5 Myths About Mom Guilt, Debunked

Inside this post: Learn how to shake off the Mom Guilt that our parents never felt and start enjoying Motherhood.

It’s a cold and rainy day and I’m sitting on the couch with a book.  I read…

“Do people look the same when they go to heaven, mommy?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“Then how do people recognize each other?”
“I don’t know, sweetie. They just feel it. You don’t need your eyes to love, right?”

Man, I love this book.

With tears in my eyes, I look up and see my son staring at me.

A thought immediately snaps into my head…

I shouldn’t be reading, I should be playing with my kids.

Ah yes, the Mom Guilt has shown up again.

It’s so sudden, I’m shocked by its intensity.

My brain starts to spin.

Time goes by so fast, I should be embracing every moment.

I really should stop reading now…

But WHY?  This is crazy!

At 4 and 7, my kids are pretty self-sufficient.  They haven’t been asking me to play, and they seem just fine.

Logically, I know that it’s a good thing for my kids to play alone.  It’s great for their development.

Why in the world do I feel this way?

I can’t help but wonder if my Mom ever felt bad for taking a few minutes to herself.

Probably not…

There’s some heavy pressure for Mama’s this day to be engaged all the time with our children.

We read stories about unattended children getting hurt by objects as benign as a paperclip, how parents get arrested for allowing their children to go outside and play alone, and how it’s important that we’re actively engaged with our children most of the day.

The culture of Motherhood these days leads to Mom Guilt in a way that it never has before.

We like to joke that our parents kicked us out of the house as soon as they could and didn’t expect us home until dinnertime.

And here we are within arms distance of our children all the time.

Anytime we sit down to do something for ourselves, we instantly feel like we’re letting down our children.

Personally, I’m tired of it.

It starts right now.

Let’s break down the most common reasons why mothers feel guilt and discover real reasons why we should shake off the Mom Guilt.

Mom Guilt can take over so quickly. Here's 5 myths about Mom Guilt that every Mom needs to know.

I don’t spend enough time with my kids.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a working Mom who’s away from her kids all day, or a Mom at home, ALL Moms feel this guilt.

You want to spend time with your kids, but life is busy and hectic and no one else is going to do all your chores so you can play Snap Circuits with little Jonny.

The good news is that study after study has shown that the quality of the time spent with your kids trumps how much time you actually spend with them.

So instead of worrying about spending more time with your kids, just focus making the best of the time you have with your kids.

Read more here: Quality Matters: How To Make Time With Your Kids Count

I don’t like to play with my kids

Different parents connect with their kids in different ways.

My friend, Beth, loves being silly and pretend plays with her kids like a champ.

My other friend, Nicole, playfully teaches, cooks, and creates with her kids.

Not going to lie here, I want to be like Beth and Nicole.  I look at them being so playful and creative with their kids and there’s this pang of guilt inside of me.

“Why can’t I teach my kids to cook like she does?”  “Why don’t I enjoy getting on the floor and pretending?”  Their kids love it so much, and I feel like my sons are missing out.

But, you know what?  When I take a step back, I realize that I do connect with my kids in very different ways.

I love to wrestle, play board games, bake cookies, and work on puzzles with my kids.  We will often pull out the play dough and make silly creations together.  And, I’m always more than happy to build epic LEGO creations.

We all connect and show love differently with our kids, and that’s okay.

Maybe you’re a teacher who likes to guide your kids.  Maybe you’d rather be in the kitchen cooking with your kids or cuddling on the couch reading together.

All that quality time counts.

Pretend play may make you want to escape to the laundry room, but you don’t have to play all the time to show your children that you care.

You do you.  You are the perfect Mom for your kids, quit trying to be someone you aren’t.

The key is to find what both you and your child enjoy doing together and do more of that.

mom guilt can quickly take over

I’m terrible because I lose my temper.

Okay, let me tell you right now, you are NOT the only one who loses their temper from time to time.

I have over 500 people a year take my Mama’s Anger Managment Class because they are tired of yelling at their kids.

You are human and part of being human is having emotions, even some big ones like anger.

You might even be a spicy person who wears all your emotions right there on your sleeve, so you yell more, you love more, you cry more.  You feel all of it more.

But, research has shown that just because you lose your temper, it doesn’t mean you’re hurting your child.

The most important thing to do is to apologize and repair after you yell.

All moms lose their temper from time to time, it’s okay.

Don’t believe me?  Read this –> The 5 Myths About Yelling At Kids it will help you break free from the guilt.

I’m too strict/lenient. I have no idea what I’m doing.

None of us do, we’re all flying by the seat of our pants, trying to figure out how to parent our kids well.

We joke that kids are always changing, once we have them figured out they go and change things on us.

Well, it’s true.

That’s just one of the big reasons why parenting is so darn hard!

Yes, a good parenting book can help you, but don’t forget that what kids really need, more than anything, is unconditional love and a few boundaries.

Read: 6 Parenting Books That Will Change The Way You See Your Kids

The one thing I know for sure is that you love your kids.  You wouldn’t be reading a blog like this if you didn’t.

You’re trying to do the best you can, and that matters a lot.

Research says that the most important thing a child needs to be resilient is one person who loves them and pushes them to do better.

My guess is that you’re already that person for your kids.

The key to being a good parent is to try your hardest, learn some new parenting techniques as they change, and to LOVE YOUR KIDS.

Think you can do that?  Yep, I thought so.

I can’t take time away because my family needs me.

Whether it be 5 minutes to relax and read a book or 5 days for a kid-free vacation, so many parents feel guilty for taking a break.

It feels selfish.  We’re told to “soak up every minute” and “it goes so fast.”

Parents are reprimanded for taking their eyes off their kid for one second, especially if that child gets in trouble.  Hello, Mama of the boy who fell into the gorilla habitat a few years ago.

Society tells us that we must be present every minute because if we aren’t, we’ll be the one who’s blamed if something goes wrong.

But we also worry that our kids will be upset or let down if we can’t be available to them.

We feel like we must be present every second of every day.

But that, my friends, leads to Mom burnout like nothing else will.

We need to take a break from the hypervigilance of motherhood.  We need to allow our souls to rest so we can be present and happy when we are with our families.

mom guilt, reading books, motherhood

I’m ready to banish the guilt. So, I will sit here, read my book, and my kids will play by themselves.  I’ll enjoy every single second…

Because there are some seriously good books out there, and I want to read them all.  Afterall, if I didn’t take the time to read, I never would have found these books that have changed my life…

WonderWonderA Man Called Ove: A NovelA Man Called Ove: A NovelFirefly Lane: A NovelFirefly Lane: A Novel

Even though the guilt will still rear its ugly head, I will remember that it’s good for kids to play by themselves, and I need some self-care in order to be the best Mother I can be for my kids.

So I shall sit and read…

More For You:

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Stressed By Clutter? Contain Everything With One Magic Basket.

Inside:  If clutter makes you angry, and kids leaving all the stuff around the house makes you rage, read how one basket can contain the clutter and teach your family how to pick up after themselves. This post contains affiliate links.

It’s almost dinnertime and my boys and I clamber in through the back door.  We kick off our shoes, I shoo them downstairs to play so I can make dinner.

I turn the corner into our kitchen and I instantly feel overwhelmed.

My kitchen is a disaster.

The counters are covered.

Covered with legos, books, phone chargers, school work, and notices about upcoming events that haven’t made it into my calendar yet.

How am I supposed to cook when there’s no empty space on my counters?

Here’s a pick for proof of how bad it can be.  Don’t judge me, m’kay?

cluttered kitchen? Use a clutter basket

This seems to happen every day around here, and the busier we are, the worse the clutter gets.

I could easily blame my husband and kids, but I totally contribute to this mess, especially when I’m super busy.  I drop stuff on the counter then rush off to the next thing.

So no…it’s not just my husband and kids who are leaving stuff around.  We all contribute to the mess.

But, I’m the only one who seems to notice, so it’s usually up to me to gather everything up and clean off the counters.

It’s beyond frustrating.

I love an organized home, but I can’t seem to find a good system for my kitchen.

Then last month at our MOPS meeting, a professional organizer came to talk with us and share some of her tips.

Mid-speech, she pulls out a basket and tells us about this one basket changed her life.

My jaw dropped.  This was it.  This was what I’ve been looking for!

I ran home and grabbed a basket and put all the forgotten toys, paper, phone chargers, books, and all the other random things inside.

And ta-da!  My kitchen was clean.

After dinner, I pulled out the basket and explained its purpose to my family.

Everything left out will go in this box and after dinner, we’ll divvy it all up and we’ll put away everything. If it’s yours, you put it away.

I will no longer be the one in charge of the clutter.  I will no longer be the one walking through the entire house putting away all the things.

Check out these super cute baskets!

Whitmor Rattique Storage Baskets Set of 3 JavaWhitmor Rattique Storage Baskets Set of 3 JavaStorage Baskets Large Terracotta Woven Basket, 15Storage Baskets Large Terracotta Woven Basket, 15Deco 79 Large Seagrass BasketDeco 79 Large Seagrass Basket

The Clutter Basket Keeps Me From Nagging and Yelling.

I understand how things get left out because I’m part of the problem too.

The problem is that the clutter bothers me the most, so I’m the one either nagging everyone to put away their things, or just doing it myself.

I’m tired of nagging.

I mean, no one wants to stop what they’re doing to pick up, not even me. I understand.

That’s why the clutter basket is amazing.

It’s emptied at the same time every day, which means there’s time built into our day just for putting away all the random stuff.

There is no nagging, yelling, or reminding.  It’s just what’s done after dinner.

control the clutter with a clutter basket

If after dinner doesn’t work for you, find a time in your day when it does work.

Build it into your morning routine, or bedtime routine.  Pick a time when your whole family is home and can spend a maximum of 15 minutes putting things away.

I love the clutter basket mainly because, since the surfaces of our house are cleaner, I no longer end up frustrated by all the mess.

I’m no longer feeling resentful and nagging.

This Mama’s a lot happier now.

It Teaches Teamwork and Responsibility.

My family is a team, and this is one chore we get to do together as a team.

The clutter basket helps each of us take responsibility for our things, and it teaches our children that everyone needs to be responsible for their own things…even Mom and Dad.

And, it’s not just me putting things in the basket.

My kids enjoy putting things into it too, especially if the object belongs to my husband or me.  Apparently, it’s fun to make Mom and Dad pick up after themselves.

I’ll also ask kids to put things into the basket throughout the day and will even give them a choice, they can put their toy into the basket to put away later, or go ahead and put it away now.

control the mess with a clutter basket

They have the power to chose when they put away their things, but because of the clutter basket, they will still be the one responsible for doing it.

The Clutter Basket Works.

It’s been about a month since I’ve started using the clutter basket and it’s been life changing.


My house is tidy which makes me less ragy.

My family is taking responsibility for their things.

And I have more time in my day since I’m not constantly cleaning my kitchen counters.

It’s amazing to know that the next time I’m rushing to get home to make dinner, that my clean kitchen counters will be ready for me.

No more cleaning before I cook for me!

Check out these amazing clutter-free books. Clutter Free With Kids is my favorite!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingClutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your homeClutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your homeReal Life Organizing: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a DayReal Life Organizing: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day

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The Best Way To Enjoy This Holiday Season…Without Losing Your Ever-Lovin’ Mind

The attic door creaks loudly as it drops and the ladder squeaks at it extends out into the hallway.  The smell of hot cider wafts into my childhood bedroom and Christmas music plays softly.

Goosebumps prickle on my arm and a grin spreads across my face.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and my Mother is up early to start the Christmas decorating.

This is one memory that will be forever imprinted into my soul.

This was my most favorite day of the entire year.

Christmas was coming!!

My Mother loved Christmas…and so did I.

She made December a magical time filled with sweet treats, fun holiday adventures, and glorious decorations.  All of my favorite childhood memories take place in December.

As a grew into an adult and became a Mom, I wanted to infuse my house with just as much warmth, joy, and happiness that my mother did.

And I did…for a few years.

But then the magic of the holidays started to lose its sparkle.

Around mid-November, I’d catch myself starting to dread December coming.

I knew I was going to be nothing but a bundle of stress and anxiety.

I wanted the holidays to be fun…but they just weren’t anymore.

Don’t get me wrong I still loved Christmas, but now it was all up to me to create the magic…and I was exhausted!

December is filled with shopping, wrapping, gingerbread houses, cookies from scratch, advent calendars, Christmas cards, handmade ornaments, holiday gift exchanges…

And the list goes on and on and on.

One December, a few years ago, I thought I was managing it all okay.  I mean, I hadn’t cried about the stress in days!

And then, I got a note in my preschooler’s cubby.  It simply said…

“Our holiday party is this Friday!  Make sure to bring a dish for everyone and a wrapped book for one of our friends!”

I read that one little note, and tears streamed down my face.

It was just one party…but it was one more thing on my to do list.  One more grocery run.  One more present to buy.  One more gift to wrap.

And I was DONE.

I called my best friend and wept.

She thought something really bad had happened, she actually asked me if I was okay or if someone was in the hospital, I was crying that hard.

This was the end…

The end of my holiday rope.

I just couldn’t take anymore.

Then my sweet friend said, “Amanda…you are in control of your list.  You get to decide what you do and what you don’t do. 

“Girl! Learn how to say NO!”

And that’s exactly what I needed…

Since then, I’ve been learning to live a slower life with less stress and overwhelm.

I’ve learned how to say “no” and how to live my life the way I wanted to live it.

And because of that one little phone call…I’ve learned how to create a holiday that I love!

Now when mid-November rolls around, I look forward to December.

I can’t WAIT to decorate and start shopping.

It’s once again…my favorite time of the year.

And this is how I do it…

Begin Your Day Well

It’s important, especially this time of year, to begin your day well.

I prefer a slow wake-up, with hot coffee and quiet, but there was a stage in my life when my day started by being jolted awake by little boys.  

Having my senses assaulted by loud boisterous children first thing in the morning did not get my day started off on the right foot.  I’d wake up crabby, frustrated, and irritable.

So, I took the course Makeover Your Mornings and it changed not only my mornings but my entire day.

I’m so grateful that I took the course, especially during the holidays.

It’s a stressful time of year, but I’m able to cope with it better because I’ve learned how to start my days off on the right foot.

No more stressed out Mom, no more yelling and crankiness first thing in the morning.

You’re busy and overwhelmed.  So start your day off right, so you can conquer it and be mentally ready for whatever gets thrown your way.

Remember What’s Important

There’s a lot going on during the holidays, and there always will be.

There will always be a list of gifts that need to be bought, wrapped, and possibly shipped.

There will always be holiday events that you want to and need to attend.

It’s easy to get lost in the hub-bub that you forget what the important things are.

In order to not lose yourself in the chaos, it’s important to stay focused on what matters most.

For me, it’s family.  It might be something different for you.  Maybe it’s religion or charity.

Take some time and figure out what your most important thing is, then use that important thing to make decisions about your time and money.

Yes, I’ll happily take my family on The Polar Express  Holiday Train this year because it’s something we’ll all enjoy, and it helps bring us closer.

No, I won’t volunteer to plan and decorate the annual Holiday Party because it takes a lot of time away from my family.

My family is my barometer.  My family is my focus.

make holidays great, mom funk, christmas, motherhood, family

Once you decide on your holiday focus, it’s easy to know what to say “yes” to and when you should say “no”

Because when you fill your days with things you don’t want to be doing, it’s easy to end up feeling resentful and frustrated because you don’t  have time for the things that really matter to you.

This is how you end up feeling rushed, unhappy, and resentful during the holidays.

Fill Your Days With The Best “Yes”

“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no”

This has been a statement that I’ve used throughout my entire year.

Well…this doesn’t apply to “must have’s” like laundry, dishes, cooking, etc., but anything that goes above and beyond what I have to do, I remind myself that “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no.”

This helps me fill my days with things that bring me joy and happiness, instead of unfulfilling tasks that stress me out.

With the holidays upon me, I have to remember this quote and to use it every day.

This is the time of year where everyone wants you to donate, volunteer, host, and attend a bazillion events.  Our schedules and to-do lists get overwhelming.

So this year, I’m all about finding ways to make holiday chores easier.  I enjoy wrapping presents, baking cookies, and entertaining.  Those are my “hell yes’s”

What don’t I like?  Addressing Christmas Cards.

I love creating them online, but the second they hit my mailbox I dread addressing, licking, and stamping all those envelopes.

So, I stopped doing it and found a service that would.  Postable.

This year, I created our Christmas Card online, uploaded my address book, and Postable made them and mailed them for me.  How amazing is that?

Count your blessings

This is the most wonderful time of the year….right?!

Well, yes and no.

It is filled with excitement, joy, and surprise, but it’s also stressful.

Keeping a daily gratitude journal helps me stay grateful for the good things in my life, especially during times when the good things get lost among my to do list.

It’s easy to remember all the things on my holiday checklist and to focus on our stress levels and the negative things about this time of year.

But how often do you pause and recognize how blessed you are?

I’ve worked hard at infusing my life with gratitude.  Every day, I try to find three things that bring me happiness.

When I’m feeling frustrated, I pause and find something (anything) to be grateful for.

A practice of gratitude helps me not get so lost in the hustle and bustle.  It fills my soul with joy and I feel happier throughout my day.

Gratitude keeps the negativity away.

Gratitude keeps me from becoming the Grinch.

Take the Chaos Out of Christmas

“I’d like to just enjoy the holidays with my family without the drama!  It feels like we’re rushing from one thing to another without taking the time to relax.  Then, I end up mad and yelling because the holidays aren’t turning out the way I expected.  It’s always a letdown.”

We all want a great holiday with our family, but we end up being let down in the end.

It’s time to bring the joy back into the season!

Learn every single one of my tips and tricks in my holiday book All is Calm…Even Mom: A Survival Guide For Moms Who Want A Less Stressful Holiday Season.

With this book, and its pack of holiday printables, you’ll be armed with everything you need to truly enjoy this holiday season.

It’s time to take back the holidays!!

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How This One Thing Will Ensure Your Child’s Success

Inside: Learn how a growth mindset in parents is the key to a child feeling successful.  

Last night, around my family dinner table, we threw a party for my 9-year-old son.

We toasted him, we praised him, and we whooped and hollered.

My son, who can not spell well (his last spelling test was a solid ‘F’), just aced his first spelling test. 18 out of 18 correct.

And we were all overjoyed.

But were we celebrating the perfect score? Nope.

The ‘A+’ grade? Nope.

The lack of red marks he usually receives? Nope.

We were acknowledging how hard he worked.

We cheered his effort.

And we praised his ability to know that if he worked hard, practiced and studied, he could get better results.

We were celebrating his growth mindset.

Over the years I’ve learned that my son’s growth mindset starts with me.

It starts with how I talk to him about things he’s not really so great at… like spelling.

What is a Growth Mindset?

Last week my son declared to all who would listen, “I’m just not a good speller.”

He had finished a school-wide spelling bee where he got three words out of twenty-five correct.

So, on paper, which was all covered in red marks, he was right. He’s not a great speller.

But even though spelling doesn’t come easily to him, he can’t throw up his hands and think, “Well, that’s it. I’m not a good speller now so I’ll never be a good speller.”

Related: How to Take Your Kid from “I Can’t” to “I Can” 

Because what he didn’t know is that his ability to spell, or his lack of ability to spell, can change.

The skills he currently has can improve and grow as he learns, tries, and practices.

That’s having a growth mindset.

It’s the belief that if we don’t know something, we just don’t know it yet.

If we can’t do something, we just can’t do it yet.

And if we aren’t good at something, we’re just not good at it yet.

Related: The Power of Yet

A growth mindset is crucial because it empowers us to know that our limits aren’t forever limits.

We can overcome our weaknesses, poor grades, and less than stellar performances if we study, practice, and keep trying.

But most kids don’t naturally think this way on their own.

growth mindset in parents

This kind of a mindset has to come from us, the adults in their lives.

And our words will shape how they approach every situation. For better or for worse, what we say will become the inner voice in their head.

So to develop a growth mindset in our kids, we need to develop a growth mindset for ourselves.

And we need to choose our words carefully.

A Growth Mindset for Parents

Yes, of course, I want my son to succeed in school. I want him to do well on tests. And good grades are always welcomed.

But much more importantly, I want him to know he can succeed in school.

I want him to understand that if he works hard, practices, and studies, he will show what he knows on tests, which will eventually translate to better test scores.

And I want him to know that an A is only celebrated because it shows he understands the material being covered.

So instead of applauding the A and the great test, we applaud the effort.

We applaud the hard work.

And we applaud the growth mindset.

But it starts with how we talk to them.

Instead of “I’m proud of you,” we say, “You should be so proud of yourself.”

Instead of “I’m happy you got an ‘A’” we say “You worked hard to earn that ‘A’” or “That ‘A’ tells me you really know your spelling words.”

Instead of “You did it perfectly,” we focus on the improvement and say, “You did so much better than last time” or “You’re getting better each time.”

A growth mindset for parents trickles down to a growth mindset for our children.

And we point out why he did better. We ask him why he thinks he got the ‘A’.

Which is crucial.

When our kids can recognize why they succeeded, they can replicate the steps they took.

For my son, he practiced his spelling words every single night for 20 minutes each night. He wrote them, he typed them, and he spelled them out loud.

Related: How to help kids study and succeed in school based on their personality and learning style

And he knows he got the ‘A’ because he consistently studied his words. He practiced and he kept going.

What happens when kids don’t succeed:

Often our kids won’t succeed.

If they’re trying new things or hard things, they will taste failure. Which is okay.

The day my son came home with his spelling bee “F” all covered in red marks I didn’t get mad. I didn’t punish him or tell him “he’s just a bad speller.”

Instead of admonishing the low grade, I pointed out his area of growth.

This grade shows me you need help. It shows me you need more practice, more study time and help from me to understand it. Can I help you?

Because that kind of language helps our kids know their lack of success can change.

It reminds them we are here to help them succeed even if they haven’t succeeded. Yet.

growth mindset in parents

A parental growth mindset reminds me to keep putting the words into his head that encourages his own growth mindset so after he succeeds, he knows to keep going and keep growing.

He knows he can always improve, and can always get better.

And he knows it comes with hard work.

So yesterday my son came home with another spelling list and he had to start studying all over again.

But he knew that if he put in the time and the hard work, it would pay off again.

He knew he could continue to improve his spelling skills. Week after week. Spelling test after spelling test.

And you know what? He did.

He brought home another ‘A’ with not a red mark in sight.

His hard work and studying had in fact paid off.

So we threw another party.

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The Most Powerful Way To Get Your Kid From “I Can’t” to “I Can!”

Inside: Learn how to foster a growth mindset in kids that will take them from “I can’t” to “I can!”

The other day, my son spent his hard-earned $1.50 on a pack of bubblegum and was happily chomping away. Every now and then, he’d blow a gigantic bubble.

My eldest watched him with wide eyes.

I don’t even know how to blow a bubble and I’m older than him,” she pouted.

So, I offered to teach her.

Her brother was kind enough to share some pieces of gum with us and we went to work.

I had to slowly blow a bubble myself so I could stop and break down the steps it takes to actually blow one.

After ten minutes of practice, my daughter had not mastered bubble blowing.

Because, well, it had only been ten minutes.

But she threw her arms up in the air and announced, “I can’t do it.”

Yet,” I said, finishing her sentence for her. “You can’t do it yet. It takes practice. A lot of practice and determination.”

So we kept at it for another ten minutes.

But by now her little brother stood over her shoulder, happily blowing his bubbles.

See? It’s easy,” he declared. Pop. Pop. Pop.

I saw the look of defeat in my daughter’s eyes. And, I saw a flash of anger, frustration, and embarrassment.

Her younger brother could easily do something she couldn’t.

She was on the verge of giving up-again-because then she wouldn’t have to try, or admit she didn’t know how to do something well.

She could ignore bubble blowing and move on with her life rather than pushing through the frustration. But then she still wouldn’t know how to blow a bubble.

So I couldn’t let her give up over her brother’s words.

I had to encourage and facilitate a growth mindset in her.

And both my kids needed to know the “It’s so easy” comment when someone tries to learn a new skill has no place in our home.

The Importance of a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief you can get smarter and learn new things by putting in effort and practice.

It’s understanding we all can grow and learn throughout our lives and if you don’t know how to do something, you just don’t know how to do something yet.

It’s focusing on progress and growth and the process of learning, rather than focusing on the end result or the finished outcome only.

And it’s helping our kids become lifelong learners, lovers of books, and people who want to constantly and continuously improve themselves.

Help your kids with their growth mindset using this Growth Mindset Journal for Kids —>  The Big Life Journal

A growth mindset starts with how we talk to our kids at home and how we let them talk to themselves.

It starts with whether we allow them to quit after trying only one time or whether we encourage them to keep practicing tough things.

We teach our kids how to have a growth mindset with these 5 tricks. 

And a growth mindset applies to learning all kinds of different things:

  • Academic skills: learning to read, or memorizing multiplication facts, or mastering calculus.
  • The arts: learning a musical instrument, figuring out how to draw a 5-point star, or how to do the new fortnight dance (insert small eye roll here).
  • Athletic skills: learning to dribble a basketball, or do a cartwheel, or learning to slide into second base without hurting yourself.
  • Everyday life skills: tying their shoes, making their own sandwich, or riding a bicycle.
  • And it also applies to the silly, don’t-really-have-to-learn-it-skills: whistling a song, snapping their fingers, and blowing bubbles with bubble gum.

All of these skills are hard. Until you learn how to do them.

But we can’t learn them overnight.

Because learning new skills takes persistence and determination.

And it requires the mindset, a growth mindset, that we can all learn how to do something if we:

1) Try
2) Try with a positive attitude
3) and assume we’ll learn it or master it eventually.

What We Say Instead of “It’s So Easy”

So after my son’s comment of “See, it’s so easy,” I took a page out my childhood and told him what my mom always reminded every kid who said it:

It’s only easy when you know how.

When I ride a bike, it feels super easy to me now. I hop on and go without thinking much about it.

But it wasn’t easy before I learned how to do it. Keeping my balance, pedaling, steering, and then managing to do it all at the same time while also looking for cars…was quite hard at first.

Just like blowing a bubble.

I blow bubbles mindlessly now that I know how to to do it.

But for someone who has no clue where to start, it can feel intimidating, overwhelming and frustrating.

And a comment like “it’s so easy” diminishes and belittles feelings which can be quite hurtful. So it’s one of the 15 surprising things we ban in our home to raise kinder kids.

Because as with all new skills, it’s only easy when you know how to do it.

So I encourage my kids to replace the phrase with something more helpful and more encouraging:

  • “Keep practicing and you’ll get it.”
  • “It’s hard when you don’t know how, but you’ll figure it out.”
  • “It was hard for me too at first but now it feels easy because I practiced.”
  • “I know you can do it! Keep trying!”
  • “Practice makes progress.” (A gem of a phrase from one of my favorite preschool teachers, Mrs. Johnson).

And with this simple shift in phrasing, my daughter’s frustration subsided.

The anger and embarrassment left her expression.

And she willingly practiced blowing more bubbles.

She still hasn’t blown her first bubble. Yet.

But with more practice sessions and more pieces of bubble gum from her brother, I know we’ll have another bubble blower soon enough.

And one day, it will feel easy for her too.

And then we can move on to learning our next skill, like how to whistle.

Source: New feed

Don’t Like the Elf? This Alternative Will Have You and Your Kids Jumping For Joy

Inside this post, you’ll find a great alternative to The Elf On The Shelf.  This post contains affiliate links

My friend sighs and rolls her eyes.  We’re sitting in our local coffee shop talking about the holidays, our crammed December schedule, and how we’ll survive the holiday season when she bursts out “Oh my gosh, I have to do that damn Elf again!”

She goes on and on about how her kids love The Elf On The Shelf, but she’s tired of having to move Buddy the Elf every night, and then she turns to me and says,

“You know, I’m not even sure if my kids act any better with Buddy hanging around, I just don’t think it’s worth it. I wonder how I can get rid of that Elf.”

I giggle to myself and am instantly grateful that I didn’t jump on that bandwagon.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the Elf can be fun.  Over the years, I’ve scrolled through Facebook and laughed at the antics those pesky Elves get into.   I really love the one where Elsa freezes him in a block of ice.  Now that’s brilliant.

But, I’m just not interested in doing The Elf on The Shelf.

Nope, No Elf On The Shelf  In This House.

When I think about the memories I want my children to have and the values I want to instill in my children, The Elf On The Shelf isn’t something I want in my home.

As a Therapist and Mom, the Elf On The Shelf gives me a bad feeling because:

  • it forces kids to be good because of an external motivator, The Elf, who’s always watching to see if you’re behaving.  It’s far better for a child to learn appropriate behavior because of internal motivations of wanting to behave.
  • The Elf is all about the presents.  If a child is bad, then Santa doesn’t come and they don’t get presents.  This just reinforces the commercialism of the season, right?
  • if I’m going to do a big tradition, like the Elf, I’d much rather choose something that will teach my children values and reinforce what the holidays are all about…and it ain’t about the presents.
  • Plus, he’s just a little too creepy for me.

But, I do appreciate the magic of The Elf.

I can see why it’s fun and why so many families have decided to bring an Elf into their homes.

So instead of The Elf On The Shelf, I’m introducing my kids to The Kindness Elves.

The Kindness Elves

The Kindness Elves are magical friends who love nothing more than to sprinkle kindness and joy wherever they go!

They love to visit and spread this happiness with children, encouraging them to do small acts of kindness in their daily lives.The premise is sort of the same as The Elf on The Shelf, but better.

Each day your child wakes up and looks for The Kindness Elves around the house.  Instead of finding mischief, they find an idea for a random act of kindness from The Elves.

Once the kids to the random act of kindness, they are rewarded with a little postcard congratulating them on their act of kindness.  This little postcard fits into their  Little Book of Big Kindnesses to keep.

  • encourage kindness, empathy, and taking care of others,
  • recognize the good things kids do, instead of focusing on the bad,
  • are in line with the true spirit of the holidays, and
  • bring magic and excitement to the holiday season,

As your children do these random acts of kindness during the season, they not only learn how to show kindness to others, but they feel the joy and elation of doing something for someone else.  They learn to LOVE to spread kindness.

This is a holiday tradition I can stand behind.

I’ve ordered my Elves, their home, and the book that comes with it, and I can’t wait to introduce them to my boys.

If you want your own set of Kindness Elves, head over here to pick out a pair for your family—>  The Kindness Elves

They are culturally diverse and come in a variety of colors.  I know you can find a set that works perfectly for your family.

Now that I think about it, maybe I should send a set of Kindness Elves to my friend, I bet she’d like them better than Buddy The Elf.

Perfect for those of us who don't like The Elf On The Shelf. The Kindness Elves are wonderful!

Source: New feed

Find Quality Time With Your Kids…And Still Get Stuff Done!

I’m standing in the laundry room, moving a load from the washer to the dryer with one load waiting to go in, and another that needs to be folded.

As I’m hunched over, pulling clothes out of the wash, I hear little footsteps and my 5 year old’s voice behind me.

“Mommy, will you play with me?”

I sigh.

I swear this is the hundredth time he’s asked me to play today.  Every time I turn around, this boy asks me to play.

And I do play.  I play all the time.

Actually, I just spent the better part of an hour helping him build his LEGO police station and fire station and all the cars that go with them.

I took a break to get some laundry done.

But my boy is only happy when I’m near him.  Every time I step away to do anything I need or want to do, he’s calling me back.

“Mommy, come look at this!”, “Mommy, help me!”, “Mommy, what ya doing?”, “Mommy, play with me?”

I admit, I’m getting a bit frustrated.

I’ve tried everything it seems.  I include him in the chores and what I’m doing.  I take frequent breaks to play with him, we even have special time for us just to play together.

I have tried teaching him how to play independently.  He has quiet time in his room every day and I even did independent playtime with him when he was younger.

I have tried.  But, his need for attention is part of his personality, it’s just who he is.

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I know my son wants my attention, but right now, I need to get my stuff done.

So, I respond, “No honey, I can’t play right now, I have laundry I have to finish.”

His response, “But you NEVER play with me!”

A combination of guilt and frustration take over me.

I want to scream “what do you mean I never play with you?!  I play all.the.time! We JUST got finished building together!  I have some things that I need to do, and I can’t play with you every second of the day!  What do you WANT from  me!?”

I feel defeated and frustrated because I can never live up to his need for attention.  I know his love language is attention, but it still gets under my skin.

Instead of acting on my frustration, I pause and think.

I get an idea…a brilliant idea!

“Ok kiddo, I hear that you want me to play but I have some things that I need to do first.  How about I set a timer for 20 minutes and when the timer goes off, I’ll play with you?”

He happily says, “Ok! sounds good!”

My son runs over to the kitchen counter and yells, “Hey Alexa?  Set a timer for 5 minutes.”

With the timer set, I finish loading and unloading the laundry and even get the clean load folded and put away.  It’s amazing how much I can do without kids underfoot.

The timer goes off and he finds me in milliseconds.

“Mom! It’s time to play!!!”

I stop what I’m doing and I’m all his.

We spend play LEGO together and we’re both happy. He gets the playtime he desires, and I got something checked off my list.  It’s a win-win.

Since that day, I continue to use a timer and he’s learning to wait.   It’s even gotten to the point that he’ll ask to use the timer when he see’s that I’m busy.

It’s been a great tool but there are some tricks to make it work.

get children to play on their own, independent play

When I use the timer, I have to actually stop working and be with my son when the timer goes off, even if I’m not done yet.

By following through, I’m showing him that he matters and that I can keep my promises.

If I ignore the timer or ask for more time, that trust will be broken and he won’t believe me when I say I’ll be done.

There are moments in my day, when I just don’t feel like playing.

I’m tired or I have a lot of work to do and I find it hard to connect with him because I’m distracted.

On those days, I use the timer differently.

I’ll let him know that I only have 30 minutes (or how ever long I can give him) and then I have to go do some of my work.  After my work is done, then I’ll come back and play with him.

This is also working beautifully.

For the minutes that I promise to play, I have to give him and is brother 100% of my time.  I can’t be on my phone, I can’t be multitasking.  That time is playtime.

It’s not fair to them to say I’ll be present, and then not be.

My phone can wait, the laundry can wait, the dishes can wait.

Now is my time to connect with my children.

And…the laundry is done 🙂

Source: New feed

Stop The Mom Funk From Taking Over Your Life

Mom Funk (n): A dejected mood felt by mothers. Symptoms of a mom funk include sadness, frustration, anger, stress, overwhelm, and extreme need to be left alone.

Mom Funks happen to all of us.  They aren’t a deep dark depression, they’re just a feeling of funkiness.

Instead of crying all day long and not being able to get our of bed, like depression, Mom Funks are like being in a bad mood for days, weeks, months.

Being in a funky mood can really impact the way you react to your children.  For me, I get angry.

I’ll never forget the day that I transformed into a raging Hulk Mom and screamed at my children.

Stop yelling at kids, parenting tips

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I had been in a Mom Funk for months.  I was unhappy and walked around every day with a huge chip on my shoulder. I should have been wearing a sign that said: “Don’t Poke The Monster, She Will Bite Your Head Off”

I had been snippy, short-tempered, and moody.  The negativity in my soul had been building up, just waiting to explode.

Then it happened.

Looking back, I’m aware that my three-year-old son had no idea what happens to a computer when it gets coffee spilled all over it.

I know he didn’t realize that playing on the couch would make the coffee in my cup slosh over the sides and onto my brand new computer.

He was just playing.

I was the fool holding a full cup of coffee over my computer with a three-year-old sitting next to me.

But the moment that coffee hit my computer, a switch flipped in me and lost it.  LOST IT.

I was so flooded with anger, that I had no idea how hurtful I was being.  I screamed, yelled, and raged.

I launched verbal bullets at my baby…my three-year-old baby.

I grew big and green like the Hulk. I smashed things and deep roars thundered from the depths of my soul.

This was unlike any kind of anger I had ever felt before.  It was rage.

Seconds after the lashing, I sat on the floor in a puddle of tears and wept.  The hangover from such intense emotions overtook and my body shook as I cried.

I looked up at my baby and saw his pain and his fear.  His fear of me.

Then the guilt took hold, and I cried even harder.  I crawled over to my boy and held him as we both wept.

I’m a freakin’ Children’s Mental Health Therapist…I know how to cope with big emotions.

Yet, there I was out-of-control.

Something had to change, I had to change.

Sitting there on the floor, my son in my arms, I made a promise that I would never, ever yell at my child like that again.

It’s been over 5 years since that life-changing moment and I have kept my promise.

The Mom Funk is strong.  It holds you down and covers you in thick negativity that’s hard to break through.  But it is possible to shake off the funk.

I know, I’ve done it.

Yes, The Funk is strong, but it’s not a life sentence.

Getting out of the Mom Funk begins with a choice. Tell yourself that you’re done…D.O.N.E…you’re done being in a funk and you will take active steps to become a happier person.

Big changes like this are a journey not unlike weight loss.  It starts with noticing there’s a problem and deciding to make a change.

You must commit to this process and be fully open to change.

Once the commitment is made, it’s time to get going.

I recently listened to the audiobook of “A Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes. In it, she says that it doesn’t matter what you do, just do.  Even if you don’t know where you’re going, just get started.

She compares it to riding a bike.  It’s much easier to steer a bike if you’re already moving pretty fast, you can turn that bike and let it take you where ever you want it to go.

When you try to turn that same bike at a standstill or when you’re going really slow, it’s difficult and you will fall over.

Being in a Mom Funk means you’re at a standstill.  You’re not going anywhere.

It almost feels like you’re walking through glue most days.  Mostly, you sit on the couch, yell directions to your kids, and wish you could just escape your life and sleep away the day.

So to truly get out of the funk and to start living a better life, you must start.  Just start.  Jump on your bike and get moving.

Self-care has to be step one.

Here are the first baby steps I took to get out of the funk.

  1. I went outside every single day.
  2. I began exercising again.
  3. I was aware of my time on screens when my children were around.
  4. I said “yes” when my children asked me to play.

Those helped, for sure, but starting my self-care journal is the single most effective thing I have done to kick the Mom Funk’s ass..

daily gratitude journal, happy mom, finding happiness as a mom

Quickly after discovering how deep I was in my Mom Funk, I knew I had to start bringing joy back into my life.

My Mom used to tell me to “do the things that make your heart sing”.  Well, that was a problem.

You see, I had no freakin clue what made me happy, what my hobbies were, or how to spend time alone.

It’s impossible to do self-care if you don’t know what makes you happy!

So, I got a journal and I made a list on the very first page.  I titled it “Things That Make Me Happy!”  Simple huh?

The Mom Funk is evil though, and it zaps all the joy right out of your heart.  So making a list of things that made me happy was not easy at first.  But I forced myself to do it anyway.  I had made a commitment and I was going to do this!

I sat and thought about every single thing that used to make me happy and wrote each one on my list.  Small things, big things, it didn’t matter.  The key was they had to be things I could do, not just things I like.

For example, I didn’t write down my kids, I wrote playing with my kids.  Playing with my kids is something I can actually do.

Here are a few things on my list

  • playing with my children
  • knitting
  • hugging my husband
  • driving with the windows down
  • singing loudly to show tunes
  • going on road trips
  • talking with friends
  • date nights with my husband
  • walking in the sunshine
  • reading a good book
  • watching movies with my family
  • drinking hot tea

The list started off pretty small, seriously small.  I think I had 5 things on my list that first day.

But over time, my list grew.  Each day I’d think of something new that made me happy (my gratitude journal helped me with this) and I added it to the list.

I challenged myself to do at least one thing on my list every day.  Some days I could only muster enough time and energy to do just one, other days I could do several.

Then at the end of every day, I’d write down all the things I did on my list that day.  This helped me stay accountable to myself and it made me feel accomplished.

Because of The Mom Funk, I hadn’t felt accomplished in a long time.  My journal made me feel good.

As the days passed, I started to feel happy, and slowly the Mom Funk began melting away.

Two years have passed since The Big Funk and I’ve learned so many lessons.

  1.  Life is better when you’re not funky.  Seriously, everything about life is better.  My marriage is stronger, my kids are happier, and our whole family is calmer.  Now, it’s not all sunshine and roses all the time, that’s impossible, but I’d say we’re pulling 80% happiness these days.
  2.  Happy moms yell less. A happier mom is a mom that doesn’t get angry and freak out every time her child makes a mistake.  A happy mom is able to quickly forgive.  A happy Mom doesn’t take everything personal and can see past her own emotions to the emotions of her children.  A happy Mom doesn’t yell…as much.
  3. There are still funky moments.  Life ain’t perfect.  You’re human and you will get upset, angry and frustrated.  Things will still hurt you and make you sad.  That’s life.  But when you have a daily practice of self-care, those things don’t knock you down quite so far.  It’s easier to pick yourself up, dust off your yoga pants, and move on.

You can get out of the Mom Funk.  It is possible.  Just like any other life-changing decision, it takes effort.

So, if you’re feeling angry, lonely, and sad take few small baby steps at a time to bust out of the funk.

The Mom Funk is strong, but there’s something even stronger.

Depression happens to many, many people yet it can be hard to self-diagnose.  It becomes such a normal part of life that it’s hard to recognize that you’re depressed.

A Mom Funk can look a lot like Depression.  They both make you feel sad, unproductive, and angry. But depression is something much different, much deeper.

Here are some signs of depression to look out for…

  • You feel sad and unworthy nearly every day
  • You can’t banish the negative thoughts in your head
  • You lack energy and have trouble sleeping (either too much or not enough)
  • Your body aches and hurts
  • Your relationships with friends and family are strained
  • You’re failing at work or school
  • You have an extreme loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • You feel like your family would be better off without you
  • You have suicidal thoughts

As you’re reading those, if you thought “oh my gosh, that’s me!”  I highly suggest you go see your family doctor or therapist.

Even if you just noticed yourself in a few of these symptoms, I’d still encourage you to go. You do not have to have ALL these symptoms to be depressed.

Remember, your family loves you and you deserve to be happy.

More Posts For You:

Source: New feed

One Powerful Way To Conquer Sibling Rivalry

“Stop touching me!!”

“You stop touching me!!”

“Ugh, I hate you!!”

“Just leave me ALONE!!”

Doors slam and I hear my youngest son wailing upstairs.

With my hands in my head, I think to myself…”I just can’t take this anymore.”

My boys have been fighting non-stop over the past few weeks.

I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s getting to the point that I can’t leave them alone for a minute before they start yelling and hitting each other.

When they are getting along, the family is fun, more enjoyable and just all around happier. But lately, it seems like those days are happening less and less.

These two are at each other’s throats every day.

Things are at a boiling point.

As I stand there I hear them scream “I hate you!” “You have to stop hurting me!”  “You’re so mean to me!” “You can’t tell me what to do anymore!”

What do I do…

I could charge into that room and lay down the law.

I could force apologies and send them to their rooms alone.

I could try to work out what happened and help them solve their problem.

The truth is that nothing has been working lately.

I pause and listen closer. Underneath their vicious words, deep down inside, I hear my kid’s hurting.

This is more than just one little squabble, there’s a profound and deep wound in my boy’s relationship.

My kids don’t need punishment and discipline to solve this.  What they need is help.

I gather my thoughts and trudge upstairs.  I don’t exactly how this will go, but I have to try something.

I kneel down next to my youngest who’s crying and screaming outside his brother’s room and give him a hug.

He nestles his tear-stained face into my neck and says “Mama, I’m just so mad.”

“I know baby, I know.  I can see that you’re super mad right now and we’re going to discuss this.  Can you sit on the couch for a second while I go get your brother?”

I walk into his brother’s room and great him with a hug too.  I help him calm down and then hand in hand we walk over the couch too.

Get a free step-by-step guide of this process at the end of the post.

Getting the kids calm is important.  When they are flooded by emotions, they won’t be able to have a rational conversation, and that’s what we need right now.

Find ways to help a child calm down here –> How To Respond When Your Child is Raging Mad

Once everyone is calm and relaxed on the couch with me, I clearly explain what I’ve been noticing.

Reflect what’s been happening

“I’ve been noticing lately that you guys have had a really hard time getting along.  You both seem so mad at each other and you guys are arguing a lot.”

I check for clarification.  “Are you noticing that too?”

They both nod their heads.

“Okay, I’m glad we are seeing the same things.  Now, I can tell that neither one of you are very happy with one another and I think that makes you sad.”

Both of their heads are nodding.

“Let’s work this out then.”

Give each child time to talk about what makes them angry

“Now J, I’d like for you to tell your brother what he does that makes you angry.  E, I’d like for you to just listen and hear what your brother says, and you’ll get a turn in just a minute.”

  • Pro tip- Don’t interrupt your child.  Give them the time to talk about things from their perspective (even if it’s different than what you’re noticing), this is the time for them to get stuff off their chest and to talk about their experiences.  This is not the time for teaching or parenting techniques.

I give J time to talk and then I ask E to repeat back his brother’s concerns so that J knows that E’s been listening.

Then I give E time to talk about what makes him angry and ask J to repeat back.

When both boys are done, I provide a summary for them.  “J it sounds like you don’t like it when your brother hurts you, and E you don’t like it when your brother tells you what to do and doesn’t let you say any of your ideas.”

Then I check to make sure both boys understand each other.

  • Pro tip – This is a good time to check for clarification and to ask questions if you don’t quite understand what your child is feeling/saying.  Again, this is not the time for discipline.

Problem-solve together.

“Now E, J said he doesn’t like it when you hurt him when you get mad.  Can you tell us, what can you instead of hitting? J can you let E know what he can do instead?”

After a discussion and problem solving, we move onto E’s concerns.

“Now J, E said he doesn’t like it when you tell him what to do and don’t listen to his ideas, can you tell J what you’d like for him to do instead?  J what can you do so that your brother feels heard?”

  • Pro tip – Stick with the “what can you do instead” phrase and focus on how to get his needs met.   As an example, instead of saying “don’t hit,” he needs to come up with solutions for when he does get angry, like going into his room, hitting a  pillow, or by saying “I don’t’ like that!”

After the three of us have problem-solved each child is armed with solutions and ideas for when these issues pop up.

Build connection.

Once each child feels heard and has more tools in their toolbox, it’s time to work on building a stronger connection.

“Okay J, now I’d like for you to tell me 3 things that you like or appreciate about your brother.”

  • Pro tip – Again, let your child speak uninterrupted.

Then we give E a chance to say a few things he likes and appreciates about his brother.

This helps build connection because it’s important for the boys to hear how their sibling sees them in a positive light.

Over the next weeks, things took a drastic turn.

There was less fighting, less tears, and way less screaming.

For a few weeks after our conversation, I needed to remind them from time to time about their brother’s concerns.  “Remember J, E likes it when you listen to his ideas.”  “E, I can tell you’re mad, but remember that your brother doesn’t like it when you hurt him, can you tell him why you’re mad?”

It takes practice to use the tools they learned in our sibling session, and sometimes they just needed a little reminder about their brother’s concerns.

But, from that afternoon on my boy’s relationship has been so much better.

So much so, that every afternoon they drop their backpacks, head straight upstairs, and play together for hours.

They are still brothers and sometimes they do bicker, but overall, our house is calmer and happier.

All because the boys each felt heard, validated, and given tools they needed.

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I was a Mental Health Counselor who worked with children and mothers in both individual and group counseling environments before I became a Stay at Home Mom to two boys. I have a Bachelors Degree in Child Development and Family Studies and a Masters in Counseling where I specialized in Play Therapy.

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Sibling Jealousy Between Your Older Child and Baby Stressing You Out? Read This.

Inside: Sibling Jealousy when a new baby comes into a family is a very real thing.  Get 12 simple tips to help your older child cope with a new sibling.

When I was pregnant with my second child everyone starting warning me: “It’s triple the work so good luck…”

And they always said it with a hint of I-know-something-you-don’t in their tone.

And I couldn’t figure it out.

Two kids, twice the work… How could it possibly be more work than that?

I was seriously baffled.

Until my second child was born and a light bulb went off.

I finally got it.

You have to parent your first child and of course parent your second child.

But now you also have to parent your children’s relationship with each other.

You have to help your kids learn how to take turns and share a living space and to not rage with jealousy when you’re helping their sibling.

You have to parent the sibling relationship to ensure they’re being kind to one another, and want to be together, and can be left alone in a room without hurting each other.

Sibling jealousy is a very real thing.

Creating and maintaining positive sibling relationships between your kids takes a lot of work.

And parents can get a head start by building and laying the groundwork for this positive sibling interaction before your child’s new sibling is even born.

Why are positive sibling relationships important?

Positive sibling relationships are indicative of the overall mental health of your family.

If the kids are constantly bickering, teasing, and fighting, your home will be more chaotic and full of strife.

If you can encourage and then expect siblings to treat each other with respect and kindness, your home will be a more peaceful place to live. Which will make you a calmer, happier parent.

Siblings are our kids’ first friends.

For better or worse, they will share a childhood with each other and have something in common none of their friends will ever understand: being in our family.

Siblings will vacation together and play together and share all of their holidays and traditions with one another. It will all be more enjoyable if they like being together.

Siblings help us learn social skills and social cues. They learn how to turn take, and wait patiently.

They learn how to not hurt people’s feelings and how to apologize.

They learn they can’t take things that don’t belong to them without consequences.

Siblings who have positive relationships with one another will stand up for each other outside of your home.

The school playground is not always the kindest of places. Knowing there’s someone who will protect you, or stand up for you, or help you is extremely comforting.

When should you start encouraging a positive sibling relationship?

It is never too early or too late to start creating a more positive sibling relationship.

If you have older children, these 18 ideas will help you prevent sibling rivalry while encouraging and maintaining positive relationships between your kids.

If you have a newborn or are pregnant with your second or third child, these 12 ideas will get you started on the right foot.

How to Prevent Sibling Jealousy and Create a Positive Sibling Relationship:

1.Use very specific pronouns when talking about the baby:

To help my eldest daughter take ownership of our newest family member, when I found out I was pregnant I started calling him “her baby,” and “our baby,” and “your baby,” rather than “my baby.”

This simple switch was more inclusive and helped her with adjusting to the idea of a new baby coming into our house and our family.

It’s harder for sibling jealousy to happen when the baby feels like part of the entire family.

2. Read new baby and sibling books with positive messages:

We’re a family of readers, so it was only natural to get new baby books for our kids when we added a new family member.

We could read about what babies like and don’t like and what they would be able to do when they first come home. My kids were hoping to play with their new baby right away so we had to manage those expectations. Books were a great way to do it.

Our family favorites:

The New BabyThe New BabyThe Berenstain Bears' New BabyThe Berenstain Bears’ New BabyWhat Sisters Do BestWhat Sisters Do BestWhat Brothers Do BestWhat Brothers Do BestThe Sister BookThe Sister BookThe Brother BookThe Brother Book

3. Enroll Your Child in a Big Sibling Class

Our daughter was so young when my son was born that she didn’t remember any of it. When my third was on the way, we enrolled our eldest daughter in a big sibling class at our hospital.

She got to dress and diaper a baby doll and learn how to help me when the baby comes. She was so proud of that certificate and was ready to be a big sister again.

Feeling empowered and part of the caretaking of a new baby can help children deal with sibling jealousy.

4. When your kids first meet, avoid holding the baby

I had read long ago that after you deliver your baby and your eldest child or children come in the room to see you and meet their sibling, it’s important that I wasn’t holding the baby when she walked in.

sibling jealousy, new baby

Keeping the baby in the bassinet when my daughter walked in helped me hug her tight with both my arms to reassure her that she could still fit in my arms.

To physically show her there was room for her still.

And while many things would change, her getting snuggles from me wouldn’t.

5. Sibling gifts

There were tons of new presents for the baby over the course of getting ready to have another newborn in the house. Between me preparing and the shower gifts, my toddler kept seeing stacks and stacks of presents that weren’t for her.

So we made sure to buy her a present we knew she would love and we told her it was from her new baby brother. Her eyes got real big as she tried to figure out how he was able to go shopping for her new book.

We also purchased a few keep-you-busy-presents that we would pull out whenever I was breastfeeding the baby.

She got to enjoy something special and looked forward to me feeding her brother as opposed to her demanding my attention when I couldn’t give it

6. Read Siblings Without Rivalry

Siblings Without Rivalry is hands-down one of the most helpful books on how to help prevent sibling jealousy.

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live TooSiblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too

It helps parents realize why siblings become jealous, and how we can shift how we talk to our children to reduce competition and fighting and increase cooperation.

7. Encourage older siblings to be helpers

To further increase my daughter’s ownership of our newest family member and to help her adjust to the changes, I implored her to help. I asked her to get me a diaper, or reach my water, or pour water over the baby’s legs during bath time to keep him warm.

When the baby was older, I asked my daughter to help feed the baby, read to the baby, and stack the baby food on the pantry shelves after grocery shopping.

And as my baby grew, my eldest started helping put on shoes, getting toys, and walking them to the car.

All of these times where it felt natural to help their siblings, set my children up for helping each other now that they’re older.

They know they can count on each other for assistance in reading harder words, reaching something high up, and learning how to balance on a skateboard.

8. Help your older child first

As a new mom, one of my worries was, if both of my kids are crying and need me, who do I help first?

Barring any real emergency, my knee-jerk reaction was to help the baby…help the most fragile, most in need of my help made sense to me.

But my eldest daughter was watching me. She saw I “chose” to help her sibling first, which of course felt “unfair” in her toddler mind.

This is a great way to foster sibling jealousy, which is NOT what I wanted.

So I started helping her first. When they both were crying, I hugged her, reassured her and loved on her first. The baby didn’t know that I “chose” his sister and everyone got the love and help they needed.

9. Let them be annoyed or frustrated with the baby

All of a sudden, our kids have to share us. They have to share our time, our energy, and our love. They have to share their home and their toys and their family.

It’s hard for a toddler or preschooler or even a school-aged kid to wrap their brain around that.

sibling jealousy, annoyed with new baby

Let them tell you their feelings of jealousy, frustration or anger without dismissing it. It’s okay if they’re having those emotions and it’s better they share them with you than bottle them up or act on their emotions.

Empathize with them rather than brushing off their feelings: “I know. The baby needs me a lot and I can’t read to you as often as I used to. That must be frustrating. Can we read together right now?”

10. Set aside alone time with them

Because our time and energy is now divided between two or more children, our kids can easily feel unwanted, unloved, or unnoticed. Even if that’s not the reality, that’s their reality.

In our family, one way to combat that is to set up special Mommy and me time with my kids.

We go on dates or run an errand just the two of us, or we snuggle and read books without any interruptions.

It makes our kids feel special and extra loved and it’s a solid reminder that they don’t have to compete for our attention and our affection.

11. Start creating a strong family identity

We also work hard to create a strong family identity so that our kids feel part of something special so they want to spend time together, with their siblings.

Take family walks together, read books as a family together, or start a new family ritual.

When my son was born, my husband starting singing the song, Someone to Care For from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to the two of them at bedtime which created an inclusive, you’re part of a bigger group ritual for my kids.

12. Create Siblings Books

Even after doing all of these things, my eldest daughter still didn’t love the fact that her siblings were now part of her world. Some days I think she would have been content to be an only child.

But that doesn’t work for me.

I need her to enjoy her siblings. Have fun with them. Want to be with them. Love them.

I need to stop the sibling jealousy in its tracks.

So I created a sibling book to help her realize how much she does enjoy being with her siblings.

To make one, I searched through all the pictures I had of my daughter and my son. I printed out pictures of them playing together, helping each other, and enjoying each other’s company.

I glued the pictures onto construction paper and wrote a first-person story about what was happening in each of the pictures:

I’ve known my brother Braeden his whole life.
I met him at the hospital.

(For Braeden’s book I used the same pictures but I started with: I’ve known my sister Addison my whole life. She met me at the hospital.)

When he was little, I helped him.
I fed him his bottle.
I gave him a bath.
And I read books to him.
Now that he’s older, we like to play with the same things.
We love to play with our water table.
We love to play with our blocks.
And we love to go to the park.
We both love ice cream.
And we both love Disneyland.
I love my brother Braeden, and he loves me.

I laminated all the pages and bound it into a book at a local office supply store.

Then we read the book every day.

sibling jealousy when a new baby is born

And one day they’ll look back on those books I have now hidden away in storage and I’ll tell them the story about why I made the books.

I’ll remind them that they will always have each other and so they’ll always have someone they can turn to.

And that’s why it was so important to me that even though parenting the two of them was, in fact, triple the work, it was worth every second.

Because I gave them the best gift I could ever give them: each other.

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Nicole Black is a recovering elementary school teacher, a mom to three super busy kids, and mostly survives on strong coffee. She shares her best parenting tips and tricks for intentionally raising kind kids, creating a stronger family connection, and bullying prevention at Coffee and Carpool. Follow her at www.coffeeandcarpool.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coffeeandcarpool

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