Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

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


Summer is here and it is the season for Family Vacations, Family Reunions and all sorts of Road Trips and Family Travel. Traveling with small children can be a challenge. But with some preparations, and patience, not only can your family trip be a great experience, but you will make memories your kids will never forget. 

Here are some suggestions, tips and tricks to make traveling with toddlers a great experience. 

There is nothing worse than trying to rush with children in tow. If you are flying, arrive early. Give your family time to check in, take your time to get to the gate and relax while you are waiting to bored the flight. This can be a really fun time to teach your children and point out new and exciting things.
If you are traveling by car expect extra bathroom stops and plan accordingly. The first road trip we took with young children my husband treated like the road trips we used to take without kids. No stops, just our destination. He learned quick. Expecting kids to sit for 8 hours and never move will make the trip miserable for everyone. Plan a stop or two for the kids to stretch their legs. Grab a popsicle when you get gas, or stop for an ice cream cone. The 10 minute break will really help.

Be sure you pack your sense of humor. Despite your diligent planning things might not go perfect. Travel usually means kids are missing naps and their routines are interrupted. Role with it. Laugh and be patient. When we stay patient and keep our heads clear, we are better able to solve the problems that will come and creatively deal with the meltdowns and delays.

It is tempting to dress your kids in your favorite outfit so that when you arrive they are dressed “just so”. This will just make your kids uncomfortable during travel, and if you are like me, you will be uptight trying to keep the clothes clean.
Dress your kids in comfortable clothes and in layers. If you want to change them when you get close to your destination, plan for that. You will find that everyone travels better when you don’t have to worry so much about spills and wrinkles.
The layers will allow your children to be comfortable on the planes when they are cold, and they can take things off when they are not needed. Extra clothes also make good pillows and blankets. 

Be sure that you pack lots of fluids and snacks. Kids will get thirsty. Tired and thirsty in not a good combination. Even if you are carrying a little extra baggage to pack the snacks, do it any way. Pack their favorites and pack things that are fun. An assortment of crackers and fruits and veggies are great. For our kids, suckers are a treat, and they take time to eat. They are always in the travel bag. Suckers are awesome. So are Nerds. Might sounds silly, but I bring a few of the little tiny boxes of Nerds. The kids take forever to eat them as they pick them out of the box one by one. Now that our kids are a little older I will let them pick some of their favorites. It makes them feel like they are a part of the planning. Don’t pull all the snacks out at once. Little by little as needed. And always keep the best of the best for the break down or emergency. (Our kids love taking animal crackers. The ones that come in the little rectangle case with the string. They love carrying them.)

I always get a few new toys or activities for the kids when we travel. They are small things like a new set of crayons and a new coloring or activity book. The dollar store is perfect for picking up inexpensive and fun little treats.  I also like to bring things that zip, button and snap. They keep little hands busy. Before we leave I like to wrap them up like little presents. The kids think it is so fun to open them and the opening itself takes time. I do the same with the special treats. Their favorite candy or cookie gets wrapped up.
Another great little find for us has been stickers. My mom introduced the idea when we were trying to get our first child through 3 hours of church.  I get them at the dollar store and then bring extra paper. The kids love taking them off and sticking them all over the paper. Our three year old and one year old loves this activity. It helps her get through not only plane trips and car trips, but church meetings also. :)

Asking your children to travel without their favorite toy, blanket, or stuffed animal can really make the trip miserable. If there is something that your child can’t live without, be sure you bring it with you. That said, there is always the possibility of it getting lost or left behind. Which can bring even more trauma. Be sure you check and double check so nothing is lost.
If your little one uses a pacifier, be sure you bring more than one. Even more than two. Bring a couple of their favorites and something to keep the pacifier attached to them. The last thing you want is to try and find a pacifier rolling around under plane seats, or under car seats.
I also use pacifier clips to keep favorite toys off the plane floor and from getting lost in the car.

…Stroller that is. Asking tired little legs to keep up in airports is asking a lot. Especially if you are trying to catch connecting flights and are forced to rush. It is worth it to carry-on a very small umbrella stroller to put your toddler in as you are changing planes, walking through the airport, waiting for your rental car/ride, or walking to the parking lot. You can buy them for less that 10 dollars and they are very light weight and compact. Plus, it makes a great place for them to sit while you are waiting and you can hook a bag or two on the handles as you walk. On top of that, having one on your trip is always nice.

Bring some music for your little ones. It can help sooth them and distract them. It can also help them calm down enough to fall asleep. Make sure you bring enough headphones for everyone to listen. You can get headphone splitters for less than 5 dollars. The splitter will let you plug more than one head phone into one jack.
Music in the car is wonderful also. Songs that they sing along to, or do actions to will help distract them as you travel.

If you are traveling with more than one child, pack their toys, blankets and special things in separate bags. If they are old enough, let them help you pack the bags. They will pack the things they want to play with so you will know they will be happy. Keep the bags light so they can carry them and by separating things it will make everything easier to keep track of and find when you need them.

If you are traveling by plane, call and ask a few questions. They can tell you the guidelines for liquids, bottles, toiletries etc… The worst time to find out the rules is while you are holding your two year, in line, with no shoes on, watching them search through your bags. Especially during high travel time.

It doesn’t hurt to check in with your doctor before you leave. Ask what to do with motion sickness, car sickness etc.  They can tell you what to give your kids and how to help them if they do get sick while you are traveling. Be sure you have a few medications packed for easy access. Just in case. You don’t want them to be under the plane, or in the trunk when you need them.

This will obviously be different depending on where you are traveling, but it is a good place to start.
Include an outfit for each day of the week, plus an extra shirt or two in case of spills.
Have your kids wear bright colors on travel days so they are easy to spot in the crowd. I like to pack each day’s clothes in a separate ziplock bag. I include undies, socks, even shoes when I can with each outfit so I don’t have to sort through suitcases looking for clothes. Just grab the ziplock and everything is in it ready to go. This also makes things easier when my husband, or others help get kids ready. Instead of searching through the suitcase, I can just give them the bag and they can help. 

  • Sleepwear
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Bathing suit (even if you don’t plan on swimming, you never know)
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Hat or visor 
  • Slip on shoes (these are great when you need to make a bathroom stop and when you are traveling on a plane)

Be sure you keep your toiletries in plastic bags. Not only for plane travel, but things open up in cars also. Even solid deodorants. Not that I would know from personal experience or anything.

  • Blow dryer, brushes, combs and hair “stuff”
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hair products 
  • Razor (be careful if you are flying, there are rules now)
  • Feminine items
  • Manicure kit
  • Cosmetics
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Tweezers
  • Antibacterial gel (get the ones that clip to your bag so you don’t have to search for it)
  • Sunscreen (even if your trip is to the snow)
  • Lip balm (I like to give everyone their own)

Dont forget…

  • Paperwork: ID, driver’s license, insurance card, shot records for children under two, copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates if you are going out of the country, passports, copies of your travel plans and confirmation numbers.
  • Wallet with credit cards and CASH
  • Car keys and house keys (Take an extra set and pack them in a different bag)
  • Medications
  • Camera with film and extra batteries or charger
  • Small bag to use day to day
  • Books and magazines
  • Toys and games
  • Baby wipes (these really come in handy even if you are not changing diapers)
  • First aid kit
  • Sewing kit
  • Travel clock with an alarm
  • Large and small plastic bags (these can be used for everything from wet clothes to trash to toys and snacks. 
  • Chargers (for your camera, phones, video camera, etc.)
  • Car Seat for young children (you can also rent these from rental car companies if you don’t want to haul yours across the country)
Do you have any tips for traveling with small children?

Cure the Boredom, Once and For All

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


Mom, I am bored!” 
Anyone hearing this from their kids right about now? Two weeks into Summer Vacation and the kids are bored and wondering what to do?
Reasons for boredom are different for every child, but here are some thoughts and suggestions to help, and make the rest of your summer break more enjoyable.
Let’s start with some interesting findings…
Kids now are amongst the smartest ever raised, but they are also one of the most stressed-out generations. A recent study showed that 41% of children poled feel stressed most or all of the time because they have too much to do. Children need time to do “nothing” so that they can decompress and take in the world around them. There are proven benefits to learning to deal with boredom. People who are ranked low on the “boredom scale” are found to do better in their education and career and to have a higher degree of self sufficiency.

Kids need unstructured time…here are some suggestions. 

1. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have every minute scheduled for your child. Encouraging “daydreaming” helps produce brain waves that boost creativity.

2. Take small steps. Start by setting aside a few minutes everyday that is unstructured. Have children play alone during this time. As they are better able to manage the unplanned time, increase this unstructured time as your child increases their ability to play alone.

3. Identify the problem: “I’m bored” means a lot of things. Get to the bottom of the problem. Do any of the following apply?

  •      Is your child hungry?
  •      Is you child over-scheduled?
  •      Is your child addicted to electronics? So they don’t know how to respond to an unplugged world?
  •      Does your child lack outside interests? 
  •      Is your child trying to avoid tasks because they are too difficult or frustrating and use boredom as an excuse to get out of completing them?
  •      Does your child need more challenge? Activities could be too easy or predictable, not stimulating and uninteresting.
  •      Does your child want approval or feel neglected?
  •      Have you always planned everything for your child? They have never had to entertain themselves because you always do it for them?

Your ultimate goal is to empower your children with the skills they need to create their own solutions for boredom.They will most likely need a little help at the beginning.

  • Create a boredom box, or boredom list. Work with your children to write down all the things that they can do when they are bored. Small children can draw pictures of their ideas and suggestions. Add your own ideas and keep the box or list readily accessible. We have our own list that sits on our fridge. We have two lists, one list of things to do inside and then an outside list. This helps us whether it is Summer or Winter. When I hear the words, “Mom, I’m bored”, I get the kids a snack and they sit down with the list. Our son and daughter can read, so they can pick their own activities off the list, our youngest can’t read yet, so I made her a list that only had pictures. She loves to look at the list and choose her favorite activities.
  • Read. Do all you can to get your kids to read. Check out books at the library. If they like sports, let them read the sports page, if they like to cook, like our daughter, let them read cookbooks. Reading anything is great. For Christmas last year we gave our children magazine subscriptions to children’s magazines. A new issue comes every month and they read them over and over. It gives them something to look forward to and because they are interested in the subject, they really get into reading them.
  • Rotate toys. If your children complain that they are getting bored with their toys, rotate them. Every six months I take toys and put them away. Then, six months later I put the toys the kids have been playing with away, and pull out the toys that have been packed away. My children think it is Christmas. They are so excited to play with the toys they haven’t seen for awhile. It keeps them interested and gives them new things to play with.
  • Help your child find a hobby or interest. Help your child find something they are passionate about and then give them the tools and skills to support the passion. Bugs, books, sports, anything.
  • Encourage creativity. Always have art and craft supplies available. We have a basket that holds all of the supplies that our kids can use themselves. When ever I finish a paper towel roll, or find random ribbons or bobbles that I don’t need, I put them into the basket. It is filled with all sorts of randomness. At first it was hard for me to keep “things” that I wanted to throw away. I designated a space in our home to hold the “things” and it has made a huge difference with our children. They help themselves to the supplies and are constantly creating pictures and sculptures and villages. Have a costume box. Kids love to dress up. Fill it with anything and everything that they could      wear. They will get creative and have a great time playing make believe. Encourage tents and and forts. This one was also hard for me at first. I didn’t always want the forts in the middle of the family room. We designated what blankets and pillows and areas could be used to make forts. It made things easier for me and for the kids. We also set guidelines for how long the tents can be up. The kids know they can build all they want, but at the end of the day, after Daddy has come home from work and seen what they have built, that they have to clean up also.
  • Cut back on electronics. Parents and children are always quick to use T.V, video games, computer time, as a solution to the bored problem. These electronics actually keep kids from being resourceful and creative.
  • Teach children to have patience and wait. Kids today, like a lot of adults, want instant gratification and constant stimulation. When there is nothing entertaining them, they don’t know what to do. Encourage them to do projects that can be stretched to longer than one sitting. Simple ways to do this: Have them start by drawing one picture, and then over a few weeks increase that to drawing a few more pictures. Then have them put words to their pictures, then bind the pages to make a book. Puzzles are great also. Start with a 25 piece and increase little by little, 50 piece, 75 piece etc.
It is important for parents to be willing to play with their children. It is vital to their development. It is also important to teach children how to entertain themselves. Seek out a healthy balance to raise children who can focus, imagine and create. If all else fails, suggest your kids work around the house. They will very quickly find something to entertain themselves. :)

What do you do when your kids complain about being bored?

Bringing Home Baby- Helping Older Children Adjust

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


Summer is upon us. Time for weddings and babies.

There is great joy in bringing home a new baby, but it can also be an adjustment phase for older siblings who might feel resentment and/or jealousy. They might even feel a little anger as they struggle to figure out their new place in the ever changing family dynamic.

An older sibling’s biggest concern is that there just won’t be enough love for them, with a new baby in the house.

As parents there are some things we can do to help create a smooth transition for our family and the new baby. 

1. Talk about what will NOT change.

Even though we know that things will change, it is important to talk to older children about what will stay the same. Kids like predictability. It makes them feel safe and secure. If they think the new baby will make everything in your family “different”, they won’t be very excited about the new baby.

2. Focus on their role as a big sibling.

Talk to your older children about how they will be great big brothers and sisters. Be smart about it though. Getting our older kids excited about things the baby can’t do until they are 5 (like playing tag), will create false hopes.

3. Don’t blame the baby.

We shouldn’t say “we can’t go ______ because of the baby.” This will teach our children to resent the new baby because he/she is keeping them from what they want, and changing how you would normally do things. Leave the baby out of it.

4. Let your children help make decisions.

There are lots of little decisions that your older children can make and do so they feel they are apart. They could choose some new clothes for the baby, or make decisions about the paint colors for the nursery. Have your kids make artwork and then frame it for the babies room. I even have some friends who let their kids help choose the babies name. One friend lets her children choose the baby’s middle name. What ever it is, involve siblings in making meaningful decisions when you are preparing for a new baby. When kids get to make decisions, they feel ownership and that they are included.

We have a really fun way we include our children when we have a new baby. We give each of them their own disposable camera and put them in charge of being the photographers. It makes them feel important and they have so much fun taking pictures at the hospital and after we bring the baby home. We make a big deal of developing the pictures and spend time as a family sitting down to look at all the memories they captured.

Once you bring the baby home…

Stick to your routine.

Remember that kids like things to be predictable. Try to keep things after the baby, the same as they were before the baby arrived. How? Think about the parts of your day and activities that mean the most to your children and do your best to make sure those things don’t change.

Control the Celebration.

It is normal to be excited about the new baby. But older siblings will start to resent the new addition if the constant cootchy-cooing makes them feel left out. Continue to pay attention to your older children and ask that family and friends do the same. I have a dear friend who always drops off dinner when we have a new baby. When she comes, instead of rushing to the new baby, she brings a small treat for our other kids and talks to them first. She congratulates them on being big brother/sister’s. It always makes them feel special.

Don’t make the baby off limits.

This one is always hard for me. Between post pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep, I catch myself wanting the kids to keep their distance from the new baby. But, we should work hard to let our kids be involved in the experience, and not make the baby off limits to our older children.

Have them read stories and sing to the baby. They can choose what the baby is going to wear and round up necessaries for the diaper bag. When we had our second child, I included our son who was 2 at the time, to do everything with us. He helped me bathe her by pouring water on her feet, he read stories to us as I nursed her, and made smiley faces at her when I dressed her. There are so many things our kids can do to help, and they will be much better behaved if we include them instead of shoo-ing them away.

Plan one-on-one time.

Spending one-on-one time with each of our children individually is one of the best ways to make the transition smooth. 15 minutes of individual time a day. As simple as this sounds, a new baby, new responsibilities and not a lot of sleep can make this simple suggestion sound impossible. Do all in your power to make it a priority. Take time to show older children pictures of when they were young. Watch home videos of them as babies. Talk about how cute they were and what a special time it was when they were babies. Go get a special treat and talk, visit the library, play ball, read to them, draw together. Show them Love. Remember, love is spelled T-I-M-E.

Take some time pre-baby to think about the ways you can prepare your older children. When the baby arrives and your mind has been taken over by sleeplessness and hormones, the transition will be one less thing to worry about.

Do you have a baby on the way? When are you due?

Have any of your children struggled with jealousy towards a new addition?



Parenting Our Oldest Child

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


Our oldest daughter is usually flattered by the attention her younger siblings are constantly giving her. But, even though she is a great big sister, she also needs her space.

There are challenges no matter what our birth order. As parents we can help make things easier for our older children.
Here’s how…
Be Empathetic
Acknowledge that you understand how your older child feels. Explain that it is normal for her to feel frustrated with younger siblings and that you are not mad because she is frustrated. Let her know you are there to listen.
Use personal stories so that she understands that she was a toddler once also, and that she loved to imitate you, or her older sibling.
Using personal stories has been the best way to help our daughter (and son.) One day when our daughter was frustrated I sat down with her and told her how I felt when my younger brother imitated me, and followed me around trying to play all day. I explained to her that “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery” and explained why younger siblings want so much attention from older siblings. It really opened her eyes to the situation and made things easier.


It is easy to “push” oldest children aside, because younger kids are making more noise. Make sure that even though they are older, and might be more understanding or self-sufficient, that you still listen and give them the time and attention they deserve.

Oldest doesn’t equal babysitter…

Unfortunately, I have said more times than I can count, “Can you just play with your sister while I take care of this.” We have to be careful we don’t do this too much.Our oldest children will resent us if we always expect them to entertain their younger siblings. We shouldn’t expect then to always include their younger sibling while playing with their friends either. If they want to, great, if not, that is okay too.
Don’t make them give in
It can be easy to fall into the trap of asking our oldest to give in to younger siblings to keep the peace. They are not in charge of keeping the peace and shouldn’t have to give up their rights just because they are the oldest. Forcing them to give in will make them start to feel like being the oldest is a punishment. Focus on right and wrong, not oldest and youngest.

Protect and respect their”stuff”

Be proactive and assure your oldest that you will help keep her things safe (especially when they are at school or activities). Encourage her/him to keep their special things in safe places so that little hands can’t reach them. Teach your oldest to put things away so that nothing will get ruined.
Don’t get mad at younger children if they do get their older siblings things. They usually don’t know any better. Explain that they need to ask permission. If your oldest doesn’t want to share, remove your younger children and help them get involved in something else.
Protect their privacy…
Make sure your older child gets some private time to themselves. A great time to do this is when your younger child is sleeping. Feeling like they have their own time will make it easier to share and play with the younger sibling when they wake up.

Celebrate being the oldest
It is wonderful to be the oldest. Put together games and activities that let your older child be in charge and feel important because they are older. It will make it more fun to play with younger siblings. A favorite in our house is playing school, or church.
Our oldest daughter sets up the school room, homework, chalkboard and all. Our younger daughter loves to be the student. It makes her feel big because she is going to school just like her brother and sister. Our oldest daughter feels important because she is the teacher and in charge.
How do you make things easier for your oldest child?Does your oldest complain about younger siblings?Were you an oldest child? How do you feel about it?

The Power of One On One Time


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


Is there whining and temper tantrums in your house? Do you have to ask your children repeatedly to “help” or “pick something up?” Do your kids misbehave or talk back?

Do you want it to stop? Believe it or not, spending One-on-one time with our children, will drastically change our child’s behavior for the better. 

The GOAL: Spend 15 minutes of ONE-ON-ONE-TIME a day, with each of your children. 

Why? Kids need and want attention. When they are not getting enough positive attention, they misbehave. Why? It gets them attention. Their reasoning, “my mom won’t play a game of CandyLand with me, but, if I color on the walls with my markers, then she will have to pay attention to me”. It doesn’t matter if it is negative attention because in their eyes, it is still attention. 

When we give our children positive attention, they won’t have the need to misbehave to get us to notice them. And, when we spend time connecting with our children it provides them with security. They feel safe in their relationships with us and with their place in the family. This will also lead to improved behavior.

Here’s how it works: 

1. Give each child 15 minutes of ONE-ON-ONE-TIME everyday. You want to focus on each child individually, so don’t combine your children’s time. 

2. This is uninterrupted time. That means, no computers, no TV, and no cell phones. Don’t play Chutes and Ladders while you are checking your email on your phone (not that I have ever done that).

3. Let your children choose the activities. Ask your kids what they want to do. This gives them a choice. It makes them feel in-charge and that they have some control. This is really important to making this ONE-ON-ONE-TIME work. If we tell them what they will do, they feel forced.

Help your child make a list of the things they would like to do during their ONE-ON-ONE-TIME. That way when it is time to be together, you can refer to the list and not waste any time having fun.

Just this week, our 7 year old daughter wanted to “write stories’ for her one-on-one time. All I could think about was the housework that needed to be done and the papers I needed to grade. I sat down with pens and paper in front of me and we started to talk and write. We made up silly stories and took turns illustrating each other’s ideas. Then we started laughing, harder than I have laughed in months. I forgot about all about the housework. Instead, I noticed our daughter’s smile, and her easy laugh. I realized what a creative mind she has, and we talked about ALL the things going on at school. When we finished, she gave me a hug and kiss and said “thanks mom, that was really fun”.

4. Be consistent. This is not a one time occurrence. One-on-one time needs to happen everyday, always. We need to make a personal commitment to spending this time together, and make sure it happens. 

5. One-on-one time is more important than the household chores. It is easy to let our household duties get in the way of our time with our kids. We feel those things have to be done now, and that we can get to our kids later, or tomorrow, or when they are older. Fact of the matter is, nothing is more important than our children. Mopping the floor can wait 15 minutes. Sit down and play. Or else our kids will be 18 and moving out and we will have regrets that we can’t do anything about.

Looking to transform negative behavior? Spend one-on-one time with your children. Not only will their behavior change, but your relationship will be strengthened at the same time. It’s a win win.

Do you think you can do this?

What makes it hard to find time to be with our kids? 

Teaching Children a Little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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


A few weeks ago I was teaching a group of about 40 women. We were talking about the changes they have seen over the course of their lives. They talked about milk men and ice boxes, outhouses and telephone operators. Amongst the comments there was one common theme. Every comment also included “kids have changed, they are so disrespectful these days”.

There is a pretty strong argument, from many people that kids now-a-days, are very disrespectful. Gone are the days of Beaver Cleaver with all of his “thank you’s” and “yes ma’ams”. Instead there seems to be a lack of respect and a sense of entitlement and expectation. 

As parents, it is our job to help our children learn Respect. We need to start young and not only teach them, but show them with OUR own actions. 

Here are 8 suggestions for helping our children develop lifelong respect for things and people and life in general. 

First, we have to start with ourselves and Be Good Role Models
Children will do what they see us do. We can’t be disrespectful. 

We need to model the behavior we want to see in our children. Respect our belongings, be patient and open minded with others, and listen with full attention.

Expect Good Manners

Don’t let children think that manners are optional or temporary.

Expect good manners in all situations. When children are young, remind them to say “please” and “thank you”. Help and teach children the importance of writing thank-you notes. When you are going somewhere, be sure you remind them what you expect in the upcoming situation and how they should act. It will take constant cues on your part, but soon, it will become natural and your children will remember on their own. Make it clear that bad manners will not be tolerated and be sure you enforce the consequences. Even if it means leaving the restaurant or get-together. When good manners are demonstrated, make sure there is lots of praise. Not just “good job”. Explain to your children why the good manners are important and what their respect means to the people around them.  

Don’t Tolerate Rudeness
When we allow our children to be rude, talk back, or talk snotty, we lead them to believe it’s okay to disrespect us and other people too. As parents we need to respond to this behavior. We need to make it clear that no matter how frustrated or annoyed our children may be, it is never okay to speak to other people in those tones. 
Encourage your kids to express their feelings, using statement that start with “I”. “I feel angry and frustrated”. “I feel mad”. Encourage them to put their feelings into words by asking them questions. When our son is making sarcastic comments, I find myself saying “you seem upset, let’s talk about it”. It will take time for your kids to learn to express their emotions instead of being rude, but it will work. When they slip up, teach them the importance of saying “I am sorry”.

Respect Belongings
Don’t let children disrespect belongings.

As parents, and grandparents, we need to be cautious with the amount of toys and things we give our kids. Too many things and they will not appreciate what they have. 
When kids disrespect their toys, don’t rush out and replace them. It is okay to explain that they have one firetruck and they need to take care of it or they won’t have a fire truck anymore. Explain the worth of belongings. When our daughter went through a phase of ruining her older siblings pictures, it wasn’t more reprimanding that she needed. Instead I talked to her about the time that went into making the picture and that it was special. It hurts feelings when we ruin other’s special things. Talk to your children about how they would feel if someone ruined their picture. 
Make the rules clear. When my girls want to smell my perfumes, they know I have to get them out. They have to be sitting down to hold them, and they can’t push the buttons. It teaches them to respect my belongings. 

Teach Your Children to Listen

One of the most fundamental ways to show respect to other people is to listen to them. That means giving them our time and attention. Don’t let your kids watch television while you are trying to talk to them…or keep their head down in their books, coloring, or looking at the floor. 

Remove distractions by turning off the T.V. and putting down what they are doing. Expect them to look you in the eye and give you their attention. This means we have to do the same when our children are talking to us. Another key concept to teach, wait your turn to talk and don’t interrupt others when they are talking. We are always working on this in our home. Especially when my husband and I are talking. We have had to work really hard to teach our kids to wait until we are done talking to each other, then it is their turn. 

Diversity Makes the World go Around

Children are very quick to point our differences. Every one of our children has turned me red faced at least once in a pubic place when they have pointed out someone who looks different. My first reaction is to quickly “shush” them. 
We need to explain that we are all different and that is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. When you encounter new people, explain that there are differences AND similarities. We dont have to forgo our values. There are choices that other people make that are not acceptable in our home. That is fine, but that doesn’t mean that we are judgmental or rude. To raise children who accept diversity we have to expose our children to different cultures and traditions. Start by letting them try different foods and learning about different cultures.  

Encourage Your Children to be Open Minded
Treating others with respect means that we take some time to get to know them and understand them. This is a principle we have to teach our children. They might not like all the other kids, but they need to give them a chance. 
Encourage your children to get to know someone new and find out what they have in common. If after time they conclude they have nothing in common, teach them that they still deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. We have had to do this with our daughter. She went through a phase in Kindergarten where she clung to one or two kids and had a tough time giving other classmates a chance. We gave her a challenge to play with a new person in her class every week. It made a huge difference. It has taught her to be much more open minded, respectful, and accepting to all people.

Lastly, Rules are important
Don’t allow children to do what ever they want.
Instead…Set boundaries. Believe it or not, children want rules and boundaries. This will help children learn to
 respect authority and that the world doesn’t revolve around them. This is a skill they will need in everything they do. 


.Set the rules
.Talk about why the rules matter
.Explain the consequences for breaking the rules.
.Be strong enough to follow through with the consequences. 

Helping our children develop RESPECT will not only help them in society, but our homes will be more pleasant too. 


Anatomy of a Great Date

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


Research suggests that married couples should go on a date at least every two weeks. The LDS church admonishes that couples should go on a date every week.

You don’t have to tell me how hard this is. I know. Impossible it seems. As married couples we start to trick ourselves. We think that just because we live together and sleep together every night that we don’t need to go on dates. It is because we live and sleep together that we do need to go on dates. We might have lots of time together with our spouses, but it is not special time.

Dates involve getting away from the routine and doing something together for the purpose of feeling–not just living–close.

There are three main ingredients to consider for a great date.

  • Privacy
  • Enjoyment
  • Conversation.

Going out with other couples is fun, but we need time as a two-some. Otherwise we forget how to talk with one another and being alone can become awkward and embarrassing. Funny, when we were dating, sitting across from each other in a restaurant wasn’t awkward. Privacy also gives us the chance to hold hands, show affection, and look into each other’s eyes again.

The date needs to be enjoyable, for both partners. This doesn’t mean that we have to like all the same things as our spouse. But remember, chick flicks for every date won’t cut it either. (That is unless your hubby loves chick flicks too).

A great way to approach date planning, take turns. One week you plan, the next week your spouse plans. The only condition is that when it is not your week, you participate with a good attitude and a willing heart. You both have to be ready to do whatever is planned. Even better, instead of always choosing activities you are used to and like, choose new activities. Try different things together. That way you are not doing “his” activity or “her” activity. Instead you are establishing “our” activities. You could even make the rule that ever other time you choose, it has to be something new.

Rushing to a movie and then home doesn’t count. Same for bike rides if you never stop to talk. These are great activities and we should be doing them with our spouses, but we need to mix them with meaningful time together also.

Date conversation works best when we leave tension and conflict out. It is possible to put troublesome topics aside for a few hours and just enjoy each other.

It is also okay to talk about things other than the kids too. I know for my husband and I, when we go on a date, the first thing we start to talk about are the kids. After a few minutes we realize what we are doing and try to talk about something else.

If you have not been dating your spouse, conversation might be hard at first. Try thinking ahead, like if you were going out on a date with someone you were just getting to know. Come prepared with different conversation starters. Here are some conversation starters that can help.

It is worth the sacrifices we have to make, to find time to date our spouse. Don’t think about dates as expensive. Money isn’t necessary to connect us. Instead, think of ways that you can reconnect by having privacy, enjoyment and conversation with your spouse. Plan activities that fulfill those three requirements. Go for a walk and hold hands, lay out a blanket in the front room and have an indoor picnic at home once the kids are asleep, trade babysitting services with another couple every other week so you don’t have to pay for a sitter. Do what ever it takes to spend time together. We will quickly realize that dates will recharge our Marital Battery. They bring us closer together and strengthen our relationship. It is that strength that will help us get through the challenges that our families will face. It is that strength that reminds us why we married our spouse in the first place.

What is your favorite date to go on with your spouse? Let’s share some ideas.
When was the last time you went on a date with your spouse? 
Are your dates filled with privacy, enjoyment and conversation?

Discipline – Enforcing Consequences

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. I realize that today is a Wednesday and usually Heather’s series runs every other Thursday here on The Idea Room. I had to make a little rearrangement this week so you get her a day early! Here’s Heather in her own words…


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Parenting is hard. Especially when we have to discipline. Our kids will make mistakes, and we will have to enforce consequences. 

Although there isn’t a cookie cutter consequence for every situation or misstep, there are some important guidelines that will really help us as parents.

The most important thing to remember…Don’t EVER, EVER withhold love as a consequence. When a child gets in trouble they will often rush in for a hug and for affection. Don’t refuse them. Give them the hug, show affection and love and then enforce the consequences. 

Other important suggestions…
  • Make it clear before the misbehavior happens, that there are consequences for bad behavior. The time to talk about it is when no one is doing anything wrong. When kids are young, they often don’t know they have done anything wrong until they get in trouble. Set clear consequences if the expectations are not met.
  • Do not use physical force as a response to physical misbehavior. Example, if your child hits you, don’t hit them back. This is especially confusing to small children. A child will process the situation as “You just told me not to hit and then you hit me, I don’t understand”. In the long run it will not teach the right lesson. 
  • After you give a warning to your child, if the behavior doesn’t immediately change, clearly state the consequence and then enforce it. There is no need for you to justify, explain, or negotiate. Enforce the consequences and then explain later when things have calmed down. 
  • Don’t give idol threats. If you say “if you yell at me again you will go to your room,” and they yell at you again, You Better send them to their room. I learned this the hard way with our daughter. After an idol threat, she looked at me and said, …” you said that last time, but you didn’t do it.” Yikes. Learned my lesson that day. Now I make sure to follow through. 
  • Don’t give in. Enforce the consequence. Giving in sends the wrong message. Your kids won’t ever take you seriously if you don’t enforce the consequence. 
  • When appropriate, you can allow your kids to have a say in their punishment. Make sure they are reasonable and adequate. 
  • When trying to establish consequences, first consider the offense. A good place to start is asking yourself, “what would right the wrong?” Then consider “what would teach the correct principle the child needs to learn?”
  • If you like to use time-out, consider the Time-Out Rule: 1 minute in time-out for every year your child is old. (A five year old=5 minutes). Don’t use time-outs for children under 3.
Now that we have some general suggestions, here are three specific things that can be done when you need a consequence. 

1. Loss of Privilege.
Take a minute or two and think about each of your children. What do they value? What means the most to them?

For our son, it is television time.
For our daughter it is playing with friends and running errands with me. 

It is these privileges that are the first to go when they misbehave. 

Just be sure that the privilege you take is something you can control, like toys, cell phone, computer, tv, playing with friends, etc.

The key is to be CONSISTENT!

You can consider using a Privilege Chart.
Take pictures of the things your child can’t live without. Your child looses one privilege starting from least favorite to most favorite when they misbehave or talk back. Realize that their chart will change as they get older. 

2. Natural Consequences, let them take their course.
Most actions have natural consequences that occur. Let these natural consequences teach and don’t feel like you have to “save” your child from the consequence. It is the perfect time to help your child understand that our actions have consequences. When we make good decisions, our consequences are positive. When we make poor decisions, our consequences are negative. 

We experienced this with our son not too long ago. Despite plenty of ability, time to finish, and help, our son wouldn’t focus to finish his homework. He knew that if he didn’t finish by bedtime, that he would have to go to school with it unfinished (he can’t stand not having his homework done.) Our son didn’t believe us. He was certain we would let him stay up as long as it took.  We stood strong and he ended up going to school with unfinished work. He had to suffer the natural consequence of his actions. Boy did it teach him a lesson. The natural consequence did far more to teach him then a consequence we would have set. 

2. Whining Chair, Time away, time out, being sent to another room…call it what you want. 
The lesson to teach when we have to remove our children from the situation is…“if you are going to misbehave, then you can’t be apart until you change your actions.” A child who is not listening, who is yelling, talking back, or treating siblings unkind, needs to be removed from the situation. 

Just remember to stay strong, you don’t have to explain yourself. 

Remember, it comes down to what works with each child. Trail and error will help as you learn to understand each child. As parents, we need to stay calm and collected. We need to be confident and in charge. Above all, we need to be consistent. 

It won’t be perfect every time. A bad day doesn’t mean that all is lost. We will have plenty of opportunities to enforce consequences, we just need to stick with it. 

Remember above all…ALWAYS follow the reprimand with an increase in LOVE, ALWAYS. 

How do you enforce consequences in your home?
What is your leverage? What can’t your child live without?

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Don’t Use the “Shy” Word


It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room. I for one, really enjoy all her great tips and advice on things that most of us as parents struggle with. Here’s Heather in her own words…



Have you ever been in a public situation and one of your children will not talk or answer questions? Maybe you followed up their actions with “Oh, he is just shy”. Sound familiar? 

All children are different. They have different personalities and temperaments. As parents, we tend to worry and even be embarrassed by our less outgoing, more reserved children. There are things we can do as parents to teach our children so they feel more comfortable around new people and in social situations.

First… The DON’TS

When we label our children, our children are more likely to “become” that label. If your child is asked a question, and refuses to answer, you don’t want to say “he is just shy”. The more we make comments like this, the quieter our child will become. 
Don’t let other people label your child either. “Are you shy”, shouldn’t be something your child has to hear from others. When someone does decide to label your child, respond by saying something like, “No he isn’t shy, just not very talkative right now”. This is a much more productive approach than labeling.

Don’t answer for our children when they won’t talk. Just go on with the conversation and let your child participate when they are ready.

Pressure will most likely turn into a power struggle where your child will act exactly how you don’t want them to act, just to prove that they are in control.

It can be embarrassing to have our 3 year old hiding between our legs, refusing to talk to our friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We might think it makes us look like bad parents, like we don’t have control of our children, and that they don’t respect us and won’t obey. Maybe we worry people will think we haven’t taught our children. We have to get over those thoughts. If others judge, it is their problem. We know our children best. We need to do what is best for them. Don’t let what others think affect our actions.

Now… The DO’S

Explain to your child what will take place in the upcoming situation. Explain that there will be new people who want to say hello, shake their hands, and ask them their names. Give them a good idea of what might happen so they are not caught off guard. Don’t just explain what will happen, talk about what you expect them to do in the situations.


Don’t shelter your children. Expose them to lots of different situations with different people. Give them opportunities to be social, but don’t force them to perform in the situations. Give them lots of new experiences and opportunities.  

Role Playing is a very important teaching tool and will help build your child’s confidence. Practice what to say when they meet someone new. Practice making eye contact. Practice how to introduce themselves. Practice speaking up, so others can hear them.

Many times, kids just need a few minutes in new situations to feel comfortable. Arriving early to social situations, parties and gatherings will allow your kids a few minutes to “assess” the setting, and even meet a few people before everyone arrives. It gives them time to warm up to the people and the environment. They are able to already establish their position in the environment instead of “arriving into an environment already in progress”.

When your family is together and you know your child is comfortable, give them the opportunity to lead and be in charge. Use situations that are already occurring and give them special tasks and assignments. Teach them public speaking skills, and let them practice. 

Kids have their own personalities and inner feelings. Instead of labeling and assuming, work with them and you will see huge differences in their actions when it comes to public situations. All kids need to learn the skills, it is just quicker and easier for some than others. As parents, we need to be patient.It can be a phase, or their age, and with time, things will get easier for them and for you. 


Kids and Lying

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When our son turned 7, he went through a phase. A lying phase. I am happy to say that it isn’t a problem any more, but at the time, it brought a lot of frustration. All kids tell lies.

Young Children tell lies based on make-believe. They are usually made up stories of who they wish they were (a princess or a superhero), or what they wish they could do (today I crossed the street without holding anyone’s hand).

Elementary School Children tell smarter lies to sound cool, avoid being punished, and to get what they want. If they find that their lies get them what they want, the lies will become a habit. We want to stop them before they get to that point.

Teenagers will tell manipulative lies to protect themselves and their friends. They will also lie to avoid arguments and punishments and to get what they want. An occasional lie is not the end of the world. We just don’t want it to turn into a habit.

So what can we do to stop the lying?

First, we need to be the type of parent that sets fundamental rules with reasonable expectations, and we need to be willing to listen to our children. When we really listen to our children, they feel more comfortable talking to us and will be less likely to hide things from us. They will be more open with us because they feel respected and therefore will give respect back to us.

Then, pay attention to why your kids are not telling the truth.

  • Are they worried about getting in trouble?
  • Are we being too hard on them?
  • Are our expectations too high?
  • Are we stressed out so we are taking it out on them?
  • Are they trying to get attention, because we are not listening?
  • Are they hanging out with friends who lie?
  • Do they have low self esteem?
  • Are they looking for approval?
  • Are they trying to get what they want?
  • Are they trying to avoid responsibility?
  • Is it to protect themselves or someone else?
  • Are they trying to please you?
  • Are they testing us?
If we can pinpoint the "Why" it can help us put a stop to the lying.

When our son went through his lying stage, it was new behavior. He hadn’t really done anything like it before. I took some time to try and see if there was an underlying issue.

Next, be an Honest Parent. Kids will primarily do what they see us as their parents do. Do we ever fib? Sneak into a movie? Lie about our kids ages to get lower prices? Pretent no one is home so we don’t have to answer the door?  Kids will pick up on these lies. We have to be honest so that our kids will be honest.

Also, we need to teach our children that in our house, honest is the only policy. Teach them that you will be honest with them, and you expect honesty from them. Make this a family rule, and that they are expected to follow the rule, just like you are expected to follow the rule.

Remember, don’t be too harsh. If we are, our children will not feel safe talking to us about what they have done wrong because they will be afraid.

When your child does tell a lie…

1. Don’t accuse them of lying, this will only make them feel trapped and make the situation worse. During our son’s lying phase, I noticed one day that he was biting his nails.  I asked him about it and he lied. "I don’t bite them, they just flake off", he said. Yeah right. Instead of continually emphasizing, "I know you are lying, I can see your nails", which is what I wanted to say. I explained that "you probably don’t even realize you’re biting your nails. That happens to mommy and daddy sometimes also. Do you think that is what could be happening?" He was much more responsive to this approach. This also means we shouldn’t call our children a liar. We should always avoid giving our children negative labels.

2. Don’t overreact. If your child knows that you are going to stay calm, they are more likely to tell you the truth. They will never want to tell the truth if they think it is going to get them in a ton of trouble. Stay calm.

3. Be sure there is a reasonable consequence for telling lies. When our son lied about picking up his backpack and shoes, when he really hadn’t, I made him go back and finish the job like I had asked. The punishment fit the crime.

4. Stick to what you know. The facts. "Your backpack is still on the ground, be honest, did you pick it up like you were asked?" "I can see that your nails are very short and that your fingers are red, I expect the truth, have you been biting them?"

After the fact…TEACH

As we talked to our son during his "lying stage", we told him some personal stories about telling the truth and telling lies. He was able to relate to them and see the blessings and consequences that come from our choices. Use stories to teach your children. If you don’t have any of your own stories, George Washington tells a really good one about a Cherry Tree. :) Teach your children that people who are honest don’t lie, you can count on them, they keep their word, they admit when they do things wrong, and they stand up and tell the truth, even when it is hard or unpopular.

Teach your children what happens when they lie. You get in trouble. People don’t want to be your friend. People can’t trust you. It can hurt other’s feelings, etc…

Teach what is real and what is make believe. Kids need to understand the difference between fiction and real life. When our children are honest, praise them, thank them. Reassure them that honesty is always the best policy. I am pretty sure I heard that a few thousands times growing up.

Do you ever pretend no one is home at your house so you don’t have to answer the door? Do you have any fibbers in your house?

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