How to Recognize Depression in Children


Happy September! Heather here, from School bells are ringing for our family and we are getting used to the new routine of the school year. Although to be honest, I am missing the laid back, wear your swimsuit all day, never need socks, days of summer. I love not having to wash socks in the summer because everyone is always in flip flops or barefoot.  Today I want to talk to you about how to recognize depression in children.

 Last week I was at school waiting to pick up our kids, and talking to a friend of mine who was there for the same purpose. As we were talking about our children adjusting, she mentioned that her 9 year old daughter had recently been diagnosed with depression. She mentioned that in hindsight, the symptoms had been there for about two years, but because she didn’t know what to look for, she had missed them. She just assumed she had a really moody daughter. So today, I want to share with you the symptoms of depression, so we all know what to look for and can help our children if they need it.

It wasn’t until about 20-25 years ago that doctors acknowledged that kids could suffer from depression.

Diagnosing a child can be really tricky because the symptoms of depression mimic those of ADHD, and because childhood is filled with so many changing moods and growing stages, it is hard to know if it is growing pains, or depression.

It is very easy to mistake depressed behavior for normal developmental problems. Childhood is complicated and children are developing and changing their personalities all the time. Adolescents can causes changes that may be normal, but are difficult for parents to know how to deal with, and even professionals can have a hard time identifying when the line is crossed from normal development and depression.

So as parents, caregivers, teachers, and grandparents, what should we be looking for?

 What are the symptoms we should be looking for in our children?

1. Persistent sad or empty mood, or irritable moods. These could be self reported or seen by others.

2. Zero interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities most of the day, nearly every day, especially their favorite activities. These could be self reported or seen by others.

3. Major changes in appetite and/or body weight.

4. Trouble sleeping OR oversleeping

5. Physical slowing observed by others.

6. Agitation

7. Fatigue

8. Loss of energy.

9. Feeling worthless or guilty, when there is no need.

10. Difficulty thinking or concentrating

11. Indecisive

12. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

 Nearly all research suggests that although the above symptoms will vary, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, when there is no need, MUST BE PRESENT.

So how can we know this is different than a bad day or growing pains?

  • Must last for an extended period of time.

  • Over 3 weeks. Day in and day out.

  • Gets in the way of life. Of school and play.

Now, if we think our child is depressed, what should we do?

First, understand that it is a disease.

When we acknowledge that it is a disease, we will stop blaming our child, stop blaming ourselves, and it will help us stop assuming they are doing it on purpose. Acknowledging that it is a disease will also keep us from telling them to “snap out of it.” We would never tell someone with cancer that it was “their fault” or to “snap out of it.”

 Second, Don’t overreact!

Overreacting is not going to help your child, you, or your family. Realize that over 80% of children who are diagnosed as depressed, are able to heal. But, even with the perfect therapist, if your child doesn’t have supportive, level headed parents, they can’t get better.

 Third, Be their advocate.

We have to believe our children when they tell us they are struggling, and be on their side. We need to speak up when they don’t have a voice or know what to say. Especially at the beginning of the healing process.

 Fourth, Get them help.

Seek out a professional who specializes in childhood depression and get help. Work together with the therapist to do what is best for your child.Although we all hope our children never have to deal with depression, it is real, and we should all know what to look for.

Do any of you have a child who is suffering, or has suffered from depression? What has been your experience?

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends.

5 Things You Should Know About Parenting Teenagers

tips for parenting

Hello! Heather here, from I am excited to share with you some important tips for Parenting Teenagers

Our son just turned 12, and although he is not officially a teenager yet, we can already feel his need to spread his wings, develop, and discover who he is and where he wants to go. He is in the heat of discovering his identity and finding where he fits in. 

The teenage years are often a tricky time for families, but they don’t need to be as scary as everyone says. Here are five tips that every parent should know, to help you as you are parenting the teenagers in your life. 

1.  Don’t survive the Adolescent years, THRIVE during the Adolescents years.

It is time to stop labeling and get rid of the stereotypes. We shouldn’t expect the worst during these years. Not all teenagers become monsters, in fact, most teenagers are great. Give them a chance. We live in a universe of attraction and what we focus on and put our energy on is what will become our reality. We need to focus on how great it is that we have children who are learning who they are and developing their identity.
2.  Love them from the inside out.
Did you know that we respond to people, primarily by how they feel about us on the inside, not by their behavior. As parents, we can make right choices with our teenagers, but if on the inside, we are irritated, feel they are irresponsible, disappointed in them and their decisions, then that is what they will respond to That is actually how they will behave. We will bring out in them, the exact behavior we say we don’t like, when we see them as objects that are making our live miserable. Instead, praise them, compliment them, stop nitpicking them, and love them for who they are. Even if they are different from us. 
If they know we love them, above all other things, it allows us to discipline, communicate, be honest and open, and they will accept it.
3.  Communicate. It is the golden Rule of raising teenagers.
We have to keep the lines of communication open. We have too! There are two times when teenagers are more willing to talk.
1. When we are driving in the car with them. (We don’t have to look at one another and everyone knows there is an end to the ride so they are more likely to talk).
2. Before they go to bed. (They are tired and willing to let their guard down and chat)
We need to be available during these times to LISTEN, and instead of telling them things, ask questions so they can discover answers on their own.
ANOTHER GREAT PLACE TO COMMUNICATE is over common activities. Find something that you and your teenager can do together AND DO IT. It takes all the stress out of communication and you will find that while you are sharing something enjoyable, they will want to talk and open up. They feel you understand them because you both share joy for the activity.
4.  Understand teenage time zones.
We need to recognize that our teenagers naturally, work in a different time zone than we do. This is not bad, or wrong, just different. When we ask them to do something, and they say “sure, “in a bit” or “yeah, give me a while.” Instead of being irritated because they are not doing it immediately, or on our time zone, let’s be glad they have said YES! They said YES. If we respect that, they will not only actually do what we have asked, but they might even do it sooner. 
And, given that we know they are working in a different time zone, instead of asking last minute and expecting them to drop everything for our request, we can ask sooner, explain better instead of insisting immediately. That way we are not setting our relationship up for contention.
5.  Be a Consultant, not a Manager.
Up to this point in our children’s lives, we have been the manager of their lives. We manage everything they do. Then, our children hit the teenager years and they fire us as their managers. So parents usually do one of two things. They either abandon their kids…throwing out a ”good luck with everything, hope you make it.”OR they become extra controlling and try to force their kids to do what they want.
Neither are the right way to go. We need to embrace that we are no longer managers and start consulting. Being a consultant is more about influence and less about control. Consultants share their expertise and knowledge to help attain goals and solve problems. And that is what we need to do as parents. 
One way we can do this is to…
ASK, don’t tell.
When we speak to our children we need to ask them for help, ask them for their ideas and opinions, rather than telling them what we believe
they should think or do.  
“What do you think about that.” “How do you think we could handle that.” Etc…
This can be really hard because we have been there, we know what the future holds if certain decisions are made, or not made, but it is their time to learn for themselves. That is our job, to help them do that.
The teenage years don’t need to be terrible. Embrace the growth and enjoy the time with your developing children.

What is your favorite part about the teenage years?

What activity do you and your teenager like to do together?

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends.

Tips to Avoid Overprotective Parenting



As parents and grandparents, we all want our children to be safe. We worry about them and don’t want them to get hurt, deal with hurtful experiences, or even have to deal with stress and strain. But, if we are not careful, our quest to keep our children safe and stress free, overprotecting parenting will actually do more harm to them, than good.

How? Because being overprotective robs our children of the opportunity to develop all the skills they need to be a strong and successful adult. It has a negative effect on their self esteem, sends the message to children that they are unable to handle things themselves, and teaches them to doubt their own decisions because we are always telling them what to do and they are never given a chance to choose.

Being overprotective teaches our children to be fearful, creates children who turn into adults who are incapable of making decisions, standing on their own two feet, or handling rejection. The grow up without learning to evaluate, handle, and navigate life.

The risks we expose them to, because we have been overprotective are actually greater than what we are protecting them from. We leave them vulnerable, unable to handle the bigger challenges that life will throw at them.

So, how do we know if we are being overprotective?

When we start taking over things that our children should be managing on their own, We are being overprotective. Try to rarely or never do anything for your child that they can do for themselves. 

If they can put on their own shoes, let them. If they can feed themselves, allow them. BUT… in every situation, teach them first. Teach them to use the fork and spoon beforehand, opposed to having them use their hands and throw food on the floor. This will require us to be patient and put their best interest before our own.

How can we avoid being overprotective?

First, Keep the end goal in mind. 

As parents, our goal is to raise the next generation of responsible, capable, useful, happy people. It is our job to prepare them to function without us. We are to love them and protect them. To help them gain wisdom as they grow. And although we don’t ever want them to feel pain, disappointment, or frustration, they are going to. We have to accept that, and instead of trying to keep them from ever experiencing real life, we need to teach them HOW to handle real life.

As we parent and grandparent, we should be thinking, “are my decisions helping my child develop the skills necessary to thrive as an adult”?

Second, we need to assess our motives.

Stop for a minute and think about why we are being overprotective. Is it so we don’t have to do extra work?

Because our parents were overprotective?

Because we don’t want our children to face rejection like we felt when we were younger?

Because we are impatient?

Are we seeking power?

Because we don’t trust our child?

Because we are unfamiliar with the situation?

Because we don’t know enough about our child?

I know for me there are times when I become overprotective because I don’t want to do more work. For example, I overprotect and micromanage the kids when they are outside to keep them from getting dirty, so I don’t have to do more laundry. Or I don’t let our 3 year old climb into her carseat by herself because I am impatient. Or I don’t let our older kids get their own cereal, because I don’t want to clean up their mess or spill (that might occur because they are learning). These are all situations where I am overprotecting. I am doing things for them that they are capable of doing themselves. They are not safety issues, which are different.


Third, Respect PLAY!

Play is how children learn. It provides the ultimate school room for learning and development. Kids are meant to run and jump and climb and play. It is through play that kids develop. So let them play!

Let them try new things, build forts, get dirty and get in arguments with the neighbors about a game. Let them solve problems without you stepping in. And teach them before hand what to do if they are playing and there is a stranger, or a new situation.

It has actually been found that kids fall and get hurt LESS when they are left to play by themselves, than with parents who are constantly telling them to be careful and jumping in at the smallest sign of danger. 

Avoid over-scheduling kids, so they can have time to play. One, maybe two activities for each child is plenty. Be sure there is unstructured time each day and let them solve their own problems. Don’t tell them what to do, but instead encourage them to entertain themselves. You don’t need to provide a million toys and games. Let them explore the leaves and dirt and rocks and trees.

Kids who don’t play enough, are less creative, more likely to struggle with depression and mental disorders, less empathetic, more likely to struggle with an anxiety disorder, struggle to play with other kids, solve problems, make decisions, etc…


Fourth, Teach them the how and why.

For example, guns and swimming pools. Teach them gun safety and teach them how to swim and be safe by the pool. Because they are going to run into both situations in their life and you cannot always be there to tell them what to do. Teach them so they can handle the situations that they will surely encounter.

The key is to warn them (and teach them BEFORE the situations arise, instead of during). That way you are not overprotecting. For example, if you are going for a walk by the river, teach them before hand of the water dangers and how to be safe, but still explore. NOT when they are in the water and you are on the shore yelling at them to “get back here”, “don’t do that”, “too dangerous, come back here right now.”

What NOT to Do During A Temper Tantrum


July already? Where is the summer going? Heather here, from, and today I am sharing a few “what not to do’s” when it comes to temper tantrums. Because even though school might be out for the summer, our parenting gig never gets a summer break.

Temper tantrums are a normal part of childhood. For a complete step by step guide on how to prevent and deal with temper tantrums, check out these posts. Temper Tantrums Part 1 and Part 2.

In the heat of the tantrum, there are few things most parents try, that just don’t work. Here is a quick reference guide of 4 things you should NOT DO when the tantrum breaks out.

First, Don’t Ask Questions. Ugh, I find myself guilty of this one. In the middle of a tantrum I want to ask “why are you throwing a fit”, “what happened”, “talk to me and tell me what is wrong.” But, small children don’t have the mental development or language skills to express what they are feeling. So asking them questions in the heat of the fit, will most likely add frustration and prolong the tantrum.

Second, Loose the Empty Threats. Don’t threaten to take away the treat, or put them in their room, or take them to sit in the car, if you are not going to follow through. Just don’t do it. Empty threats actually teach kids to misbehave. Plus, not following through sets us up to loose our position of authority with our children. If we are going to threaten, we have to follow through. Quickly and without emotion. The key is to be consistent. If you can’t follow through with the threat, don’t threaten.

Third, Don’t Use Reason. In the middle of a temper tantrum is not the time to explain to your two year old that eating a 6th piece of licorice is not a great idea because of the red die in the candy. Or that the weather man says it is going to rain and she is going to need to wear the coat she is refusing to put on. There will be time for reasoning and explaining later on. During the tantrum, our children can’t access their rationalizing and reasoning skills. Tantrums are about emotion, not reason, so trying to use reason won’t help us.

Fourth, Don’t Yell. Our kids are looking for attention when they throw a tantrum. They want a reaction and it doesn’t matter if it comes from positive behavior, or negative behavior. Yelling gives them the attention they are looking for, so we can’t do it. Instead we need to take a deep breath, count to ten in our head, and remember that we are the adult, and then act like one. Solid research shows that parents who yell and get angry, have children who demonstrate the same behavior. So when we yell, we are actually teaching our children to yell and be angry too. Teaching them to do exactly what we say we don’t want them to do.

Tantrums are challenging. Instead of yelling and throwing out empty threats, give your child a hug, or stay close to them and assure them you are going to stay with them until “they are done”. Remember, Compassion is always more powerful than anger.

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends.

Surviving Summer With Kids

Successful summer break


It’s Heather, from FamilyVolley, here to share some tips to help your summer break run a little more smoothly. With the kids out of school, and under our feet, it can be tough to know how to keep everyone sane.

Here are 3 suggestions for Surviving Summer with Kids at your house.

Have Realistic Expectations- We Don’t Have to Keep Up With The Jones’.

Media and the internet tell us that summer vacation must be filled with a million field trips, snow cones every night, crafts, water parks, the aquarium, zoo trips every week, and the list goes on and on. Keep in mind that a successful summer doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, or run your family ragged. The most important thing about these summer months is that your children know they are loved (this is important every day of the year), and that they get a break from the stress they feel during the school year routines. There will be other goals that you family has for summer, and that is good. BUT… Don’t let all the Pinterest pins and blog posts make you feel that you are “less than” if you stay home, run through the sprinklers in your backyard, and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches together on the front lawn. Take a few minutes to talk to you children about what summer break expectations are. Understand how to best give them the stress relief they need for the next few months and then do what is best for your family. Period.

Keep a Schedule

One of my favorite parts about summer is that our everyday schedule is not so strict. I LOVE the fact that I don’t have to have kids to school every morning at 7:45 and 8:20. I love that most of the extra curricular activities that our children participate in are taking a summer break also. I love that no one ever needs clean socks because we live in flip flops and I revel in the flexibility in our days. BUT… Keeping a schedule is still a very important part of the summer months, just like it is during the school year. Although there will be more exceptions, stick to a morning and bedtime schedule (even if bedtime is just a little later). For little ones, stick to that nap schedule as best you can. Keep meal time routines and eat dinner together.  Schedules make things predictably. When things are predictably, they provide stability and security. Children are better behaved and happier when life is stable and routines and schedules are in place. It is a proven fact. So although summer invites a more relaxed lifestyle, we can’t let that turn into laziness, or we will have a bunch of crying and whining kids on our hands. Which translates into a stressed out momma.

Decide what your schedule looks like. There are many different approaches, but here are 3 that tend to be popular. Before you choose the best approach for your family, create a “basic schedule” of how each day will run. (Wake up, breakfast, housework, lunch, play time, reading time, snack, etc… you get the picture). Then you can….

1. Write out a list of all the things you and your family want to do this summer. A bucket list of sorts. Grab a calendar and fill in the days with your bucket list ideas. Creating a summer plan and calendar filled with your ideas. Put the calendar where everyone can see it so they can follow along and know what is going to happen, and when. This will also help with the “Mom, what are we doing today” question.

2. After creating your everyday schedule, assign each day a different theme and them follow along through the summer weeks. For example…

Make it Monday (crafts, creations, creativity)

Time To Read Tuesday (library day, reading time, fun activities or projects related to books and learning)

Wet and Wild Wednesday (anything water related. could be a water activity or game, or learning about how water works)

Thoughtful Thursday (do something nice for someone else)

Fun Friday (time to have some fun)

Your categories can be anything you want. For example, it could be “Take a Trip Tuesday” instead. You could give your kids each a week to plan. Filling each day with an activity that fits the theme assigned for that day.

3. Keep a general schedule and then don’t worry about filling the days with certain things. Keep a few hours open each day and enjoy the freedom of filling your time however you want. With something, or nothing.

Limit Technology

One of the quickest ways to watch the summer slip through your fingers and spend your days with ornery and grouchy kids, is to let technology take over. Technology is a part of life and there are so many benefits to its usage, but too much will hurt us. Make it clear how much technology is allowed each day so that things don’t get out of control. Some families like to allow their kids to earn their technology by doing extra work around the house and yard. Or by doing extra things to serve and help others. However you decide to monitor your technology, be mindful of the time your kids are spending in front of it.

Happy Happy Summer!

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends.

Helping Children Deal with Death (and other stressful life events)


Hi Idea Room Readers. It’s Heather from FamilyVolley, back to share a few helpful parenting tips with you.

I had something planned for this post, but when I woke a few days ago to start writing, everything changed. My Instagram feed was covered with images of a sweet little boy who was tragically killed last week. His mother is involve in social media, and the community has been posting in support of her, her husband and their family. I haven’t been able to shake the image of that little boy. I can’t help but look at my own children differently and think about my role as their mother differently too. I don’t know this family, but my heart hurts for them.

As I was following along with the story, tears running down my face, our daughter walked in the room. She looked over my shoulder and asked who the little boy was and the conversation about life and death began. It hit, like it does so often, that as a mother, I am there to help them get through tough things. To help them understand even when I don’t. To put aside my hurt, to help them with theirs. I would guess that many of you have needed to have a similar conversation with your children. The how’s and why’s are tough. How do you explain why a child is hurt, or taken so young.

So this weeks post has changed. In an attempt to offer you some answers and some help when these tough conversations arise, lets chat about how we can help our children deal with the stress and uncertainty of death. These tips can be used for any stress our families are faced with, (a new sibling, moving, starting school, etc…)


First, remember that everyone in your family deals with stress differently. When our children are very young, we can be more limited with what we tell them, but we never want to lie, or deceive. Be honest, don’t make things up.

We want to try and recognize how the stress is affecting our children (and the adults) in our family. Some children become violent or disobey. Some, like our daughter, become very quiet and withdrawn. There are almost always behavioral manifestations when dealing with stress. Be patient. Think about how hard it is to deal with these things as an adult and then put yourself in your child’s shoes.

Now… more specific suggestions.

1. Stick to the basics and eliminate stress. When there is a death or other stress in your family life, we need to do all we can to keep as much stress out of your home as possible. If we can’t keep up with the every day chores, we should ask for help. Eliminate ALL unnecessary activities and events. Get back to the basics.

2. Stick to the schedule. This is one of the most helpful things we can do for our children and for our families. Keep life consistent and keep doing what you have always done. Routines make life predictable. When things are predictable, they make us feel safe and secure. If we change everything up all of a sudden, it creates uncertainty with our children and that adds more stress. It will also make them feel that the death or stress has caused the instability.

3. Be a good example. When my grandmother died unexpectedly, I wanted to yell and scream and spit and throw something. I wanted to be so mad. But I couldn’t. Not like that, and not in front of the kids. We have to stay calm ourselves. Our children will be upset by outbursts and yelling. I could see our daughter watching me this morning as I scrolled through my social media feed. This will not be the last time she has to deal with death, or stress. It is my job to be a good example for her now, so as she grows older, she has the tools she needs to deal with these tough situations. I save my anger and hurt for when it is just my husband and me, and then I can be a little unstable.

4. Be a good listener. It is our job to protect our children. We need to give them a chance to talk, share their feelings, let them cry, be angry, and we need to listen. Listen without telling them to feel differently. We need to just let them feel the hurt and pain and emotions.

5. Teach our children coping skills. This might include how to handle anger, how to communicate and talk about feelings, how to take deep breaths, and how to relax.

6. DO THINGS TOGETHER AS A FAMILY! This is a big one. A really really big one. Do all you can to do things together as a family. When a loved one passes away we usually don’t want to get out and do anything. But we need to. There is solid evidence that shows that it is necessary to feel grief and pain, but that families who get out and do active things together, get over the loss faster and in a more healthy manner. Being active helps us heal.

7. Celebrate life. Help your children and family members do activities that will help them remember their loved one. When our children lost their great grandfather, who they were very close to, they each got to choose a special memento to keep in their rooms to help them remember him. We also talk about him on his birthday and holidays, and frequently pull up pictures of him and recall stories about his life. You can also put together a scrap book about their life that your kids can look through. Find ways to remember them and celebrate their life and the memories you hold so dear.

8. Find personal time to grieve. It can be easy to get so caught up in helping our children deal with death (or stress) that we don’t take time to grieve ourselves. I found myself doing this when my aunt died. She was very young and left behind three girls. I quickly became suto-mom to two of the three. One day I broke down in the shower. Filled with pain and grief. I had yet to take time to process the loss. And although I was needed to help them and my own family, I had to take some time for myself.

This Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers and women everywhere. Mother’s who do hard things. Who wipe tears, who comfort when children are hurting, and who bring joy and love to children and families. And mother’s who loose children, and still find a way to get out of bed each day and strength the women around them. It is by far, the most difficult responsibility I have ever undertaken. But it is also the most rewarding.

Happy Mother’s Day to each of you, and to the mothers in your life. May we all have more strength and confidence in helping our children deal with the difficult situations life brings us. And may your hearts be light. We are all in this together.

How do you explain death to your children?

How do you help them, when you need to take time for yourself also?

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends.

Parenting Mistakes We All Make and How to Avoid Them

Did you enter our Better Life Bags Giveaway? Be sure to check it out!


It is really easy to blame our children’s negative behavior on our children. And there are times when their behavior is not a result of something we have done. But… there are also lots, and lots and lots of times when their negative behavior is actually a response to our parenting through some common Parenting Mistakes. Yes, it’s hard to digest, but we actually bring out the misbehavior. We actually bring out the behavior we say we don’t like. Yikes, that is tough to consider. SO, in order to make family life that much better, and if you want to see major improvement in your children’s behavior, avoid these patenting mistakes.


Stop the … Paranoid Parenting

Not doubt that there is a lot of negative and horrible things in the world. Many things that could harm and hurt our children. As parents we need to watch over and protect them, but being paranoid is not a good parenting approach. Obsessively controlling our children will not make the world more safe. Constantly worrying about dangers that “could” happen only makes our children afraid. In fact, the tighter the reins we put on our children, makes the more anxious and less confident. It can also make them feel so controlled that they rebel.

Do you hear yourself saying, “Don’t touch that!” “Don’t go over there!” Stay right next to me!” “Don’t do that!” “Don’t go too far!”, “Stay close!, Stop!?

If you are saying these things All. The. Time, it needs to stop. Today’s generation of kids is more paranoid than any other. As parents we need to relax, and let our children deal with life. It is important not to pass our fears on to our kids. Constantly reminding our children of all the dangers in the world is not a good way to parent.

I have been guilty of this. Sometimes more than others. I especially run into this when something horrible happens. A few years ago there was a deadly mall shooting about 40 miles from where we live. My poor kids. They couldn’t even let go of the shopping cart at the grocery store. In fact, if I recall, I made all three of them at the time, get IN the cart. Just so I had them all close. When I watch the local news too much, I become so paranoid I am sure my kids feel like they can’t even breath. Paranoid parenting undermines a child’s ability to make their own decisions with confidence. Not a good way to go about raising kids.

Stop the …. Best Friend Parenting

Kids need parents who set rules and boundaries and don’t muddy the line between parent/adult and friend.  Remember we are their parents, the time to be friends will come later in life when they are grown adults. We need to stop avoiding making the unpopular decisions because we want our kids to “like us.” And stop avoiding disciplining our kids because we don’t want them to resent us. If you want spoiled children, seek to be their “best friend.” If you want kids who are secure, resilient, compassionate and responsible, be a parent.

Set clear limits and boundaries, and be in control. Our children need moms and dads, not best buddies. They will find those at school.

Stop the … Do Everything for them Parenting

Do you solve every one of your child’s problems? Do you finish their homework for them and do their school projects? Are you always swooping in to rescue? Do you finish their sentences and micromanage their lives? Do you answer for them when people ask them questions?

This parenting practice teaches kids to be dependent their entire lives. They grow up to be unprepared to handle life’s difficulties. Kids raised with this parenting technique have trouble developing self-reliance, problem solving and decision making. They also tend to avoid responsibility.

The goal is to be involved, lead, and teach. But not intrude, take over, or do it for them. Then your child can develop independence and live on their own one day.

Stop the … Quick Fix Parenting

Remember last time when you were at Super Target and your child threw a temper tantrum. So instead of leaving the cart and removing your child from the situation, you bribed your child with an ICEE and bag of popcorn? Maybe even a new toy. It fixed the situation that day, but in the long run it will make things worse. We are all guilty of quick fix parenting. We find ourselves willing to do anything, as long as it works right now. We warn, we threaten, and we give in.

Being tired, stressed, and over scheduled can lead to quick fix parenting, as well as being in public. :)

These techniques teach kids to act right…for the wrong reasons. It might be a temporary solution, but never brings lasting change.

We will be most effective as parents, when we take a few minutes to help our children understand what is wrong and make things right.

Stop the … Substitute Parenting

It seems that in this day and age, everything but parents are teaching kids. We are letting someone else parent our children. Media and television. Kids are spending so much time in front of the television, computer, on their phones, and with video games, parents have taken a back seat.

When was the last time you saw a T.V. show you would trust to teach your child? Young children are especially at risk because they believe everything they see and hear.

All this technology means less real time with parents. Technology takes over and as parents we begin to lose power and influence with our children.

This type of parenting makes children vulnerable to outside pressures and teaches them to rely on someone else to guide them, instead of you. They are also more likely to adopt someone else’s values.

As parents, we are the most powerful influence for teaching our children values, attitudes, morales, and appropriate behavior. We need to find more ways to be in our children’s lives. The first place to start, limit technology.

I am guilty on all accounts of the above parenting practices. Some more often than others. But acknowledging I have a problem is the first step, right? Take an honest step back and evaluate when these practices take over your parenting life. And then make a commitment to change some things up. As we eliminate these practices from our families, we will see huge changes in our children’s behaviors and attitudes.

Raise your hand if you have bought ICEE’s and popcorn at Target?

So, which practices are you guilty of? 

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Teaching Children Money Management

Money management is a vital part of a successful family. Keeping an open dialogue about money not only sets our children up for a healthier future as adults, but it teaches communication and relationship skills along the way. Use the following tips to keep your family financially strong.


First, understand that most disagreements over finances aren’t really about the money itself, but instead a result of miscommunications about expectations. One family member expects that money can be spent a certain way, on certain things, while the other family member expects money should be handled a different way. It isn’t so much about the money itself, but what the money represents and how we feel about it.

The only way to overcome this first obstacle is to make sure you keep an open dialogue and have conversations about those expectations. Be sure that everyone is on the same page. For example, if there is extra money at the end of the month, can it be spent, should it be saved? Can it be used to by “Wants” or only “Needs”? What is considered a want and need. Talk about it and include your children in the dialogue when age appropriate. They have expectations too. Maybe they expect to be able to sign up for any and all extracurricular activities that they want to, while you feel that two extra activities are expensive enough. Or maybe they feel they should be able to go skiing every Saturday, but you feel that money should be spent on other things instead. It can take quite some time for children to really understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. So talk open and often about expectations and keep everyone happy and on the same page.

There will be disagreements about money. Use the situations to teach children how to communicate, handle disagreements, listen to other opinions and compromise. These are life skills they will always need.

Respect Money. I will never forget when I was around 8, I was helping my dad with a project on the kitchen counter. There were scraps of paper and lots of bits and pieces that needed to be thrown away. As he held the trash bag, I used my whole arm to sweep the trash into the black bag. Mixed in with the papers was a penny. I saw the penny, and so did he, but I swept it into the the trash anyway. After all, it was only a penny. Well, not to my dad, he had me go right down in that black bag and find the penny. He helped as we sifted through all the scraps. He taught me such a good lesson that day. One I have never forgotten. Money is to be respected. Even a penny. It is still money and has worth. We never throw it away. We teach our children to respect money by respecting it ourselves.

Set financial goals and include the entire family in setting, working towards and achieving those goals. We all have financial goals for our families. Some of us are trying to pay off car loans, saving for a family vacation, trying to save on groceries, or maybe just trying to keep our heads above water. Although we are not looking to scare or burden our children with our financial woes, we can include them when appropriate it fun and creative ways. Get your whole family excited about what you are doing. This will teach them that handing money is not bad, how to set goals, how to accomplish goals and bring you closer together as a family.

Avoid impulse buying. This is a great way to not only save money, but is also teaches our children delayed gratification. Hopefully as adults, we are good at making smart money choices, but this is a great way to teach our children also. When they want something, instead of getting it for them right away, or letting them buy it right away, teach them to do research, cover all their basis and make sure they know all their options. The delay will not only teach them, but make their purchase even more worth it when they do finally get it.

Don’t use money to control your family members. We never want to use money to control our family members. Using it as a bribe, or holding it over someones head is not healthy. This is often common between spouses, but we do it with our children also. Steer clear of bribing kids with “5 dollars if you get an A”. Or saying, “if you don’t ______ then you loose your money.” etc… Although it might get you the results you want right then, the outcome will be short lived. This will teach our children to use money to control others and they wont do things for intrinsic reasons. (I know this is a touchy subject and there are many different philosophies, but findings are consistent that there are other ways to motivate our children that have better, long term effects.)

Don’t hide money from one another.

Teaching our children to “buy secretly” does not develop a healthy money relationship and teaches them it is okay to hide things from one another and be dishonest. Reminding them “not to tell daddy” as you are leaving Super Target wont help them in the long run. :)

Help them understand how money works. This could be through teaching them to save and spend, or even including them in some of the financial planning for the family. I know with our son, he didn’t understand the cost of things for our family. We laid out basic living expenses and then compared that to an income so he could see how the two worked together. It stopped most of the asking and begging for “wants” because now he has a better understanding of how money works. Knowledge is power.

Above all things, we want our children to understand how money works, and how to have a healthy relationship with money. This comes from setting a good example ourselves, and including our children in the family finances when appropriate.

How do you teach your children about money?



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7 Tips to Help Keep Your Family’s Resolutions



New Year’s Resolutions aren’t just for moms and dads. They’re for families too!


I know what your thinking. It is hard enough to keep my own personal resolutions and goals. Why would I want to set goals with my family too? Why? Because setting goals together, and working towards those goals, brings us closer as a family. It builds trust, unity, and is a great opportunity to teach our children values and skills.  


So, Whether you have a word of the year, make New Year’s resolutions, or just have a few goals you want your family to work on this year, here are a few tips to help your family stick with those resolutions so you can grow and improve together.
1. Make your resolutions something that YOUR FAMILY really wants. Your family’s goals and resolutions should NOT be something you think you should do as a family. Or something that you are doing just to keep up with what you see on Pinterest, the internet, or that your neighbors are doing. Honestly evaluate what is best for your family. One of the biggest mistakes families make is making resolutions to keep up with “the Jones’ “  Don’t worry about what other families are doing.
2. Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than you stomach. AKA, don’t set too many goals. In fact, two or three is perfect for your family. Too many and they get hard to keep and focus on.
3. Goals should be specific. For example, “Save money”, is a good goal. But it is not specific. “Save 5 dollars a week” is a better goal. Being specific makes the resolutions more do-able and makes it easier for everyone to understand what is expected.
4. Leave room for forgiveness. No family is perfect and there will be many times when we falter on our resolutions. That is normal. The difference between those families who reach their goals and those who don’t, is the way they react to set backs. Instead of throwing in the towel, problem solve. Then you can rebound and get back on track.
5. Include the entire family. It is easy to think that successful family goals are only achieved by the parents. But family goals should include the entire family. Including our children provides opportunities for us to work together, hold one another accountable, allows us opportunities to teach our children, and gives our children the chance to see success and failure. Not to mention, each member of our family has great ideas. I can’t tell you the number of times that our children have come up with the solutions to family situations. Including them also lets them know that they have a voice in your family. Knowing that they are heard makes them feel loved, important and understood. (Which also leads to kids being better behaved.) Not to mention that kids are great at keeping us accountable. :)
6. Create short term goals to keep you accountable. We hear this all the time, because it is true. As a family, set a resolution, and then set short term goals to help you along the way. Your family will be much more likely to achieve your goals that way.
7. Make it fun and celebrate! Whoever said resolutions have to be boring? Find fun ways to achieve your goals and celebrate your milestones along the way. This also helps to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind…because a year can seem like a really long time.
Looking for a fun way to set resolutions for your family? Create a vision board! Have each member of your family sit down with old magazines, newspapers, markers and crayons, even the computer. Have everyone cut out or print off pictures, words, phrases that represent what they see for 2014 for the family. Put them all on a big piece of cardboard. Then, step back and evaluate the themes that are most prevalent on the board. Use the common themes to create two or three resolutions to best benefit your family this upcoming year.
And remember, everyone’s resolutions look different, just like our families. And that is okay.
We would love to hear what your family resolutions are for this year?
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Teaching Children Gratitude


Thanksgiving Heather Johnson

It is the season of Thanksgiving and we have gratitude on our minds. Unfortunately gratitude is not always on our children’s minds. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to our kids. It is a learned trait, not necessarily something we are born with, and they need our help to develop the skill.  Today I will share some tips for teaching children gratitude.

Aside from all the fun activities, crafts, and service projects we do with our kids this time of year, here are five things we can do year round to help raise more grateful children.
Start saying “NO”.
Giving our children everything they ask for and want, is not going to help them be more grateful. (This is a good thing to remember with Christmas around the corner.)  Have you ever had your child beg you for a new toy? You finally give in, only to have them play with it for a few days and then start begging for something else?
The more we give our kids, the less they appreciate what they have. So cut back! Kids don’t need treats every time we go to the store, or a toy every time they see a commercial on TV advertising something new. Kids need our love and our time and opportunities to learn and grow, not more things. At first it might be hard to say “no.” We need to do it any way. Even if there are temper tantrums and tears. Over time this will help our children come to appreciate what they do have and realize that happiness is not built on getting more “stuff.”
Don’t compare.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of Joy”, and he was exactly right. Comparing ourselves to others teaches our kids that we are not grateful for what we have or who we are.
Stop talking about material things. 
It is easy for our conversations to be centered around material possessions.
“I wish we had that new car.”
“We really need a new couch before we have people over.”
“That new shirt will make you look really cute.”
As innocent as the statements sound, when our kids hear us talking about material things all the time, and how we need them, or how they define us or make us look a certain way, it sends them the wrong message. We have to be very careful with what we say.
Always say “Please” and “Thank you”
Raising grateful children is all about being a grateful parent. Do we use good manners? Do we say please and thank you? Do we write thank you notes when someone gives us a gift or serves us? Kids watch everything we do. If we are complaining about what we don’t have, and how we wish we had more, they will feel the same. If we don’t express gratitude, then neither will they.
Don’t spare them work
As much as we didn’t like chores and responsibilities when we were children, work is a necessary part of raising moral children. Instead of sparing them work, we need to give them opportunities to work. We need to stop teaching that work is bad and play is good. They are not opposites of one another. Work teaches us to appreciate what our bodies and minds are capable of. And teaches us to be grateful for what we do have as a result of the effort we put into getting it. Work teaches us to appreciate.
Grateful children are more polite and a lot more fun to be around. They get along with their playmates and have an easier time sharing with others. Grateful adults are empathetic, see other’s perspectives and solid research has found that adults who are grateful are happier all around. Gratitude is a valuable life skill, no matter our age.
This time of year, let’s remember that gratitude is not a seasonal skill. We teach it to our children each and every day of the year.
What toy have you gotten your child after they begged, that they never played with again? (For us, it was a telescope for our son. In two years I think he has only looked through it 3-4 times :(. But he wanted it sooooo bad.)
Is it hard for you to say “No” to your children? Why?
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