I love the idea of busy bags! I first discovered the idea when my first daughter was a toddler and I was beginning to work on homeschooling her while I was working from home. And I needed lots of ideas for fun activities for toddlers.
Busy bags offer fun and simple activities that are mostly focused on learning and motor skills and happily keep little ones busy for at least 15-20 minutes. And that’s light years for moms with toddlers!
Here is a list of fun and easy busy bags that are perfect for your 2-year-old. This means the pieces aren’t too small, they’re easy and engaging for toddlers to do, and they don’t contain stuff that’ll ruin your house when you’re not looking.
You’re welcome for that last one!
How to Make Your Own Busy Bags the Cheap and Easy Way
You can also just use durable slide locking Ziploc bags like these. Honestly, that’s what I use because they’re cheaper and bigger. They just don’t look at cute as the colorful ones.
Then you’ll want to search lists like this one and find a few busy bags you want to make. Create a list of supplies. Try to first use what you have on hand first and also look at the clearance area inside most craft stores.
Once you have your supplies, it’s time for the fun to begin! You can also allow your older kids to make the busybags, if you have older kids. If not, put your toddler to bed and turn on your favorite Netflix show and start crafting.
This may be weird to you but I don’t like making my busy bags in front of my toddler. I love showing them when it’s all done. I don’t want to spoil the magic. But obviously do what works for you.
Finally, if you make a whole batch you’ll want to store them somewhere that keeps them from getting damaged. You can store in a drawer or a plastic bin that’s just for busy bags.
Pro mom tip: Do NOT store them with your toddler’s regular toys or in a place they can reach them on their own.
For one, you want them to be special every time you present them. This honestly keeps them playing so much longer. And two, you don’t want to walk in the room to see all your carefully crafted busy bag items all dumped into one glorious pile!
Talk about mom meltdown.
Now let’s get to all the fun.
27 Busy Bag Activities for 2 Year Olds
I’ve divided the busy bag ideas into categories so you can easily find the type of activity you want to work on first.
One of the biggest concerns for new breastfeeding moms is how to increase breastmilk. I know this was the case for me when all three of my babies were born.
I struggled with low milk supply and many other breastfeeding challenges that I hope to prevent for other sleep deprived, frustrated, and confused moms.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not in the camp of moms who were instantly blessed with a steady flow of liquid gold for their new baby. Or you certainly wouldn’t be wasting your previous time reading this!
You’re probably dealing with long days and even longer nights searching for the best breastfeeding tips and wondering if your baby is getting enough milk.
When you do pump, you produce a few meager ounces. This can be frustrating and depressing. Can I offer you some friendly advice first? Do NOT go down that dark road. It leads to no where.
Keeping your mind on the positive and having a positive expectation goes a long way!
Boost Your Milk Supply
Each of the natural methods to boost your milk supply shared here are proven safe and will only help you. A few do have side effects so be sure to read those before trying any new supplements and checking with your Doctor.
Just remember that every woman’s body is different and there are never any guarantees. If you find that your body just doesn’t cooperate, know you’re NOT alone.
I formula fed all three of my babies after breastfeeding and they are three of the healthiest, brightest, and smartest kids I know… if I do say so myself.
There is never any shame in feeding your baby in any way that’s needed or chosen by you… a loving mother.
Now, let’s explore all the ways to increase your breast milk supply naturally. But first I just want to say that I’m not a lactation expert. Just another mom who cares a lot and does a TON of research!
Boosting your milk supply can be a tricky thing because it’s hard to tell why your milk supply is low to begin with. You may be tempted to start pumping to see how much milk you can make.
This is not necessarily going to give you a good gauge because every baby’s milk needs are unique and you may be making just the right amount of milk for your baby. And babies are much more efficient at removing milk from the breast than a pump. Many pumps just don’t work well.
Many moms also think their supply is low because their breasts don’t feel full or their baby is very fussy all the time.
These can be caused by things other than low supply. First, breasts that produce plenty of milk will often never feel full which is totally normal. And secondly a fussy baby can be cause by many things like reflux.
3 clear signs that your milk supply may be low are:
Your baby isn’t wetting enough diapers. A typical infant should be wetting at least 5 diapers in a 24 hour period from 5 days old and onward.
Your baby isn’t soiling enough diapers. A typical newborn should be soiling at least 3 diapers per day beyond day 5. This is sometimes less or more depending on your baby.
If you suspect your milk supply is low and your baby isn’t getting enough milk, make an appointment with both your baby’s pediatrician and a certified lactation consultant right away.
Boosting your milk supply is something you’ll have to work at and most likely experiment with until you find something that works for your body. This isn’t an overnight process… nothing is with parenting.
You just need to decide what you want to do and stick with it until you see results. And get all the help you need because you and your baby deserve it!
Here are many proven and highly recommended methods you can try to boost your milk supply. Remember, most of these won’t work overnight, so try them for at least a week to see how your body responds.
Using Fenugreek to boost milk supply is one of the most popular ways breastfeeding moms are increasing their milk. It’s been shown to increase supply within 24-72 hours, but that, of course, may vary from mom to mom.
Fenugreek is an herb. Its primary uses are as an herb or spice in Indian and Persian cuisine and as a galactagogue for breastfeeding mothers.
Fenugreek is safe but shouldn’t be used by those who are diabetic, have a chickpea or peanut allergy, or have asthma.
There are many ways to use Fenugreek. Here are just a few of the easiest ways:
Take in simple capsule form. The capsules generally come in 610mg and it’s recommended to take 2 capsules 3 times per day with food. That’s a total of 6 capsules per day. (Dosing source) | Here is a capsule that gets high ratings from breastfeeding moms.
Take in a tea form. Many moms swear by Mother’s Milk Tea and is an easy way to take Fenugreek. It has a slightly sweet licorice taste.
Take in a powder form. You can use Fenugreek powder to milk in lactation smoothies to pump up the nutrients you’re getting while breastfeeding. The only downside to using a powder is the high price tag.
Brewer’s Yeast Breastfeeding
Brewer’s yeast is another popular and effective supplement to boost a low milk supply. Though it’s not known exactly why brewers yeast helps increase breastmilk supply it also has some other good benefits such as lowering blood sugar levels for diabetics, may help lower cholesterol levels, and helps nourish skin and hair.
It’s also believed to elevate moods and feelings of mild depression. And with so many moms suffering from Postpartum Depression, it’s worth a try!
It also has some possible side effects such as upset stomach, cramps, and an increased risk of yeast infections.
You can take brewer’s yeast in a simple powder form. This brand of brewer’s yeasthas hundreds of happy mom reviews! Just add 1-2 tablespoons to your favorite drink, lactation smoothie, or lactation cookie once per day.
More Breastfeeding Supplements
There are more, less common supplements to use for increasing your milk supply.
Always talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant before taking any herbal treatments. For many centuries, herbal remedies have been used as medications. And, just like prescription drugs, herbs and plants can have side effects. And, depending on the preparation, some herbs can even be toxic.
Increase Breastmilk Through Pumping
You can also increase your milk supply through pumping. Also known as power pumping. The concept is simple, the more your baby nurses or you pump the more signals your body receives to tell it to produce more milk.
“If you want to boost your milk supply fast, power pumping can help by creating an artificially high demand for breast milk. By increasing the number of times you pump, you give your body the message to increase milk production.” — Helen Anderson, Chief Lactation Officer
Power pumping works great for moms who’ve already established their milk supply and noticed a dip in their supply or haven’t been able to nurse baby consistently for a number of reasons such as returning to work or a painful breast infection.
It also works for moms who are exclusively pumping as I did with my son. He was admitted in the hospital after 4 days old due to critically low bilirubin levels. I wasn’t even able to hold him more than a few minutes per day.
I had to start pumping right away for days and he never took to the breast so I decided to pump exclusively for as long as I could.
Power pumping helps to mimic cluster feeding which is a natural increase in your baby’s desire and need for milk. Which your body will naturally respond to with increased milk supply.
Power pumping really requires a time commitment. Basically, you’ll need to set aside an hour for your full power pumping session which will look like this:
You’ll pump both breasts for 20 minutes
Rest for 10 minutes
Pump for 10 minutes
Rest for 10 minutes
Pump for 10 minutes
You can do this at least 2 times a day until you see your supply increase and then gradually reduce your power pumping sessions.
Foods to Increase Breastmilk
Aside from staying very hydrated by drinking lots of water during and in between nursing sessions, there are also foods that tend to help increase milk production. These are referred to as lactation foods or the lactation diet.
Vegetables like carrots, yams, and dark leafy greens
When to Know When it’s Time to Supplement with Formula
There are times when it’s appropriate and even necessary to begin supplementing with formula. If you think you may need to supplement, I urge you to get medical support from your baby’s pediatrician and your own Doctor or lactation consultant.
And never feel pressured to keep breastfeeding or start supplementing if you’re not comfortable or ready. As long as your baby is meeting the above guidelines, you most likely have time to make the best decision for your baby without the pressure from professionals who may not share your convictions.
Do you have a tip that worked to increase your breastmilk supply? Please share it in the comments below!
I love to learn from watching videos because sometimes reading and looking at diagrams just doesn’t cut it, especially when learning to breastfeed.
These breastfeeding videos have been carefully curated to only offer the best and easiest advice to help you learn to breastfeed easily and avoid many breastfeeding pitfalls and commonly made mistakes.
You’ll learn the best ways to get a good latch, the best positions to use, and what to do to heal sore nipples (which is extremely common!).
Breastfeeding Videos to Get a Good Latch
This video gives great information on understanding your baby’s hunger queues and how to get your body position up for a comfortable and effective feeding session.
This tutorial created by FitPregnancy and taught by Corky Harvey is extremely helpful in teaching breastfeeding moms how to get a deep latch. Having a deep latch ensures your baby gets the most milk and helps greatly reduce sore nipples.
This video also shows very well how to get a good latch, especially with a newborn.
Breaking a bad latch or needing to remove baby from the breast for any reason is difficult and very painful if not done correctly. This quick video shows you how to do it the right way.
Breastfeeding Videos to Teach Breastfeeding Positions
This video quickly covers the proper way to do two of the most popular, chair-seated positions. These are the easiest positions to try for your newborn.
The Cross-Cradle Position
The Football Hold Position
The Side-Lying Position
Videos on Tandem Breastfeeding
This video shows you how to easily breastfeed twins at the same time which is so helpful to helping you keep your sanity and not be breastfeeding every second of the day!
In you have a toddler that’s still breastfeeding you don’t necessarily need to stop breastfeeding your toddler when your new baby arrives. This video shows you how to tandem feed your newborn and your toddler.
Videos on Breastfeeding Challenges
This tutorial shares what cluster feeding is and how to successfully survive when your newborn needs to cluster feed.
Sarah from This Mama Life shares her inspiring story on her challenging start to breastfeeding. She didn’t quit and now is happily breastfeeding her baby and now shares her best tips and encouragement.
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby or are already breastfeeding now, you need all the hacks and breastfeeding tips you can get your hands on.
Breastfeeding isn’t easy, well maybe is it for some moms, but it wasn’t for me and so many other breastfeeding moms.
If you’re struggling and searching the web for breastfeeding answers and solutions you’re doing the right thing. Keep searching until you find what works for you. I would also strongly urge you to get connected with your breastfeeding community through organizations like La Leche League.
I hope these tips will help you stick to your breastfeeding goals as there are many reasons to quit and give up. I personally hit many, many walls when breastfeeding all three of my kids and ended my journey far earlier than I intended.
I don’t have any guilt or regrets because I don’t believe that’s healthy for myself or my little ones. But now I want to help moms like you find the help and answers you need!
The Best Breastfeeding Resources and Freebies
If you haven’t started breastfeeding yet or you are and find yourself struggling with proper latch or milk supply you may want to consider a course like Milkology. This is the FREE Milkology Break Feeding Course.
If you haven’t had your baby shower yet you can get a FREE Amazon Welcome Box when you start an Amazon Baby Registry. You get a box full of goodies. Plus, you’ll earn a 15% discount for completing your registry, 20% off a diaper subscription and the ability to return items for free for 90 days.
The Affordable Healthcare Act has now made it easier for new moms to qualify for a free breast pump. Click here to get details.
Must-Have Breastfeeding Products
This list of breastfeeding supplies will help make breastfeeding more efficient, easier, and more enjoyable for you and your precious baby.
Breastfeeding Pillow – This pillow is made for breastfeeding and is uniquely shaped to make bringing your baby to you much easier. It gets high praise from breastfeeding moms. You could, of course, use a regular pillow but these are just a bit more effective.
Breastfeeding Stool – Having a specially designed nursing stool allows you to easily lift your baby to your breast. Nursing stools allow you to adjust the position of stool so you can get the most comfortable position every time.
Milk Savers – When you’re feeding baby on one side, milk tends to leak a lot from the opposite breast. And because breastmilk is liquid gold, we want to save every drop! Wearing these soft, silicone breast shields will allow you to easily trap milk as you’re feeding.
Getting your newborn to latch on properly is a bit like the blind leading the blind, especially if this is your first time breastfeeding!
Getting a good latch is basically the cornerstone of healthy and pain-free breastfeeding. Breastfeeding with a bad latch creates a laundry list of problems such as extreme pain, sore nipples, and sometimes even low milk supply and breast infections.
This is where a great breastfeeding course, a consultant with a lactation consultant, and helpful video tutorials like the one below are extremely helpful.
Make sure you bring baby to you and not you to baby. This tip is the foundation for good breastfeeding habits. Hunching over to bring your breast to your baby is a hard and painful habit to break resulting in a poor latch and a sore back and neck for you.
No matter which position you choose, always aim your nipple toward the roof of baby’s mouth. This helps ensure your nipple is at baby’s soft palate. Having your nipple dead-center of your baby’s mouth is bad latch and will result in painful breastfeeding.
If you know your latch isn’t proper (usually because of extreme pain) it’s even more important to break the seal of the latch before removing your baby. I made this mistake more than a few times and I can’t describe the pain!
It’s surprising how much suction a baby can create when breastfeeding and breaking a latch can be difficult. Here’s a video that shows the proper way to do it.
If your breasts are really full, it’s helpful to soften the breast before getting baby to latch. You can do that by pumping or hand expressing first. If your breasts are too hard and full, it can be difficult for baby to latch properly.
The Easiest Breastfeeding Positions for Beginners
There are so many positions to breastfeed your baby. You’ll choose the position based on many factors such as experience, personal comfort, and whether it’s night time.
Here’s a simple video to show the various positions you can try with your baby for your next feeding.
Tips to Reduce Pain with Breastfeeding
Getting help from a lactation consultant is very helpful because they are able to help you and your baby in person instead of just on your own through a screen.
Lactation consultant Sandra Yates of Vancouver says that, in fact, latch problems are the most common cause of breastfeeding pain. “Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt,” she assures mothers. “When it does, it’s usually a signal that something is wrong and we need to find a way to fix it.” Source
Breasts can become engorged, especially when your milk first comes in. This can be extremely painful and means your breasts need to be emptied either by breastfeeding, expressing by hand, or pumping.
Using cool compresses on breasts will also help alleviate the pain in addition to emptying the milk.
Know the warning signs of breast infections like Thrus and Mastitis. I personally experienced both of these conditions on more than one occasion. They were extremely painful and set back my breastfeeding efforts tremendously.
Preventing these conditions before they set in is so important to continuing healthy breastfeeding.
Tips to Heal Sore Nipples
The two leading causes of sore nipples when breastfeeding are bad latch and not property breaking the seal of a bad latch.
In addition, there are other causes for sore nipples such as milk blisters or blebs, pump friction, and breast infections.
Here are the best ways to heal and soothe your sore and cracked nipples.
Apply a small amount of breastmilk to your nipples after feeding or pumping and apply a nipple ointment. Do not air dry as commonly taught as this can cause scabs to form and causes slower and more painful healing.
Keep breasts exposed to air as much as possible in between feedings. And because you probably don’t want to walk around naked all day, a soft and breathable nursing bra can help tremendously.
Using cotton breastpads without a plastic liner will allow air to flow naturally and you can place a healthy dab of ointment onto the pad to keep healthy moisture on the nipples in between feedings.
Apply a natural nipple ointment to sore and cracked nipples before and after feedings and especially pumping to help reduce pump friction.
The following video is teaches you step by step how to mix a natural healing saline solution for quick healing.
How to Know If Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk
This has to be one of the biggest questions breastfeeding moms have, hands down. There’s always a bit of fear when you can’t actually see how much milk your baby is drinking.
And if your baby is fussy, you can immediately assume (many times incorrectly) that your baby isn’t getting enough milk.
Here are some helpful tips to give you much needed peace of mind:
Your breast should go from full to soft and empty after nursing.
You’ll know your baby is actively drinking when you hear her slurping and swallowing.
Your baby is wetting at least 6 diapers a day and soiling at least 3 mustard-colored stools a day after your milk comes in.
Your baby seems comfortable, satisfied, and even sleeping after feedings.
Your baby is growing on track acording to your pediatritian.
What are your best breastfeeding hacks and tips? Share them in the comments below!
As moms, we navigate challenging terrain all day, every day. No one day ever looks like another. Though we may crave more certainty… certainty that our toddler won’t have a blowup today or that our tween who’s knee deep in puberty won’t be super moody this morning… this #momlife is an adventure.
But even great adventures need some stability and that’s where positive parenting comes in. Your days don’t need to be consumed with “figuring it all out” and still feeling like a failure or overwhelmed with mom guilt.
I know this because that was my daily routine. I started my days with great intentions and ended each day with the guilt of all the things I messed up, how many times I lost my temper and the fact that I still can’t get my 3-year-old to sleep in his own bed.
5 Positive Parenting Skills that Really Work
I finally stopped believing the lie that as a mom I’m supposed to “just know” how to do all this stuff well. And I humbled myself to discover new and better ways to raise my kids.
These are the parenting skills that I do my best to use with my children every day. And they work to not only make things better, in the moment, but they work together to establish healthy habits which makes things better for you down the road too.
My favorite part of using these skills with my kids is they work to prepare my children for becoming happy and healthy adults. They aren’t just a bag of tricks to temporarily get my toddler out of tantrum-mode.
1 – Establishes Healthy Boundaries
This is probably one of the most helpful tips I’ve learned and used over the years. Not having proper boundaries and a clear set of expectations for your children to follow is like trying to set up dominoes on a sandy beach.
Children need solid ground. In other words, they need to fully understand what to expect, how far they can go in any given situation.
It would be like driving in a fancy sports car but not having any posted speed limits. You’d be tempted to go faster but you’d never know how fast the limit was and would spend your days agitated and looking in your rear-view mirror or racking up steep speeding tickets.
It’s more enjoyable for everyone when we know what’s going to happen if we do this or that. Then if your child steps outside of that border, they learn the corresponding consequence of their action.
In my house, we’ve hardly experienced tantrums with our toddlers. I believe the reason for that isn’t that we have 3 kids that were born to love to listen as toddlers. Nope! It’s that we established very clear expectations and didn’t waiver… most of the time.
For example, when we go into a store my son is told clearly that we don’t run around and we don’t touch things unless he asks permission. Sure, he will test the limits. When he does this, he’s merely trying to establish the boundary line. Totally normal behavior.
It’s our job to speak, show, and uphold the boundaries we give to our kids. If I lose my cool, ignore him out of frustration, and only sometimes correct his behavior, he’s left confused. And we’ll need to cycle through this scenario every time we go in the store.
Simply, decide what your expectations are, tell them to your children repeatedly, and stick to what you say no matter what. It takes time but if you do this, you will see a difference.
2 – Focus on Your Child Over the Behavior
This may seem counterintuitive but stick with me here. When your child makes a poor choice or shows undesirable behavior it’s often our knee-jerk reaction to zero in on what they just did.
I remember when my kids would mess up I would spend so much time focusing on that behavior and how I couldn’t believe they did it… again. But I didn’t stop and consider my child and why she did do it again.
I was too consumed in my lecture-mode to engage with their heart and bring them into the conversation.
Positive parenting is all about connection and kindness. And let’s face it, we as adults mess up a lot too. And the last thing we need or want is someone beating us down about our mistakes.
We need people to be empathetic with our situation and help us to identify why we keep doing the same things over and over. When we do that, we find solutions and finally make a change.
It’s not that we shouldn’t talk about or discuss wrong-doing. We just show how much we care by diving into that situation and working with our kid to find a solution. It teaches our kids that mistakes are a natural part of life but it’s how we move forward that makes the difference.
3 – Communicates with Respect
We all deserve and like to be talked to with respect. Our children, no matter how little, deserve respect.
Talking down to and belittling our kids is unnecessary and stems from our own uncontrolled emotions. I know this because I used to emotionally dump on my kids whenever I felt frustrated.
I yelled and screamed whenever I felt the need with little regard for the damage I was doing until after I was done and the guilt would consume me so deeply.
It was a vicious cycle and all stemmed from my feelings of powerlessness. I felt powerless to stop certain behaviors and in my fear of never being able to figure it out, I yelled.
Over several years and a humbling surrender to Christ, I have learned to stop communicating disrespectfully to my kids. And what a difference it makes.
I’m no longer racked with guilt and my relationship with my kids is amazingly close.
I still discipline, correct, and establish those firm and clear boundaries but because I’ve laid the groundwork, there’s little need for blowups.
As for those moments when I feel overwhelmed and ready to blow, I practice taking a moment to think and process what I’m feeling. I remind myself that yelling doesn’t ever help and I hate the awful hangover of guilt that floods in immediately after.
4 – Looks for the Good
The bible teaches to believe and look for the good in every situation. Though this, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things a person can do it’s very important for parents to learn.
That doesn’t mean you walk around sugar coating your child’s behavior. However, you set your mind to look for the positive if there’s any to be found.
If you see good, then say good. In other words, praise them for the good you do see. If you see your child cleaning up their room without you reminding them offer a high-five and a big hug.
If your daughter brushes her teeth before bed but left the sink a mess try saying something like, “thank you for brushing your teeth by yourself, great job! But don’t forget that we also need to keep the sink clean too.” Then follow by making them clean the sink.
This works better than calling your child into the room and pointing out the messy sink and criticizing them for being so messy. It’s also better than seeing the sink and quietly cleaning it up yourself.
Parenting is hard work and requires us to be intentional about training our kids to be sufficient and self-motivated.
5 – Takes Personal Responsibility
One of the biggest areas of growth for me as a mom is learning to take responsibility for my own actions and the consequences of those actions as it relates to my children.
I realized that if I yell at my kids, there are damaging consequences. Equally, if I parent without boundaries and give in to my kids whenever I’m tired, those are also consequences that’ll come back to bite me later.
If I spend most of my time and focus on training and disciplining my children and not on building connection and relationship I will have a much harder time raising them.
Part of being a great mom is learning to better myself. When I fill myself up, I am better able to take on the joyful challenge of raising great kids.
How do you practice positive parenting in your home? Share in the comments below.
When I first heard the term positive parenting I was skeptical. It sounded like some new-age, soft form of parenting that resulted in raising kids who are entitled, unmotivated, and lacking in self control.
I was very wrong, and the science backs me up. Positive parenting can be seen as a parenting philosophy, rather than a parenting style.
It focuses more on creating a positive connection with your child through love, empathy, and kindness rather than creating powers struggles through the enforcement of a strict set of rules.
Does this mean parents that use the positive parenting approach don’t discipline their kids or have power struggles?
Absolutely not! Discipline is an integral part of positive parenting. But rather than putting your entire focus on the bad behavior and the corresponding punishment, there is a strong focus on understanding the cause for the behavior, showing empathy and finding solutions.
I wasn’t raised in a super strict home myself, but we had rules and clear punishments when rules were broken. Basically, when we did xyz, we knew that our punishment would be xyz.
Not bad, but like most parents during that time, there was little consideration for why the behavior happened in the first place. And where there is no why (why the behavior happened), there isn’t a how (how we can prevent this behavior from happening again.)
One of the cornerstones of positive parenting is trying to understand why our children do things so we can teach and show them, with kindness, a better way. Rather than focusing all our attention on the bad behavior itself.
This is what drew me into learning more about this way of parenting. It appeals strongly to my own desire to be closely connected to the heart of my children and my innate need to ask why in pretty much every situation I find myself.
What is the Positive Parenting Approach?
Positive parenting rests on the hook of love and mutual respect. There is a strong display of empathy as we try to understand our kid’s choices both good and bad in effort to help guide them into making positive decisions on their own.
I personally didn’t start off this way. I started off my motherhood journey broken and full of anger. I yelled and screamed a lot and patience was in short supply. I’ve always been a loving mom, but I was always one spilled sippy cup away from a meltdown.
I’m not proud of that part of my life and I’m thankful that God has led me to understandinghow to raise happy and self-motivated kids that are truly knitted to my heart. I love having deeply connected relationships with all my kids.
And it started by practicing empathy and taking personal responsibility for my own actions and how those actions affected my kids.
5 Attributes of Positive Parenting
There are several attributes that are distinctly associated with positive parenting. These are specifically what attracted me to learn more about positive parenting techniques in the first place.
Shows empathy toward your child. This is simply you focusing on trying to understand and “be in the trenches” with your child in their moment of need. Instead of looking at their feelings from the outside, you come inside with compassion.
Connection is paramount. As a parent, one of my biggest goals is to become and stay connected to the heart of my child. To be their main source of help, encouragement, and love.
Creates healthy boundaries. Children, despite what they themselves may say, need and want to be told what to do. Power struggles ultimately happen when consistency is absent from parenting. When a child doesn’t know what to expect, they will always test the limits of what they can get away with.
Looks for and believes the best. The positive power of affirmation always trumps the effects of pointing out fault. It works like this… when you see your child sharing, cleaning up without prompting or any other good thing… praise, praise, praise. It’s much easier to keep a good thing going that to stop a bad one.
Takes personal responsibility. A key attribute of positive parenting is understanding how our own behavior affects our children. Taking personal responsibility helps us be intentional in how we communicate with our kids and forces us to make positive changes in our own lives.
How to Know if Positive Parenting is Right for your Family
If you are considering learning more about positive parenting and value having a positive relationship with your child and raising kids who really listen, this is a great place to start.
I want to be clear that I’m not a positive parenting expert or even a parenting expert. I’m a mom who’s made too many mistakes to count and sought out a better way. I’ve come to live that better way and have amazing kids and a very close bond with each of them.
It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of work and healing. I also personally don’t follow parenting manuals or parenting philosophies to the letter. I allow my heart and the spirit of God to lead me where He wants me to be.
If there is something I read or hear that doesn’t sit right with my spirit, I leave that part out. I recommend you do the same. Parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing nor should it be. Children are all unique and should be raised with care and creativity.
Is Positive Parenting Biblical?
Though the pioneers of positive parenting Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs do not claim to be Christian, I find this approach to parenting to be in line with scripture.
I am a Christian woman and an ordained minister of the gospel. I say that to say I love the Word of God and seek to raise godly children who love the Lord and do not stray from Christ.
It is my belief from scripture that a parenting style that stands on a firm foundation of respect, kindness, and love is starting from a Christ-like place. It also teaches parents to express grace as the driving force when disciplining, with punishments being given as needed in love.
The bible says that children are God’s reward and if we combine Christian practices such as studying scripture and prayer within a framework of positive parenting it’s a winning parenting combination.
3 Ways to Start Using Positive Parenting with your Kids Today
Make connection your highest priority. When talking with your kids commit to putting away phones and other distractions and make eye contact. When disciplining, pull your child close or get down on their level and speak in a calm tone of voice.
Model the behavior we desire. Children were created to observe and imitate the behaviors of their parents and mentors. If we want a particular behavior to be strong in our child, we need to start modeling it for them. How can we expect them to learn if they don’t have an example to follow?
Love them unconditionally. Too many children walk around afraid of their parents or are not sure where they stand. As a result, they can become fearful of making mistakes and taking chances which are normal, healthy behaviors. When they know they are loved regardless of their choices, they are free to fall and soar.
Just remember that making positive changes takes time and lots of grace! And take comfort that you know what’s best for your child and should feel empowered to create your own unique parenting style for your child.
How do you practice positive parenting with your children? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
YouTube Kids is something kid’s dreams are made of, or at least I think it is of my toddler’s dreams. But it can also be what parent’s nightmares are made of because of all the mom guilt that seems to come into play with screen time.
YouTube content for kids wasn’t a thing when my girls were little so YouTube kids really took me by surprise with my toddler son this time around.
I’m not even entirely sure how he got introduced to YouTube Kids… probably sitting next to his older sisters’ watching slime videos.
He first became obsessed when he watched his first Blippi video. I was super leery of this strange guy wearing an orange hat and bowtie and acting like a kid himself. PeeWee Herman came to mind.
But I starting watching with him and actually came to like the guy as he actually shared educational content. He’s basically lightyears better than watching useless toy reviews and unboxing videos.
Helpful Screen Time Guidelines
So where do I stand with my kids watching YouTube Kids channels?
I personally feel that screen time is screen time. I say that to mean, anytime your kid is looking at a screen, chances are, they aren’t doing healthy kids activities like reading a book, doing something hands-on, or getting physical exercise.
So, screen time in my house is limited in time and type… and those above mentioned things-to-do are strongly encouraged. As for how much time my kids get really depends on the day and whether we’re on a school break.
Or whether I need a break for that matter!
You know what’s too much for your child, but no more than an hour a day is a good benchmark. Trust your own judgment as a parent.
As for the type of content they can watch or play on their device, I do my best to stick to educational. Not always. Some of his favorite shows and channels aren’t my favorite but I treat them like ice cream… sparingly.
Here’s a list of good YouTube channels and content that won’t leave you feeling guilty:
YouTube Kids Channels for Toddlers:
Super Simple Songs – This channel is full of cute, ear wormy, type of songs like Baby Shark but also has fun original educational content also.
Subscribers: 12 Million
Mother Goose Club – This channel is made up of adults and cute kids who dress up and create popular nursery rhymes and other fun children’s songs.
Subscribers: 4.9 Million
Sesame Street – Yes, our favorite monsters are on YouTube Kids. They’ve created shorts from their best episodes and also feature lots of learning videos. Their newest creation is a brand new animated series, Esme and Roy which is adorable.
Subscribers: 4.7 Million
PBS Kids – This channel doesn’t have original YouTube content but they do feature episodes of their shows like Daniel Tigers Neighborhood, Odd Squad, Pinkalicious, and Wild Kratts.
Blippi – Blippi is fun and entertaining for toddlers and preschoolers but he also does do a good job of making his videos educational. My son loves Blippi and actually has learned quite a few things. He even asked for lettuce on his sandwich yesterday because Blippi did it!
Subscribers: 3.1 Million
YouTube Kids Channels for School Aged Kids:
National Geographic Kids – This channel is wonderful if you have a kid who loves animals or the outdoors. There are tons of videos about fascinating animals and their environments. They also really fun video series like weird but true, Sam’s zookeeper, the Best Job, and Awesome 8.
TED-Ed – From the creators of the TED Talk videos we all love to watch comes a channel that all parents and kids will love TED-Ed. This channel answers all the questions we’ve ever asked in life… and then some. The creators craft visually stimulating videos to answer these questions in a very edutaining way.
Subscribers: 8.2 Million
Sick Science! – If your child loves science, making slime, or doing experiments they’ll really enjoy this channel with Steve Spangler demonstrating the fun and power of science.
Simple Kids Crafts – If you have a kid who loves crafts and making cute furniture for her dolls, she’ll love all the cuteness on this channel.
Nerdy Nummies – This channel is so fun and is perfect for your little baker. Rosanna is so charming as she teaches viewers how to make yummy nummies that are a kid’s dream!
Subscribers: 10 Million
YouTube Kids Channels for Tweens and Teens
Minute Physics – This breaks down complicated physics concepts into easy to understand stick animations. With all the superhero movies and shows, kids are being introduced to physics terms and these videos will help them understand things like dark matter and quantum tunneling.
Subscribers: 4.5 Million
Mike Loves Science AKA ComaNiddy – If your kid loves hip hop music and science than this channel is a match made in heaven. Mike loves science, hence the name, and he creates videos to teach scientific concepts with lyrical rhymes to help kids enjoy and remember them.
Cartooning 4 Kids – If you have an artistic kid who loves to draw like I do this channel is a great and fun place to help them hone their drawing skills.
Subscribers: 1.3 Million
Do you have any screen time tips? Please share them in the comments below!
It’s always been widely believed that as our children reach puberty and grow into their teen years hormones will be running the show. As parents, we see these hormones as moody body-snatchers making our kids do and say strange things.
However, your tween or teen’s moodiness might not be caused by hormones at all. And blaming these invisible perpetrators for every odd or rude behavior may actually hurt your child in the long run.
That’s because your middle schooler is living a very hectic and crazy life every single day. Most of us wouldn’t trade our own stressful adult lives to go back to school for any amount of money!
As our children transition from elementary school where most of the kids they go to school with are still sweet and they have the same teacher all day – this all changes drastically when they reach middle school.
The kids they used to be besties with all of a sudden think your kid isn’t cool anymore, they go from having one teacher to seven, and their body is seriously doing some crazy things.
All of this alone would make anyone feel a little out of sorts. But when you add on your tween’s very immature brain which isn’t even close to being finished growing, life can simply feel overwhelming for your child.
It can be a real eye-opener to learn that a lot of typical teen behavior and general moodiness isn’t necessarily caused by hormones at all but by things we can control.
Uh hem… that means we can actually do something real to help!
Tweens Desperately Need More Sleep
As tweens and teens get up at the same time as a typical working adult and get ready to head into an all day physical and emotional roller coaster called school, they are usually short on one thing – SLEEP.
Studies show that 60 to 70% of American teens live with a borderline to severe sleep debt.
Sleep deprivation puts teenagers into a kind of perpetual cloud or haze, explains Dr. Mary Carskadon, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University and director of chronobiology and sleep research at Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island.
It’s recommended that all kids ranging in age from 12 to 17 get at least 9 to 10 hours of sleep each night. We can see how hard this is to achieve with their early waking school hours.
Most kids this age probably aren’t realistically getting to sleep at 9pm. In fact, many actually have trouble getting to sleep in the first place because of using electronics late into the evening, relationship stresses, and homework and studying demands.
Encouraging your kids of all ages to have one hour before bed where they do enjoyable non-screen activities is proven to help prevent sleep problems.
In addition, keeping similar wake-up times on the weekends helps too. Apparently, sleeping in till noon on the weekends hurts their sleep cycles during the week. You may want to allow them a little extra sleep on Saturday mornings, though!
There’s a reason your teen seems to want to eat all the food in your house! They’re growing at the rate they were when they were that sweet little toddler.
Their bodies are growing at alarming rates and snacking and grab-and-go meals aren’t cutting it. We must encourage more whole foods whenever possible to reduce the amount of processed foods our teens are consuming.
They’re tasty, convenient, and very attractive to our kids. Packaged and processed foods are also everywhere including our kid’s school. Most children are consuming the typical Modern American Diet (MAD diet) every day.
“Study after study in the medical research journals confirm that people who are most dependent on MAD-style eating habits have increased levels of depression, anxiety, mood swings, hyperactivity, and a wide variety of other mental and emotional problems.” —Tyler G. Graham and Drew Ramsey, The Happiness Diet
Offering many options of healthy, whole foods like sweet clementines, crackers or veggies with hummus, and healthy nuts like pistachios are easy and tasty snack alternatives to candy bars and chips.
Tweens Desparately Need a Break
Wait a minute, all my teen does is lay around all day… breaking is all she does!
Is that what you were thinking?
Having a break doesn’t necessarily mean laying on the couch watching TV or taking a nap. Tweens and teens simply need permission to take a mental and physical break from the stress of their days.
Yes, tweens experience stress… lots of it.
They live in an unusual environment AKA middle school that requires them to change their physical and mental state, sometimes drastically, at the sound of a bell. That is, the school bell.
They dive right into American History and give a class presentation on George Washington’s family life, walk down the hall to take an Algebra exam, run a 4 minute mile in P.E., have a profound discussion on the poetry and life of Robert Frost, sit ackwardly in the cafeteria at the “uncool” table, dissect a butterfly in biology, learn a new song on the trumpet, and the day’s not even done yet.
All of this with different teachers with unique demands and personalities. And let’s not even talk about all the judging, bullying, and peer-pressure being thrown around at our kids every single day.
They need a break.
They need permission to feel how they feel.
They need a space to feel accepted, loved, and un-judged. To feel loved, supported, and encouraged.
They need a break from the pressure.
Our Tweens Desperately Need Us
Teen depression and suicide rates are staggering and on the rise. It’s clear that something is missing.
Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13-to-18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.
While sleep, food, and downtime are very important to our growing kids, what they need most is us.
Tween and teens need to see us present, hear us cheering them on, and know that we love them unconditionally… no matter how many mistakes they make.
Being a present parent doesn’t mean being physically with them 24/7 but it’s a creating a lifestyle of making them a priority.
We can do this by making a habit of really listening to them and carving out a small piece of one on one time regularly (even 5-10 minutes) can make a habit of real connection.
Raising children at any age isn’t easy so be sure in all of this parenting you don’t forget to take care of yourself. That’s one of the biggest things we can do for our kids… not become a mom hanging on by a thread.
How do you relate to your tween or teen? Share your tips in the comments below!
Little kids and toddlers talk and share… a lot. It’s pretty much what they do best. In fact, many parents consider their small children to be “over-sharers” of oodles of random thoughts and information.
But as kids get older all that can change. Suddenly, your abundantly chatty 6-year-old becomes a tight-lipped 12-year-old overnight.
Why does this communication phenomenon happen with so many kids as they get older?
It all boils down to trust and how we set up the boundaries of parental communication early on in our parenting relationship.
The younger a child is, the less they pay attention to what and how we say things. They genuinely just want to talk and be with us. So in order to keep this lovely over-sharing going strong into the teen years and beyond, we need to start preparing now.
It turns out the connection a kid needs to feel with his parents in order to open up and talk to them is cemented long before the teen years. Julie Romanowski, a parenting coach in Vancouver, says communication skills are built even in infancy and toddlerhood. source
And if you’re wondering how you connect and communicate with your little ones, if you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Mommy will you play with me?” you just heard it.
Toddlers and small children talk, share, and connect with us through play. I personally am not the mom who loves “playing with my kids” but it’s a necessary sacrifice that seals the path for open and healthy communication down the road.
We need to break our bad communication habits now and work to develop healthy ones that create openness in our relationship with our children.
Our Highest Priority as Parents
I believe one of our highest priorities as parents, beyond feeding and clothing, is to win our child’s heart. If you have a person’s heart, you have everything to need to be in a healthy and thriving relationship.
And it’s every parent on the planet’s goal to be in a healthy and thriving relationship with their child that lasts a lifetime.
It’s hard and is work that takes more sacrifice that our society thinks is necessary or even possible, but it’s oh so worth it.
If you strongly desire to raise kids that want to come to you first to share their joys and victories along with their fears, questions, and problems you need to be sure you aren’t making the following communication mistakes.
Kids, tweens, and teens all have their own levels of sensitivity. And being repeatedly exposed to any of the following mistakes can cause your child to inadvertently shut down and stop sharing with you on a meaningful level.
And that alone is devastating for a parent.
How to Become a Parent Your Kids Won’t Talk To
When your child decides to share the random events of their day at school, confides in you about a peer pressure situation they’re struggling with, or wants to tell you a dream they have for their future… it’s a big deal.
Talking and sharing is the access to our child’s heart and that’s always my goal with my kids – to win their heart. If you can successfully win the heart, you win the child.
But we need to be acutely aware of ways we might not even know that stand in our way of being a parent our kids want to talk and share with, especially as they get older.
Here are some really huge actions to watch out for in your own behavior the next time you find yourself in a kid conversation.
1 – You Try to Fix Everything
A huge mistake loving parents make as an act of love is to swoop in mid-conversation to help your child fix their problem. After all, we’re the parents with all the experience and wisdom, right?
Wrong. Well, yes you have wisdom and experience but you can’t use all that right now. Your kid is wading through their issue and finding the right words and emotions to share them with you.
That’s all that matters right now. Not fixing anything.
In fact, we all probably know what this feels like. My hubby does this to me all the time and it drives me nuts. We all need to vent and let our thoughts out into the open without solutions and ideas shooting out of the sky like heat-seeking missiles.
When we’re quick to offer solutions, what we’re really saying to the other person is they aren’t smart enough to come to a good solution on their own. We also rob our children of developing the skills to think critically and solve problems on their own.
2 – You Aren’t Fully Present
One of the most damaging things we can do repeatedly when in conversations with anyone is not give our full attention to the person.
Like when your kid tries to talk to you but your phone is literally still in your hand as you umm hmm through the conversation only occasionally meeting their eyes with yours.
This tells them you’re not really listening.
I know as women we’re known for great multitasking skills but there’s no place for multitasking in communication, with our kids or our spouse.
Eye to eye communication is best with our phone out of sight.
I already know what you’re thinking… the last time your 10-year-old held you hostage to talk about their awesome Minecraft world they just created you thought you actually fell asleep with your eyes open.
I get it, kids’ conversations aren’t always the most interesting for us but every conversation lays the groundwork for more meaningful ones down the road. Hang in there!
3 – You Judge Their Feelings
When your child is sharing how they honestly feel about a situation or even a person and we shift right into parent mode and say something like, “now that’s not a nice way to think about her.” or “is that how I taught you to talk to a friend?”
If your kid is in the middle of sharing their raw, unedited feelings our best course of action is to listen, listen, and keep listening.
Judging them no matter how much we may want to, in the moment, is off limits.
Again, think of how we feel when we vent to a friend or spouse and we know deep inside we’re totally overreacting but the last thing we want is to feel judged for our feelings.
All we want is an ear to listen.
After they’re done, try asking a question like, “how do you think you handled the situation?” or “would you have done things differently if you could?”
These are non-judgemental questions and allow your child to think and reason for themselves. This line of questioning helps your child learn how to solve problems and self-edit their own behavior.
Plus, they keep the conversation going and building more trust!
4 – You Try to Change Their Feelings
Imagine being in a conversation with a friend and you are very upset about a situation and they responded to you like this:
“I think you may be over-reacting a little…”
“I think you should…”
“This could get better for you if you just…”
“You don’t need to cry about that...”
Everyone has emotions and we’re all probably guilty of way overusing them. And when we’re smack-dab in the middle of a cry-fest the LAST thing anyone wants is to be told their feelings aren’t valid or need to be changed.
The only thing your kid needs when they’re experiencing strong feelings is support and empathy.
To fully understand empathy in a way you’ve probably never heard but WILL open your eyes, watch Brene Brown’s super short video on understanding empathy (this will help you so much!):
5 – You Blow Them Off
Blowing a person off doesn’t always look like making a date with someone and not showing up. Nope. When it comes to our kids it’s often much more subtle than that.
This happens to me a lot… I’m working and one of my kids comes in the room and starts to share something amazing that happened at school and I say, “in a minute… let me finish this first” and then totally forget them when I’m done.
Kids (humans) know when they’re being blown off and though we probably do it so often we don’t even notice it anymore, we need to stop!
If you are truly unable to speak with your child at that moment (that’s real) we need to be very skilled at keeping our word when we are available. That means getting up and finding your child, apologizing, and give them your fullest attention.
Why should you apologize? This is not out of admitting that you did something wrong but as a means to acknowledge how sorry you are for not being available when they needed you.
And if you are truly able to stop what you’re doing at that moment… DO IT.
6 – You Make it All About You
Nobody likes a narcissist. If you compulsively turn conversations with other people toward you… stop now.
When someone is sharing with you, the conversation is and should be about them. Responding repeatedly with statements like…
“when this happened to me as a kid, I did…”
“what I would do is…”
“I know I didn’t raise you like that…”
…leaves your child feeling less-than in your eyes. You are sowing seeds of comparison and competition. And if you’re a mom talking to her daughter, this is very dangerous ground.
Often times self-absorbed communication stems from the desire to fix a situation so we end up looking good in the end. For example, if our child is acting out, we don’t want to be judged by others so we attempt to fix it fast.
We must keep our own motives out of our kid’s conversations and keep it about supporting and helping them. Instead of offering advice and opinions try asking, “how can I help?“
If the answer is nothing or not now, leave it alone and don’t push to be the savior. This is a wonderful opportunity to pray for your child and let God work it out!
7 – You Freak Out
Let’s just all agree that part of being a parent is spending most of your time being shocked.
Shocked when your newborn blows out more poop than seems humanly possible and when your toddler paints a sharpie mural in your living room.
So when your kid trusts you enough to tell you that a boy hit her at school today and you immediately fly off the handle you’re sending signals that you’ll freak out every time you hear freak out worthy news.
You gonna compose yourself and be cool. Count to ten, breathe slowly, or whatever you have to do but stay calm and listen. And help them work it out.
Then excuse yourself to your closet and shout into a pillow!
Parenting isn’t easy… that wasn’t part of the deal. But one of the greatest joys a mom can experience is the trust and loving relationship with her child. It takes work but is the greatest work we’ll ever do!
How do you connect and keep communication flowing in your home? Share in the comments below.