What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents

A teacher friend of mine posted this article on Facebook.  I really liked how it played out situations that happen too often in parent-teacher conversations.  The best take away advice I got from this article,”We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer.”

Have you had conversations like this regarding your child?  How did you resolve the issues with the teacher?  How did you come to terms about your child’s behavior?  Do you have a partnership with your child’s teacher and school.  Chime in and let me know.

– Katherine



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,


Playing with a Purpose

Good Afternoon,

A few weeks ago the family for whom I nanny asked me to start incorporating more academics into our daily routine.  Their daughter, who just turned 4, is really starting to get excited about reading, writing, and general academic concepts.  Although I have been sneaking in academics all along the way, this request really got me thinking about how to add more focused learning into casual play.

I have concluded that you don’t have to change the type of play, just your focus.  I love Pinterest especially for all the amazing ideas people put up for specific learning techniques.  There are tons of ways to introduce math, reading, and writing concepts to your child and people keep inventing more each day.  I also love that parents can go to a website and access lots of these ideas the instant they are stuck or need more strategies to help their child.  Never before have so many wonderful and unique ideas been at our fingertips.  But I am left asking why?  Parents can easily add academics into everyday life without spending money, and even without referring to a website like Pinterest for ideas.  Here’s how.

Focused play is the idea that you are introducing or teaching concepts through casual play with your child.  You don’t have to get super creative or spend lots of time, energy, or money inventing new ways to learn common concepts.

Steps in Focused Play

  • Before engaging in play with your child, set a goal or concept you would like to focus on.  It is much easier if your choose a very specific goal or concept.
  • Communicate with your child that you would like to work on _____.  “While we play with these blocks I want to work on counting.”  This reinforces the goal for you and introduces the concept to your child.
  • While playing ask age/level appropriate questions related to your goal.  “How many blocks do you have in your hand?” or “How many purple blocks are on the table?”  Keep the questions focused and relate them back to your goal or concept.
  • Keep a mental note of how your child does.  Does your child understand your questions?  Do they know how to respond correctly?  Are they responding with the correct answer?  Are there areas that could use some extra work?
  • Don’t force focused play.  I believe that we achieve the best learning when a child is ready, willing, and able to learn.  If they are not interested in what you are trying to introduce, take a break and try again another day.
  • Always praise your child for trying, participating, or accomplishing the goal.  This will earn you points towards another focused play time later as well as make your child feel like they did a good job.
  • Match concepts with those being covered in school.  This will give your child a double dose of the same ideas and allow them to learn in different settings, from different people, and in new ways.

Parents know what activities and toys their children love.  Use that to your advantage and make up new games and ways to play with the same favorites.  Lots of times this is fun for the child and the parent!

How do you incorporate news ways to learn into everyday play?  Chime in below with your ideas.  Have questions specific to your family or situation?  Ask away!  Questions, comments, thoughts, and ideas are always welcome. 

For more great ideas on focused play, check out these links:

Displaying Kids Artwork

Improving Academic Skills

20 Indoor Activities for Kids

Good Luck,



When Your Child Lies

Good Morning,

At some point in life everyone has lied.  It doesn’t matter who you lied to or what you lied about, the fact is we have all done it.  Maybe we lied out of fear?  Maybe we got away with a lie and felt that it was a good way to handle a stressful situation.  Kids lie about all sorts of things.  For most kids lying is like a coat that they try on and take off when it doesn’t fit.  For others it becomes more of a lifestyle.  How do we get kids to stop lying, while simultaneously building a trusting relationship where they feel secure in their actions and words?

Over the past few weeks I have followed other bloggers and family professionals.   I would like to showcase some of their ideas as they relate to this blog and the families that I professionally support. I feel that their work goes hand in hand with my own and that they bring clarity to specific situations while offering concise strategies.

Dr. Bryan Post of the Post Institute has worked with families that have adopted children from abused and neglected situations.  His breakdown of why kids lie and how to handle a situation is very closely related to my own thoughts and process.

  • Kids often lie because they feel stress, fear, confusion, or are overwhelmed
  • Look to the emotion behind the lie to determine the cause
  • When you determine the underlying emotion you can ignore the lie and help the child deal with the emotion
  • When a child lies, check your own level of stress to handle the situation calmly and effectively
  • The goal is to build a trusting and secure relationship where your child feels that they do not ever have to lie

What to do when you are in the situation

  1. Check your stress level: are you able to approach your child in a calm and controlled way?
  2. Approach your child and let them know that everything is going to be ok and things will work out.
  3. Walk away and give your child some space.  Allow them to process your words and body language.
  4. Come back to them after some time and let them know that it hurts you when they lie.  Tell them that they can always trust you and that their safety and well-being is your priority.
  5. Let it rest.

There is no need to bring up the lie, because it doesn’t matter what they lied about.  Becoming upset about the lie teaches your child to become a better liar.  What matters is that your child knows that they can come to you when they are feeling stressed, sad, angry, overwhelmed, etc., and that you will help them through their emotions.

This video by Bryan Post plays out this situation and shows you how to approach your child when they lie.  If you have caught your child in this situation, it is worth taking a look.

As you may have noticed I will be cutting down on the number of posts per week.  I would like to spend less time blogging and more time with my clients.  As always, if you would like my support or strategies for a handling a difficult situation please contact me directly.

Good Luck,



Caretakers – Tips to Make it Work

Good  Morning,

This week I have talked about caretakers for your child.  Finding a perfect match, exchanging important information, and having a nuts and bolts discussion are all key elements to making the relationship between you and your child’s caretaker really work.  The breadth of information that I have covered may not all pertain to you or your situation, but I hope to give you a realistic look at what it takes to find and hire the right person for you, and more importantly for your child.

Today, I would like to end this series with a look at how to make it work.  You’ve found the right person, asked the right questions, talked about the details…now what?  Here are my tips on taking the final step and going from good to great.

  • View the caretaker as a partner
  • Include them in decisions about your child
  • Invite them to milestones in your child’s life, like birthdays and school events
  • Ask them for advice and input
  • Introduce them to family, friends, and neighbors that they should contact and that have other kids to play with
  • Have food and snacks that they enjoy on hand
  • Stick to the schedule you have agreed upon
  • Thank them for their work and commitment – words or small gifts, birthdays, holidays, etc.
  • Coordinate changes to the schedule in advance
  • Keep the house, child’s room and general supplies organized and well-supplied

At the end of the day, go with your gut feeling.  This is probably the single most important aspect of choosing a caretaker.  This person will be taking care of your child in your home, and you need to trust them completely.  I have laid out the ground work for you to take the correct steps in finding a perfect caretaker for your children.  As I mentioned yesterday it is well worth the time, effort, and money upfront to gain a champion for your child.

Please let me know if you have any questions.  Feel free to contact me if you would like recommendations for your specific situation.  I would love to help you find the perfect caretaker!

Good Luck,



Classifying Consequences

Good Morning,

I was explaining different types of consequences to a client the other day and thought that it might be helpful to take a step back and give some definitions and examples.  A consequence is the result of something that happened earlier.  In the case of children it is usually the result of a behavior and seen as a negative result.  There are two main types of consequences, natural and logical.  Here are explanations of both and ways to make them work.

Natural consequences– you go out into the rain and get wet

  • Once you’ve stated the consequence do not rescue the child
  • Allow your child to experience their choices, safely
  • After the situation talk with your child about making a different and better decision the next time and what that looks like

Logical consequences– ones we create e.g.: if, then.

  • Positive logical – if you get these toys picked up quickly, we can have more time to play
  • Negative logical – if you don’t pick these toys up, I am going to put them away for a few days
  • Make sure the consequence is related to the child’s behavior and their actions
  • Be as immediate as possible
  • Match the intensity of the consequence to the intensity of the behavior

Allow your child to take responsibility for their actions and learn from them.  Talk about ideas to help the situation ahead of time, like a checklist.  Make the consequence something that YOU can follow through with.  This takes time as well as practice, so be patient with yourself and your child.

Sites to check out:
Natural and Logical Consequences

The Natural Child Project

Why You Should Let Your Child Fail

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

Good Luck,



Time Out Method for Kids

fearfull and crying child before dental treatment

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

For many parents, one of the most difficult days experienced is the day they realize that they need to start a more structured, more serious discipline plan.  As I mentioned a few days ago, it is important that you and your partner go into a discipline plan with a method that you have agreed upon.  Tailor your plan to your child’s needs and be sure both of you are able to consistently enforce the plan.

There are numerous discipline plans.  Today I am focusing on the time-out method.  I have always liked and followed the plan offered by Love and Logic.  Today, I aim to give you the best parts of their method in addition to adding some strategies of my own.  I believe that this method is very effective if you remain consistent.

Follow the below steps when using the time-out method of discipline:

  1. Communicate with your child that you will be using a new plan starting today.  Let them know that when they make a bad decision you are going to put this plan into action.
  2. Designate a cue word or phrase.  I like to use the word “bummer.”  I simply say the word “bummer, ” and they know that they are going to time-out and that they have made a bad decision.
  3. Remove your child from the situation.  Designate a place in your home, like their bedroom, or a corner for them to sit in.  If you are out of your house, simply remove them from the situation where they cannot be distracted by their friends.  Allow your child to sit alone for a few minutes.  If they are throwing a tantrum, let them work it out on their own.  It is very normal for them to be angry at themselves for making a bad decision.  Calmly and authoritatively escort them to the designated area and leave them for a few minutes.
  4. Allow them to sit and calm down or think for a few minutes.  Do not let them get up or leave this area until you let them.  You may need to close the door and keep it closed by force (if necessary).  Do not talk to them or interact with them in any way until they are out of time-out.
  5. When you are both calm, open the door and have a quick chat about the situation and why they were in time-out.  “It is dangerous when…,”  “It is never acceptable to hit/kick our friends,”  “I need you to listen to me the first time I ask you to…”  Tell them what response you expect in a situation, and ask them if they would like to try it again.
  6. Finish with some positive words.  Tell them that you know they will make a different/better decision next time, or that you love them no matter what and will always help them in stressful times.  Let them know that you care about them and their well-being and move on.
  7. Allow them to make the situation right.  They can clean up a mess, apologize to a friend, show you that they know what to do.  When they make the right decision, praise them.

Other tips to make it work

  • Act immediately upon the situation.  Do not wait until you get home or until there is someone else to enforce the punishment
  • Use the time when your child is in time-out to regroup and calm down.  A child’s misbehavior is equally frustrating for the parents.  Give yourself a chance to make the best decisions for your child in a calm and controlled way.
  • If you choose to give a warning, stick with it.  No discipline method will work if you are not serious about acting upon your words.  I think it is great to allow your child to make a good decision right then, but if they do not, stick with the plan.

Give your child a structured and controlled environment to live in.  For many kids, guesswork leads to mistakes.  As their environment and decisions become better-defined, their behavior improves.  If you provide well-established boundaries as well as the consequences for straying outside the lines, they are more likely to choose to stay within those lines.

More information regarding the time-out method of discipline:

The history of this method at Wikipedia
Easy to follow plan from the University of Minnesota
The Center for Effective Parenting has a ton of information
Time-in or Time-out at WebMD

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

Good Luck,


Helping Toddlers with Social Skills

kids (5)

Image by Greg L. photos via Flickr

Good Morning,

It is never too early to start learning how to make friends and be social.  Social skills rank very high on our society’s value scale.  If you are unable, unwilling, or do not know how to get along with others, you tend to be ostracized or cast aside as unfriendly or “weird.”  No matter how smart you are or how good you are at a particular sport, social skills always matter.

I think it is wise for parents of toddlers to look at three main sets of skills when they are assessing their child’s overall achievement.  First, academic skills.  Reading, writing, and math fall into this category.  Second, emotional skills.  This entails handling happiness, anxiety and sadness in a healthy way.  Finally, social skills.  Social skills refer to the way you interact with other people, mainly your peers.  All three sets of skills play a major role in your child becoming a functional and socially accepted adult.

I would like to offer some ideas that you may consider when thinking about your child’s social well-being.

Take inventory
What does your child do well?  What do they need work on?  Be honest with yourself and determine where you would like to see your child socially.  Taking turns, keeping your hands to yourself, using the appropriate volume, and solving social problems are all places to take inventory.  It is alright if your child needs work on some or all of the areas mentioned.

Look at your own social skills
Modeling social skills for your child is the fastest and best way for them to learn.  Showing them the Golden Rule is a great place to start.  How do you handle stressful situations, especially in front of your kids?  Now is a good time to start monitoring your actions to teach your kids the appropriate way to interact with others.  Model the behaviors that you want them to learn.

Use Consistent Vocabulary
Using the same words for the same situations is helpful for your child.  Turn taking is always just that, sharing can always be called the same thing.  Grouping “like actions” by calling them by the same name will help your child learn the general concepts faster.

Practicing social skills and social situations is very beneficial for both you and your child.  This is also an occasion to have some fun!  It gives you an opportunity to see how your child reacts in certain situations and allows you to correct their behavior in an unthreatening and casual way.  It also allows you to tell them while modeling this behavior for them at the same time.  For your child, it is an opportunity to practice skills without the risk of hurting others or getting in trouble.

Be Patient
All kids make mistakes and read situations wrong.  We have all been there and made bad choices.  Talk about it.  If discipline is in order then follow through with that as well.  Do not expect your child to know a skill that you have not taught them.  Kids do not know that hitting and biting can hurt others until you teach them.

Treat every situation the same
Consistency is the key to teaching your toddler how to behave with others.  It does not matter where you are or who is in your present company.  If your child makes a bad social call, treat it the same as you would otherwise.  If hitting is never ok, then be consistent with that.

If your child handles a situation correctly or comes to you for help, praise them.  Tell them what a good job they did.  If they know that they did a good job, they are more likely to repeat that act.

Do not embarrass them
Embarrassing a child is never the correct way to teach them.  Working with your child (and not against them) is the best way to foster a relationship of trust and understanding, even when they make a mistake.  It is important for your child to know that even when they make mistakes, you are there to support and help them.

It is never too early in your child’s life to model and teach them how to act around others.  Take the opportunity to mold your child into a person that other people want to be around, work with, and like.

Other great links from around the web:

10 Great tips at Raising Kids Who Care
Thought provoking ideas at  Parenting Perspectives

Good Luck,


Communication Basics: Personal/Me Time

forest of solitude.

Image by Casey David via Flickr

Good Morning,

Today’s communication blog discusses one of the most important, often overlooked aspects related to communication: personal time.  Many people realize good communication takes practice to execute properly.  Relationships must be fostered to encourage good communication.  We need time to evaluate our own communication skills when putting new strategies in play.  However, realize that taking some personal time to use communication effectively and thoughtfully changes the game completely.  It can reset a bad mood, turn around an unpleasant situation, and calm fires.

Today I would like to emphasize the importance of taking time for yourself, as well as some ways people fit personal time into their very busy lives.  As mentioned above, taking time for yourself allows you to evaluate your communication skills as well as rest your body and mind.  I am not saying that you need to spend hours dissecting a conversation,  analyzing every word or gesture, but it is important to think about meaningful conversations from your life and learn from them.  I think it is fair to say that parents want to give their families the best they have to offer.  People require time to recharge, refuel, and rest so we can perform optimally.

The Value of  Adult Personal Time
Personal time provides an opportunity to be by yourself or away from your family and kids.  You may choose to take advantage of this time in many ways.  It may allow you to:

  • Evaluate a situation
  • Practice better communication skills
  • Spend time in silence, without any stimulation, especially noise
  • Physically rest your mind and body
  • Catch up on other relationships
  • Write, sing, read, or other cathartic activities
  • Pamper yourself
  • Relieve emotional strain that you would not otherwise show your kids
  • Be physically active, like working out
  • Take part in hobbies

The Value of Personal Time for Children
Personal time for kids is time away from parents (and sometimes siblings).  It is very natural for kids (toddlers and older) to go into their room or play area and close the door.  This is their way of telling you that they want to be alone.  Respect their wishes and leave them alone for a period of time.  This time is an opportunity for them to:

  • Physically and mentally rest
  • Practice words, phrases, and sounds
  • Stop negative behavior, or evaluate a negative situation, e.g. time out
  • Spend time alone and away from parents and siblings
  • Play with toys of their choosing, without sharing
  • Experience silence and a stimulation-free time

It is very hard to fit in alone time when you have a family.  The needs of the group often come before the needs of any individual.  As I said earlier, it is extremely important to recharge your batteries to give your family and partner your best.  I know a mom that loves taking her kids to sports in the afternoon because it means an hour to sit and read alone.  I also know parents who wake up early to get in a workout or a cup of coffee before the rest of the family wakes up.  Girls’ night out, football games with the guys, and date nights are all ways to pamper yourself and get some time in with your friends.  I like to clean up after dinner alone.  Even after a huge party, when everyone wants to help, I keep them out of my kitchen.  A friend of mine goes into work early to read the paper.  He doesn’t do work or clock in, just sits and enjoys some quiet time.

A great gift for your partner is some alone time.  A night to themselves or a weekend day to do whatever is always appreciated, and hopefully they will reciprocate the gift!  It gives them a chance to unwind while you get an opportunity to spend some one on one time with your kids.  The next time you find yourself alone think about how great it is for you and how great it will be for your family.

More articles related to this topic:

The Importance of Alone-Time

Get Some Alone Time

The importance of time away from your kids

Parent Map

A Parenting Vacation

Good Luck,


Back to School Blues

Good morning!

For many students around the country, the upcoming weeks will bring them back to school.  Back to the routine of early mornings, school lunches and homework.  For many kids this is a time of excitement, but for other kids this time of year brings anxiety and fear.  Maybe they had a tough summer or moved to a new school.  Maybe they were bullied last year or had a hard time with academics.  Possibly they did not get into the class of the teacher they wanted or are not with their friends.

For children who are showing signs of anxiety, it may be difficult for parents to connect with or help them.  What does anxiety in kids look like?  Similar to adults, kids can show anxiety in a number of ways.  Changes in sleeping, eating, mood, or emotions are all possible signs of anxiety.  As the first few weeks back to school can set the tone for the entire year, it is important to act fast.

For children that are fearful or feeling negative about school, the key is figuring out the issues, handling them, and moving on.  Skipping school is not an option, and doesn’t deal with the underlying problem.  Dealing with the issues is the only way to get back on track.  Asking questions and providing examples from your own experiences will allow you and your child to put words to feelings.  After identifying the issues you can begin to resolve them.  Even if you can’t resolve all of the issues right away, you now know where your child might need some extra support and conversation.

Good luck to everyone in the coming weeks.  I will be blogging with some tips to make the transition easier for parents and students as well as some ideas for making this school year the best one yet.

– Katherine

More articles related to this topic: