to balance work, dishes, dinners, driving, and, squeeze in a moment for yourself if you’re lucky. ⠀

Here’s how my husband and I ask for help with each other -⠀

We schedule a time for a one-on-one family meeting. ⠀

We share things that are going well and things that we need help with or concerns we have. ⠀

We stay away from blaming each other. We focus on our own feelings and our own needs. ⠀

If one of us starts to get too upset, we say we will revisit the conversation later. ⠀

Last night as my husband and I giggled while brushing our teeth, I was in awe of our connection and laughter. After having children, it has taken a lot of work to get back to that place. I’m glad we continue to work (and I’m grateful I’m no longer trying to do it all in my home). ⠀

With Love,⠀

Laura⠀

Books You Can't Put Down (or should I say, Turn Off!)

Imagine after a long day of cleaning, cooking, and juggling your kids, you finally lay down to read the book you’ve been waiting to dive into. Only, by the time you get to page 3, you're fast asleep. 

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Not only do you have no time to read during the day, but your exhaustion keeps you from getting much reading done at night.


If this sounds like you, don’t despair! 


I  have a really easy fix for this … 


I listen to all my books on audio! I listen to books while I 


  • Drive

  • Fold laundry 

  • Put on makeup 

  • Clean the house

  • And the list could go on and on and on! 


The result? I get through at least 2 to 3 books a month. These books empower me, make me happier, and bring more calm into my life. 


Today, I am sharing the Top 5 Books that I just couldn’t put down (or should I say, turn off). 

  1. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

  2. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

  3. The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

  4. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert 

  5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


Bonus: And the book I can’t wait to listen to next is Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo 

LOVE

In a month full of Valentines and Romantic Poems, I thought I would take a moment and give a shout out to the most important LOVE of all … 


Loving the Divine Within.

My experience with self-love is that I didn’t know how lacking I was with it and how much I craved it, until I started to shine some light on it.

We live in a culture that is increasingly conditions-based. We define ourselves and others by the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the activities we do, and the places we work. What often gets lost in that conditional thinking is the Divine worth we all have within.

You might be saying right about now, “Great Laura, but what does this have to do with parenting?” 

It is my experience that my internal sense of self-love is directly proportional to how loving I am to my children. The more grounded I am in myself, the more available I am to give to my little ones.

So, today I invite you all to take a few minutes to meditate. During the meditation, imagine that you are giving yourself the biggest hug, send a loving light to every place in your body that needs extra support today, and make a mental list of all the things you love about yourself. 

Extra Hugs,

Laura 

Mealtime Woes

Mealtime woes with young children can make you feel like you’re looney tunes. 

I remember when both my children went from having big appetites to picking small bites of food off their plates (I’m happy to report they are becoming good eaters again ... there is hope )

It is normal for toddlers to go through phases where they reject food and here are a few tips to get you through those tricky times (with that said, if your child is refusing food often, it is always good to check with a pediatrician). 

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip #1 - Let your child participate in preparing the meal. Toddlers can cut steamed carrots with a child-safe knife, rip lettuce, or tear a crown of broccoli apart. The more involved a child is in making the food, the more likely she will be to taste it  

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip #2 - Stay calm! Try to avoid nagging your child for not eating or bribing him to eat. The more anxiety we project onto the meal, the more anxious our children become around food. If a meal goes untouched, you can simply wait to feed your child until the next mealtime or offer a healthy snack in between.

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip #3 - Create healthy routines around meals. Eat at similar times each day. Let your child help you set the table. Engage the family in dinner time conversations. Establish good rountines around meals and be realistic about your expectations for your young child. Like Melanie Miller said, “toddlers don’t have a lot of time for eating. Playing and being active are much more important.” 

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How to Help Your Child When They Are Afraid To Go To Bed ....

Both my kids cried last night, afraid to go to bed. ⠀

This is more common for my four-year-old, but from time to time, my six-year-old will have a scary dream as he drifts to sleep and it startles him back awake. ⠀

Here are some tools that I used to help them get to sleep quickly and feel better...⠀

Tool #1 - I normalized their fears. I told them that I could relate to their fears and gave personal examples of times that I had similar fears. ⠀

Fear is so scary because it tells us a story that our fear is unique to us and will last forever. But fear isn’t unique. Fear tells us the same story, which is that we won’t get what we want or we will lose what we have. When we normalize fear, it takes the charge out of it. ⠀

Tool #2 - Bring in humor. After comforting my son and telling him about my own fears, we found the humor in the situation. My son’s fear was that he will die or that my husband and I will die before him. At one point he said, “die can mean two different things. It means not being alive or dying your hair” to which I quickly responded, “I know your big fear is that you’ll dye your hair.” We had a good laugh with that as he cuddled up into my arms. ⠀

Tool #3 - Offer some mindfulness tools that are at your child’s level. For my daughter, we spent a few minutes talking about things we are grateful for and giving appreciations. We also took some nice deep breaths. For my son, we imagined grounding cords going from us into the core of the earth. We also imagined a magnet outside the room sucking away any scary thoughts/dreams. ⠀

Tool #4 - Back tickles and cuddles. There is nothing better than a good snuggle when you are afraid. Spend a few extra minutes to help regulate your child’s nervous system and let their bodies get back to a state of calm. ⠀

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How to Parent Mindfully

I remember when my sweet little three-year-old tried to hit me. I was stunned and heartbroken. ⠀

I worried that I had done something wrong to make him think hitting was okay. At the same time, I was really angry that he had hit me. ⠀

I know now, that it is developmentally appropriate for toddlers to hit when they are angry. I also learned how to navigate that behavior in a kind yet firm way so that the hitting stopped. ⠀

For me though, learning to redirect the behavior, was just the tip of the iceberg. ⠀

Underneath, was me taking a deeper look at my reactions to my children. Seeing my old patterns of behavior. Discovering how to bring awareness to the feelings that come from raising humans. ⠀

This is where mindfulness has come into my daily parenting. I have learned how to observe my children’s behavior without reacting to it (that doesn’t mean that I don’t guide them and set clear rules, but I react less to them pushing my buttons and more from a peaceful space). ⠀

Here are a few practices that I use to bring more mindfulness into my home. I hope you enjoy them and can use them too! ⠀

#1 - Meditation 🧘‍♀️ Meditate Daily - for a long time, I used the app Headspace to learn how meditate (and I still use it from time to time). There is no right or wrong way to meditate and there are many books and resources available to teach meditation, but I like headspace because it allows me to time myself (which I needed in the beginning) and offered a guided structure to the meditation. Now I meditate a few times each day, coming back to my breath and my body. ⠀

#2 - Awareness ☀️- When my children are bickering or my daughter is pouting, I try and pause before I react. I bring awareness to the situation - What feelings are coming up in me? Has my daughter had a long day at school? Do my kids need some outside time? What underlying behaviors could be a play here? ⠀

Bringing awareness gives me the gift of insight rather than simply reacting to the situation. I then have a better chance of getting to the root of the problems and staying more calm! ⠀

#3 - Equanimity 🌊 - I can bring equanimity to my home when I acknowledge that all thoughts and feelings are valid. I don’t have to judge my son’s anger, my own anxiety, or my daughter’s frustration. All of these feelings will come and go like waves rolling in the sea. As I bring acceptance and love to what is, I find that everything soon changes. I can help support my children with whatever feelings they are experiencing (just like I can be kind to myself for my own feelings). ⠀

To be honest, I don’t find all of this super easy. In fact, that is why I take the time to write these posts and share my experience with others. I have times where all of this goes out the window and I get mad with my children. Nevertheless, I try each day to implement these tools into my life. I find the more I share it with you, the easier it is to keep practicing myself. ⠀

So, thank you for reading my posts and for walking this path of mindful parenting with me. I hope you and your family make time for some extra giggles today. ⠀

XO,⠀

Laura ⠀

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Making Agreements With Your Child

“She’s having such a hard time following the rules,” my mom said about my daughter. 

It’s true, the last few weeks have been hard for my little four-year-old. She had the stomach flu, caught a cough from her brother, and now has an ear infection. 

We have been giving her extra love for sure  But the comment from my mom made me think. What do us parents do when our children aren’t “following the rules”?

Here’s a parenting tip you can use ...

Have a family meeting about the concern. Start the meeting with appreciations. Ask your child to help you find a solution to the problem. Once a solution is agreed upon, test it for a week and then check back in to make sure everyone is happy with the progress. 

Have a parenting question? Email me and I’ll post the answer without breaking your anonymity. 



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Potty Learning with Tot on the Pot

As the founder of Mindful Ninja Mom, you can imagine my overwhelm when my four-year-old daughter wouldn’t use the potty. I had a head full of knowledge. I knew many of the potty teaching tips and tricks. But alas, I couldn’t get my little one to tinkle or toot in anything but her beloved diaper.

In truth, I had been fortunate with my first-born. He had come home from preschool at three-years-old and announced that he would no longer wear diapers. He insisted that I send him to school the next day in underwear and that completed our potty experience (at least for the peeing … with pooping it took a bit longer before he was ready to outgrow is diaper).

With my daughter, we kept hoping that she would have the same experience my son had and outgrow her diaper. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, I tried a variety of other approaches that I knew worked for many families. Unfortunately though, it wasn’t working for us. My daughter was way too scared to use the potty and nothing was going to change her mind (and I started lacking the confidence to help guide her). 

Nothing, that is, until we discovered Tot on the Pot! 


I can’t recommend Tot on the Pot enough! It has everything that my fearful little girl needed to brave the potty-

  • an engaging, relatable and motivating picture book,

  • a parenting handbook,

  • activity cards for celebrating each potty success, 

  • and a doll for role playing that came with its very own potty! 


As a parenting teacher, I already knew the value of role playing, however, I hadn’t experienced the effectiveness of having a doll to role play with that was anatomically correct and came with her/his own rightsized potty.


Patenting Tip: It is very helpful for children to role play with dolls and toys. In this case, role playing using the potty helped my daughter work out fears she had around using the potty, gave her a sense of control, and made using the potty a lot of fun! 


Prior to introducing Tot and her pot to my daughter, I read the Parents Guide which outlines the best potty training practices and provides a plan for the first few days of the potty training experience. The guide also has fabulous “Tot Tips” and “Some Extra Love,” that give helpful reminders to do things like be patient, incorporate special time during the potty training experience, and remember that your child is on his/her own potty training journey. 


After reading the Parents Guide, I introduced the Tot on the Pot picture book to my daughter a few days before we started using the potty. She loved the picture book and asked to read it multiple times a day (always a good sign of a well written book!). 


The first morning of “no more diapers!” I gave my daughter her doll, which she named Tot. I remembered all my tips from the Parents Guide, and as we waited for the her bladder to fill, we role played using Tot and her potty. 


As I mentioned earlier, my daughter is older than most children who usually potty train around 24 to 32 months of age. Additionally, she had built up a big fear around using the potty. When it finally came time to use the potty, my daughter was beside herself and no longer felt using the potty was fun like it had been earlier that morning. I was patient with her and waited with her while she sat on the potty. I reminded her of how Tot had used the potty earlier and read her a few of her favorite potty books. Eventually, she asked me to leave the bathroom and went to pee all by herself!!!


She was still a little frightened after going pee, so the activity card that came with the Tot on the Pot was brilliant!!! Our activity card was playing catch with a roll of toilet paper (there are a variety of cards that are included). Unlike traditional reward systems for using the potty, the activity cards that come with Tot on the Pot are imaginative and fun. They provide a social reward that the whole family can participate in (which is just what my daughter needed!). 


Parenting can feel overwhelming at times as we navigate the various stages of our children’s development. In a world that is full of information for parents and toys that are geared to make our lives “easier,” it is hard to know what is actually best for our little ones and worth our time, energy and investment. For our family, Tot on the Pot was the most helpful tool we could have hoped for in our potty learning journey. I am so grateful to Jackie Leverton for putting her expertise into such a thoughtful product. I highly recommend Tot on the Pot for children who are learning to use the potty (and for parents that are learning how to help them)! 


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Helping Kids Through Fear

This week I am focusing on helping kids with their fears.⠀

In yesterdays post, I shared how to model deep breathing for your child. ⠀

Today, I will share two tips for helping kids with their fears.⠀

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip #1: Normalize the Fear⠀

One of the most difficult things about fear, is that it makes you feel like you are the only one who is experiencing the fear. Because fear can be very isolating, it is important to let children know that their fears are normal.⠀

When my children share a fear with me, one of the first things that I do is share a time when I have experienced a similar fear. For example, my daughter went through a phase where she was terrified of throwing up after two bouts of sickness. It helped her to hear my personal stories of times that I vomited and how I felt scared too. She would ask for me to tell her the same one or two stories over and over again. That can feel overwhelming as a parent, but it is actually very normal child behavior. My daughter was making sense of her own experience by hearing my story. ⠀

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip #2: Don’t Avoid the Fear⠀

It is natural to want to avoid the things that we children are afraid of. Last year on our trip to Costa Rica, our daughter was afraid of the ocean waves. She didn’t want to go to the beach or play in the ocean. ⠀

Instead of avoiding the ocean altogether, I supported her in a way that felt safe. She told me that she would be okay going in the ocean if my husband or I was holding her. We started with one of us carrying her in the ocean. Gradually, she wanted to hold our hands so that she could jump in the waves. By the end of our trip, she was running through the water and feeling much more courageous about the ocean waves.⠀

Helping children face their fears in a supportive and safe way will help them build self confidence as they continue to walk through new challenges. ⠀

Follow me on Instagram for more parenting tips!

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Worry

Last year I wrote a story about a little sheep, Jewel, who is afraid to cross the meadow and go to her birthday party. ⠀

Along the way, she meets a few farm animal friends who help her discover mindfulness tools to overcome her fears and get to her party. 🐑 🐈 🐖 🐎 ⠀

My daughter has been asking me to read the story a lot lately, which warms my heart because she didn’t realize that I had written it until last night! ⠀

In this illustration, Cat is telling Jewel to “imagine each worry is dancing through the sky on the wings of a butterfly.” ⠀

I love teaching my kids tools for coping with their fears and I’m excited to start sharing some of those tools with you this week. ⠀

The first tool I am sharing is a foundational mindfulness teaching - observing your fears. ⠀

Pema Chödrön says, “You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”⠀

As the sky, I observe the weather as it changes. Sometimes it is cloudy. Other times there is rain. In summer days it is hot and sunny. As the sky, I bring equanimity and acceptance to the changing weather. ⠀

One way that teach this concept to my children is through role play. After reading stories like this (check out my website www.mindfulninjamom.com for picture book suggestions, as this one isn’t published yet) we use a stuffed animal or a small figure, pretending it is scared. Then, I model ideas like observing our fears like butterflies dancing through the sky. We giggle as we wave and say, “bye-bye!”⠀

🦋 🦋 🦋 ⠀

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An Introduction ...

I haven’t introduced myself in awhile and thought I’d take a moment to reach out to those of you who have recently joined our online community! ⠀

My name is Laura and I am a mother of two kiddos - ages 4 and 6. 👧🏻👦🏼 I taught first grade and kindergarten for a total of 6 years before staying home to raise my family. Now, I co-chair the Social & Emotional and Mindfulness Committee at my kids school and am an aspiring picture book author. 📚 ⠀

I am passionate about fostering emotional intelligence in children in fun and creative ways. I believe picture books provide a container for meaningful conversations with children around their feelings, problems, and worldly issues. 🌎 ⠀

I wholeheartedly believe that there are amazing parenting tools available and I love learning and teaching about them ❤️⠀

🌿 I started Mindful Ninja Mom with goal of sharing mindfulness tips, parenting tools, and picture book suggestions (and, of course, anything else that I think will better us as parents and humans!) 😊⠀

Thank you for joining me on this path. ⠀

Love,⠀

Laura⠀

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3 Helpful Ways To Transition Your Child

The past few weeks, I have been focusing on ways to help children with anger. One of the times that I see children and parents become most angry is during transitions. Whether it be leaving the park or getting to school, many meltdowns can happen as we try to get our kids from one place to the next. ⠀

Today I will share ways to make transitions a bit easier, bringing more calm to you and your family. ⠀

Transition Tip #1. “As soon as ....”⠀

This phrase is pure gold! When it is time to clean up or leave the house, I let me kids know with the phrase “as soon as ...” rather than a demand of what they need to do next. This makes children feel more in control and instantly cuts down on arguments. ⠀

Here are some examples,⠀

✨ “As soon as you clean up your toys we can go downstairs for dinner.” ⠀

Instead of, “Clean up now!”⠀

✨ “As soon as you put on your shoes, we can go to the park.” ⠀

Instead of, “Put on your shoes.”⠀

Transition Tip #2: Use a timer or a voice reminder. ⠀

Children do well with routines. Always giving them advance notice before it is time to change activities is a great way to make transitions more peaceful. ⠀

When I tell my children that we will transitioning in 10 minutes (they don’t need much more of an advanced warning than that), I ask them if they would like me to set a timer for 10 minutes or give them a voice reminder when it is time to leave. This gives them a sense of control in deciding how I will inform them when their 10 minutes is up. ⠀

Transition Tip #3: Routine Chart ⠀

For morning and night time routines, we use the Routine Chart from Positive Discipline. The Routine Chart is a wonderful way to include children in the decision making process. The Routine Chart helps minimize transition meltdowns because children know exactly what to expect consistently. You can watch a video of my explaining how to create a Routine Chart in my Free Parenting Webinar (click the link in my Instagram bio). ⠀

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Helping with Frustration

A few days ago my son became angry when my husband asked him to vacuum after dinner. ⠀

I quickly felt frustrated with my son because I wanted his response to be more agreeable 🤪⠀

After my son and I both had a chance to cool down and calm down, we had an mini family meeting to talk about better ways to navigate anger in the future. ⠀

My son told me that he gets frustrated when I get upset because he is angry. I was so grateful for his honesty! Of course my anger impacts him and, although I strive to be a calm parent, sometimes I do become irritable. ⠀

I was able to take the opportunity to own my part and amend my behavior, which brought a twinkle to my son’s eyes. ⠀

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip: Acknowledging our mistakes is one of the best ways to teach children that is safe to take responsibility for their own errors. ⠀

My son then reminded me of our last family meeting about anger. He had suggested that when he becomes mad, we offer him a hug. Recently, we had forgotten that agreement and he wanted us to try the hugs again. ⠀

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen teaches parents to involve children in finding solutions to the problems at hand. The more involved the child is in the decision making process, the more likely he will be to follow through. ⠀

We also came up with a few more agreements around anger and scheduled our next family meeting for this Sunday to check in and see how things are going for all of us. ⠀

Parenting isn’t always easy and I am always learning more about how to best support my little ones. ⠀

I am so grateful for parenting tools that bring so much love and respect into our home. ⠀

You can learn more parenting tools on my website www.mindfulninjamom.com and watch my free parenting webinar - 5 Parenting Tips For A Calmer Home (click the link in my Instagram bio)! ⠀

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Carmela Full Of Wishes

I have been focusing on how to best help children navigate anger, so when my daughter came home with this book last Friday, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! ⠀

Carmela Full Of Wishes by Matt de la Pena is a wonderful picture book on many levels. Set in an immigrant community, the reader experiences Carmela’s day as she sets out to help her older brother. ⠀

What my four and six-year-old have been most curious about in this story is Carmela’s relationship with her brother. ⠀

In the beginning of the story, Carmela’s brother is annoyed with her (and Carmela isn’t shy in giving him a glare in return). ⠀

It has been incredible to listen to my children talk about why they think Carmela’s brother is angry and what solutions the siblings in the story could come up with. ⠀

This is a great picture book to help facilitate a conversation about anger/solutions to anger with your little ones. Plus, the story lends itself to many other fruitful discussions!!! ⠀

Thank you, Matt de la Pena for another amazing book! ⠀

Check out more books rooted in social-emotional learning on my website!

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Angry Wheel of Choice

We have been focusing on anger this week and I highlighted the book, When Miles Got Mad by Abbie Schiller and Samantha Kurtzman-Counter in an earlier post. ⠀

Today, I will showcase the “Angry Wheel of Choice” from Positive Discipline which you can make with your child when he is calm. ⠀

Below you can see two wheels that I made with my son. One was for myself as a model and the second was after reading the book, When Miles Got Mad (we also made one for him which isn’t displayed here). ⠀

For “Mommy’s Angry Wheel of Choice,” my son and I sat down and talked about all the things I could do when I was angry. After making our list, we picked the 6 ideas that we thought would work best when I was upset and put them into a pie chart ...⠀

1. Breathe and Count to 10⠀

2. Walk Away⠀

3. Draw a Picture ⠀

4. Visualize Something Nice ⠀

5. Meditate ⠀

6. Dance and Sing⠀

After making my Angry Wheel of Choice, I helped my son make his own. ⠀

We hung them up in our home and I continue to model using them when I am upset. ⠀

We also made one for Miles in the story, When Miles Got Mad. Making one for the picture book was another great way to model and normalize anger/solutions for working through anger. ⠀

When people are angry, their prefrontal cortex isn’t functioning like it normally does. This makes it hard for both children and adults to use calming activities when they are in this mad state. ⠀

My son doesn’t always use his Angry Wheel of Choice when he is mad. It would be unrealistic if I expected him too. Instead, he is learning what calming activities are available to him when he is upset. And, often he does use them ... which in my opinion, is fantastic!!! ⠀

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It’s Okay To Be Angry

This week I am offering tips for helping children with their anger. ⠀

Often a parent’s natural reaction is to suppress their child’s anger or ignore it. ⠀

Anger can feel scary and overwhelming to a parent so they try to avoid it or become angry themselves. ⠀

Ultimately, however, this doesn’t help the child learn to process her anger. ⠀

When your child is angry, it is helpful to remind her that “it’s okay to be angry.” ⠀

Offering your child encouragement when she is angry can help teach her that anger is a normal human emotion and that it’s okay to be mad. ⠀

Here a few helpful things that you can say the next time your child is angry ...⠀

1. I love you. ⠀

2. I see that you are really angry right now. ⠀

3. It’s okay to be angry. ⠀

4. Would you like a hug?⠀

5. I’m here for you. ⠀

Check out yesterday’s post to see picture books you can read with your little ones about anger. ⠀

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When Miles Got Mad

Yesterday, I showcased 5 picture books for helping your child with their anger. Today, I will highlight the book When Miles Got Mad

What I like about this book is that Miles becomes upset when his little brother breaks the airplane Miles and his father recently made. This gives parents who have more than one child, an opportunity to talk about how frustrating it can feel when a sibling wont share with them or takes something that belongs to them.

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At this point in the reading, I would often offer a personal story of a time when something similar happened to me as a child. For example, I remember how angry I was in third grade when my friend wouldn’t let me play jumprope on the playground. 

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip: It is really helpful for parents to share times in their own lives when they felt mad, sad, and scared. When children hear their parents talk about their feelings, it normalizes their own emotions. It also creates a deeper bond between the parent and child.

After sharing your own personal story, your children may want to share a time when they felt angry. If they want to share, allow them time and space to talk about their story. I often ask, “and what happened next” as a way to hear more about their experience. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t want to say anything, as they are gaining a lot just from hearing you talk about your own feelings. 

Throughout the story, you may find places where a natural pause occurs and you may share more personal experiences or ask more curiosity questions. Be cautious though of disrupting the flow of the story too much, you don’t want your little ones to lose interest.

At the end of the book, ask your child how Miles went from angry to feeling better. Invite your children to share other solutions that they could use when they are angry - i.e. drawing a picture, hitting a pillow, taking a deep breath. 

Make a list of your child’s ideas and create an Angry Wheel Of Choice.

I will teach you how to make an Angry Wheel of Choice in tomorrow’s post. Stay Tuned!


When Miles Got Mad
By Sam Kurtzman-Counter, Abbie Schiller

Connections Foster Gratitude

With Thanksgiving comes the topic of gratitude. And although I know we all have so much to be grateful for, I thought I would take today’s post as an opportunity to talk about what we can do when we aren’t feeling grateful.

Do you ever wish you could swap your family with another family? Perhaps a family where the children are better behaved and have good manners ALL the time. Wouldn’t it be nice your new family would also come with a nicer and cleaner home? Sounds lovely, right?!

Unfortunately (and fortunately), unless you are planning on being on the television show Wife Swap, your family (and little rascals) are the ones you have to work with.

So, what can we do to make the best of our current family? How do we find gratitude for the beautiful children in the moments when we just feel way too overwhelmed?

The best way for me to find gratitude for my children is by connecting with them (and I mean really connecting with them - no multitasking, texting or driving). It has to be time that I am really engaged with my kiddos. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be very long before that one-on-one time makes a big impact for me and for them. When I got my Positive Discipline Certification, we learned that 5 minutes of special time with our children will make a big impact.

Yesterday was a perfect example. My son was angry and started cutting an old cardboard box up. Instead of engaging in his anger, I took the opportunity to ask him if he had ever heard of a diorama before. Immediately, his anger gave way to curiosity. Before long, we were on our way to making the coolest dinosaur diorama. That special time turned our entire day around and carried us well into the evening!

5 Tips for a Calmer Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is about family, friends, food, and fun! But, if you have children, it can also be overwhelming getting them prepared for the day, while trying to get yourself ready with meals and potentially traveling.

Here are 5 tips for a calmer Thanksgiving …

1. Before going to dinner or having people over to your home, have a mini meeting with your children to create agreements around behavior. Let your children remind you of your family rules and let them know what you will do if they aren’t following through on the agreements. For example, if siblings are fighting then let them each identify a space to have some cool down and calm down time. Letting them be part of the process gives them a sense of power and also ensures that your family is on the same page.

2. If a problem does occur, take a moment to connect with your children before you redirect their behavior. For example, if your son is mad that he can’t eat pie yet, let him know that you see how angry and disappointed he is. Then, give him a choice for something he can do.

3. Bring calming activities for the car ride - coloring books and picture books are a great idea. Thanksgiving can be overstimulating for children, so have something that can help reground them.

4. Find five minutes today to get down on the floor with your children and play. The more connected they feel to you, the easier it is to help them when they are having big feelings.

5. Have you taken a moment for yourself today to BREATHE? Find a quiet place to sit and tune into your body. Take some deep breaths and imagine sunlight radiating through your body. Ground into yourself and give yourself some LOVE.

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