Ultimate Gift Guide for Kids

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It is that time of year again when most of us are inundated with a long list of holiday errands, including buying gifts for our children. This can be a daunting task as our kids are constantly asking for different things and it becomes hard to keep track. Here are a list of tips that you can use to help you through the holiday season.
 
1.  Make your list, check it twice -  I suggest parents listen to what their kids mention they like throughout the year and jot it down. When I start to shop for presents I refer back to the note and use it as a guideline.

2.  Determine a theme - If you haven’t been able to jot down any ideas, think about their interests and come up with a theme. My daughter Payton, loves all things soft and fluffy so some of her gifts included: a new bath robe, stuffed animals, and socks. My son Spencer likes men’s fashion, so his gifts included: a sweater, a scarf, and a men’s shaving kit.
 
3.  Consider your child's needs, not just their wants - I consider what gift ideas on the list are a good fit for my child at the stage that they are currently in. For instance, if your child is having a difficult time adhering to screen time, don’t get them a new tablet or smart watch. My daughter who is almost 12 is obsessed with her screen time. This holiday season she asked for a smart watch. As much as I wanted to get it for her since it feels so good to give our children what they really want, I knew she was not mature enough to stay off of it. This was a gift that would distract her when she needed to spend time on more important things such as school work.
 
4.  Buy gifts with a purpose - Another approach to gift giving is to buy games which help with your child’s deficiencies. For example, if your child struggles socially, sign them up for a mother & child or kids yoga class. If your child struggles with fine motor skills, get them a puzzle or similar toy that helps refine these skills. One of my children struggled with reading so I got them books on topics I know they were really interested in.
 
5.  Don't forget to give back! - If you want to teach your children the gift of giving, I suggest going to a local charity event and have them volunteer with you. Teaching your children to help others and to give their time to those who are less fortunate is an invaluable skill.
 
6.  Money, money, money - Lastly, give yourself a budget and stick to it! My gift giving style is to buy one big present and a couple smaller ones but I make sure it is always within the budget I set in the beginning.
 
No matter your budget, or the number of gifts you buy, always remember the gift of love and time is what your kids want the most
 
Happy Holidays
Elise 

Quick Tips for a Peaceful Thanksgiving

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Ah, I love Thanksgiving. It's the perfect time to think about what we are thankful for and take inventory of our lives. You might have already started counting your blessings but if you've gotten lost in holiday shenanigans, I invite you to start now: 

What are you really thankful for? 

It can be something that you usually take for granted or something big that happened this year. Gratitude is gratitude. 

 Also, remember some family and friends may not have Thanksgiving plans... I'd encourage you to reach out and invite them to your celebration. Being alone during the holidays can be very lonely and difficult. Payton felt destroyed when her friends didn't invite her for Halloween plans...  imagine how adults feel without anywhere to go for the holidays.  

Thanksgiving often comes with some family drama. Instead, be proactive and decide that you will have a different perspective. Understand that no one is perfect. The annoying parent that seems to only “criticize” you? They might just be really scared and doing the best they can.  Try to empathize with the path they have taken in life to arrive at the place they are. Perhaps they only know negativity. Show compassion through your own positivity.

Wondering what the hell you are going to do with the kids the entire vacation? Rest and relax!  Sleep in, make a mess, let the kids come in your bed for snuggles. You will miss this time in a few years. Do things that your normal schedule wouldn't allow. Bake, sing loudly, dance, play. Enjoy the togetherness of family time. It’s a beautiful blessing. If you have a toddler that screams and throws temper tantrums, take this opportunity to do some behavior modification techniques while you have the time to devote.

Finally, relax and enjoy the blessings of life and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, 
Elise 

Tips for back to school

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As the relaxing days of summer are winding down (In Florida we go back
to school in less than 2 weeks), I think as parents we are holding our breath in anxiety. We remember the arguments we had with our kids, the deadlines for school projects and of course the dreaded early morning drop offs.

Here are some of my tips to making the transition easier as the kids go off to school.

  1. Never let them see you sweat. What does that mean? Don’t start complaining about going back to school and having early mornings again. Remember that little ones are always watching. Model what you want your kids to do.
  2. Start practicing some math and reading skills again. Don’t set a strict schedule. Just enough to get their feet back into the “work pool”.
  3. Remember this is THEIR school experience, not yours. Try not to hover too much or stress too much. A little suffering never hurt a kid

Enjoy your last few weeks with the ki.ds. Time goes by so fast.

Happy parenting,
Elise

One step to a happy vacation

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I recently returned from a vacation with my kids. The day I was leaving a friend said to me: “Good luck. I sure hope your kids behave and that you can enjoy your vacation”. My first thought was: “You know what I do for a living right? You are my friend?”  Luck has nothing to do with having a great vacation with your kids.  Planning appropriately is the key to whether you enjoy your vacation. I don’t mean planning out the vacation details. Rather, plan your parenting guidelines. 

Make plans for various behaviors. What are you going to do when your child acts up on the plane?  On a ride? An excursion?  Do all house rules go out of the window? Hell no. This is the moment of truth. If you follow through on your consequences during vacation your kids will know you really mean business. 

Start your behavior modification plan early. Don’t start punishing your child when they won’t stop kicking the chair in front of them when you have never experienced that before. Don’t start new rules immediately before your trip. You should start a month before you leave. Prepare your child. Clearly explain you expectations and what will happen if they don’t adhere to your rules. It’s that simple

If you say: “We are leaving this beach right now if you don’t listen”; If your child doesn’t listen, get up and leave the beach. I know it totally sucks for you but I promise your child will be much better behaved afterwards.You just taught them that you mean business and follow through. 

Happy vacationing,
Elise

What makes a great mom?

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Happy Mother’s Day

What is a great mother? People have different definitions of a great mom. My definition changed when I became a mother. Some moms make everything pretty for their kids. Some are amazing PTA moms and are always the class mom or maybe you see yourself as an average mom. I can assure you, there is no such thing. There are shitty moms but never average. In fact, if you are reading this, you are definitely not an average mom. How do I know that? Because you wouldn’t be reading about moms if you were average.
So I will tell you my version of an exceptional Mommy. The person that always puts their children before themselves. A person who even when it doesn’t feel good to do the right thing, does it. No need for accolades (although if we get some, that is much appreciated) because they do it when no one is looking. They fight tirelessly and fearlessly for their children and know when to let go and teach their babies how to fight for themselves. So if you make birthday presents beautiful or are the PTA mom that’s just the cherry on top. Unconditional love is the gift of the mother. Although we are not perfect and may not always do the exact right thing, we are Mother’s. We are warriors for our babies. So this Mother’s Day let me salute all of you for your amazing work for your kids. Thank you for putting in the time and energy even when it feels like your kiddies don’t deserve it. Enjoy being taken care of on this honorary day.


Happy parenting.
 Elise

How to succeed in an argument.

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Is it even possible to succeed in argument?  Absolutely. 

Have you ever been in an argument and yell the same thing over and over again only to not be heard? Do you wonder: ”How can you not agree with me when my point is so valid?” I will tell you why. Your delivery sucks! That’s right. your delivery sucks and therefore you didn’t communicate effectively. You lost your audience when you started screaming. If you want to learn how to argue effectively, follow these simple steps.

  1. Stop yelling. And if you need to yell because you are so mad, leave the room and yell by yourself. Yell whatever damaging insults you want to yell at your spouse or child to the wall instead. If you are still mad quickly watch a funny video to shift your mindset.
  2. Once you have calmed down think about what you want your end result to be. Is nagging going to accomplish this? No. Is screaming going to accomplish this? No. Is calmly stating facts and feelings going to accomplish this. Yes.
  3. Always give an example of how this may effect the other person if the roles were reversed. If your feelings are hurt because you were called a name, ask them how they would feel. And if it wouldn’t hurt their feelings think of something that would and how they would like it. Then you have made your point.



So the next time you feel your blood boil and want to scream like a lunatic follow these simple steps to get your point across.

Where does the time go with our kids?

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My baby turns 18 this month! Is that possible? I checked his birth certificate to be sure and as I suspected he is turning 18.

It wasn’t always easy with Spencer. He was diagnosed with autism days before he turned 2. His behaviors were challenging to put it mildly. We went through many therapies, traveled all over the country and spoke to countless doctors to try and help Spencer with the numerous deficiencies autism brings. When I reflect back, I remember the tantrums and the difficult times but somehow, they seem to fade. Now instead of deficiencies I see gifts. Instead of tantrums I see a young man that sticks to his word. Each new therapist I hired I remember thinking, “This will be the magic bullet.” Spencer has taught me so many valuable lessons, too many to list, but slow and steady like the turtle may just be the best one. Because there is NO one magic bullet that is going to make your child listen, go to bed easily, eat every food on the planet or not throw temper tantrums. Parenting is like the story of the turtle and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. It was not one particular therapy that changed Spencer into the unbelievable well adjusted, social person he is today. It was the combination of everything. That along with boundless love and adoration and his willingness to let me mold him into the young man he is today.

To all the parents that want a quick fix to a problem, trust me, it’s not out there. I’ve looked everywhere. You can’t trick good old-fashioned parenting. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so take your time and enjoy the distance because in an instant it flies by.

To my son, happy 18th birthday. I love you with all this mother’s heart can hold. Thank you for the many gifts you have given me and the world. Your autism never really needed to be fixed, just shaped. I love you to the moon and back.
 
Love Mommy

 

Happy Parenting
Elise 

Can your child play alone?

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This afternoon Payton and I got home from her gymnastics class (no she is not an over scheduled child) and she turned on the tv. I took all of her hand held electronics away about a month ago. So she’s been watching all of her favorite animal shows on tv. Seems fairly innocuous. There was just something about the way she walked in and immediately went straight to the tv. It bothered me. The tv seemed to have the same hold on her as the tablet, phone and computer.  Gut instincts kicked in and I said: “Turn it off”. Suddenly I was frightened that my daughter, child of a parenting coach, doesn’t know how to play alone. My fear worsened when she looked at me and said: “What are we doing?” I said: “I’m working.”  Fear running through my veins. I’m thinking to myself please let this child take that answer and begin playing alone. Well the universe must have heard me because she said: “Ok,” walked away and did her own thing.

What’s my point? I have two:

  1. Why was I scared? I’m the mother, I’m in charge. That’s right everybody, I am just like you. I am sometimes scared of my kids! Not often and I never let them know.
  2. I have been doing the right thing. My daughter and I are pretty glued together. Sometimes I have to remind myself to step away from her and allow her time to be alone, figure out life and be bored.

Now I’m sitting here writing this and she is upstairs playing in her room. So the next time your child seems like they are having too much screen time, do my little test. Tell them to turn it off and go play by themselves. If it’s easy for them, keep up the great work. If it’s a bit more difficult, time to pull back on the electronics and let your child learn how to play alone. They may need some assistance if they haven’t been taught how. Encourage reading a book, coloring, playing outside if old enough or making a fort. Anything.

Happy parenting!

Elise 

If only I were the "perfect" parent.

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.Don’t strive for perfection, strive for greatness.

I used to compare myself to those mothers whose desserts and nutritious dinners were Pinterest worthy. I don’t enjoy cooking. It is definitely a chore for me to put a balanced meal on the table for my kids. But what is perfect anyway? It’s a very fair yet debated question. I asked this question on my Facebook page. I received different and amazing responses. I find this question interesting because everyone used to tell me I am such an amazing parent because of everything I did for my son as a child as it related to his autism. Yes I agree, I am finally able to accept praises concerning that part of parenting. But I feel I could have done better and more.

What’s the parenting coach's idea of the “perfect” parent? My experience and age have taught me there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but rather an amazing parent. This is the parent that is present when they are with their kids. They are not on their phones. This is the parent that teaches their child by modeling the behavior that they want their children to have. This is the parent that is forgiving, warm and accepting of who their children are and not who they want them to be. This is the parent the advocates for their child when the child can’t. This is the parent that punishes because they know the lesson is important to teach. I try to be all these things all the time but sometimes I fail and that’s ok. None of us are perfect. We just have to always be the best we can be and that may change minute to minute depending on our circumstances.

Be kind to yourself. You are doing awesome.
Happy parenting!

Elise 

Spend money on an experience

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The trend today is for young adults to spend their money on experiences such as travel rather than on possessions. I took a page out of their book and decided to go with my kids to the local theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando. We had a blast. It wasn’t spring break or any other holiday. We went just to get away. Although my aging neck and back prevented me from riding the fun roller coasters that I usually do, seeing my kids happy was enough. I was glad to take on the role of sunglasse holder as the kids went on the rides. Both were so relaxed and happy to get a break from school work. Payton was actually skipping from ride to ride.  I realized all the time I spent making sure they got along and respected one another paid off as I saw them holding hands walking onto the rides together.

Of course I couldn’t help but get in another teachable parenting moment. We were leaving and Spencer said: “Uggh, I don’t want to go back to work and school.” My response: “This is why it’s so important to do well in school so you can go away for fun little trips to reset yourself.” He ignored me, but I had to say it.

We shared so many laughs and made memories. The next time you have a choice between a gift for yourself or an experience, go for the experience. Memories last a lifetime.




Happy parenting!

Elise 

Easy, inexpensive Valentines Day presents for your kids.

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Each year I give my kids little gifts of love that reflect them. This year I thought it would be cool to do something that fulfills all of the 5 love languages (The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, great book, a must read). That way I am sure they will know the depth of my love. After all, if they don’t interpret love by receiving gifts, I have to make sure they know just how loved they really are. Here are my ideas to show each love language:
 

  1. Words of affirmation - Make a banner and list all the reasons We love our kids.
  2. Quality time - Carve out time where you can be one on one with each child. It doesn’t have to be hours. Maybe just a date to go get ice cream. Whatever it is, it will be your time together to connect.
  3. Receiving gifts - We think every child would like gifts, but that is not always the case. The key to great gift giving is something that shows thought. Maybe they have mentioned wanting something in particular. Or you recognize something that they need. When you do this, it shows much more thought than just a gift card.
  4. Acts of service - Lend a helping hand. People want validation that they work hard at whatever they do and kids are no exception. So, give them a little help with a chore or homework that would normally be done alone. 
  5. Physical touch - Some people don’t need a hug while others crave the physical connection. Recently, my daughter has been really craving this and it is just fine by me. We actually set aside time just to cuddle on the couch. Again, a great time just to reset ourselves.

 
Valentine’s Day is a great way to show our loved ones how much they mean to us. I hope this will inspire you to show your kiddies just how much they mean to you. 


Happy parenting!

Elise 

Are your kids stressed out or anxious? Maybe it is time for an electronic diet.

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Are your children stressed or depressed? It may be time to go on an electronic diet.

It seems like kids with iPads are getting younger and younger these days. I’ve even seen babies with them. My almost 18 year old son didn’t receive his first phone until he was 12 and  it was only to motivate him to be come more social. He is autistic. The only thing it accomplished was that it gave him new ways to obsess and be inappropriate. There are no shortcuts. My 10 year old still doesn’t have a phone. However, we all know not having a phone doesn’t stop our kids from engaging in all types of inappropriate screen time antics. Most of us have computers and tablets at home to which our kids have access. So Stampylongnose will find his way into your homes somehow.

Other than becoming a zombie and not listening, what are the real concerns for our kids? According to research it affects focus, sleep and even our body composition. Parents complain that our children are addicted to electronics.  Gaming releases so much dopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaine use. How scary is that? Would you give your children cocaine? I don’t think so. Getting our kids on an electronic diet might seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be.

Here a couple of steps to get our kids off of electronics?
  1. Let them know that the whole family is going on an electronic diet. We are all in. Remember that our kids are always watching us. So set an example of what you want them to do.
  2. Understand your children are going to need more input from you about how to have fun without a screen. Be ready and prepared for some suggestions. Bowling, ice skating, roller skating or playing outside to name a few.
  3. Sit back and watch the beautiful changes in your children.


Happy parenting!

Elise 

Stop trying so hard!

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I went on a walk with my 17 1/2 year old son last night, and the coolest thing happened. He talked to me about really important stuff;  college, friends, work, money, life values. Holy shit- if I had paid him a million dollars, I wouldn’t have gotten as much information out of him. Parents are always asking tons of questions to their kids, and it is usually followed by very short answers. I have recently learned to stop talking so much and start listening. But it gets tough to listen when they won’t talk. So below are a few suggestions/ideas to get even the most tight lipped teenager to talk.

1.  Do something THEY want (or enjoy) doing. Spencer was going for an evening walk last night, and he asked me if I wanted to join. Not really something I wanted to do at 8pm, but private one on one time with him is so infrequent that I hopped at the chance. Carpe Diem..

2.    Don’t ask too many questions when you are doing their preferred activity.  This is when their defenses are down, because of this, you will get a more authentic child without their guard up.  This is when they will start talking without you even asking. Its a beautiful thing, they will come to you.

3.  Be sure to get to know some facts about their hobbies, likes and dislikes,  (or fears) so you have some common ground to talk about down the road. 

4. Finally, don’t push, let the magic happen all on its own. 

Happy parenting!

Elise

The Importance of balance.

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Balance, It’s a funny thing. We try to gain it as we take our first steps as a baby. Once we are up on 2 feet we work hard to improve our balance. Children need it for agility in football, soccer, ballet and gymnastics. When we age we seem to lose the coveted balance that we work a lifetime to get and maintain.

Just like in ballet, if a ballerina is up on her toes and goes too far left or right she falls. To a gymnast on the balance beam a one millimeter misstep is the difference between landing or falling off. 

So then the question is, how does balance affect my family?

It may not seem like a big deal when you tell your children they can Never have electronics. While it would be a beautiful world filled with rainbows and unicorns if that existed, it’s not realistic. So how do we get our children to not stay glued to their electronics? Balance. If you take the electronics away completely at a young age, your child will not know how to balance playing with screen time. It is our job as parents to teach our children this important skill. Whether it is for junk food, electronics or time with friends.

Remember the next time you want to completely restrict something In your young children think of the ballerina. Too far left and she falls.

Life is like a ballet, the perfect balance will make you light and beautiful on your feet.


Happy parenting!

Elise

Parent or protector?

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As parents, we're programmed to protect our kids. But what happens when we want to continue protecting them as they get older? When is it appropriate to stop protecting and start teaching? I've broken this down to three stages.

Preschoolers: They need protection from a difficult teacher, bullying, or a dangerous situation. While you step in to help, take the opportunity to teach your child how to handle it. At this stage, they may not be able to generalize and take the lesson your are trying to teach and apply it across the board to other scenarios.  So, while they are young you will still need to be the protector but  you begin planting seeds so they develop the skills on their own.

In elementary and middle school: You want to make sure that when you are protecting your child, you are ALWAYS using the situations as a teaching opportunity because their language and ability to generalize information has improved. For example, if my daughter is having a problem with school work, I will ask if she can handle it herself with the teacher. If she is not comfortable doing that, I will take care of it. However, she needs to participate in the email or discussion with the teacher so that she can eventually handle these situations on her own.

In high school: Now the parent is the teacher first and the protector second. By now, your child probably has the skills necessary to take care of themselves in school, work and social situations. For example, if your child is having difficulty in a subject and refuses to see the teacher or guidance for help, they must suffer the consequences. This is when your child will learn many life lessons while still under your care.

Our parental instinct is to always be the protector. However, we must remember that as parents it is our obligation to give our children the skills necessary to handle life on their own.

Happy parenting!

Elise

Run your family like a CEO runs their business!

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The new year has come and gone. Resolutions are set and some are broken. I’m going to suggest something radical today:

Rather than promising to stop yelling at the kids, try thinking of someone in the business world you you really respect. Ever wonder how some businesses always seem to succeed while others don’t? Or why people love going to work and others don’t? Chances are, there is a leader guiding the company to greatness. 

Parents are essentially the CEO'S of their household, so lets learn how to help our children to perform their best. Here are a list of traits that great CEO'S exhibit:

Emotional Stability: We can't run our houses well until we are emotionally stable. When I go into homes, before we begin to even look at family dynamics, I always make sure the parents are stable. After that’s established, we can then move forward with any behavioral plans.  After all, it makes it a lot more challenging to tell your children to stop yelling when you are always yelling, right? 

Maturity: Please make sure you are not making fun of your children to your other children.  You set the tone for the level of kindness and compassion in the household. 

Empathy: Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is essential when leading. Empathy = connection. Once you learn to feel empathy for someone else they will feel valued and appreciated.

Respect: What does respect look like in a family? When someone says “the music is too loud in the car, please turn it down” or “that noise is really bothering me, can you please stop” or can you please keep the noise down, its getting late," you need to listen to them. If you don’t respect your child’s wishes and don't value their needs, they will have a much harder time respecting you or their siblings. Show them the same respect you want them to exude.  

Next time you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or frustrated with your family, pause and think "how would my favorite CEO handle this?"

To an amazingly successful year, 

Elise

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! 

As the new year approaches, we’re getting ready to make our New Years resolutions. “This year I am going to eat much healthier and I’m going to work out every day.” My resolution every year is to stop cursing. A couple hours into the day I say,” f**k that.”
 

So why do we set these resolutions if we know we’re going to break them? It seems like we are just setting ourselves up to fail, making us feel even worse than before.  So this year, lets make a decision together: to change ONLY when we are ready, and accept all the rest.  At this stage of my life, I have learned to accept my truck driver mouth and those around me have as well.  Lets try and not only accept but embrace our shortcomings. They serve some sort of purpose for us. As for the healthier lifestyle, there is no bad time to make that decision.  It could be in the middle of the day, in the middle of the month, in the middle of the year.  When you are ready to take massive actions, you know you will get massive results.  In the meantime, be kind to yourself and remember there is never a bad time to make a fresh start.  
 

Wishing everyone a beautiful happy and healthy new year!

 

Elise  

 

Happy Holidays!

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The kids hadn’t even finished their Halloween candy and I was already getting excited for the holiday season. It started when I was a little girl and I would come down to South Florida to visit my grandparents. I would come back with a Jewish tan: dark on the front, pale on the back. When I went to college, I loved coming home and going shopping, having my mom cook and do my laundry for me and getting a break from school.  

Now, as I have my own family, this is also a favorite time of the year. My ex-husband wasn’t Jewish so I was able to get the coveted Christmas tree which became the highlight for me, another place to make something pretty. After I divorced, I kept the tradition of the Christmas tree (don’t call the Jewish police). Rather than worry about my perfectly matched ornaments and bows, I let my children pick out the tree theme. They did what every child does: the multicolor lights and ornaments. I embraced my new kid-friendly themed tree in exchange for my sophisticated tree of the past. My holidays now became about the experience instead of what the holiday looked like. My perfect tree topper was now a crooked ornament that has never quite fit, but it is magical.  

I love everything about the holidays. I love to shop for everyone’s presents, picking out the tree, decorating the tree, making potato latkes and seeing all the children tear open their presents with anticipation.

This holiday season, try to do one thing new that is super fun that can be a new tradition with your family.  Maybe something goofy, or a tree that’s just for your kids.  Maybe let them each pick out an ornament, or if you celebrate a different holiday, create a dish that you and your kids pick out and make together every year.  

Remember that holidays can be difficult for people so be considerate. While these times often come with stress, remember the beauty that surrounds this time. It is a time of miracles and celebration. 

Wishing you very happy holidays! 

Elise

When your child misbehaves

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Have you ever been yelled at, screamed at, punched, or kicked by a child? I have! Have you gotten the awful  “I hate you” while they're kicking you? It's exhausting, infuriating and sometimes even painful. So as a parent, how do you find any empathy with a child who acts that way? It's quite simple. 


Understand that this is the only way your child knows how to communicate. Think about it: as adults, we have had years of training to be able to articulate our feelings in a calm manner even if we're upset (and many of us still aren't there yet). I'm sure many of us have acted in ways we wouldn't want our own children to act. Yet, we expect our little people to be perfect at clearly communicating their needs. Cmon...when you say it out loud it sounds ridiculous, right? There is no way you can expect a tiny person with only a few years of life behind them to do it better than adults. 

So the next time your little one screams hideous things at you, remember he's just tying to explain his feelings. Give him the tools to explain and identify what he is feeling. Even better, next time you are mad as hell at them, model exactly the way you would want to be treated. Don't yell or scream. That just reiterates that this is effective communication. And don't take it so personally, they don't really know how to say in a calm voice: "Mommy, you hurt my feelings. I wasn't finished at my play date. Making me leave made me feel insignificant!" Yeah right, call me when your child says that and you can start hosting some of my webinars :) 

Be kind to the little ones, they are just trying to figure out what works, just like we are. 

Till next time, 

Elise

Nighttime Routines

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Think about the way you put your child to sleep. Do you throw them in the bed and then leave? 

Now let’s think about your own nighttime routine. Do you go straight to sleep when you get into bed or do you read or watch TV to unwind?  Of course you do.  We all need to unwind before bed… and kids are no different.  I feel so strongly that connecting with your kids every day is important even for just 15 minutes/day per child.  I have found the best time to do this is at night. I split my nighttime routine into 3 distinct parts: 

  1. Doing something goofy: my daughter and I play with the snapchat filters for about 5 minutes. We laugh, we record ourselves the funny voices, we act silly. You could also read a book (funny voices encouraged). Whatever you can do to engage with them on their level is awesome!
  2. Lights out: this is the perfect time for them to start talking. As soon as the lights go out, kids will always start to talk.  Why?  BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP.  You know how when you pick them up from school and ask them how their day was, they have nothing to say? They don’t talk because they are tired. But nighttime is when they DON’T want to go to sleep so they will tell you everything you ever wanted to know. This is a wonderful time to connect. These conversations often times bring about many teachable moments. Seize these opportunities. Open a judgment free zone and listen intently. Gently guide them with your input.  
  3. No more talking: lay quietly for just a few minutes. Let them feel the security of you with them and then leave before they fall asleep.

Happy sleeping!

Elise