If your household is anything like mine, bedtime is a serious struggle. As much as I try to wear my kids out during the day and keep their night time schedules high and tight, it feels like they avoid sleep like the plague.
Whether it’s my oldest son sneaking out of his room, or my youngest having a hard time winding down, bedtime can be difficult.
Some of the ways I attempt to curb the struggle include nightly gratitude practices and bedtime affirmations. These simple phrases help promote a full heart, clear mind, calm nerves and thus, peaceful slumber!
The affirmations on the list rhyme and are easy to remember, but we’ve done our readers a solid and created a printable that kids can keep bedside. I framed one to have on my son’s night stand so we always have it handy after stories!
For clarity let’s define the practice of reciting affirmations as consciously choosing words that will either help eliminate something from your life or help create something new in your life. Every thought you think and every word you speak is an affirmation.
So if the goal is to ease bedtime struggles, we can do so by providing kids positive affirmations that expel negative thoughts, and soothe the anxiety that often accompanies bedtime.
Additionally, when practicing intentional gratitude, children build a foundation for positive behaviors that will enhance their lives down the road. Studies show there are many benefits to exercising gratitude.
Introducing this practice early on in a child’s life may increase mental strength, boost empathy and augment overall well-being.
It may also reduce aggression and alleviate negative emotions such as envy and resentment. Is there a better way to end the day?
My son and I enjoy reciting affirmations aloud together, and we’ve quickly made this gratitude practice part of our nightly routine. Typically we choose two or three per night, but vocalizing all seven certainly can’t hurt.
We hope our bedtime affirmations help foster good sleeping habits!
The time where we reflect back on all the opportunities, endeavors and experiences we have had in 2019; and a new opportunity to set goals and prioritize what we hope to accomplish next year!
Enter: New Years Resolutions.
Now I am all about turning over a new leaf – and my intentions with resolutions in the past have always come with high motivation. However, I have realized that I have consistently set unrealistic goals for myself.
So this year – I am nixing resolutions altogether and practicing affirmations instead. Why you ask? Let me explain.
First let’s define New Years Resolutions: Noun – A promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.
And now Affirmations: Noun – Consciously choosing words that will either help eliminate something from your life or help create something new in your life. Every thought you think and every word you speak is an affirmation.
To put it simply – A resolution is basically a make-it-or-break-it promise. For example: You decide in 2020 you will go to the gym 5 days a week. Blessings to you, as that is highly unrealistic for myself, and sets the bar high (:::slow handclap::: if you can do that). BUT, the caveat is, if you don’t go 5 days a week, you have “failed” your resolution and likely will not continue.
When you change your mindset, you are able to overhaul thought patterns that typically hold you back.
An affirmation on the other hand is a consciously directed thought for the present moment; one that will manifest or attract something into your life. A comparable affirmation for your resolution would be something like “I feel healthier and stronger when I exercise regularly and take care of myself”. When you change your mindset and make a commitment towards a disciplined thought, you are cultivating your subconscious mind with positivity, happiness and success and are able to overhaul thought patterns that typically hold you back. Those positive thoughts and reminders you give yourself then translate into prolific actions and goals!
So every morning starting January 1st, I plan to set aside a few moments and go over the affirmations that resonate with me – and I encourage you to do the same!
To make it easier, I have created a few of my favorite affirmations for you, for FREE. Find the ones that reflect who you are and your future goals and with consistent use, see the changes you want come to fruition!
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With the turn of a new year tomorrow, its a time of reflection and goal setting for many of us – and not just for adults. Today, we are sharing New Years Reflection and Goal Setting Worksheets for your kids!
This is the perfect opportunity to discuss with your children the importance of reflection and setting personal goals for the year. Our worksheets are designed to be thought-provoking, fun and encourage personal growth and development. They include:
Year End Reflection Questions – Before your child decides how they want 2020 to look, dig deeper into the past year. Surprisingly, some of the answers can be a catalyst for major goal motivation. This worksheet is also a great conversation starter with family and friends (and you know we love a good conversation game.)
S.M.A.R.T. Defining Sheet – S.M.A.R.T. goals is a simple way to assist in goal setting. It is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals helps to clarify ideas and focus efforts that ultimately increase the chances of achieving accomplishments.
S.M.A.R.T. Worksheet – Have your child work through the S.M.A.R.T. process questions to plan out their 2020 goals.
This is the perfect opportunity to discuss with your child the importance of reflection and setting personal goals for the year
Teaching goal setting can be a challenge, so consider these simple tips:
Break big goals into little goals. If your child has a challenging goal they want to achieve, break it down to a step-by-step process. That way, they are continuing to accomplish small wins as they go.
Keep them short term. An important thing to keep in mind for younger kids, is to focus on a small goal that is easily achievable within a short amount of time. For example, a goal for a kindergartner may be to learn tying his/her own shoelaces within a week.
Celebrate the wins. Hitting goals is exciting. Be sure to acknowledge the great accomplishment that your child has made and let them know how proud you are of them. They will certainly want to achieve more.
Share your goals. Use this activity as a way to be candid and give examples of some of the goals you plan to achieve.
After the activity is done, have your child hang their worksheets on the fridge or in their room; this will serve as a daily reminder and motivation for the goals they plan to achieve!
If you enjoyed this activity, check out our other kids activities here.
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Christmas is upon us and the never-ending list to Santa Claus, requests from in laws, and our personal gifting list is underway. But while looking around seeing toys in every nook and cranny, I just want to say, no more toys!
Now don’t get me wrong – thoughtful, educational and useful gifts are right up my ally, but with an overwhelming amount of toys, many times these items get lost, thrown out or forgotten. So this year I decided to change it up and focus on non-toy holiday gifts for the boys that will be sure to last (with of course some toys…I’m not a Grinch!).
Whether you are looking for Christmas gifts, birthday gifts or another special occasion, I think this list will help you find something functional that your child will enjoy too!
Furniture is extremely practical. Kids and toddlers can get really excited about a new piece they can call their own and incorporate into their space; and as an added benefit – you will get years out of it!
What a fun thing to post up and create a space for privacy and adventure! Kids can cozy it up with just a few blankets and pillows.
Kids often need a boost the reach the sink, maybe to watch along as you cook or help with tasks. A step stool is great for making this possible and there are a variety of options to choose from. You can even get customized stools from places like Etsy or Amazon.
Gift your child a place to sit back, rest, watch tv and read a book or two with a kids chair. There are traditional kid-sized proportioned chairs or you can go with a bean bag that stores toys (double win)!
Table and Chair Set
Gift a table and chair set where your children can eat, craft, work and play.
The kids will love these unique and soft minky material blankets, they can use for sleep or cuddling up on the couch.
These plush buddies are so comfortable and soft and great for couch companions, pillow pals, bedtime buddies and travel teammates. They have an incredible line of stuffed animals, so one is sure to win your childs heart.
Light up the bedroom with a starry sky. Children love this fantastic display and can use this as a regular night light or desk lamp.
Investing in art and craft supplies is an easy way for your child to expand their imagination while practicing their gross and fine motor skills.
These multipurpose easels are sure to be a hit. Use it as a chalkboard, magnet board or a space to draw pictures.
Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pack of markers, pipe cleaners, googly eyes and more to get the creative juices flowing.
Kids Fitness Watch
Motivate your child to stay active with a fitness tracking watch. Kids can uncover character adventures and themed mini games by completing daily activities set for them.
Mini Instant Camera
What child wouldn’t want their own camera? And better yet, one where they can immediately print and display their photography.
Books are always an educational gift worth giving. For the holidays you can even spice things up in December and open Christmas book gifts each night to read together.
Now you can’t have a list without experiences. Doing something new or learning new things things creates lasting memories that my husband, children and I have enjoyed the most. Here are just a few:
I mean, every year we’re driven to leap into Christmas (or whatever your celebration!) and bypass Turkey day. It’s almost as if we will eventually dismiss the Holiday all together.
In recent years, I’ve tried to give Thanksgiving its due recognition, but I’m ashamed to admit I’m guilty of pulling out the Christmas gear in the second week of November.
Alfie the Elf on the Shelf has already graced us with his presence. The tree is up, Santa’s face is plastered everywhere, the stockings are hung tenderly with care…you get it.
Because it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the magic of the holiday season, we’ve listed 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day that’ll allow you to fully acknowledge Turkey day, and perhaps begin a new tradition with the ones you love.
What could be more appropriate on a day designated for giving than to volunteer and give back to the community.
I like this idea because you can put in a few hours of the day volunteering for an organization you’re compelled to get involved with and still have time to feast, drink and spend time with family as you desire. If you’re looking for local charities and non-profits this is a great resource. A couple of tips:
Choose a cause you’re passionate about
Find an opportunity that matches your skills, interest and schedule
Get the kids involved
Check with organizations about their Covid-19 policies to be sure they’re complying with CDC regulations**
To make things even simpler, piece a Thanksgiving meal together for a family in need. Each day add a canned good item to a basket or donate a gift card. Reach out to local food banks to see where there is a need for Thanksgiving meal donations.
Volunteering can also be as simple as donating goods to a local food bank.
Usually in need of assistance, hospitals offer a variety of volunteer opportunities suitable for all ages. I hope to incorporate this idea into our future Thanksgiving plans as Covid-19 restrictions are hopefully lifted. It always feels good to pay your good fortune forward.
2. Turkey Trot
Want to go for seconds and thirds guilt free this Thanksgiving? The average American will consume 3,000 calories on Turkey day (and honestly you should because, duh, it’s Thanksgiving!).
An awesome way to kick off the day, get the endorphins going, and burn some pre-meal calories is to run a turkey trot! My husband and I did this a few years ago and I have to say, indulging was that much sweeter after a solid 10k. You can find fun races in your area using this convenient tool.
Turkey trots range in size from a just a few runners to thousands. The organizations hosting the event usually use the entrance fee to fund local charities and in some races the 1st place prize is a frozen turkey! Dust off those running shoes and get trotting!
With Covid-19 restrictions in place, Turkey trot races are offering virtual options. I’ve also considered mapping out a 3.1 mile race in our neighborhood for our family to run without paying to enter an actual race.
3. Celebrate Native American Culture
If you’ve never been, I highly recommend a day trip to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. I find it immensely important to educate myself and my family on Indigenous People and their many contributions to modern day society. You can find Native influence in our arts, agriculture, and even modern medicine.
Make it a quest to discover local tribes or plan a trip to a reservation. Try a Native recipe. Watch a movie starring Native actors. Here is a great list of children’s books to help explain a history that is often depicted inaccurately in school teachings and otherwise.
Some of my favorite memories from childhood Thanksgivings is playing football with my cousins and family after our feast. It became such a tradition that a trophy was made for the winning team each year. So fun!
Whatever game you play, because it certainly doesn’t matter, make it light and fun and try and get everyone involved! Play a board game, create a scavenger hunt, or enjoy a round of cards. Pro tip: Put the electronics down and get back to the basics!
Our Table Talk Printable is an awesome way to dig deep with the people you spend the holiday with. This conversation generator will have everyone at the table involved! Simply print out the questions, cut, and throw them in a container.
Pass the container around to each guest until all of the questions are answered, OR have everyone at the table answer the question pulled. You’d be surprised at the level of intimate conversation these questions inspire!
As a child, my parents recited the old adage “treat others the way they want to be treated” often. This message has resonated throughout my life in situations where I feel triggered or compelled to jump to conclusions. It’s important that my children understand the values of empathy and why it should be employed in our social interactions and relationships.
In fact, years from now when I look back on the job I’ve done as a parent, I will measure my success in the amount of kindness radiating from my kids.
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Let’s define empathy as the attempt to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from his or her point of view, rather than from one’s own.
Empathy allows children to assess how others are feeling and respond appropriately. In the age of bullying, it’s vital to the health of our youngest generation to understand and practice empathy and tactful sensitivity. By teaching children to look outward and identify with the experience of others, we can cultivate kindness and foster compassion.
Below is a printable learning activity, a printable call to action and a list of picture books to help children explore the value of empathy and grow kindness. We hope you make full use of our simple methods for teaching kids kindness and empathy, and in doing so, make the world a better place.
Wrinkled Heart Learning Activity
Start with an unwrinkled heart. Have your child cut it out. Explain negative speak and give examples. With each negative phrase, fold the heart until it is completely wrinkled. Discuss how hurtful words can cause another person harm and are not easily forgotten.
Lastly, explain that once something is communicated, it can not be retracted, in the same way the heart cannot be unwrinkled.
A few more talking points:
Explain why it is important to think before you speak
Talk to your children about the struggles that others go through
Have a conversation about how the different life experiences of others can explain their actions
Teach them that words can hurt and have consequences
Discuss how speaking with care and sensitivity could save someone pain and suffering
Random Acts of Kindness Jar
Help children learn to derive pleasure from the happiness of others with this simple and impactful activity. Use the label to create a random acts of kindness jar.
Cut the acts of kindness into small strips and fold them up. Then place them in the jar.
Every morning (or week, month, whatever works for your family) have your child pull one of the strips from the jar and complete the act of kindness. Watch as they grow in their desire to give and pay it forward.
Books that Teach & Inspire Empathy
There is no better method for delivering a message to a child than via picture book. Research indicates that reading improves a child’s emotional intelligence and increases empathy. Be sure to check out the following reads:
How Full is Your Bucket?
Each of us has an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Yet most children (and many adults) don’t realize the importance of having a full bucket throughout the day. Felix learns how every interaction in a day either fills or empties his bucket. He then realizes that everything he says or does to other people fills or empties their buckets as well. Follow along with Felix as he learns how easy it can be to fill the buckets of his classmates, teachers and family members. Before the day is over, you’ll see how Felix discovers that filling someone else’s bucket also fills his own.
The Last Stop on Market Street
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. Help children walk a mile in another’s shoes and gain a different perspective with this award winning read.
The Invisible Boy
Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party until a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy. Looking for more on early childhood development? Be sure to read our small steps for Raising Confident Kids.
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