Toilet Training Part 2


Last post, Toilet Training Part 1, we talked about helpful guidelines to follow when it comes to preparing your child for toilet training, and also helping you to gauge if your child is ready to be trained. Now….
Recognize, that no matter what the age, but especially if you are struggling to train an older child, it is usually not about their ability to be trained, it is all about CONTROL.
We can control or force everything upon a child, but, Going to the bathroom is the one thing that children have ultimate control over. Ultimate Control. They decided where and when they will go, and there is little, if anything that we can do about it. Some children will hold on to this for as long as they can. The child feels like they don’t have control over their lives so they try to gain control by hanging on to the one thing they are ultimately in charge of. Their bowels. It gives them control over something, and they know that, and it gives them attention and power. Refusing to train is an outward expression of those inward feelings.
So how can we get kids to give up this control so that they can be trained? I offer two suggestions.
  1. Give the child control in other areas. The goal is to have them feel in control of their lives. Give them two choices of what to wear in the morning, let them choose. Let them choose what they want for lunch. Let them choose their vegetables. Let them choose what park you will play at, or the routine they would like to follow for bedtime. Let them choose the jobs they will do around the house or where they want to sit in the car. Give them opportunities to lead and to be in charge. As they begin to feel control over other aspects of their environment they will relinquish control of their bowls.
  2. Give your child more one-on-one attention. To a child who is seeking attention, it doesn’t matter if the attention comes from positive or negative actions, it is still attention. When a child does something wrong, even if you scold them, you have had to “deal” with them, you have paid attention to them. Set aside extra time to be with your child. Time everyday to play, with no restictions, or interuptions. Let your child choose what they want to do. Pretty soon the extra positive attention will help them let go of the need to gain attention by being unwilling to train, or by going in their pants. They wont need you to change their diaper to get attention because they will be getting plenty of attention in other ways. 

Refer back to what we talked about last post with a stubborn child. If you have a child that is stubborn, use those techniques to deal with them before you try and train them.  

Next, as a parent, when you decide to train, stick with it. In many cases the parents were not committed to training the child and that is why it was unsuccessful. It sends mixed messages to your children if you are willing to go back and forth from diapers to underwear to diapers to underwear. Why are children going to put forth effort when they know their parents will just give in and let them go back to diapers? Parents need to be ready for toilet training also. Don’t dabble in it. Wait until you and your child are ready to do what it takes and then go for it, don’t look back. Stay the course. 
When a child becomes toilet trained it gives him/her great confidence and a feeling of mastery. These feelings will generalize into other aspects of their lives. They will have more confidence and desire to do things on their own, like feeding themselves and dressing themselves. This new confidence will buoy them up and push them to face new challenges and tasks. 
Whether you are just starting to think about training a child, or you have a 5 year old who is long over due for “big boy pants”, my favorite technique for toilet training is “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” by Nathan Azrin and Richard Foxx. You can find the book online or at your local book store. 
Not only does the method work, but your child is trained in a day, and oh how the stress is alleviated. It will be a pleasant experience for everyone involved. 
Much of what we have talked about in yesterday and today’s posts comes from basic learning strategies that can be found in “Training in a Day”, as well as most psychology books. These learning theories really work, and not just with toilet training. They are vital to raising children, regardless of the challenge. 
A word of advice. This method is successful, but it takes parental commitment. You must be willing to get the book and read it, know it, and then be prepared. You will need to committ a day to training. To staying home and teaching the method. When you are done, not only will you have a child who has dry pants and goes in the toilet, but they will be able to do it themselves, and they will be happy. It is wonderful. And remember, if you have an older child that you have tried to train without success, consider having someone else use this method and train them. Their father, or a close friend, even a responsible teenage sibling. Don’t deviate from the process and you will see amazing results.
Disclaimer: Just because a child has been trained, doesn’t mean they are perfect. Accidents can still happen. I have helped countless numbers of families use the method with 100% success. I have used it on three of our 4 children, and in the next few months will use it on our fourth child. I train them in the morning and by the afternoon, we are out running errands without diapers.

What ages do you usually train your children?
Any success stories with this method?


Have a question or just want to say hello.

Toilet Training – Part 1


Toilet Training Part 1

For Part 2 of the Toilet Training series with Heather Johnson, go here: Toilet Training Part 2
Summer is just around the corner, and in our house that means…..time to toilet train the two year old. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

For most moms, just the thought of toilet training makes us anxious and stressed. But it doesn’t have to. With some preparation, patience and planning, toilet training can be a great experience for the whole family.

Today, in Part 1 of the two part series, we are going to talk about ways to know your child is ready to be trained and what you can do before you train them to help them prepare.

Our goal in training our children should be more than just getting them to go in the toilet. Our goal should be to teach them to go to the bathroom by themselves. We want them to have the same independence as an adult, and be able to go without the need for reminders or continual help.

There are a few things you can start to do when your child is very young, 12 months +, to help them prepare.

  • Teach your child to follow instructions. Very young children CAN follow directions. Give them the opportunity. Give your child instructions to follow and don’t let the instructions go unfulfilled.  Offer praise when they obey.
  • Teach your children the words you are going to use when you train them, and be consistent. Simple words and commands like dry, wet, stand up, sit down. This is also a good time to make sure you and your spouse, or anyone else who is going to be around while you are training, use the same words so there is no confusion. It is important for everyone to use the same words so your child doesn’t get confused. Will you say potty, pee pee? What words will you use for body parts? These are good conversations to have in advance so you can start using the same words from the beginning.
  • Let your child help dress and undress themselves. Especially when it comes to pulling up and down their pants. They probably wont be able to do it themselves, but allow them to be part of the process and encourage them to help.
  • Let your child watch you and other family members, use the bathroom. Explain to them what you are doing. “Mommy is pulling down my pants so I can go to the bathroom.” When you are done, let them close the lid and flush the toilet. Get them excited about the process.

One thing that is always tricky, is figuring out if your child is ready to be trained. Training too early can cause problems, and training to late should be avoided also.

Research shows that as a child grows older, the lack of toilet training causes greater strains and tensions on family life and on the relationship between mothers and their children.

And, when you have older children who have yet to be trained, this usually means that there have been past training attempts that have failed. Past failures can lead to children going in their pants on purpose so they can get attention. (We will talk about this more in the next post.) When a mother sees that her child has wet their pants again she is usually upset and expresses disappointment to the child. The disappointment causes the child to feel they are no longer a source of happiness to their parents, but instead frustration.

There can be a lot of baggage in the relationship if past attempts have failed. If you have had unsuccessful attempts toilet training a child, it is a good idea to consider having someone else train your child. Grandparent, father, close friend…) Handling toilet training the wrong way can lead to parents having to “mend” past hidden damage.

How do you know if your child is ready to be toilet trained? Most children 20 months and older can be trained. But every child is different. There are three readiness tests you can use to determine if the time is right.

1. Bladder Control

* Does your child urinate all at one time, or “dribble” throughout the day?

* Does your child seem to know when they are about to go to the bathroom?

* Does you child stay dry for hours at a time?

If your child does all three, they have passed the test. Even if your child doesn’t tell you they are about to go, they might still be ready to train if they do the other two.

2. Physical Development

* Can your child walk from one room to another easily and without assistance?

* Does your child have enough coordination to pick objects up easily?

3. Understanding and following directions

* Ask them to follow you to another room.

* Ask them to copy you.

* Ask them to touch their nose, eyes, and mouth.

* Ask them to bring and object to you.

* Ask them to stand up

* Ask them to sit down

If your child isn’t able to follow the above instructions, you will want to work with them on following instructions before you start training. It could be that they are too young so they don’t understand yet. If they are older, then it could be that they are being stubborn. If you know they understand what you are asking, but still refuse to follow the instructions, address this before you start to train.

Here are some tips to help you teach a stubborn child to follow instructions.

  • Be sure you have the child’s attention before you give instructions.
  • Make sure you are next to your child before you give instructions.
  • Do not give a second instruction until the first one has been completed.
  • Provide gently manual guidance within a second or two after the instruction is given if the child doesn’t follow on their own. (Help them)
  • Don’t let a temper tantrum stop you from seeing that the instructions are followed.
  • When they follow instructions, be excited and enthusiastic.
Use these rules as you go about your everyday life and tasks. When your child follows instructions, give them the readiness test again and if they pass, they are ready to be trained.
Toilet Training Part 2 will get juicy.  For Part 2 of the Toilet Training series with Heather Johnson, go here: Toilet Training Part 2
We will talk about….
  • What toilet training and control have in common and how to get kids to give up the control.
  • The importance of parental commitment. We can’t turn back.
  • My very FAVORITE method for toilet training.



Have you had a good or bad experience with toilet training?
How did you know your child was ready to be toilet trained?

Have a question or just want to say hello.


How to Talk to Our Children About Strangers


Throughout our stint as parents, there will be plenty of tough conversations we will have to have with our children. One that is always tough for me is talking to our kids about strangers. I don’t even want to think about it, let alone have to talk about it. In fact it makes me nervous typing about it. I worry about being able to teach them without scaring them. Never the less, it is a conversation we MUST have. More than once in fact.

With summer around the corner, our kids are going to be outside more, riding their bikes around the neighbor and playing with their friends. Now is the perfect time to start talking to them about strangers and what to do if they are ever faced with the situation.

Let me help you with the conversation.

The first thing we want to do is help our children understand what a stranger is. We need to help our children understand that strangers don’t have to look evil and mean like portrayed on TV and in movies. A stranger is anyone that your family doesn’t know very well.
The first time we sat down with our daughter to talk about strangers, I explained to her what a stranger was. Then she said, ” okay, but we don’t know policemen, so are they strangers”?

Uh, I wasn’t really expecting that. But I am so glad she asked.

We need to distinguish between bad strangers and safe strangers. Safe strangers are people that our children can go to for help. This would include policemen, firemen and teachers. Take time to talk about the difference between safe strangers and bad strangers.

Once your child understands what a stranger is, it is time to talk about dangerous situations your child might face. (Add any others you feel are appropriate).
Dangerous situations include (but are not limited to)…
    •  When someone asks them for directions or help. This would include being asked to find a missing dog etc…
    •  When someone asks your child to keep something a secret.
    • If someone does or says something that makes them uncomfortable. 
    • If someone encourages them to disobey you, break family rules, or do something wrong. 
    • If someone asks them to come up to a car window or follow them somewhere.
    • If someone tries to grab or touch your child.
In these situations they need to get away and tell an adult immediately. We also need to explain to our children that they will never get in trouble for telling an adult about the situation. It is not tattling and they will not get in trouble for “telling on” an adult. We also want them to know that they will not get in trouble for disobeying or saying “no” to an adult in a dangerous situation.

Once our children understand what a stranger is, and what a dangerous situation is, we MUST role play situations that our children might be faced with. Role playing is one of the most powerful parenting tools we have. It prepares our children so that when they are faced with the situation, they have confidence in their abilities, because they feel like they have already handled the situation. It also helps them know just what to do. They don’t have to waste precious time trying to decide how they should act because they already know.
Role playing also lets us as parents see how our children will respond, and then trouble shoot.

Some role play examples might include… 

A stranger asks your child if they want a ride home.

A stranger stops to ask if your child has seen their missing dog.

A stranger asks your child for directions.

A stranger asks your child if they want a treat or candy.

A stranger tries to grab your child.

A  strangers tells your child they are supposed to take them home.

Teach your child what to do in these situations.

  • Never get close to the car, or the stranger. Keep your distance.
  • Yell “No” as loud as you can and run away from the stranger.
  • Kick and scream and thrash if necessary.
  •  Tell an adult, or safe stranger what has happened right away.
We have to have these tough conversations with our kids. Role playing what could happen in these stranger situations will help our children know what to do. This will give our children confidence and will give us a little peace of mind as we send them out the door every day.
How do you talk to your kids about strangers?
Is the “stranger danger” talk hard for you?

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Getting Children to Eat Their Vegetables


Veggie battles are about much more than just carrots and peas. They are power struggles between us and our children.  Today I am sharing some tips that can teach you how to get kids to eat vegetables.


Kids have very little say in their lives. We tell them when and what to eat, when to sleep, when to play, what to wear, everything. They are looking to have control over their lives. As parents, if we are always ordering our kids around and demanding they do certain things (like eat their vegetables), we are taking away their personal independence and power. They will act out and try to regain some control.

There are essentially two things that children have ultimate control over, going to the bathroom, and eating. They will use both of these things as “power tools.”

Kids will test us. They are looking to get a response and reaction out of us. They will exert power (like refusing veggies) to see how we respond.

When our kids feel trapped or helpless, they fight back. They know they are dependent on us and that we make the rules, so the helpless feeling leads them to negotiate, talk back, argue, refuse and fight.

Our kids are always looking to exert their independence. Regardless of their age.

That said, we can be pretty hard on ourselves when our kids won’t eat their veggies. But just because your son won’t eat his broccoli, doesn’t mean you are a bad mom. I can’t get my husband to eat pickles or olives. That doesn’t make me a bad wife.

So what CAN we do?

One of the best things we can do when it comes to vegetables is give our children a choice. Yep, give your child two different vegetable options at meals. One option will make our children feel forced. “You have to eat carrots.” Two options gives them a choice. When we give our children choices, even if they are small choices, they feel in charge of their lives. They feel responsibility and ownership. Your child will be more likely to actually eat the vegetable because they chose it.

Instead of telling them what to eat, they get to choose what they want to eat. Now, I am not implying you become a short order cook, or start cooking them different meals than the rest of the family. Instead, explain the importance of eating vegetables and then ask if they would like broccoli or peas and let them choose.

Giving them this choice will help them feel in control, strengthen your communication and give you a better understanding about your child’s preferences and how to deal with them.

Often times as parents we get so caught up in trying to do the “right things for our children”, that we miss the fact that our children are people just like us, with thoughts and feelings and preferences.
In my mind (and sometimes out loud), I say things like, “I worked hard to cook this for you, now eat it”, or “I am trying to be a good parent and help you grow healthy and strong, now eat it”. Or, when we are with other people I worry what they will think of me as a parent if my kids refuse to try their vegetables. Throw those thoughts out the window.

Respect your children’s opinions and they will respect you. DON’T GIVE UP. Allowing choice doesn’t mean your kids have won. It means you really love them and treat them as you would want to be treated. We can’t let our egos, take over our parenting.

Don’t let your kids throw their food, or shove their plates across the table. Don’t let the situation escalate to that point. If our child is young, ask them to use their “words” to tell you they don’t like something. When they tell you they don’t want to eat it, respect their opinion and thank them for talking to you instead of throwing a fit. Then, take the food they don’t want away, and move on. If your child feels you are listening to her and respecting her opinion, she will start to come around and maybe even try the veggies she rejected.

We don’t want veggie battles to ruin our family dinner either. We are trying to create memories and rituals that stay with our family long after the “vegetable battles” are over. Make dinner enjoyable and fun for everyone. If our children know that every time your family sits down to eat there is going to be stress over the food, they will not want to be there. “One bite” or “just one carrot” is not worth it. We don’t need to get frustrated, loose our temper, or get worked up. When we act that way, we are letting our pride overshadow our love for our child.

We have fought the veggie battle in our house. Our son has always been very willing to try every single vegetable we offered him. Then we had our daughter. She would sit tight lipped, refusing to even open her mouth. It has taken time, but the more respect that I show her, the more she is willing to try new things. The more I listen to, and respect her opinion, the more she is willing to try new things. The more I give her choices, the more she feels in control and the more she is willing to try new things.

Other ideas…

Remember that children have to be exposed to food approximately 10 times before they will accept it. What ever you do, don’t stop offering the vegetables. Always offer them, always.

Try veggies in all different forms. Raw, cooked, add some butter, salt, pepper, teriyaki sauce, pasta sauce, even a little ranch dressing could change things. Most kids will eat anything with “dip dip sauce”. There is nothing wrong with spicing things up a bit. After all, most adults don’t even eat vegetables without “something” on them.
Try every vegetable you can get your hands on. Think outside carrots and peas. When our daughter was two she would only eat raw zucchini. Who would have thought.
Let them help you cook. Get them involved in every step of the process.
Grow some vegetables. Children love to plant and tend to gardens. Teach them about the process and they will want to taste what they have grown.
The favorite in our house. When our children are little, I add small pieces of cooked carrots and peas in my children’s cheese quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. Cook up a few carrots until they are nice and soft. Slice them very thin and layer them with canned peas, amongst the cheese.
Use all the tricks, dice veggies up very small and add them to your hamburger meat, your spaghetti, anything. Find ways to add veggies in his favorite foods.
If, for nutritional reasons you are still concerned. Be sure your children are taking a vitamin each day. Along with that, make him a smoothie each day with vegetables mixed in with some fruit, ice, and a little yogurt. he will love it, and never know that he is eating spinach and carrots from dinner the night before. The goal is to find the vegetables they like and work with it.

Remember, this is bigger than just zucchini and carrots. We are building relationships of trust and family memories. Don’t let the vegetables become more important than your relationship with your children.

Do your kids like vegetables?
How do you handle “veggie battles” in your house?

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Teaching Values Through Children’s Books

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share some of her amazing Parenting Tips on Teaching Values Through Children’s Values from childrens story books as part of her “Parenting Tips Series” here on The Room. Here’s Heather in her own words.


We love children’s books at our house. You probably do too!

But children’s books aren’t just for kids, they are great tools for us as parents too. A good story book can be one of our best allies in parenting. 

Children’s books are a great resource we can use to teach our children. They can help our children through new stages of life. They can teach our children how to handle experiences that are unfamiliar and new. They are a great way to teach our children values and appropriate social behavior. Children’s books can even help ease anxiety and help children cope with situations like moving, bullying, or starting kindergarten. 
Good books also allow our children to hear messages from someone else, so they don’t feel like they are constantly hearing reprimands and counsel from us. 
We have favorite books at our house. Our favorite series is the Berenstain Bears. One of our favorites is “Forget their Manners.” The book is a great example of how we can use children’s books as teaching tools.
In “Forget their Manners”, Sister Bear is in Brother Bear’s way, and instead of getting mad; Brother says, “No harm done.”
After reading this to our kids, we started saying “no harm done” around the house when similar situations happened. It helped our kids remember what they had been taught in the book and reiterate the principles in our every day experiences. It is this reiteration that solidifies the values that books teach.
Books have the power to teach our children life skills and values. They have an amazing way of emphasizing principles we are already trying to teach our children. Principles like using good manners. They can help shape our children’s character. Books are also a great way to help our children understand topics that we might not know how to explain.
There are MANY great book choices out there. Here are a few of our favorite children’s books that teach values. (Some are older, some are very common, some you might have never heard of, and some you will have to find in your parents basement.)
· “The Empty Pot” by Demi – From looking at the cover of this book, it wouldn’t be the first one you pulled off the shelf, but it is a MUST read for every family. The life lessons are endless. A MUST read! Find this one, acquire this one, check this one out.  
· “Berenstain Bears” by Stan and Jan Berenstain – There are a number of Berenstain Bears books. Every one teaches valuable principles. The older books by Stan and Jan are my favorite.
· “I Like Myself” by Karen Beaumont – Teaches self-esteem and self confidence.
· “Why Do You Always Have To Say Please” by Wendy Rosen and Jackie End – Teaches proper manners, especially when you eat at a restaurant. Manners make things better for everyone. 
· “Power Series” – 12 different books on a number of subjects (values and life skills. The power of Courage, The Power of Perseverance, etc…). These will be hiding in a basement next to the Encyclopedias and Childcraft books. Find them!
· “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Suess- We probably all have this at our house. It is a household favorite that teaches our children to try new things and eat their vegetables. Have you ever thought to apply it to your children’s lives that way?
· “The Little Engine that Could” by Watty Piper – Teaches perseverance and the importance of not giving up. My husband likes the clown, and likes to talk to our children about support and cheering for others. 
· “If I Obey I’ll Be Happy All Day by Peggy Barton – One of the very best books about obedience. This is very old, and almost impossible to get your hands on, but if you can find one in a relatives basement, don’t let it get away. 
The next time you are reading a book to your child, take a minute to think about how you could use the message to teach your children. Draw parallels and correlations and then incorporate those into your everyday life. 
Bond with your child and teach values and life skills at the same time, by reading together. You will never regret it.

I shared these books with Studio 5 (a lifestyles show here in Utah) a few weeks ago. Watch the video for more details about each of the above books. Especially “The Empty Pot.” have I mentioned it is a must read?! The video lets you see each of the books, so you know what you are looking for. 

Do you have a favorite children’s book? Share it with us!

Have a question or just want to say hello.



Why we need to Play Games With our Kids

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share some of her amazing Parenting Tips on How To Play with Our Children as part of her “Parenting Tips Series” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words.



We have all heard the benefits that come from playing with our children. It is vital to their development and learning. But sometimes, one more round of Candy Land can seem like torture. We are thinking about all the other things we need to get done. We are bored with the games, or maybe we have a hard time letting down our guard and playing make believe. 

The next time you wonder if you can play super heroes one more time, remind yourself of the benefits that will come from playing with your children. (Keep reading for suggestions on how to stay sane while you play.)

Benefits of playing with our children.  

  • Children use play to learn. They make discoveries about the world around them.
  • Play time gives your child a opportunity to develop their imaginations. They can be a superhero, princess, puppy dog or fireman. All in the same day if they want. When our son was young he went through a phase where every week he pretended to be a different animal. We would research all about what the animal ate, where it slept and how it behaved. Once our son felt like he had learned all he could about the animal, he would move on to the next one. This helped develop his imagination (and he learned a lot too.) 
  • Experimenting through play helps our children figure out what they are good at. Finding things we are good at builds confidence and increases our self-esteem. Research shows that kids who play have more confidence in themselves and higher self-esteem. 
  • Play teaches our children to control their emotions
  • Play teaches our children socializing skills. It gives them a chance to share, cooperate, take turns and learn to handle winning and loosing. 
  • Kids who play have better communication and language skills. Talking to dolls, to you and to their superheroes help build these skills. 
  • Kids feel strong when they play. It gives them a chance to accomplish things and they can be heard chanting “Mommy, look what I made”! “Mommy look what I can do”!
  • Kids develop fine motor skills and hand eye coordination when they play. Using crayons blocks and puzzles, as well as dressing dolls and snapping on clothes and capes, help with these skills. 
  • Playing helps our children stay active and healthy
  • Playing teaches our children to solve problems. When the roof wont stay on the fort, they have to problem solve. When they draw pictures and play fireman, it causes them to figure out how to make things work. 
  • Playing with our kids when they are young, develops trust, and opens lines of communication that we need as they get older. 
Above all, playing is fun. Really fun. Instead of worrying about enrolling our children in a million extra curricular activities, give them free time to play. A child’s job is to play. 
What about us mom’s? It is very normal to struggle to stay focused when our three year old wants to play kitchen or Chutes and Ladders all. day. long. 
Here are a few suggestions to help. 


Kids are “copy cats”. They love to copy us. When you have chores to do, ask them if they want to PLAY WITH YOU. They will want to help. It will slow down your work a little, but it teaches them while you work and builds memories that they will remember forever. Our kids love to dust, they love to spray and wipe things down, and they love to do laundry. We make the chores “play” by shooting hoops with clean socks, and stirring pretend food while making dinner. Not only does this help me feel like I am still getting things done, but it builds positive feelings about work in our children. 
Remember what it is was like to be a child. Think about the activity from your child’s perspective. Get down on the floor and play. You will see that as soon as you are willing to fully invest, it actually becomes a lot more fun. With three girls, there is a lot of playing kitchen around this house. I always feel awkward at first, spooning pretend food into my mouth and asking for orders from the dolls and stuffed animals. But as soon as I think about what the experience is like for our daughters, and see things from a child’s point of view, it changes everything. I start to get inspired, more creative, and make the experience more fun for them. 
We also have to let down our guard. Playing like a child can make us feel silly. I remember when our son was going through his animal phases, he would want me to play along. I fought it for so long because I felt really silly. One day we were at the store and he was talking to me in “dog talk.” He wanted me to talk back to him the same way. I felt a bit embarrassed by what others around us might be thinking. Then it hit me, who is more important, my son, or the strangers in line behind us? The answer was an obvious one and I let out a little bark for him as I let down my guard and started to play along. As we were leaving the store, an older lady tapped me on the back. “He will never forget that”, she said. I learned a good lesson that day. It is okay to play. That is part of my job as a mom.

Play hard but not necessarily long. Giving your child all you have in short spurts is better for you and for your child, instead of pretending for hours that you are interested in the game. Our kids know when we are faking it so it is more important to be in the moment. When you need to move on, it is okay. It will mean more to them to know you are fully invested, and you will feel better about the time you have spend together also.

Don’t multitask/ turn off technology. We have all tried to do this, multitask while we are playing with our children. Or check our email and text messages while we are playing.Trying to multitask becomes a distraction and means we aren’t giving anything our full attention. Put the phones and computers away and play, really play with your child. 

Watch your attitude.  We need to have a good attitude about playing with our children. WE LOVE THEM. We want them to be happy. We want them to learn and grow and develop. In stead of thinking of ourselves and enduring the experience, think about your child and it will be a lot easier to bark like a dog with them.  

If it is hard for you to follow your child’s lead, then you choose the activity. Most of the time, kid don’t care what they play, they just want to play with us. Pick something you like to do and do it together. I love to color. It is one of my most favorite things to do. When we are on our third round of “Don’t Break the Ice”, and I am wearing thin of the activity,  I suggest we color. They are always excited and I am too.  


Parallel play can be okay (in moderation). Playing with your child doesn’t always mean you have to be doing the same thing. They can color or look at books while you do something you need to do. Usually our children just want to be around us so they are not alone. 
As parents, it is our job to facilitate play for our children and make sure it is a part of their lives. We can do this by changing our attitude and seeing things from their perspective. We will quickly feel rejuvenated when we really invest our soul in to playing with our kids. 





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10 Ways To Show Your Children You Love Them

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share some of her amazing Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words.


10 ways to show your children you love them

Give your children the ultimate Valentine this year. Here are 10 ways to show your children how much you love them long after the hearts and candy are gone.

Spend time with them.

Love is spelled T-I-M-E. Spending quality one on one time with our children make them feel much more loved than candy hearts and lollipops. This Valentines Day, give your children a real gift, by committing to spend 15 minutes a day with each of them. Your time together should be technology free and uninterrupted. Let your child choose what they want to do. What ever they choose, get involved and be in the moment. Look into their eyes, take note of the way their hair falls on their forehead. Marvel at their laugh and drink in their spirit.

Commit to Family Rituals.

Rituals provide children with predictability, connection, a sense of identity, and give you an opportunity to teach them values. Not to mention, rituals build memories and life long bonds. Work to put meaning into the everyday activities. Do something together every Saturday morning, even if it is yard work. Eat family dinner, go for walks on Sunday afternoons, read stories together every night before bed. Incorporate rituals into your daily lives.

Don’t hold grudges.

It is easy to let the temper tantrums and back talk start to build up. Without even knowing it, we hold the behavior against our children and enter the next situation, already irritated with them. Don’t. Let it go and start fresh each and every minute. And, don’t ever withhold affection as a punishment.

Share yourself with your children.

Can you juggle, make funny faces, do a cartwheel? Show your kids. Let them get to know you. They will LOVE you for it. Let them see you are fun, and normal, and exciting. Tell them stories about growing up. Share yourself with them. It will help you remember who you are too.

Encourage them often.

We can be quick to offer praise when our children do something good. Instead of praise, offer encouragement, wether they do well or not. Give them specific feedback about the effort and skill they demonstrate. Be sure you encourage even when they don’t succeed. Talk about the effort, more than the outcome.

Tell them “I love you” and give them hugs and kisses every day.

No exceptions. And not just at bed time, or when they do something good. Even if it has been one of “those” days. Hug them anyway, love them anyway and tell them you love them. They will thrive on the affection and reassurance. It feels good when people tell us we are loved. It is the same for children. They need to hear it often.

Don’t multitask.

Put everything away. Stop doing the laundry, don’t text on the phone when they are trying to tell you a story, and get down to their level. Really, really listen. You will hear so much more than their words.

Say YES.

Do they want ice cream for breakfast? Once in a while that’s okay. Do they want to play a little longer. That’s okay too. It’s okay to bend the rules every now and again and say YES. Children can easily feel like all we do is say No. Change things up and try to say yes to as much as you can. If you have to say no, rephrase the answer, suggesting what they can do, or can have, instead of what they can’t.

Be at the crossroads.

If possible, be at the crossroads of their day. When they leave for school, when they come home from school, as they come and go between activities. This can’t always be the case for every household. But whenever possible be available during these times. Be available to chat, and encourage your children as you send them out the door. Be a loving and friendly face to receive them when they walk back in the door. Be their cheerleader as they tackle the world. Pompoms optional.

See your children as people, not objects.

Instead of seeing your children as objects or road blocks that get in the way of what you want and need to do, like the dishes, or making a phone call, see them as people. While in the middle of dishes, it is easy to feel like your 5 year old’s request to play Candy Land is a burden. But stop for a minute and look at things from your child’s perspective. She has hopes and dreams and fears just like you do. Our kids don’t understand what it is like to be a mom and/or wife, as well as all the other hats we wear. If you take a minute and look at things from their perspective, your heart will be softened and we will start to really SEE the little/or big person who is standing in front of us.

Give your children the real gift of love, give them more of you! Happy Valentines Day.


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heather johnson

Age Appropriate Chores For Kids

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share some of her amazing Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words teaching us about teaching our kids to work and gives us a list of some age appropriate chores to get us started.


*Image found on Google Images. Original found here.

Society implies that success is having all you want, without having to work to get it.

It is true, play sounds more fun. But the idea that work is bad, and play is good is not what we want to preach in our homes. Work and play are meant to compliment one another, not be opposites. As parents, we have a divine obligation to teach our children to work. Raising moral children means teaching them to work.

Getting our kids to work can be hard and frustrating. It is usually the last thing kids want to do. But we do them a disservice by “protecting” them from work and responsibilities.

When it comes to teaching your kids to work, remember…

  • We need to have a good attitude. Speaking ill of work, or whining about it, will teach our children that work is miserable and bad. Keep the negative feelings to yourself.
  • Make work fun. It doesn’t have to be miserable. Turn on some music, make it a game, chat and talk while you’re working.
  • Work together. You don’t have to do the work for your children, but you can be with them as they are working. And remember, they learn by example, so working together gives you a great opportunity to teach them how things are done. How else will they learn?
  • Teach children to serve others. Provide your children with opportunities to serve outside your home and see the needs of others. Service teaches children to work. Then, help our children understand that family life is filled with needs. We want our children to see those needs and step up to fulfill them because it is the right thing to do. 
  • Don’t expect perfection. Accept the best job your child can do and thank them for their service. Even if you have to re-do some of the work. Be grateful and happy for the work they did.
I often get questions about what “work” is appropriate for our children. Here is some suggestions of age appropriate responsibilities for our kids. Keep in mind that each of our children are different. Do what is best for your child. This list is not all encompassing. Add or take away according to your child’s abilities. 
2-3 Years
Dress themselves
Pick up/put away toys
Unload the silverware in the dishwasher
Collect dirty clothes/separate by color
Straighten pillow and sheets on bed
Wash walls
Wipe down glass tables. Wipe down chairs.
4-5 Years
All Previous responsibilities, plus…
Load/unload plastic dishes and silverware in the dishwasher
Set the table
Clean Windows
Wipe down sinks
Fold kitchen dish towels
Fold Towels
Clear the table
Make Bed
Match Socks
Water plants
Empty Garbage cans
Straighten Room
6-8 Years
All previous responsibilities, plus…
Clean the bathroom (wipe down sinks, toilets, mirror, tub)
Learn to do laundry (help hang and fold)
Rake Leaves
Mix, stir, simple meal prep
Keep room clean
9-11 Years
All previous responsibilities, plus…
Take the garbage out
Wash clothes
Wash Car
Help care for pets
Iron Clothes (closer to 11 yrs.)
Mow Lawn
Straighten drawers and closet
Help siblings with their jobs and homework questions 
12-14 Years
All previous responsibilities, plus…
Scrub the bathroom
Mop the floor
Make meals
Clean the fridge/freezer
Clean the garage
15-18 Years
All previous responsibilities, plus…
Drive a car and get their license
Handle a checking account
Have a cell phone (pay for it?)
Have a job
Fill out college applications

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heather johnson

Encouraging Your Children to Practice

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share some of her amazing Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words.


Encourage our children to practice

Do your children participate in extra curricular activities?

Is it hard to get them to practice? Is there whining and complaining?

You are not the only one. Trying to get our children to practice can be very stressful. It can bring contention, arguments and frustration into our homes.

As parents, we need to remember that practicing does more for our children than just make them better on the piano.

Practicing teaches our children valuable life skills.  Skills like…

  • Self Discipline
  • Self Mastery
  • Time management
  • How to Prioritize
  • Setting and following through with goals
  • Accountability
  • Builds relationships

These are key qualities we need through our entire lives. They are important even after the piano lessons and football games are over. As parents we need to keep this in mind.

Getting our kids to practice can be really frustrating. The frustration can make us a little crazy, pushy and forceful.

For parents there can be a fine line between encouraging our children to practice and pushing too hard.

Can parents push too hard?

The answer is Yes. If we are pushing because we have our own agenda, then we are pushing too hard. If we are pushing our children and they are miserable and not
having any fun, then we need to re-evaluate because we are probably pushing too hard.

Understand, if we are going to push our children, then we need to be willing to be more creative to help them enjoy the activity and the practicing.

When we get frustrated, we often turn to bribes. Is it ever okay to bribe?

Bribery can be tricky, but we should try to keep away from using bribes to get our
children to practice
. We should also steer clear of punishments to get our children to practice.

Keep in mind that these experiences during their childhood are life experiences that are preparing them for the future.

Bribes undermine the character building and internal motivation that extracurricular activities can foster.

They teach our children to only do something IF they get something in return.

We want our children to practice piano because they are learning a valuable talent and fulfilling commitments to themselves, their teacher and us as parents. Because it is the right thing to do.  Instead of focusing on bribes, focus on rewards and incentives.

To do this…

  • don’t reward for every practice.
  • don’t talk about the gift or treat before, but instead present it AFTER practicing has been done.
  • focus on setting goals. Once they are met, celebrate. These can be daily, weekly, or monthly depending on your child’s needs.

What do we do when our kids want to quit?

Just because our kids say they want to quit, doesn’t mean we let them.  Kids usually want to quit because there is a problem. As parents we need to try and identify why they are unhappy in the activity. Could the activity be too hard for them? Maybe they don’t feel like they have any friends on the team or they don’t like the coach/teacher.  Maybe their teammates are picking on them. Could they be over-scheduled? Or maybe they would rather do something else.

If you find your child asking to quit…

1.  First, acknowledge their feelings. It is how THEY perceive things and the feelings are real to them.  (Responding with “really”, or, “is that so” will help them feel validated).

2.  Then, ask key questions to gather information…

“I thought you liked piano, what has changed”?

“What part of baseball are you struggling with”?

“What solution do you think would make you enjoy violin again”?

3.  Remember to BE PRESENT.

It doesn’t matter the activity, attend practice whenever possible. You will learn a lot about their true feelings by watching them practice.  Often times just attending practices will fix the problem. Kids don’t like being “sent off” to practice.

Even with piano. You don’t have to sit at the piano with them, but sit in the same room when they practice. Comment every now and again on what they are doing. It really does make a difference with practicing. We can’t always attend everything. Especially when we have more than one child, or work, but we can do our best to be at practices whenever possible.

If your child complains about going to practice, but once they are there they love it and come home talking about it, this is a pretty good sign that they DON’T need to quit, but address a problem instead.

If after asking the questions and observing, you conclude that your kids are in physical or psychological trouble, meaning that they are really, truly, unhappy with the activity, and stopping feels right…

1. It is okay to have them finish out what they have committed to.

Have them finish out the season, or continue until they perform in the recital. This will teach them to follow through on commitments
and if it is a team activity, it will teach them about fulfilling responsibilities to others. Plus, sticking it out will give our children a
sense of accomplishment.

2. Find something else that better fits their interest and personality.

We can’t loose sight of the bigger picture. We are helping our children develop life skills. These skills are much bigger than if they sat at the piano for 20 minutes, or not.

On top of that, we are making memories. Do we want our children to have memories filled with stress and arguing.

Getting our children to practice can be difficult and stressful. But, if we will work to make it fun and be open to our children’s thoughts and feelings, we can solve the problems and know when to let them stop, and when to help them push through.

Do your kids complain about practicing?

Do you believe in making your kids finish what they start?


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Family Volley





Family “New Year” Resolutions

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words.



What a wonderful time of year. Hopefully your homes have been filled with family, togetherness, and the spirit of the season.

It is also a time of year for renewal and re-commitment. New Years Resolutions aren’t just for us as individuals, they are for families too!

There are lots of approaches for making family resolutions. One that is always fun, is to choose a theme. This could be a key word (such as service, love, kindness, or organization.)

You can also choose a motto, quote, or a saying that represents a focus your family would like to have for the upcoming year.

Or you can choose a weakness that your family would like to make a strength. Let that be your focus for the year, and create a few resolutions focused around that strength.

When you are ready to establish some resolutions, gather the entire family together. It is much more powerful to make the decisions together and have the input of the entire family. Plus, when everyone is involved in the decision making, they will be much more likely to commit and follow through. They will take ownership because they had a say.

Then, start by focusing on all of the things your family did well during the last year. If you have a white board, or even just a piece of paper, write all the strengths down for everyone to see. This is an important step. Remember, you are focusing on the family as a whole. Don’t start pointing out individual weaknesses of family members.

Then, once you have built your family up, start talking about what you would like to focus on and change. A good place to start, have everyone in the family suggest a weakness they see your family has, and/or something they would like to see different or changed, or do more of. 

Take a vote and have everyone weight in and narrow the suggestions down to two or three. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Choosing 20 resolutions for your family is setting yourselves up for failure.

Once you have chosen your 2-3 resolutions, establish the details. It isn’t just about the goals. You also need to establish how you will reach your goals.

The last step during your resolution setting meeting, is to schedule follow up family meetings. Your family should sit down each month and evaluate how the resolutions are going.

If you are not sure what resolutions would be good for your family. Here are three that every family should implement this year, and every year.

1. Commit to eat dinner together at least 5 days a week. I recognize that this may seem like a lofty charge, but eating together has benefits beyond belief. For starters, children who eat dinner together with their families are less likely to get involved in drugs and alcohol. They also get better grades, are more adjusted, and better able to handle stress and disappointment. That alone, is a great reason. On top of that, research shows that around the dinner table is where families used to teach morals and values. But now that families eat together less, where are children learning these skills? They aren’t. They are learning from television. We need to gather our children back around our own tables to reconnect and teach.

If dinner doesn’t work for your family, try breakfast. If 5 times is more than you can do, then do what you can.

2. Plan one family activity each week. It is true, families that play together, stay together. Family activities provide opportunities for families to bond in a non threatening environment. These activities also provide families opportunities to develop adaptation and negation skills. Don’t just talk about it. Put it on the calendar. Schedule it into your life just like your other obligations to ensure that it will happen. Consider it the most important event on your calendar each week.

3. Work together. Family work is vital. It is key to raising moral children. Instead of keeping our children from work, rally together and work together each week. It can be household work, yard work, or a project that you choose specifically for this resolution. Regardless of the task, do it together. You will be amazed at how it strengthens.

Don’t just sit down and plan out your personal resolutions for 2013. Take some time to create resolutions for your family also, and watch 2013 be your families best year EVER!

Does your family set New Year’s Resolutions?

What can you see your family working on this year?

heather johnson

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