40+ Ways to Connect with Your Child Today

Lots of easy positive parenting ways to connect with your child today  I’m excited to share a special guest post by Rebecca Eanes celebrating her newly released book: Positive Parenting: an essential guide

Building and maintaining a strong connection with our children takes focus and work, but the benefits are worth the effort. When children are securely connected with us, they have higher self-esteem, behave better, are more cooperative, and are happier overall. I know we live in a busy world and sometimes it’s difficult to carve out an hour for playtime when dinner needs to be made, dishes are piled high, the inbox is full of messages that need responses, work calls are coming in, and the laundry is everywhere! Connecting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. There are many small things we can do throughout the day and night to strengthen the bonds we have with our children.

  • Give a cheerful morning greeting. Rather than start with a “Hey, hurry up!” try a special morning greeting for each child, like “rise and shine my sunshine” or “good morning doodle bear, I’m happy to see you this morning!” This slight change in greeting can shift the tone for the whole morning.
  • Make it a point to show affection before breakfast. A hug, a rub on the head, a kiss on the cheek – take just a couple of seconds to be affectionate with your child because little moments add up to lots of love.
  • Do something a little special at breakfast, like a note beside their cereal bowl or fruit shaped in a smiley face on top of their oatmeal.
  • Notice something good about them before breakfast and say it out loud. “Your outfit looks nice today” or “Thanks for making your bed this morning. That was helpful.”
  • Make up a secret handshake or hand symbol that’s just for the two of you.
  • Say a blessing over them before they head out the door.
  • Never let them leave without a hug.
  • Put a note in their lunchbox that says “I’m so glad you’re mine!”
  • If your child has a cell phone, send a text to say “I’m thinking of you and smiling!”
  • Do one of their chores for them.
  • Bring them a snack or drink without them asking.
  • Make a comment on what they’re working on when you pass by. “Oh, are you about to beat that level?” or “How’s the homework coming? You’re being so diligent!”
  • Always greet them with a smile, not a question first. “Hi sweetie, I’m happy you’re home!”
  • Make their bed for them and leave a note on it. “Made lovingly by mom.”
  • Block out 10 minutes of time and say “I’m stopping what I’m doing and giving you 10 minutes of my full attention because I love you! What do you want to do for 10 minutes?”
  • Blow up balloons and cover their floor with it “just because.”
  • Offer to rub their back, feet, or shoulders for a few minutes.
  • Choose a topic of conversation at dinner, such as new movies, vacation plans, or best books to avoid awkward silence and shrugs after “how was your day?”
  • Turn some music up loud and dance in the kitchen for 10 minutes while the food is cooking.
  • Begin an afternoon or after-school tea time. Get darling little teacups with saucers and sit down together for a few moments of civilized engagement. Don’t like tea? Put water in the teacup. They’ll probably still think it’s fun!
  • It’s affirmation time again! Notice something good about your child and speak it out before dinner is over.
  • Do a chore alongside your child. Remember how the dwarves did the dishes in The Hobbit? They were singing and laughing and just having a good time doing it. Try that, but don’t toss the dishes around like they did unless you’re very, very good!
  • Do a quick, fun science experiment together. Mentos and Coca Cola or vinegar with baking soda are cheap, easy, and fun.
  • Re-work the homework hour with soft classical music and fresh cookies from the oven. They’ll appreciate the effort and change in atmosphere.
  • Read a chapter aloud from a classic novel.
  • Invite them into your world to learn something new about you. Tell them about a book you’re reading or invite them to do yoga with you.
  • Take a walk together after dinner.
  • Play a round of Uno or a card game of your choice. One round doesn’t usually take too long, but it gives everyone time to gather and unwind.
  • Leave love notes everywhere. Bathroom mirror, bedroom dresser, pillow top, under their shoes.
  • If you have little kids, play on the floor with them for 10-15 minutes uninterrupted. If your kids are older, build a Lego creation or join them in their interest for few minutes.
  • Ask questions that are more specific than “how was your day?” Try “What’s one thing you learned today?” or “Tell me something nice that happened to you today.”
  • Grab a flashlight and go under covers together to tell stories.
  • Make bath time with little ones a special time by adding bath crayons, lots of bubbles, or new bath toys, and play with them for a short while instead of hurrying through the routine.
  • Spend 5 minutes daring each other not to laugh as you each make silly faces, tell jokes, and make silly noises.
  • Say yes to an invitation to play that you’d usually turn down.
  • Play the favorites game by asking “What’s your favorite ___” back and forth quickly until you run out of ideas. You’ll probably learn something new about each other.
  • Tell them stories from your childhood.
  • Talk to them about their family heritage. If you don’t know much about your ancestry, explore it together.
  • Hold them in your lap and rock them like their still babies, even if their limbs are sprawled out all over the place!
  • Arm wrestle each other.
  • Give a piggy back ride to bed or a horsey back ride to the tub.
  • Spend “special time” with each child at bedtime. Sit on the end of their bed or lie down beside them and just listen to what they have to say. If they say nothing, just hold them.
  • Tuck them in with a special prayer or blessing every night.
  • Always kiss them goodnight.

Rebecca Eanes is the creator of www.positive-parents.org and author of The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting. In her new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, Rebecca shares her hard-won insights on giving up the conventional parenting paradigm to reconnect heart to heart with her children. Because parenting is about so much more than discipline, Rebecca hits on important topics less spoken about, making this more than a parenting book.

It’s a book about building lasting family bonds and reclaiming joy in parenting. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide is out now. This post contains an affiliate link.

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40+ Ways to Connect with Your Child Today.. Guest post: Rebecca Eanes of Positive-Parents.org

Solutions for tackling tricky toddler emotions

Solutions for tackling tricky toddler emotions

Strong emotions are a big bug bear when you’re in a playful home or are they really? Our aim as parents surely is to train, teach and allow opportunities of growth. We allow ample unstructured playtime to build creativity; structured activities to encourage skills and further learning; outdoor skills to connect with nature and so on. However, since our children come with varied temperaments, there is that potential to clash. This power struggle of who wins and who loses is a big problem in most of our playful homes. Mostly because we rely on previous experiences and default scripts we are often surprised that really come out of our mouths.

Full-on temper tantrum cry session
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We can all think of a sticking point in our playful experiences at home and wish we had a tool or trick to just fix it, and fix it forever. Tricks don’t last over time. Although they can get you through situations they often start you down a path that leads to more problems. A better solution is to arm yourself with ideas, tools and solutions that you marinate with overtime and gradually introduce into your family.

Remember, you only have to succeed the last time. 
Brian Tracy

What we know to be true with toddlers

[Read more…]

Preparing a place of choice

Apples and Oranges

During the toddler and preschool years the word, “No!” becomes a very powerful word. It derails the happy atmosphere, stops a quick exit on errands, means we scoop our little one off the floor in that shop and march out. They want an input. They want a choice.

As a parent you can allow for extra time for the No! We get all forceful and insistent. Neither of these work well overtime. Even we as parents need to practise what to do when we get that No. It’s hard to play with a child that insists on having things their way or you having it totally your way. Personal, social and emotional development is a crucial aspect of play. We need to be able to get along and well. This is the first of a two-part series.
{Image Credit}

Practice when you are calm and have a script

Think about what you will say when they are shouting and yelling at you. Replay times when you saw this or experienced this and work out what you could do differently and try it out.

Getting down to their level; looking them in the eye and smile. The smile is for you to calm down however brief. Watch how other people  de-escalate their children and try it out.

Identify 2-3 activities at home to regularly give choices

Practise choice activities at home. Choose choices that you are happy with either option. Keep them simple. Children have very few choices so  having the red counter or the blue counter when playing the board game may seem trivial to us but they don’t see it that way.

Choices like; clothes, food, activity, play.

  • Scrambled eggs or cereal?
  • Blue jeans or green trousers with Bob on the side?
  • Pretend food or Dolls?

What’s your number one struggle with your under 5?

Teaching kids sportsmanship

Do you let them win?

Ever wonder if the play activities you do and the values you teach really stick with your child?
Ever played with a child and been beaten in a simple game?

It happened this week and really illustrated something to me worth sharing. We need to teach our kids sportsmanship intentionally. It can’t be a happy accident or rob them of the chance by artificially bending the rules, too far for them to miss the opportunity of learning.

What happened?

He was thrilled to have won, not just once but three times at dominoes. I didn’t let him win. It’s how the dominoes played out. ( As anyone knows who’s played dominoes with me; I’m no domino player- just matching!) The joy of his win was right there. I said the right things; Good game and congratulated him on the thrashing he gave me.

He gave me a hug and said. Thanks for playing mum. Then wanted to reassure me that we could play three more games so I could win. We then had an interesting discussion about winning and losing and how we both felt. Being able to bring it up again at dinner to the family helped.

Play – Model- Play- Reinforce- Play

What they need

They need to have practise to articulate their feelings and put their thoughts into words, with us. When we play with them we give that opporrtunity. If we let them win all the time they don’t know what to say or do when they lose elsewhere.

The bigger test will be how he responds now in company and away from home

Do you let them win?


31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Thirty One} Creating a playspace

Today we’ve come to the last day of 31 days to a more playful tot. Each day there’s been a chance of thought, growth, action and reflection. While we’re not aiming at making perfect playful children and recognise that we have to do, fail and learn ourselves; I hope we’ve all found some new things to try.

The playroom.
{Image credit }
I’ve always been in awe of beautiful play spaces. However as a military family it has never been practical to create these amazing areas. Also, I feel that most of the world has much smaller spaces to deal with with children. There isn’t always the luxury of a playroom just a play corner. Most people have rooms with multiple functions so need a way to conceal yet have access to both things.

This slideshow does just that…..

Here’s a chance to think about your small area; one chunk at a time. Transform the playspace you have.
Thanks for sharing in the journey of 31 days to a more playful tot.

Enjoy the slideshow.

  1. Eco friendly playroom
  2. Hand print calendar 
  3. A Quiet Place: DIY A-Frame Tent
  4. Display 
  5. Use garden hanging baskets
  6. Creating-waldorf-indoor-playspaces
  7. Play stands
  8. Displaying board games
  9. Photograph art then toss
  10. Create A Large Scale Art Center
  11. Storage and display
  12.  Chilling out areas
  13. A magnetic, chalkboard, dry erase,with sliding ladder WALL!
  14. Fun pebble cushions 

Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to a more Playful Tot.

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Creating a Playspace

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty two} 7 words that help shorten an outburst

Ever been derailed by an outburst or tantrum?

Our instinct is to rise above it. Sometimes you need to but not always.

We do need a strategy for when a tantrum strikes. A strategy presumes then that you’ve tried many different ways and you have something now that works for you and your family. What works for one doesn’t always work for another. Even the same thing doesn’t always work for siblings or the same child all the time. Don’t let that stop you from finding something that works. Having a bunch of different ideas about how to work through this outburst is super helpful- as not all outbursts are created equal.

[Read more…]

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Fifteen} Let’s get social

Kids playing

We all want our children to be social and truth be told, we probably feel we do a lot already to keep them social. Today I wanted to look at a bit more critically at what we do and if there’s room for improvement; refocus and a little patting on the back.

Let’s look at some positive things we can do in 2012 to get our children ready for play in the 21st Century world.Look at the questions below and take a quick survey of your family.

who do they mix with?

Is there a diversity of race?

Do you mix with homeschoolers?

Have you met with unschoolers?

How would they ( and you) react to playing with children from a diverse class background? ( Often we don’t know until we try!)

Do they meet with meaningful adults like family or close friends regularly?

Are their opportunities for a group of same-sex children to meet together and play collaboratively? ( side by side or totally independently?)

Especially if you have same-sex children, do they mix on playdates and group settings with children of the opposite sex?

what do they see?

Can they learn tolerance and perseverance from older children?

Can they focus on restraint, patience and empathy with younger children?

Will they ever get to experience the fun of playing with twins?

Do they see children with disabilities and have opportunities to see them play and experience play with them?

Would they be able to identify a group of children as their best buddies?

Can you be sure at how they might react in unfamiliar settings with unfamiliar children? ( Have you tested it recently?)

Will our children have access to adults in various work situations earning various pay?

How do we share with our children how different children play around the world? and show them that what we do here probably isn’t what  they do elsewhere. That’s not necessarily a bad thing or good thing but it’s something they should start appreciating in our global world.

how do you offer opportunities?

Not sure where to go try directories from parent forums and websites

Notice church groups as you drive around

Noticeboards and Craigslist

Word of mouth opportunities ask at libraries, Youth clubs, Education buildings, Doctors office
{Image Credit}
Ask on your social networks.

Things to watch….

Are we doing too much?

One on one play with our child ( Too much of anything isn’t good. Not enough isn’t good either. Letting them experience your presence and other people’s presence is essential for you both)

Socializing via shopping with them in their buggy (We need to go shopping. It’s not usually a good outlet for socialization, for them. We have to call it what it is shopping)

Food and play areas associating play with fast food ( It’s not whether it’s acceptable just if it’s the default or primary place for socialization. We all need variety!)

Consistently avoiding all playgroups due to a bad experience ( Not minimizing your experience. There are likely to be other playgroups. Try another one this week)

Worry that your child will grab, push,punch, kick another child or that these things will happen to them ( There’s lots of advice about solutions to these problems. Avoidance is only one way to deal with it. There are many others)

Fancy some more reading?

Socialization of homeschool children debated on Simple Homeschool Facebook page

Gender-Role Development – The Development of Sex and Gender

The Myth of Socialization

Playing is Socializing

Scientific American: The Serious Need for Play

How much do you socialize your old year old?

Now you’ve identified an area….what are your first steps in getting your toddler 21 Century socialized?


Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to a more Playful Tot.

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Lets Get Social




31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Thirteen} Accept and reject

Tree Landscape

It is never too late to accept our children and our lives as this is the way it is for right now; this season; this time.

It’s never too late to reject this feeling; the bad behaviour; the blahs and get help.

New habits take time to remain and old habits entice us with the warm and fuzzy slipper effect. We can change.

If we’re not happy with the way things are in our playtime or their playtime before we reject it find a good exit strategy.

No one likes cold turkey. No one wins or feels better for it.

For us to embrace and accept we need to feel like this is fun, good, worth it and there’s room to fail.

Failure will come. It’s not the end. Hugs, encouragement, lick our wounds and move back on. Success comes to those who fail.

Accept and reject ideals (without regret and with confidence.)We can’t put it off any longer playtime is important.


How are we modeling accepting and rejecting with our children?

{Image Credit}

Looking for inspiration


Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to a more Playful Tot.

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Accept and Reject

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Eleven} Know Your Mind

How do you develop your mind so you don’t just follow the crowd.jpg

Comparisons hurt, harm and are useful.

If I asked you what type of parenting style do you support with play. What would you say?

It wasn’t until I was in a different country in a totally different situation did I realize that I my idea of play was different. It was then I wondered am I doing it right?

We don’t all move. We often have the same friends and same circles.

Is there a right way to play? If there is, who do I listen to? What about my family and individualism?

Knowing your own mind takes time to develop. We come with all the baggage of our childhood and family relationships. Now we have a playful tot to raise and lots of decisions to make on important issues like TV time, electronic media, mobile media, organic toys, wooden toys, plastic toys, Montessori, Waldorf, classes, playgroups, the list goes on. Our mind isn’t just made up on all issues- just like that.

How do you develop your mind so you don’t just follow the crowd?

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Knowing your mind in 25 steps

  1. Look at your children and learn how they work.
  2. Go to trusted sources. You have to decide who they are.
  3. Accept advice as just that advice– what worked for them may or maynot work for you.
  4. Try new things
  5. Share your ideas. Other people see things you may not see.
  6. Have encouraging and supportive friends
  7. Your children will make you cry and despair but they have the capacity to make you laugh and weep with joy if we create opportunities for that to happen more than once in a while.
  8. Accept and reject things as the season changes in your family
  9. Create plans.
  10. Educate yourself in the areas you lack
  11. Beware of bandwagons
  12. Ask questions…..ruminate on ideas….feel free to adapt, transform or drop ideas….after careful thought.
  13. Find and talk to people who have been there before you. It’s amazing how much perspective they will give you.
  14. observe families who you admire. Try out what they are doing.
  15. Sometimes you need to take a break and focus on other things like your marriage, home, work, career, goals, dreams or ambitions. Not just your kids will thank you for it.
  16. Parenting is not a competition. Some are further along than I am. I’ll be further along than someone else.
  17. Everyone has problems. No one is perfect
  18. Discuss your ideas, opinions and direction with your spouse, friends and family- they know you and will often give you interesting advice ( some good and some not so good)
  19. It’s okay to be different. Different isn’t automatically bad or good.
  20. Have thought provoking twitter and facebook friends. They will challenge you in good ways.
  21. Grow
  22. Remember that sticking your head in the sand doesn’t work there has to be another way.
  23. Encourage people who try things out- they are actively working on knowing their mind ( You can learn from their successes and failures)
  24. Compare yourself less to those around you. Some comparison is good but be careful
  25. We don’t need to know all the answers and get it right the first time. We can let many things just go and roll with it,however we have to decide which ones we do intentionally.

I’m working on No.21 this year. What about you I’m curious?

What are you doing to ‘know your mind’ on issues in 2012?

Are there any areas you find the hardest to do?

Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to a more Playful Tot.


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Know Your Mind



31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Ten} The Power of Questions

Power of Questions


The Power of Questions:

Every now and then I’m reminded about how I need to give my son’s choices.

Choices that I can live with. Not any old choice.

I eagerly absorbed the principles and practices of Love and Logic, after attending a course in 2004. The power of choice seemed like a really good idea. I felt I was ahead of the curve. It worked.

Our next child threw us the curve ball and now we looked at 123 Magic. We now had a mix of ideas. I was glad for the different ideas as it made me think. There you go made me think so I needed to make sure that if I wanted to raise thinking children I needed to give them opportunities to make them think.

This is not new. None of us like to be told what to do all the time. However in our time pressured society we just don’t have the time, usually to give choices. I’ve talked about our walk to Nursery and how I needed to slow down and effectively smell the coffee. Today I want to talk about how the power of questions can really change your children’s outlook.

The biggest battle of wills

They don’t want to do or have what you are offering because you are only telling them. With their new voice, No is the best word in the world. They see the power. We need to give them chance to say, Yes!

Love and Logic, if I remember rightly, encourage as many choices as you can. We never thought that made total sense for our family.Partly because we’re just not able to think of at least two choices for everything we want to do at the time.  You have to think carefully.

Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt here?

Neither shirt is a problem to you.

They are more playful when they feel like they’ve had a say in their environment. So are we. It involved a change of mindset for us to think this way constantly.

Oatmeal or cereal?       OJ or milk?          This book or that book?

Learning can be either passive or active. Passive learning is when the parent is responsible for all learning conditions. Parents direct and children comply. Passive learning is easier for parents to do than active learning, but less beneficial for children….. Active learning is not only more exciting for children but usually results in better intellectual development

Ready to Learn: Goldberg

It starts simply with things like choosing which socks, and even this can seem like a hassle but they really love it. It’s part of the power we can give away. It continues with choices about food and learning how to express preference clearly and nicely, whether they be negative, neutral or positive. It continues with dinner games and question cards and leads to full discussions and learning about our children.

Communicating our values

Values are communicated and if we don’t’ hear what our children are thinking we have no chance of communicating our values to them in a way that they’ll be able to take on new information and make good choices about to do with these thoughts. I’m sure you’ve had the experience that what came out of your mouth was alien to what you thought you’d ever really say or even believe. But in the saying you realized it and perhaps changed or did something about it.

Yesterday we were reviewing our chore list for the umpteenth time. I want it to work. They want it to work. It breaks down regularly. After listening to a show about entitlement I decided to battle the chore problem yet again.
This time I added a time element….. It boiled down to having three chores and them deciding when to do them. Immediately they both sussed they didn’t need to do each chore each day. They had to decide when they would do it, how often etc. They asked me a lot of questions. Do I expect they will be perfect? No. But here’s a great opportunity to try out their decision-making process.

Last evening, over dinner, I asked how their chores went for the day. Proudly the oldest gave me his reasoning of why he’s decided to do his that way. His middle brother was listening. The middle one gave his very different version. I was able to ask how did it work for you? ( In true Dr Phil fashion!) We had an interesting dialogue about the struggles and they asked and each gave different answers.

Decision- making and the power of questions

At that moment, for the briefest of time, it didn’t matter if they had done the chores. Here they were actively discussing decision-making; the pitfalls of their brother’s ideas and congratulating them on what they did. I loved the process. The chores, to be honest were executed pretty well but they are a long work in progress.
It’s not always like this but I really believe the foundation of choices and active learning helps them to make decisions. They know we have each others back and we’re not afraid with our advice if we’re not sure.

How do you translate the power of questions into your family?

Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to a more Playful Tot.

If you enjoyed this post make sure you are subscribe to my mailing list with encouragement and ideas for Simple Parenting

The Power of Questions

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