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!
I call this time of year the winter lull. We’re post holiday season, mostly cooped up indoors, and running out of ideas to keep the littles even mildly entertained. When I’m all out of options and in serious need of a fresh activity to keep my preschooler occupied, I turn to something creative or crafty, and perhaps sensory in nature. And because I’m all about themes, I try to connect the activity to the time of year, which is why these Fun Valentine’s Day themed activities ideas are centered around our favorite February holiday.
So mama, if you’ve found yourself in a similar boat and the kids are in dire need of a new interest (and for you a moment of silence) give these Fun Valentine’s Day themed activities for preschoolers a whirl, and make sure to tell us what you think in the comments below!
1. Love Soup
I LOVE this Valentine themed sensory activity that you can potentially piece together without even leaving the house! Let your child pretend to create cups of “Love soup” with the colored water and foam hearts. Caution: it may get wet!
You will need:
A plastic bin filled with water
Red food coloring
Heart themed cups
Kitchen utensils (for pouring and measuring)
Towel for clean up
It’s important to note that while participating in this Love Soup sensory activity, children build skills in many different areas. Measuring and guesstimating amounts can be applied to math and science. Socially, kids can develop team-working skills. Sensory play can also be used as a calming tool & distraction for tantrums. It also provides your child an opportunity to explore their senses – touch, sight, sound (even smell & taste if you want to go there) while they simultaneously learn and discover. Cheap, easy to make, and a stimulating experience right at home. Yum!
2. Love Monster Book & Craft
This children’s book is one of my favorites for the Valentines Day Holiday and has a wonderful message about sharing with friends and the joys of giving. Crafts involving characters are a great way to get your kids excited about reading materials. You can purchase Love Monster and the Last Chocolate here!
You will need:
1 Paper Plate (per craft)
Red Tissue Paper
Kid Friendly Scissors
Red/White/Black Colored Cardstock
First cut your red tissue paper into small squares
Put a good amount of glue all over your paper plate
Have your child place the tissue paper on top of the glue, until the paper plate is completely covered
While your child is working on that, cut out the other “love” monster embellishments from the cardstock. Think eyes, ears, mouth etc.
To finish the Love Monster themed kid craft – glue on the facial features to the paper plate and display proudly
3. Heart Hunt
This one is excellent for releasing some of that pent up energy! Hide the hearts around your home (much like an easter egg hunt) and have your child perform the exercise listed on each heart as they’re discovered. To keep it interesting, offer a prize at the end once all of the hearts have been collected! I used simple actions like “jump on one foot” and “sing the ABCs” but feel free to cater it to activities your little can execute.
You will need:
Foam or paper hearts of various colors (foam will hold up better but I used paper since I already had it)
And there you have it! The Heart Hunt. We hope these fun Valentine’s Day themed activities for preschoolers help to liven the mood in your household and offer a switch to your normal routine!
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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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 my child’s emotional health at the forefront of my parental priorities, positive parenting solutions have been a saving grace. Positive parenting allows for behavior correction while simultaneously building self-esteem and emotional intelligence. A key strategy of positive parenting is logical consequences.
Logical consequences include a cause and effect relationship. They emphasize poor behavior without disparaging or belittling the child. And get this: they actually work! If you’ve hit a wall with discipline and are finding that punishments just aren’t working, give logical consequences a shot and watch as the relationship (and poor behaviors) improve.
First, let’s distinguish the difference between consequences and punishments. Punishments are designed to shame a child into compliance and are unrelated to the bad behavior or damage done. Logical consequences are related to the behavior, and should be reasonable for the offense committed.
The message is clear with logical consequences; the behavior is unwanted, not the child. The behavior is bad, not the child. The behavior needs correction, not the child. The goal of logical consequences is to stop misbehaviors and allow children to make more constructive choices in the future.
When implementing logical consequences consider the 3 Rs.
Reasonable: the consequence should come from sound judgement, and needs to be fair and sensible. Try not to go overboard. A good way to ensure that a consequence is coming from a good place, is to step back from anger. Implement the reasonable consequence once the situation has deescalated.
Respectful: the consequence needs to be free from shame or disparagement, and should not be intended to manipulate or coerce. Logical consequences should provide an opportunity for a child to grow and learn from their mistake without stifling emotional development.
Relatable: the consequence should have a definitive correlation to the behavior itself. The child needs to be able to connect the bad behavior to its consequence, in order to understand the wrongdoing.
Examples of Logical Consequences:
If a child doesn’t brush his teeth, he isn’t allowed dessert.
If a child throws a toy at someone, the toy is taken away.
If a child receives a poor grade, they must spend extra time after school studying.
If a child is mean to little brother at bath time, they are no longer allowed to bathe together.
For instance, in a fit of frustration, my son threw a straw from his capri sun at me. The logical consequence to that action, is no capri suns for lunch the next day. Reasonable, respectful and relatable. Those are the key elements of a logical consequence.
Another component to logical consequences is setting expectations and following through. Be sure that the child knows what the standards are for good behavior, and call out when they exceed those limits. And remember, a logical consequence that is simply a “threat” with no follow up will be ineffective. Consistency and execution are crucial to implementing logical consequences that work.
Subsequent to logical consequence are restorative practices. If a bad behavior causes damage or harm, a good way to teach and rectify, is to use restorative practices. A key element of restorative practices or justice is empathy. When a child is obligated to remedy a wrong-doing, they begin to understand the extent of the damage caused by their poor choice and the effort it takes to fix it.
Examples of Restorative Practices:
If a child colors on the walls, she cleans the wall.
If a child knocks down another’s tower, she rebuilds it for them.
If a child dumps their milk out, they clean up the mess.
If a child throws trash on the floor, they come back to take it to the proper receptacle.
It makes perfect sense, right? You break it, you fix it. You dump it, you clean it.
With restorative practices, the offender is responsible for making things right, which builds the kind of character we want to see in our children. In addition, restorative practices can develop personal responsibility and accountability. Two important things that imposing punishment alone, will not accomplish.
As the old saying goes, “If you don’t listen, you feel.”
What we “feel” is the natural consequence of not making a good decision.
Similar to logical consequences yet slightly different, natural consequences happen as the result of an action, but aren’t implemented or enforced by a caregiver.
Examples of Natural Consequences:
Not wearing a coat and feeling cold.
Leaving toys outside and finding them ruined by the rain.
Forgetting homework at home and not receiving credit for it.
As parents, we often feel the urge to remove obstacles our children face in order to spare them discomfort. The reality is, it can be beneficial to let kids experience things firsthand in order for it to have a lasting impact. If a child has their stuffed animal ruined or stolen after leaving it outside, the pain or discomfort they feel will propel them to consider a behavior change, such as leaving stuffed animals inside next time.
Natural consequences can be hard to allow without parental interference. However, allowing a consequence to happen naturally can build resiliency and encourage healthy decision making skills.
A few key components to natural consequences:
There are definitely situations where allowing a natural consequence would not be appropriate. When a child’s safety or overall well-being is in jeopardy, another form of discipline should be implemented. For example, a child playing in the road or refusing to brush their teeth. The danger of playing in the street and the health implications of not brushing teeth override the learning experience of a natural consequence. The child should also be old enough to comprehend the reason for the consequence.
Additionally, a parent should not participate in “I told you so” shaming of a child after experiencing a natural consequence. Always approach a child with empathy and validate their feelings to promote emotional health. Respect works both ways! The goal is not to shame a child into making better choices, but to provide them the opportunity to do so.
Charitable pro-tip: you don’t have to have to be a billion dollar philanthropist to make the world a better place. While the holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on the best aspects of our lives, it can be easy to forget our community members in need.
As my oldest is becoming more aware of the world around him, it’s increasingly important to me that he understands the true meaning of Christmas and the power of giving. Below we’ve compiled 8 easy (child friendly) ways to bring meaning to your holiday season.
Toys for tots is a wonderful organization specializing in toy collection. Every year dedicated United States Marines and local volunteers host a nationwide campaign to deliver Christmas to millions of less fortunate children. You can find a nearby toys for tots chapter here.
Sponsoring a family in need is another great way to pay it forward. In lieu of our secret Santa gift exchange one year, my girlfriends and I sponsored a family and each of us selected a child to buy for. When it was all said and done the entire family had gifts to open on Christmas morning. If you’re interested in getting involved in this incredibly rewarding form of donation, click here.
Give the gift of warmth this winter. Clean out the closet and donate old coats and jackets to a homeless or battered women’s shelter. For many Americans living below the poverty line, a new warm coat is considered a budget extra.
When the time comes that your kids have grown out of their winter gear, consider donating to a coat drive such as the one facilitated by One Warm Coat.
Canned food drive
Nonperishable food drives are happening everywhere this time of year. Pick up some extra canned foods during the weekly grocery run and drop them off at a food bank, church or any center accepting canned food donations.
Also, check with your child’s school, as many collect canned food around the holidays as well.
Many people forget the need for hygiene products at shelters and deliver food-oriented goods instead. Its always a great idea to check in with the center and find out what products are in demand.
Think toilet paper, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, diapers, etc. Another fun way to gather supplies is to host a “toiletry drive”. Have friends come over and bring hygiene product donations and watch the goods pile up.
Help a Neighbor
As the old homage goes “Love thy neighbor” and what better time to show kindness than the holiday season, and hint, it doesn’t always have to be in the form of baked goods.
Maybe your neighbor needs their driveway shoveled or some help with the pets while they travel. It never hurts to ask if there’s anything you can do to help out. There’s also a good chance your good deed will be reciprocated!
Donating blood and platelets costs literally nothing, sans maybe an hour or two of your time, and the gift is potentially life saving.
Look for posters advertising local blood drives or stop by a blood donation center to ensure blood supply for ongoing patient needs and unforeseen trauma situations.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Let’s not forget our furry friends. If adoption is just completely out of the question (I mean, what better gift for your loved one than a puppy) volunteer some of your spare time at a local animal shelter.
Help with dog walking, cleaning or donate pet food and toys. Some shelters will even let you bring home a pet for the holidays so they don’t have to spend this special time of year alone. Our animals deserve love too.
Start at Home
Our children are the fingerprints we leave on the world when we’re gone. It is vital to instill the values of kindness, empathy and compassion on the generation we are raising. Kids can be taught with explanation and led by example. Paying for a stranger’s coffee or helping a friend move may seem like simple acts of generosity, but when our children are watching, it is possible to impress upon them a lifelong commitment to kindness and benevolence.
Do society a favor and get your kids involved in philanthropy early and often. For more information be sure to look into The Kindness Campaign.