New Year, New You? If you're looking to up your parenting game or just need some new ideas to solve these three common challenges, we've got you!
Each challenge is broken down into what you want and what you need to happen in order to meet that challenge. Feel free to customize the challenges for your family and have fun! The idea is to create memories while teaching the kiddos that daily chores can be enjoyable!
Challenge #1 -The kids don't help out around the house.
You Want - a clean, organized home
You Need - clothes in hampers, dishes washed, and trash taken out
1. Set a timer and see who can make the most free throws into the hamper with dirty laundry.
2. Bubble mania - gather all the dirty dishes & cups, fill the sink with dish soap, put on some music, and sing while you fling (bubbles not dishes!) Place towels or old sheets on the floor for safety reasons and to make clean-up easier.
3. Give everyone a small, empty trash can or similar receptacle. Set a timer and cut them loose to gather trash and recyclables throughout the house. The winner is the person who has collected the most!
Variation: Have the little ones pick up toys by category: building blocks, stuffed animals, action figures, etc.
Challenge #2 - The kids have no clue what their "inside voices" are.
You Want - a serene, peaceful environment at home
You Need - everyone to speak in quiet, respectful tones to one another (that means you too Mama Bear!)
1. Sometimes, younger kids don't understand that being joyful does not equal being incredibly LOUD. Adapt a song they already know like "If you're happy & you know it..." but instead of "clap your hands, stomp your feet, shout HURRAH!" substitute "shake my hand, tippy toes, and whisper Yay!" Use it whenever things start to get too loud.
2. Older kids love games. Challenge them to a game of silent charades. The person that knows the word acts it out as usual but the people guessing cannot shout out words. Instead they have to write their guesses on small white boards. Deduct points for speaking, laughing, etc. Be sure to set an end time so everyone can get the giggles out.
3. Create a routine for dealing with tantrums. Depending on the age of your little ones, it may not be possible for them to be still and quiet for very long. One way to deal with temper tantrums and frustration is to establish a routine for de-escalating.
- If your child enjoys music, whisper a soothing song in their ear while hugging them closely. It can be a struggle at first because they'd rather fall out on the floor than let you hold them, but persevere. After a while, they'll adjust to the routine and will settle down almost immediately when you pick them up. Patting their backs and reassuring them that they're ok will calm both of you down.
- Incorporate deep breathing by explaining that when our feelings are bigger than our bodies, we take a deep breath and (exhale) let them fly away like butterflies. Works like a charm!
- Be a burrito! Wrapping up in a favorite blanket to reduce sensory overload can help once they've calmed down.
Before long, kids will learn to self-soothe themselves with your encouragement. After awhile, instead of picking them up right away, ask them , "Remember what we do when our feelings are bigger than our bodies?"
Challenge #3 - Mind your manners!
You Want - polite kids with social graces
You Need - kids that open doors for others, don't hurl insults across the room, and eat with their utensils
1. Play Polite for a Day - post the rules on the fridge: from the time you wake up until bedtime OR until you're the last person still in the game, you must use polite words like please, thank you, excuse me AND you must speak in a quiet, respectful tone. Keep score on the fridge. When someone messes up, they get an X. Three strikes and you're out of the game. Keep track of the time and see who can beat the record tomorrow for being the politest the longest!
2. Have them set the table for meals. Even if it's pizza or fast food, insists that the place mats, napkins, plates, and utensils are in their proper place. Disposables are fine for informal meals but use your regular dishes as much as possible. Praise and thank them for helping get the table ready. Younger kids will take pride in their contribution and will follow your lead by using the appropriate utensils and asking to be excused from the table. Repetition and consistency are the key to success.
3. When my kids were younger they'd see others holding doors open for others. I always made it a point to praise that person and say how thoughtful they were. And when people held doors open for us, I was sure to thank them and tell the kids how great that was. Once they made it to elementary school and learned what a "door holder" was, I used that to my advantage. The older kids took turns being door holders when we went places. Then once they got the idea, I'd encourage them to "hold the door" for other people who were behind us. Soon enough, they were opening and holding doors for everyone on their own.
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