5 Simple Tips to Encourage Empathy In Your Kids

“Can you write a post about how kids can learn empathy?” asked my husband. “I was having a tough time getting through to [our son] about how his actions were affecting his brother.”

I don’t have a blog post about empathy? I wondered. But I discuss it all the time.

And for good reason. Empathy has so many benefits, both for our kids and for more effective parenting. For instance:

  • Children get along better with other kids because they can put themselves in their shoes.
  • Children learn to regulate their emotions, such as during meltdowns and when they’re over excited.
  • Children can separate other people’s emotions from theirs. For instance, a child may get upset when he sees another child cry. But with empathy, he learns that the other child is the one who really needs help.

While I’ve listed so many benefits and have suggested empathy as a parenting tool, I’ve yet to illustrate just how we can encourage this skill with their kids.

Below are effective ways of teaching our kids to show empathy:

Read more →

Want to get a better handle on this parenting thing? Join me on the mailing list and never miss a post:

9 Playground Rules You and Your Kids Shouldn't Break

The playground.

One of the best ways to keep the kids entertained, right? It’s free, it’s outdoors, and kids are left to their own creative devices.

Except sometimes spending time at the playground doesn’t go so smoothly. Too many kids clamor up the jungle gym. Older kids collide with toddlers. And parents are oblivious to their kids’ antics.

My husband recently came home from such an excursion: “I have a great topic for your blog,” he proposed. “Can you write about all the things parents and kids shouldn’t do at the playground? It was madness today.”

If you and your kids are alone or nearly alone in an empty playground, many of these rules don’t apply. An empty playground is a great way for kids to explore where they don’t always have to play “the right way.”

But with other kids around, we need to teach ours the proper ways to interact with them and how to use the playground.

And so, for my husband’s benefit and hopefully to ours as well, below are nine playground rules you and your kids should remember:

Read more →

Want to get a better handle on this parenting thing? Join me on the mailing list and never miss a post:
You’re embarrassed to admit it. After all, you keep hearing advice about reading to your kids from day one. Or the book lists your kids are supposed to love. And story time at your local library is jam packed with kids—every single one who loves reading.

Yet you can’t seem to coerce yours to even sit on your lap for one book. Or maybe your kid would rather play with Legos, crayons, or run around in the backyard—anything, except read.

You can’t believe this has happened, but somehow, your kid hates reading.

With research listing the benefits of reading to children—many that serve them well into adulthood—you’re left at a loss. Reading is good for your kids, but how do you get them to like it?

If you’re like some parents, you may unknowingly be making well-meaning mistakes that turn your kids away from reading. In an effort to encourage reading, could you actually be discouraging it? Take, for instance, these five mistakes that make kids hate reading:

Read the rest of my guest post at Cloud Mom>

Don’t feel bad if your kids don’t like reading—there’s still hope. What else can parents do to make sure kids don’t hate reading? Let us know in the comments!

Want to get a better handle on this parenting thing? Join me on the mailing list and never miss a post:

13 Children's Books by Oliver Jeffers

It seemed like Oliver Jeffers was going to enter our lives one way or another.

The first time was when we read How to Catch a Star—except the book I borrowed from the library was in Spanish. Of course I had no idea what the story was about, but my eldest appreciated it at the time when his dad read to him.

The second time was when I kept seeing this book about crayons popping up on the Amazon bestseller lists. And that’s how I realized The Day the Crayons Quit was illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

Then, as if the world wanted to make sure I understood How to Catch a Star, my blogger friend Oana ran a giveaway for that book—and I won. So now I’ve read the book in Spanish and English.

And the one that cinched it all came when my cousin and his daughter visited from out of town and gifted my kids the video rendition of Lost and Found. My kids hadn’t read it yet, so off to the library we went to borrow the book, where we ended up borrowing nearly every Oliver Jeffers book along the way.

So yeah, I guess you can say we’re fans. And I’m hoping, after having read a few of these books below, you’ll be one, too. Below are 13 children’s books by Oliver Jeffers:

Read more →

Want to get a better handle on this parenting thing? Join me on the mailing list and never miss a post:
Most people would agree that success comes from hard work. Reaching an achievement requires practice and effort not for the lazy. But we forget one underlying factor that is essential for success: pure, simple grit.

How to Raise Kids with Grit

Every one of us—including our kids—will fail. Despite hard work, we won’t always get what we want, what we strive for. And giving up is so easy.

Grit, however, keeps us from doing just that. With grit, we bounce back. We grieve expectations and losses. We learn from mistakes. And we try again, and again.

Kids perhaps are better suited to grit. They’re some of the most resilient little buggers I’ve ever seen. Think about the baby learning to walk despite a zillion falls, bumps and scrapes. Or the preschooler who will park himself in front of a puzzle until he completes it.

But somewhere along the way, we lose a bit of this skill. We berate ourselves when we don’t know all the answers, or when we’d rather be complacent than learn something new.

How then can we raise kids with grit?

Read more →

Want to get a better handle on this parenting thing? Join me on the mailing list and never miss a post: