4 Tips for Setting Goals with Kids

English: MICANOPY, Fla. (Aug 10, 2010) A Drug ...

English: MICANOPY, Fla. (Aug 10, 2010) A Drug Education for Youth (DEFY) summer camp attendee from Naval Air Station Jacksonville climbs a rock wall during a goal setting exercise at Camp McConnell in Micanopy, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles White/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good Afternoon,

As we start to focus on the quickly approaching school year, I would like to dive into 4 tips that will keep you and your kids on track.  Setting goals is nothing new, and you may already employ a great strategy to help your kids work towards what they want.  If you have a plan in place, perfect!  Use the comments section below to help others and chime in.  If you don’t have a goal setting plan in place or would like to revamp your current plan, here you go.

1.  Plan It Out

  • What do you need to meet your goal
  • Is there a time line
  • What is the result
  • Can you break it into smaller goals
  • Can you watch your progress

2. Break It Up

  • Short term plans (days or weeks)
  • Middle term plans  (weeks or months)
  • Long term plans (months or years)
Goal Setting

Goal Setting (Photo credit: lululemon athletica)

3.  Communicate

  • Verbally
    Everyone involved has knowledge of the plans and goals
  • Non-verbally
    Lists, charts, pictures, and any other way to keep you focused and on track
  • Seek out helpers and cheerleaders to guide and help you along the way

4.  Set Goals For Anything

  • School
  • Sports
  • Financial
  • Organizational
  • Chores
  • House Projects
  • Daily Routines
  • Behavior

It may take some time and extra effort to sit down and determine a goal and course of action.  Keep at it.  The more practice you and your child have the easier it will be to start down the path of a goal.  Realistic goal setting is a life skill that will benefit your child forever.  It will also get you out of the conversation about gifts, money, new skateboards, etc.  Give your child an opportunity to feel in control about earning rewards as well as feeling a sense of accomplishment.

How does your family set goals?  How do you encourage your child to work towards something?  Leave comments and suggestions below.

Good Luck ,




Jobs for Kids By Age (Article Review)

Good Morning,

I am a big supporter of kids helping out around the house.  Whether you offer rewards or simply expect your kids to pitch in, this list is a great place to start.  It easily breaks down jobs by age and gives several ideas in each age bracket.  If you start at a young age, these household skills as well as feelings regarding family participation will be better developed.  Long term this means less fighting, nagging, and whining.

What chores do your kids do?  How early did you start a chores system?

I would love to hear your story and address any questions or concerns you have about kids and household jobs.

Have a Great Week,



7 Tips to Successfully Introduce the New Puppy to Your Young Children

Came across this gem today as I was posting articles to Pinterest. As a dog owner and advocate of the family pet, I really liked how the author talked about meeting the dog’s needs as well as the kids’ benefit to helping with the new pet, like reading books, keeping the area free of debris, taking turns, assigning chores, etc. I read lots of good articles about this topic but this one jumped out at me as one that really thoughtfully summed up the steps to take and the reality of having puppies and kids.




Keeping Rules and Expectations Consistent when you have Guests

Note:  This week I will be re-posting an earlier blog.  I feel that the topics covered will especially help families during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Good Afternoon,

Today I will be talking about hosting guests at your house.  I remember when I was growing up…if we were bad under normal circumstances, we would get the “usual” punishment, but if we were bad when we had guests or were guests, the punishment was so much worse.  I knew the second my mom made “that face…” I was doomed.  I am laughing as I write this, just thinking about my parents and how mean I thought they were.  A little fun turned into a lot of trouble pretty quickly.

Below are some basics for preparing your kids to host guests, whether it be their friends, out-of-town family, or your boss.  The ideas here cover families with kids ranging from toddler to school age.  Use the ideas that best apply to your family.  While I understand that you have had guests in your home before now, a quick reminder is always nice on how to handle talking with your kids about hosting guests.  If you are struggling in this area, now is the perfect time to institute some of the below before the holidays.

Obviously you want to let your children know that you are having guests.  Start by telling them who is coming.  If it is someone they do not know, tell them how you know this person.  Talk to them about what it means to have guests.  This means talking about the expectations of their behavior, including how they act, where they play, and what they say.  If there are other kids coming remind them of the importance of sharing their toys.  Give them feedback throughout the evening about how they are doing.

If you have followed this blog at all you should by now see a common theme: consistency.  Above all else, the rules should not change no matter what.  It ultimately does not matter who is at your house.  If your kids break the rules, follow through with the usual punishment.  Many parents, like mine, even increase the punishment when there are guests at the house.  Ultimately, you want for people to feel welcomed and safe in your home.  Keeping the same high expectations for behavior lets your children know that they cannot get away with unacceptable behavior when guests are over.  I have turned down a few invitations to homes where I know that the kids are wild and the parents do nothing about it.

As always, get your kids involved in preparations for guests.  If you are hosting out-of-town guests have them help clean rooms, make beds, and prepare meals.  Kids love to show off their artwork.  To keep them busy while you get ready, have them create pictures and clay sculptures to show off or give to your guests.

Guests come to your house to see you and your family.  Make it easy for them during their visit by keeping routines and rules consistent.  Talk with your kids before, during, and after, and give them feedback on how they did.  Throw in special treats if they met or exceeded your expectations.  Always involve them from start to finish.  If they know the plan and how they fit in, they will have a great chance to live up to your expectations.

I am certain that all of you reading this will either have guests or be a guest this holiday season.  Have fun!

If you found this blog helpful please subscribe/like/re-tweet/share it.  I have also added lots of good pins to my Pinterest boards, so check them out too.

Good Luck,


Letters To Santa

Good Morning,

The holidays are almost here and I am sure you are already busy shopping, eating, and caroling.  If you are not in full holiday mode, there is still time!

Each year the post office is inundated with letters written to Santa.  Many children spend some time before Christmas creating a list of gifts they would like to receive.  As fun as this activity is, why not take it one step further?  Include an academic bent, and invite your kids to think a little deeper about the year past.

What you will need

  • Paper or Stationary
  • Pens, markers, pencils
  • Stickers
  • Craft supplies
  • Envelope
  • Stamps
  • An hour or more
  • Clean spot to work with lots of space

There are several ways your child can add an academic aspect to writing letters to Santa.

  • Use their best handwriting
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Open and close the letter correctly
  • Write their first and last name
  • Use paragraphs
  • Tell Santa what they have done to deserve the gifts

If you have a child that is not able to write a letter or doesn’t want to, there are several ways to get around that issue.

  • They dictate a letter that you write
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Draw pictures
  • Act/talk it out while you record them
  • Sing a song to Santa

Encourage your children to take part in this fun activity.  You can write back to them and praise their writing, singing, and good behavior over the past year.  Make this a family activity by having family members pose as Santa and write letters back.  Just have fun with this seasonal craft.

Good Luck,


Traveling with Kids

Kid on a leash

Image by cote via Flickr

Note:  This week I will be re-posting two blogs.  I feel that the topics covered will especially help families during the Thanksgiving holiday.  See below for the second post.  I’ll be resuming my posts next week.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Good Morning,

With the holidays approaching, I think now is a good time to start the discussion about traveling with your family.  Many people know that Thanksgiving travel is the busiest of the year, and with the holidays and crazy travel come a mountain of stress.  It is well worth the extra time upfront to gain confidence and control on the back-end.

Plan ahead
The weeks leading up to your travel are the most important planning period.  Getting laundry ready, snacks bought or prepared, deciding on luggage, and setting out all the things you will need are essential for a low-stress, successful trip.  Make lists to help you remember who is taking what and in which suit case.  Write down everything so that nothing is left or overlooked.

Seek advice
Check out this and other blogs and websites for tips and tricks to make your trip go smoothly.  I will be posting links to great sites at the bottom and sprinkling a few in the blog as well.  Ask friends, family, and school staff for help and advice regarding your child.  The DadLabs site has tons of great video blogs about traveling with the kids.

Car travel
If you are headed to the in-laws via car, you will want to consider several things.  Keep plenty of snacks and drinks handy for the kids to have while riding.  Make sure their seats and travel clothes are comfortable and can go the distance needed to get to grandma’s house.  You might want to travel during nap or sleep times like early morning, late evening, or in the afternoon so that the kids are naturally tired and more likely to sleep.  Plan stops along the way for stretching your legs, bathroom breaks, snacking, or running around.  It is very hard for young kids to sit for long periods of time.  Honestly, it is hard for most people.  Incentivize your trip by giving them treats, money, or toys to play with when you reach certain mile markers, towns, or minutes.  Check that all electronics are working properly before you leave home.  Extra batteries, cds, and movies are smart to have on hand.

Plane travel
Traveling via plane to your destination is somewhat of a different story and requires some different planning strategies.  Many experts say to travel early in the day.  Planes are often less crowded and more likely to take off and land on time.  Make sure your child has a good night’s sleep the night before your travel day.  This will ensure your child is well-rested and well-behaved for the flight.  It also allows them (and you) to better handle rough situations and chaos.  Take snacks, toys, blankets, or whatever your child needs to feel safe and comfortable on the flight.  Be reasonable with these items, ultimately you will be the one carrying your child and all the stuff they bring.  If your child gets motion sickness, you should speak with your doctor about some possible remedies.  I do not recommend self-medicating your child without the benefit of your healthcare provider’s wisdom.

Take the least amount of clothes and extras as possible.  The less you have to carry and keep track of, the better.  Bring a bib or two that covers your child during meals that you can easily wipe down.  Jeans and dark-colored clothes are easily worn for a few days.  Bring two pairs of pajamas in case there is an accident.  One or two pairs of shoes should be sufficient.  Remember that you can always buy things that are disposable, like diapers and wipes.  Ask friends or relatives to borrow large items such as a stroller, crib/playpen, high chair, and car seat.

I encourage you to take some time planning your trip and considering the needs of your family.  They deserve a vacation just as much as you do, so make it easy on yourself and enjoyable for them.  There are lots of great websites out there that talk about traveling with kids and lots of great products that help parents.  If you know a site or product from which others may benefit, please add it in the comments section below.  I wish everyone safe and enjoyable holiday planning and traveling this season!

Sites that you will want to check out:

Up with kids
15 Holiday Travel Don’ts

How to travel like a kid…

If you found these tips helpful subscribe/like/pass along this blog.

Good Luck,


Kids and Chores

Good Morning,

Whether you stay-at-home or are a working parent, it is nearly impossible to keep all aspects of family and life moving in the right direction.  The picture that comes to mind is that of a juggler trying to keep the balls in the air.  The more balls they add to the mix, the harder it is for them to keep track of and anticipate their next move.  I think many parents can relate to a juggler.

Personally, the first thing left undone when I have too much on my plate is housework.  I tell myself that I will do it after work or put in a little extra time on the weekend, but I never seem to get ahead of the mess.  Many of my clients look forward to the day that their children are old enough to help around the house.

I would like to suggest some ideas to consider regarding chores, and give some tips on getting your kids involved when it comes to housework.

Things to Think About

  • Are the jobs appropriate for your child’s age, ability, and free time?
  • Will they receive incentives for helping around the house?
  • How often are the jobs performed?  How much of a reward do you provide?
  • What lessons do you want them to learn?
  • What priority do you assign to chores?  Kids are juggling school, sports, and family commitments…
  • Will there be consequences for not doing chores or performing poorly?

Chores are a great way for kids to feel helpful around the house and take part as a responsible family member.  It also teaches teamwork and allows them to see how they affect the bigger picture.  Present the idea of chores early in life, when helping mom and dad is still seen as a positive treat.  Proffering rewards for help is up to you.  If you are planning on rewarding chores, below are a few ideas other than money.

  • Earning playdates with friends
  • Special outings for ice cream, movies, shopping, etc.
  • Additional free time with an activity of their choice
  • Staying up late
  • Sleeping in
  • Picking special breakfast, lunch, or dinner foods
  • One-on-one time with a person of their choosing
  • They get to pick the next week’s chores

Expecting kids to pitch in and help around the house is very appropriate.  How or if you choose to reward them is up to you.  Both systems work well, as long as you keep the rules and expectations consistent and fair.  If you are starting a new system and your kids are old enough, invite them to take part in the conversation and give their ideas for handling chores.

Sites with great chores lists:
Toddler Chore Chart

Chore Chart for Multiple Children

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Good Luck,



Tech Gadgets and Kids

Good Morning,

Holiday shopping has begun and the most popular gifts are always the newest tech gadgets.  Electronic games and portable players are on the top of most kid’s wish lists.  While tech toys and games are commonplace among children, you need to manage a balance between face time and tech time.  How do you find time and enforce this balance?

Many parents use portable games to ease their child’s boredom and keep their behavior in check.  I agree that for situations when you expect a kid to sit and behave for an extended period of time, like on an airplane, a game or movie is nice to have.  At other times, when a conversation or family time is the goal, leave electronic games and devices at home.

Keep control over tech devices by:

  • Starting with a plan that the family follows.
  • Determining when you want to allow kids to have tech devices and gadgets.  Stay consistent.  Put these times on your daily calendar/schedule where kids can see them.
  • Using gadgets as an incentive for kids when traveling.
  • Never replacing good parenting with tech gadgets. Gadgets should not be present at the table or any other family gathering.
  • Taking gadgets away as a disciplinary method if behavior needs to improve or if grades drop.
  • Keeping the conversation going about tech use and expectations.  Consistency and control are key here.
  • Purchasing age appropriate tech gadgets for your children.
  • Talk to your kids about internet safety and online use.

If you have not had a conversation with your family and partner about tech use, now is the time.  Don’t let your kids’ lives be run by their phones, gaming devices or iPods.  Remember that you are the authority and should always be the gate-keeper for more or less time with their tech gadgets.

Sites to check out:
Technology and Our Kids with Jennifer Jolly
Kids and Tech: How Much is Too Much?

A Study on Media Usage and Kids from Kaiser Family Foundation

Antisocial Networking?

If you have found this information helpful please subscribe/like/tweet/pass on.

Good Luck,


Family Participation

Good Morning,

Life is full of phases and transitions.  There are always factors at work changing our bodies and behaviors.  Young adults feel these factors more strongly (e.g. puberty).  Although everyone has generally gone through the same phases, it is easy to forget and struggle to connect to your child during these times.

When I was in third grade, I didn’t want to hang out with my family as often as I did when I was younger.  I had new friends at a new school and wanted to fit in and be part of their community.  I begged my mom to drive me to sleepovers or to the mall with friends so I could walk around, talk and look at boys.  I wanted nothing to do with family dinners or weekends shopping with my mom.  Does this sound familiar?  Let me give you a few ideas to help find a family/friend balance with your child.

Don’t Demand
One of the easiest ways to stifle participation with the family is to demand it.  Forcing your kids to talk or hang out with you and the family is the last thing on their list.  However, this phase in their life should be recognized as just that: a phase.  Ultimately, demanding merely creates resentment and anger towards each other.

Find a Common Ground
Pick activities your child enjoys and do them together.  This will help bridge the gap.  Get them involved by asking them what they would like to do, eat, see, whatever.  Give them a budget and ask them to plan a family night out, activity, or class involving the entire family.

Respect Their Decisions
There will be times when your child chooses their friends over their family.  Respect this decision and move on.  Do what you had planned anyway and have a good time without them.  Do not guilt trip them into coming along or brag about the fun times you had without them.  Remember that it is normal and natural for kids to want to spend time with their friends and fit in with their peers.

Invite their Friends
Inviting your children’s friends to join your family is a great way to get your child to come along.  They may want to talk with their friend and somewhat avoid the family, but at least you are together.  This also allows you to meet their friends and get to know the kids with whom they are spending time.

Start Early
Start a precedent early in life by scheduling family time and planning activities together as a family.  If kids are accustomed to hanging out with the family and participating with the family, they will already find value in spending time together.  Do not try to start family time when you see that they are breaking away from the family, start early.

Start an Activity Together
Finding an activity that no one has experienced is always fun.  Everyone starts on equal footing. Take a class, start a sport, travel, or volunteer together.  These are great ways to spend time while trying something new.  I have a few friends that started Martial Arts at the same time their children began taking lessons.

Family Dinners
Many families enjoy eating dinner together.  However, it may be difficult to get everyone to the table at the same time.  Have a dinner out once a week (or month), allowing each family member to take a turn picking the restaurant.  Planning a weekly menu is another great way to spend time with your kids.  Get them involved with planning (and eating) meals.

Question Jar
Having fun and interesting conversations at dinner will get your kids interested in sharing and participating during this time.  Skip the “how was your day” and fill a jar with questions the family can ask and answer.  I love Table Topics and have given them as gifts to parents several times.  There are lots of great websites to find conversation starters as well.

Game Night
Even at the age of thirty, I still love family game night.  We used to play Catch Phrase growing up…we still tell stories of funny situations.  Family Game night can be a board game, putt putt golf, a battle on the XBox , or a jam session on Rock Band.  It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you are playing together.

Talk to Them
Sometimes all it takes for your child to participate is some words of encouragement.  Tell them how much fun they are and how great it is spending time with them.  Talk about fun times you’ve spent together and ask when you can do that again.  They may not know how important it is to you that they participate in family events unless you tell them.

Allow your child to have some leeway about when they want to spend time with the family.  Don’t force them, but encourage them and plan things that they enjoy doing.  Helping them find a balance between friends and family will bridge the gap during these growing years.

Check out these great family sites:

Family rock climbing with the The Kid Project
100 Family conversations at Aha! Parenting.com
Surviving family game night at An Exercise in Narcissism

If you have found these tips helpful subscribe, like, or pass this blog along.

Good Luck,


The Joy of Siblings

Two Sisters

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

As a child growing up with siblings, I am not sure how we all made it to adulthood.  There were a few fights that I felt lucky to survive.  While there is some hyperbole here, this is a common sentiment for most people with siblings.  It always seemed that my only-child friends were the lucky ones.  They got all the attention, all the presents around the holidays and did not have to share anything.

My sister has been a major part of the best times of my life as well as an accomplice in the worst decisions of my life.  I am lucky to have her even though I didn’t always think that way.  At times, I know that my parents struggled to treat us equally while encouraging our individuality.  It is not easy being a parent in any circumstance.  Below are some strategies for keeping the peace while maintaining equal and unique relationships with each of your children.

Give each child their own space
Provide a room for each child or a spot in a shared room that is all their own.  It is important that kids have a place where they can go to get away from the rest of the family.  Let them keep some personal possessions there.  Do not let other siblings bother this space, and be sure to treat it with respect.

All kids are equal but not the same
Allow each child to share their strengths with the family.  Foster individuality and self-worth by encouraging each child to seek out and pursue their own interests.  Also, each child may not need the same type or amount of discipline.  Act upon your knowledge of each child in order to tailor your behavior and discipline methods for each.

Model the behavior you would like to see in them
It is absolutely essential to insist on good communication and the respectful treatment of each other from your kids.  Model this behavior by communicating with them and your spouse in a mature way.  Not only should you ask this of them, you should be sure you show this to them.

When to jump in and when to stay out
For many parents with multiple children, the yelling, bickering, hitting, and general fighting can get old.  Help kids by giving them an opportunity to work things out themselves.  Encourage them to talk it out or separate themselves.  Verbally encourage them to do this.  If they cannot work it out or they get physical with each other, step in and mediate or provide discipline.  They should never be allowed to physically fight without consequences.  If you wouldn’t allow your child to hit, kick, bite or hurt another child, you need to maintain consistency when they engage in this type of behavior with their siblings.

What is good for one may not be good for all
Disciplining all kids due to the behavior of one creates undue anger and resentment between siblings.  If one child is not able to behave properly, remove them from the situation or keep them from the event.  Unfortunately, this is not always possible.  If one of your children misbehaves and you are by yourself, my advice is to go home and put the offender in their room while you create a fun activity or treat for the other one.  Don’t allow the well-behaved child to brag or tease the offender.

Take time alone with each child
A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of spending one-on-one time with your kids.  This can be a reward and it can also be a time for you to catch up.  It is extremely important for each of your children to get your undivided attention now and then.  Special dates should be put on the calendar and honored as you would any other appointment.

Having siblings and creating good relationships with them is one of life’s greatest gifts.  Help your kids get past sibling rivalry while forging a meaningful relationship.  It takes time and energy, but is well worth it.

For more help dealing with siblings check out these sites:

Girlie’s Blog has way to reduce sibling rivalry
Great post over at Simple Kids
Suite 101 gives some ideas about Fostering Sibling Love

Good Luck,