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?
Have a question or just want to say hello.

How To Build Self Esteem in Your Child



Over the past few years, a hot topic in parenting has been whether or not parents should focus on building their children’s self esteem.

As a teacher and as a parent, I am a firm believer that part of my parenting responsibilities include helping our children build a strong self esteem. Yes, that is part of our job.

Did you know that kids who have positive feelings about themselves have an easier time dealing with conflict and the pressures of life. They are also happier, more optimistic and find more joy in life. Research is also showing that a healthy self esteem is the greatest defense against bullying.

When children have positive self esteems they feel in control of their lives and know how to stand up for themselves. They feel more confident in making their own decisions and are better able to maintain healthy relationships as they get older.

Children with low self esteem don’t feel like they can handle challenges and feel frustration and anxiety when faced with life challenges. They regularly feel that they are not good enough and can’t do anything correctly. They fell more depression and tend to withdraw in situations. Not to mention that low self esteem leads to behavior problems, poor school performance, trouble with friendships and relationships with adults.

Anything I can do to help our children feel better about themselves, I want to do!

How can we help our kids increase their self-esteem? Here are some suggestions.

Teach Our Children How to Handle Conflict and Failure - Life is full of conflict and we all have to deal with failure. We need to teach our children how to deal with these hard things. It will empower them. They need to know that it doesn’t make them lesser of a person to fail. But instead teach them how to deal with it.

Provide Challenges For Our Children – We have to provide challenges for our children, that they can overcome. When they overcome small challenges, it builds their belief in themselves. They take those beliefs into new situations and feel strong about their ability to do hard things.

Set Our Children Up For Success - Help your child develop talents and acquire skills that they enjoy and excel in. Provide opportunities for them to participate in activities that encourage cooperation instead of competition.

Don’t Set Our Children Up To Fail – Embarrassing our children to “teach” them will not help them feel better about themselves. Imposing unrealistic expectations and challenges so they fail will not make them fell better about themselves either.

Show Love – Always do all things out of love. Be attentive, show affection and when there is need for discipline, always follow with an increase of love. Withholding love should never be used as punishment or as a result of a child’s mistake. Never ever withhold love.

Be Careful With What We Say – Our children are very sensitive to everything we say. We need to be careful with the words that come out of our mouths. 90% of what we say should be uplifting. The other 10% can be disciplinary. Even when our children don’t succeed, we should still praise them for the energy effort and skill they put forth.

Be a Good Role Model – We can’t say negative things about ourselves. If we are always putting ourselves down, and saying negative things about our abilities, we will raise children who feel the same way. We need to be good role models and speak positively about who we are, what we look like, and the effort we are putting in to our own lives.

Create a Safe Home Environment – It is vital that our children feel safe at home. Watching parents fight and argue makes for depressed children. When children bring home problems from school, express concerns and ask questions, we need to be patient and listen. They need to always know they can express themselves at home and they will be respected and cared for, regardless.

Spend time with our children – Stop multitasking. As mother’s we are trying to juggle so many things while we listen and spent time with our kids. We need to put everything down and come down to their level. Look them in the eye and make sure we are in the moment. Kids know when we are pretending to pay attention, but our minds are else where.

Stop Labeling Our Children – All of us are searching for an identity. It defines us and helps us relate to other people and figure out where we belong. Our kids will live up to our labels, good or bad, we need to be careful.

Give Positive and Accurate Feedback.

We cannot underestimate our influence on our children. They look to us for all things. How wonderful to know that we can help them believe in themselves. We can help them build positive thoughts and feelings about their abilities. Starting young will make their lives more manageable and set them up to be strong and adjusted adults.

What an important job we have.

How do you help your children build their self-esteem?

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

Tips For Helping with the Homework Battle



School brings so much fun and excitement. It also brings juggling schedules and homework. With homework usually comes battles. Lots of homework battles. One of the most common struggles we tend to face, is getting our kids to do their homework, minus the moans and groans and tears.

Given that homework is necessary and an unavoidable part of school life, here are a few tips to lessen the stress and give you some homework help.

First, evaluate your child’s schedule and how much sleep they are getting. Homework meltdowns often happen because our children are over scheduled and tired. With so much on their plate, they don’t have time to be children. They don’t have time to play, to imagine and to pretend. All necessary for a healthy childhood. Not enough sleep will also elicit a quick break down. Kids need sleep. Their bodies are growing and changing and we need to make sure we help them get the rest they need.

Establish a routine.

Work to tackle homework at about the same time everyday. Remember, routines bring predictability,  and predictability brings safety and security. It will help our children when they know what to expect and what is going to happen. This can be different for each child. For example, our son needs time to wind down after school. When he comes home he needs to eat, decompress and tell me about his day. Forcing him to sit down and start on his homework right away creates major homework battles. He can’t focus, drags his feet and is easily frustrated. Our daughter is the exact opposite. She wants to walk in the door and immediately take care of all of her homework. If she is forced to wait, she feels anxiety and frustration. Knowing how they both think and what schedules work best for them is half the battle. This routine should also include clear expectations. No electronics, no television etc… Make that clear long before the routine is challenged.

Join them.

Simply being in same room as your child while they are work can help cut homework battles and the time it takes to get things done, in half. You don’t have to be talking to your children, or doing their work for them, but sending them off to their room to work by themselves usually means hours of battling your child to stay focused.  Kids don’t want to be left alone. Homework is lonely enough. Do something while they are working. Even better, do something that helps your child see that what they are learning and doing is relevant in the real world. Balance a checkbook, pay bills, read, plan your meal schedule or grocery list for the week. What ever you do, try to stay close and be available.

Wrangle the younger kids.

It can seem like torture for a child to be sitting and doing homework while their younger siblings are laughing, watching TV, and playing around them. Why not make it a quiet time for everyone in the house and have younger kids color and look at books. Younger siblings usual long to be like their older counterparts as it is. Make them feel special by including them. Not only will it make it easier for the child doing the homework, but it will start good homework habits for your younger children.

Be helpful.

This doesn’t mean we hover over our children or give them all the answers. But we need to make it clear that there are no dumb questions and that we are available if they need help. When they do come to us for help, we need to be patient. Never make your child feel dumb or silly, or that they should know the answer. This will deter them from asking for help in the future. Not just about homework, but about other topics of discussion too. When we help, refrain from giving them the answer, but instead ask questions that lead them to discover the answer on his own.

Don’t overreact to the Drama.

There is going to be homework drama. There will most likely be meltdowns and even tears now and again. First and foremost, we have to stay patient. We have to keep our cool. Don’t yell or threaten. Refrain from telling your child “you don’t get to watch TV unless you get this done.” Watch how hard you push. Instead reference the possible outcomes. Such as the fact that not doing homework will bring bad grades, which has repercussions. Or ask how they will explain to their teacher that they didn’t do their work. Once you work to calm them down, offer to help.

Helping our children establish good and positive homework patterns when they are young will bring lifelong benefits. With a few modifications and changes we can make it a better experience for the whole family.

How do you deal with homework battles?


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




Tips for Families and Technology


The school year is underway and families are busier than ever. It is hard enough trying to balance all the activities and homework, but throw the constant temptation of technology into the works and finding time to be together as a family can seem almost impossible.

There are two major drains on our families lives these days, the first being the time we spend outside our home. Families are so busy in individual activities, that we are never home to be together.

The second drain that keeps our families from spending time together is technology inside our home. It is inevitable that our homes are filled with technology. It is that day and age. But just because we are all under the same roof, doesn’t mean we are together. Someone is on the computer, someone is watching tv, someone else is on their phone, the list goes on. Technology keeps us from having “Eye Contact” with our family members.

Given that technology isn’t going anywhere, and “iContact” is inevitable, what can we do to ensure that we still have “Eye Contact” with our families?

First we need to make better use of our time. For example, we all need to eat. Well I know I need to eat. :) And everyone in our family needs to eat also. So, make better use of the fact that we are all going to eat dinner, and do it together!

We most likely spend time driving family members to and from activities. Instead of spending that time watching DVD’s and having kids play on smart phones, turn off technology and make better use of the drive time by talking with one another, playing games and having conversations.

There are benefits that will come to our family, that we can’t receive any other way. Unless we put away the technology and make “Eye Contact” with one another.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “But Heather, there is still technology all around us. Can’t “Eye Contact” and “iContact” co-exist”? The answer is yes, but we need to find creative ways to bring the two together so the technology doesn’t hurt our family relationships.

Here are a few ideas.

1. Gather each family members playlist and play music in the background while your family sits down to eat a meal together or as you work together.

2. Establish rules about how much technology your children can consume each day. Then, while they are watching their favorite shows, make it a rule that they have to get up and run around the house, do push ups, jumping jacks, or sit ups, every time a commercial comes on.

3. Create an online scrapbook that everyone in your family can contribute pictures too. It is so easy to upload pictures these days, most of us do it from our phones. Once a month, sit down as a family and have each person explain the pictures they have loaded and talk about all the fun things you have all done over the last 30 days. This is a great way to chronicle your families life and keep pictures organized also.

4. Take your TV and movie watching one step farther. It is very common that during movies, when family members have questions (especially our children), instead of answering them, we “Shhhhhhhhhhsh” them. This immediately tells them the movie or show is more important than they are. So, establish “TV time outs” during the movie. Every 10 minutes, pause the movie and ask if there are any questions. Then talk together. That way all family members know that they are more important than the movie.

5. Use the technology on everyone’s smart phones, computers and iPads to schedule a family activity in everyone’s calendar. Set up reminders so no one forgets. Then when everyone gets together, have them drop their tech into the “tech basket” where it will stay until the family activity is over. Have fun enjoying the activity you planned together, tech free.

6. When your kids ask questions like “what does an Ostrich eat” and you just don’t know the exact answer, whip out your smart phone and teach your child how to look things up. When you have found your answer, sit down together and draw a picture of the Ostrich eating.

7. When you have an upcoming family vacation or trip (or even a family activity), give each person in the family an assignment to research. Someone could be in charge of researching places to stay, while another person can research places to eat, or the best route to take if you are driving. Come together as a family to report your findings. Talk about all the options, and plan the trip together. Making sure to not let the tech takeover once you are on vacation.

8. Technology is a great way to stay connected to family, extended family, and friends. Establish a time when you come together as a family to skype or google hangout with loved ones. Before you start, sit down together and talk about all the fun things you want to share and any questions you want to ask while you chat. When the call is over, turn off the computer and talk about all the fun things you learned from the conversation. Take it a step farther and write a letter or put together a care package for that person. It will make their day.

9. Use online resources to research your ancestors. Make connections with family members and do genealogy. If time and money permit, plan a trip to visit some family sites and family members. If you can’t physically visit, no problem, use your new found knowledge to create a family tree to hang on your wall. Or gather pictures of ancestors and create a collage in frames as a reminder of where your family came from.

Technology has the power to take over our families lives. Draining us of the most important relationships we have, the ones we develop with our families. Nothing is as powerful as “Eye Contact”, but when we carefully and creatively combine “Eye Contact” with “iContact”, the two can co-exist to enhance our family relationships.

How do you use technology to strengthen your family?

How do you make sure technology doesn’t take over your family time?



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


Helping Kids Deal with Back-To-School Stress


Stress of School

Whether your children are in public school, private school, charter school, or homeschool, a new school year can stress out our children.

Unlike adults, kids don’t understand they are feeling stress, or know how to handle it like adults do. In fact, because of their lack of life experiences, they really don’t even understand they are feeling stress.

As parents, it is easy to miss our children’s stress cues. We can mistake signs of stress from our children for defiance and misbehavior. 

The most common signs of stress are…

Increase in crying, throwing fits and temper tantrums

Unwilling to do anything or try anything



Lack of Patience



Lots of crying


Behavior that is out of the ordinary

Trouble sleeping

Back to school stress can come from many sources, but the two main sources of stress for our children are unfamiliar situations (like a new school class or when a parent goes out of town) and pressure to perform (such as school tests, social pressures and extracurricular competition). All children feel pressure. Even our little ones. Pressure to share their toys, eat all their food and go to sleep. Both of these sources are very prevalent at the start of a new school year. There is so much uncertainty. I know that uncertainty can stress me out. Why wouldn’t we assume the same happens to our children.
As parents, it is our job to help our children not only deal with the stress, but to also help them recognize what they are feeling so they can start learning how to handle it. 

Here are a number of ways we can help as the new school year gets underway. 

1. Start with Ourselves

When we are stressed out, we pass that on to our families. Did you know that children who are constantly surrounded by stress are more likely to be overweight, and even small babies sense and respond negatively to our stress. We have to evaluate our own lives, make sure we are not over scheduled, get control of our stress and set a good example. Plus, our kids learn from us. They learn how to handle stress by watching US handle stress. What are we teaching them?

2. Give them a Voice

Our children do not understand what stress is. They are limited in their life experiences and knowledge. They don’t always understand what they are feeling, or what to call the emotions they experience because often times, they have never felt them before. It is our job as parents to help them. We need to give them a voice, give them words to express their emotions and help them understand the frustration that overtakes them.

Compare this concept to a time when you have been sick. I know for me, when I head to the doctor, I don’t want something to be wrong, BUT, having a diagnosis makes me feel better. It lessens the stress.

It is the same with our children. We need to give them a diagnosis. Not only will this help them as they experience the stress, but, as they have more experiences, they will be able to pinpoint their own emotions.

3. Role Play

Unknown situations bring stress. Instead of sending our kids into situations blind, take time to act out and discuss situations before they happen. This will help our children feel much more prepared and giving them knowledge will lessen their fears and stress. Take time to role play situations. That way, when they are in the unknown situation it will be like auto response and they will have more confidence in what they should do and say. This is one of the best ways to lessen the stress of a new school year. Talk about and role play all the new experiences our kids are going to face before they encounter them.

4. See their perspective

Consider how we feel when we are stressed. Now imagine being little, with limited understanding and experiences. On top of that, having very little control. If we will put ourselves in their shoes just for a minute we will quickly have sympathy for their situation and be more understanding and patient with their behavior.

5. Listen

Our kids need to talk to us. Not all children are ready to talk at the same pace. We need to be there, ready, whenever they are ready to talk. When our children know they are heard, it relieves stress.

6. Eliminate

Children should really only have one or two extra curricular activities. They don’t have to do it all. And parents shouldn’t be over-scheduled either. Even if our kids want to do a million things, it is too much for them to handle. More importantly we need to make sure they have time to play, to create, to imagine, and to spend time with our family.

7. Be Active Together

It has been shown that exercise helps us handle stress. The same applies for children. But when kids are always in front of technology, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to be active. Get moving together as a family and watch everyone’s stress melt away.

8. Go To Bed

Possibly one of the most important ways to help our children deal with the stress of a new school year, and even avoid it, is to make sure they get enough sleep. Everything is worse when we are tired and life is much harder to deal with. Make sure kids get enough sleep. Get them on a schedule and make it a priority.

Stress is apart of our lives and our children’s lives. A new school year can bring out the worst. Helping our children now will not only lessen the stress they experience as children, but also teach them the tools they need to handle stress as they grow too.

How do you help your children deal with stress?


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


Playdough Pictionary Game

While buying school supplies for our older kids this last week, play dough made it into the cart too. Most of us have play dough around the house somewhere. Instead of making pancakes and snakes, put it to use with this fun family game. This is perfect for kids and adults of all ages. In fact, my husband and I love to play after the kids have gone to bed.

 You Will Need…


Different colors is really fun, but one color will work just fine also. 


I have included a list of words for you at the end of the post to get you started. Add other words you think would be fun, or that would work for your family. 


How to Play 

Divide into teams.

Give each team play-dough. We like to give each team a few different colors.

Print off one copy of the words (listed below) for each team.

Cut the words into strips and put them in a bowl or baggie.

When you say “GO”, one person from each team will choose a word out of the bowl. They will attempt to “SCULPT” that word for their team using the play-dough. They cannot talk, make noises, use actions, or anything else. They can only use the play-dough. The rest of their team is trying to guess what they are making.

Once someone on their team has guessed, the next team member pulls another word out of the bowl and begins to sculpt.

This continues, everyone taking turns sculpting, until all the words in their bowl have been guessed. The team to do this first, wins.


Instead of going through the whole bowl of words to win, you can set a timer. When time is up, the team with the most words guessed, wins.

Small teams, such as teams of two will work just fine.

If you are playing with just two or three people, take turns sculpting for the whole group, and keep score as individuals. (Set a timer, sculpt, and if your word is guessed in the time frame, you get a point. The person with the most points at the end of the game, wins.)

If your children are small and can’t read yet, instead of words, draw pictures and put those on the different slips of paper. Or even create a separate bowl that holds the picture clues. When it is an adults turn, they pick from the words. A child’s turn, they pick from the picture clues.

If you have a really big group. Put one person in charge of the list of words. Send one “sculpter” up from each team to get their first word. They have to run back and sculpt. As soon as their teammates correctly guess the words, a new person from their group runs up to the person with the list and they given their next word. This lets teams run and move around and adds even more fun to the game. The team who successfully gets through the whole list first, wins.

List of Words (print off one copy for each team. Cut the words into slips of paper and put in a bowl or baggie)























Bow and Arrow






Light Bulb




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


Stop the Summer Fighting–Part 2


stop the summer fighting part 2

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of Stop the Summer Fighting

Now that we better understand how our children are developing and why they might be fighting, it is time to take a look at the things we can do as parents to help with all the sibling squabbles.

First, evaluate your own behavior.

Do you play favorites?

Do you take sides?

Do you expect more from one child than another?

Do you have unrealistic expectations?

Do you compare your children and their accomplishments?

Take a minute (or 10) and really think about these questions. I know for me, I naturally put more pressure and expectations on our son, who is the oldest. I also find myself asking our daughter to give in to her younger sisters because she is a peacemaker. If I am not careful I cause resentment and one of our children gets hit with more than their share. The result, arguing and fighting.

Don’t promote competition.

  • Avoid promoting competition amongst siblings.
  • We shouldn’t label our children. (Remember, you gave them a name when they were born. Use it. Don’t replace it with “the smart one”, “the nice one”, “the pretty one”, or the slow one.”Labels can have terrible, long term consequences. 
  • Have your children work together. But don’t make everything a competition or race. We try to never say, “who can get in bed the fastest?” Instead, if they want to race, it is against themselves, or how fast they did it last time. We also have our children work together to accomplish jobs. Our daughter who is younger holds the trash bag while our son dumps the trash in the bag. Our daughter puts the clean silverware away, while our son puts the plates and bowls away. 
  • Praise your children when they get along.
  • Acknowledge each child’s special talents. Kids are different. That is good. Recognize what each of your children are good at and help them cultivate that talent. It will make them feel special.
What else can we do to keep arguments and rivalries at bay?

As parents we need to butt out. The more involved you are getting with your children’s arguments, the more they will argue. Kids need to figure out how to solve their own fights. If you are going to get involved, do it before the argument gets heated. Look for ways to keep the arguments from happening, but once they do, allow some space and let your kids handle it.If you have to get involved because the conflict is too escalated, be fair. Don’t take sides. Take the middle ground and only share your opinion when your kids can’t figure out a resolution.

Spend alone time with each of your children. A few minutes every day is the best, but at least once a week your child needs just you. Make this alone time special. Do what the child wants to do. Listen, praise, love, enjoy one another’s company. Families are busy so the best way to do this is to evaluate how your family time is spent. I spend one on one time with our daughter when our youngest is sleeping and our son is at school. Alone time with our son is spent each night after our girls go to bed. Most of our alone time is at home. Every few weeks we schedule something special to do with each of them away from home.

Distract. Parents can tell when their children are about to loose it. We know when arguments are escalating, when fights are going to break out, and when buttons are being pushed. When you see tempers are rising, distract and separate.

When there has been a fight or argument, let each child tell their side of the story. Children need to know they are being heard. Give each child equal time to talk and explain. As one child talks the other child or children should be expected to listen and not interrupt. When they are done, repeat what they have said so it is clear that you have heard them. Once you have heard all the versions, ask “What can we do to solve the problem?”. Don’t ask “who started it,” or “what happened.” This won’t help the situation or future situations.

Help your children develop friendships outside their siblings. Don’t let friends take over your family, but kids need sibling AND friends. When one of your children has friends coming over, give them space from other siblings. Especially as your children get older.

Role Play. Ask your children”…. how would you feel if….?” questions? This is important when you are trying to minimize arguments also. Help your children see other points of view.

As families, if we don’t help our kids deal with their feelings they will keep them inside and start to resent their siblings. Holding family meetings is a great way to go about this

. Set a time when everyone can sit down and work through things that “aren’t fair”, or that are frustrating. We have a family meeting once a month. The kids talk about all the things that are bugging them. It is controlled, casual and treats always follow. There is laughing and negotiation. Both are necessary in families. We start the meeting by saying nice things first. At the end everyone gives everyone else a hug. Another way to set these meetings up is one on one with a parent. My husband sits down with our kids once a month also. It is amazing what they tell him. They are honest and open and it provides a lot of insight into what we can do better as parents. Both of these situations allow our kids to express how they feel and to be heard.

Encourage children to solve their own problems.
-To do this, teach children to be respectful. That means no name calling, and take turns listening and being respectful while the other person talks. Everyone gets a turn to talk.
-Teach children to talk about how they are feeling, not blame others. “I get angry when you take my toy.” “I get hurt feelings when you say mean things to me.”
-Teach your children to only state the facts.
-Teach your children to solve the problem. In our house we tease that we don’t want to hear about the problem unless there is blood. :) When they come running to us, we encourage them to go back to the “scene of the crime” and work things out. Funny how they take care of things themselves nearly every time. With some practice they will feel much more confident taking care of their own issues.
Lastly… here are some quick rules for arguing. Consistency with these things will bring positive behavioral changes.

  • Don’t tolerate name calling, hitting or hurtful behavior in your home. Make consequences for these behaviors before hand and ENFORCE them. Enforce them every time.
  • No tattle telling. When my kids come tattling I always stop them and say, “unless this is something nice that will keep your brother or sister out of trouble, I don’t want to hear it.” 
  • Don’t get involved. Unless I was there and saw what happened, I really try to stay out of it.
  • No yelling. Again, yelling has consequences. Enforce them. 
  • In our home we also have a rule that you can’t take someone else’s things unless you ask. This has taken care of a lot of our sibling arguments.

It is hard to accept, but a lot of arguments in our homes are perpetuated by us. Yikes! It would do our families good to take a step back now and again and evaluate our own behavior. It can be eye opening.

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

Stop the Summer Fighting


Stop the Summer Fighting!

For most of us, our kids have been out of school for about a month now. What does that mean? It means our kids are probably fighting with one another, a. lot. Because this is a problem we all deal with, summer break or not, let’s take the next few posts and talk about our kids fighting.

First, kids are not always going to get along. We can’t expect perfection. It doesn’t exist, so let that notion go right now. :)

Second… a few “usually true” statements.

  • Children who are closer in age and the same gender are more likely to argue and fight.
  • Two -Four year olds have a conflict every ten minutes.
  • Three-Seven year olds have a conflict 3-4 times an hour.

Remember, young children don’t have the maturity to solve problems, they are too impulsive. Cut them some slack.

When do kids fight the most? Between five and eleven.

-5 year olds are always trying to care for and tend to younger siblings.

-6 year olds struggle with compromise and are overbearing. They are also competitive and their favorite saying is “it’s not fair.” I think our son said that 1 billion times when he was 6.

-7 year olds are less aggressive and more protective of younger siblings.

-8 year olds argue and are not very good at forgiving. 8 is when kids usually start asking for “private time” away from younger siblings. At the same time, they always want to tag along with older siblings. Ironic.

-9 year olds are looking for peer acceptance and want space. Be sure to give it to them. They really need it. They also need to have time with their friends, without younger siblings. They also love to tattle tale and tell you “who started it.”

-10 year olds start to get along better with their siblings.

-11 year olds like to tease.

-12 year olds start to mature and this is usually when you start to see big improvements in the arguing and fighting department.

-13 year olds want to be friends with their siblings and arguments are usually over items that are borrowed or things that get ruined.

Keeping a good perspective is really helpful when we are trying to “endure” our kids fighting. Remember, kids are constantly learning and figuring out. They are trying to navigate the unknown. They have zero experience and are doing the best they can with very little understanding of how emotions work.

Relationships take experience, maturity and patience on our part. For example, when our son was 6, he was so competitive it started to cause many arguments. He was competitive about every.single. thing. It was silly. Understanding that that was part of his development and that it would pass was very helpful. We were patient, waited it out and sure enough, it took care of itself.

Once we have a better understanding of how our kids are developing, it is time to try and figure out why they are fighting.

1. Do their personalities or priorities clash? Different genders usually have different priorities. Our son thinks army men, legos and mystery books are priorities. Our daughter’s priorities are pink, purple, playing house and American Girl Dolls. Most of their arguments are because they can’t agree on what they should do together.

2. Do you and your spouse fight? Your kids are just mimicking what they see.

3. Do they not have any time alone? Kids need alone time. Every day.

4. Do your kids get to express their feelings? If they don’t feel like anyone is listening to them, they will get frustrated. The frustration will build up and they will explode. Is is usually a sibling that gets hit with the explosion.

5. Are there stresses at home? Marital problems, money problems, sickness, stress? Kids respond to stress by loosing patience and fighting. They don’t have enough life experience to know other ways to deal with it.

6. Could it be that your kids are just too young to express how they feel? They are not old enough to solve the problems. This can be especially true when it comes to toddlers who don’t have the language skills necessary to communicate yet. Out of frustration they fight us and their siblings.

Over the next week or so, take some time to watch your kids when they are fighting and arguing. See if you can pinpoint the root of the problem.

While you are at it, spend a few extra minutes with each of your children also. The extra one-on-one time will make a world of difference.

In Part 2 of Sibling Fighting, we will talk about what we can do as parents to help with all the arguing and fighting.

Do your kids fight? Is that a trick question?

What do your kids fight about the most?

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


Family Game

Fill the Cup for The Idea Room

The last few weeks here in Utah have been hot hot hot. Regardless, our kids still want to be outside. All day. long.

In order to hang out with them, and not worry that they are “bak’in like a toasted cheeser”, we have had to get creative, beyond the sprinkles and water guns.

Here is the perfect game for you and your family to play while you are trying to beat the summer heat.

It is also perfect for family reunions, neighborhood parties, and birthday parties! And it will keep your kids busy for hours. Which is always a bonus. Just don’t be surprised when it turns into a big family water fight.

You Will Need…


Clear Plastic Cups

Small Handheld Mirrors (1 mirror for every two people)

Pitchers (we use really big plastic cups when I don’t have enough pitchers)

Water Supply (hose works great)

Side Note: I like to get my mirrors at the Dollar store. I picked up a bunch of pitchers and plastic cups there also. Saves a ton of money.

To Play…

Split your family or group into teams of 2 people each.

Give each team a plastic cup, mirror, and pitcher of water.

One person from each team will sit down on the ground, and using only one hand, hold the empty cup on the top of their head. With their other hand, they will hold the mirror in front of them.

The second person on each team will stand, holding the pitcher of water, blindfolded. They will be standing above their teammate who is sitting on the ground.

And now for the fun part…

The person with the mirror, who is sitting on the ground, has to use the mirror to direct their blindfolded partner. They are trying to give them directions to fill the cup up with water that is ON THEIR HEAD! Needless to say you will get wet in this game. But isn’t that the fun?

Teammates are not allowed to touch one another, and can only direct with verbal feedback as to what their teammate needs to do to pour the water from the pitcher into the empty cup on the top of their partners head.

When the cup is full, it is time for teammates to switch places and play again. The teammate who poured the first time is now sitting on the ground. And the one sitting with the mirror, is now standing up, blindfolded.

The first team, where each team member takes a turn at both sitting and standing, WINS!

Remember, families that play together, do stay together. Enjoy playing and laughing with your family this summer.

What is your family’s favorite summer game or activity?

Has it been hot this summer where you live?

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


11 Tips For Taking the Stress Out of Family Vacations

*** Be sure you share your favorite family vacation destination with us in the comments.*** 

Tis the season for Family Vacations! And although we look forward to them and they are a lot of fun, they are also stressful and a lot of work.

As mothers and women, family vacations tend to feel less like a vacation and more like work, than play.

Here are 11 tips to help take the stress out of your vacations and make them more enjoyable for everyone.

Take your time.

Rushing causes stress,and stress ruins vacations and raises tempers. Be prepared so you don’t have to rush to the airport. Give yourself enough time to get to new destinations in your travel city. Don’t over schedule your vacation time.

Be willing to take breaks.

Although it sounds good to drive all 14 hours non-stop, sometimes it is better to break up the travel. Let go of the notion that you have to do it all in one day. Too many hours in the car makes kids (and adults) a little crazy. Stop every few hours and let the kids stretch their legs, have a snack, and even play at the park for a half hour. It will be worth the rejuvenation.

Have reasonable expectations.

In our minds, family vacations are all roses and rainbows. We see it working out so perfectly. Making memories and taking pictures. Laughing and sharing time together. But… the reality is that most family vacations have arguments, crying babies, and lack of compromise. We need to have reasonable expectations. Just because we are on vacation doesn’t mean that all of a sudden every family member is going to turn into a perfect saint.

When possible, leave the work behind.

Try to get things in order so you, and even your spouse, can leave the work behind. That way, you can more fully enjoy your family’s time together. If you can’t leave the work behind, set aside scheduled time to handle it each day, so you can enjoy the rest of the vacation and experiences.

Be prepared

It might mean that you have to pack a little more, prepare a little more, and prepare a little sooner, but take what you need. Don’t leave things behind if they are going to make your trip more enjoyable, or help you manage situations. If you think you need the extra wipes and diapers, take them. If you want the floating tubes in case you go to a pool, then pack the tubes.

Recognize your childrens limits.

It is easy to push our children too far on vacations, and then we wonder why they are acting up. Just like us, our children have limits. 10 museums in one day would push anyones limits. Mix in a park or something that your children choose to do. And, work to keep meals and even naps as regular as possible.

Make Time to exercise

There is something about just a few minutes to ourselves that is very rejuvenating. Schedule in a few minutes for you to exercise each day you are on vacation. It will help you take care of everyone else, and yourself.

Don’t be surprised.

You know your brother is going to make the silly joke about the guy you dated in high school. You also know that your uncle is only going to want to play golf the entire vacation. Instead of being surprised about how family vacations go, just accept it. Love your family and extended family anyway, and don’t be surprised by the situations that arise. They are most likely the exact same situations that have been happening for years.

Talk about expectations.

Everyone goes on vacation with expectations. My husband expects that we are all up early, out exploring. My expectations are that I might actually get more than 4 hours of sleep in the same night, and be able to relax for a few days. Our kids expect lots of running and playing. If you don’t talk about these expectations before hand, no one will be satisfied.

Remember it is worth it.

Regardless of the stress and work, family vacations are where our children learn values, build identity, learn to adapt and negotiate new situations, make memories, and that is just the beginning. The hard work, packing and patience is all worth it.

Have a say in the planning.

If you are going with other families or extended family, speak up. You know what is best for your family. And it is okay to voice that opinion.

With a little planning, we can turn our family vacations into the wonderful experiences they were meant to be.

What is your very best tip for surviving family vacation?

If you could go anywhere for a family vacation, where would you want to go?


Have a question or just want to say hello.


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