Momster

A Wheel Good Time: How to Pick the Perfect Bike and Helmet for Your Kid

Written on December 18, 2014 at 11:21 am , by

Girl on bikeAt some point in time, almost every kid gets a two-wheeler for the holidays. It’s a gift that can keep on giving through spring, summer, fall and beyond, as long as you pay attention to a few key details that allow for an enjoyable ride. That’s where the experts—Pacific Cycle‘s Terry Collins, vice president of sales, and Joe Werwie, global director of product development—chime in. Follow their advice for finding the best bike and helmet for your teen or tween to pedal with pride.

For the bicycle…

Size It Right
Many parents opt for a larger ride, thinking their son or daughter will grow into it. The problem with that approach: Bikes become much more difficult to handle when they’re a size too big, and that can diminish a kid’s confidence on two wheels. Avoid this by heading to the bike shop knowing your child’s exact height. That way a pro can help you pick the ideal frame or you can base it on the retailer’s sizing chart.

Determine the Terrain
The second most important info you need before purchasing is where your child will ride. If he or she plans to pedal mostly on paved roads, a thinner tire is ideal, whereas a wider one works best on gravel or trails, since it’ll have a better grip on rough surfaces. Also consider whether your kid will have to carry the bike up and down steps—a lighter model makes that much easier.

Get Set Up
Before your child starts spinning, hold the front of the bike steady and have him or her sit on it. Crank the right pedal to its lowest position and make sure your kid’s heel rests on it. If the knee is bent, raise the seat so that it’s straight. If the foot doesn’t touch the pedal, lower the saddle until the heel makes contact. The handlebars should be adjusted to a comfortable riding position that balances the pressure on your child’s upper body and lower half. The rider’s hands, arms, shoulders, back and neck should feel relaxed and natural.

For the helmet…

Find a good fit
Helmet size is usually listed by age, but if you want an exact fit, it’s best to bring your kid along to the store. (A helmet’s tightness is most important for safety.) Most options will have a dial in the back for adjustments, so use that to ensure security. Kids can test the snugness by rocking their heads forward and backward—doing so shouldn’t shake the helmet. Or put your hands on top and try to move it front to back and side to side, and modify accordingly if it budges.

Place properly
Many riders wear their helmets too far back on the head, with the front pointing upward, but it should really face straight forward. Aim for the front edge to be about one inch above the eyebrow. As for the straps, they should form a triangle around the ear, coming together below the earlobe. Tighten these so they’re directly under the chin and not swaying freely.

The Best Christmas Gift I Ever Got from My Child

Written on December 15, 2014 at 11:18 am , by

Attention moms: This is a post you’re going to want to share, forward, copy and paste.

You see, right about now, plenty of little kids are wondering: What’s in Mom’s letter to Santa? And, well, bigger ones are pondering which treasured item Mom secretly hopes to find wrapped under the tree, too.

Contrary to all the commercials on endless repeat for the rest of December, you told us it’s not really diamond earrings or a luxury car. (Although we must admit those would make pretty fabulous holiday gifts. And if anyone out there has already put in an order for the VERY BIG BOW, don’t cancel it on our account.)

So what does Mom really want? Hundreds of them wrote in to tell us about the best present they ever received from their kid. The overwhelming majority of these gifts didn’t come in a box. The presence of loved ones was especially treasured, as were things like having an argument-free day. There were also a few items created, coordinated or purchased by their kids that were big hits. So without further ado, here are the gifts that were a huge hit:

1. HANDCRAFTED MASTERPIECES

“My daughter made a heart on canvas with pictures of our family.” —Annette S.

“Twelve handmade coupons from my adult son promising one day/afternoon together each month, just the two of us.” —Linda S.

“A hand-painted Santa egg by my son who is 28 and has been creating one each year for 12 years. I treasure each one.” —Janice W.

“The rocking chair I rocked all my kids in—refurbished. Such a special gift!” —Millie U.

“Our son passed away in April 2008 at the age of 16, and my daughter had a memory book made for us by having different family members and friends email her a memory of him. Priceless!” —Michelle T.

2. A HELPING HAND

“They decorated my tree, put up my lights and cleaned my home for Christmas.” —Pearl M.

“An IOU for keeping his room clean for a year!” —Sharon K.

“I was sick for the week leading up to Christmas, and my two daughters planned and prepared the whole Christmas meal. My sons cleaned up afterward. All I had to do was come to the table and then go back to my room. I was never so grateful for their help. I didn’t even know they knew how to do it. They even baked the pies!” —Ginny S.

3. TREASURED ITEMS

“Nail polish in my favorite colors.” —Linda M.

“Some of my favorite perfume.” —Petra M.

“A really soft throw blanket with a tiger on it. Tigers are my favorite animal.” —Robin N.

4. A LATE START

“Waiting until 8:30 a.m. before coming out [of the bedroom]. Yay!” —Heidi C.

“She slept in. First time in 11 years I’ve gotten a shower in before opening gifts” —Leeann A.

“A sleep-in. Our five kids all decided to sleep in Christmas day and we had to wake them up.” —Kylie B.

5. A SHOW OF SUPPORT

“My eyesight. They paid for me to have cataracts removed.” —Donna C.

“I’m going through chemo for breast cancer, and when I walked into my daughter’s house for Christmas dinner, everyone had on pink kerchiefs!” —Anita K.

“I was crying because I couldn’t afford to get them a whole lot. My 10-year-old son was in the room and asked me why I was crying. I told him I was afraid he and his sister would be disappointed with their gifts. He said, ‘It’s okay, Mom. That’s not what Christmas is about! Anything you got we’ll be happy with!’ That made me so happy and relieved! It was the best gift I could have ever been given!” —Allison B.

 

 

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Six Ways to Fight Holiday Weight Gain

Written on December 12, 2014 at 11:51 am , by

Dessert trays, cocktail parties, big family meals—it’s the perfect combo for a happy holiday, but for a trim waistline? Not so much. Of course, occasional indulging is okay, but to stop you from overdoing it, we pinged Amanda Butler, a trainer at NYC’s BFX studio, a boutique gym that offers classes like barre, group cycling and circuit workouts. She gave her top exercising and eating tips for keeping the number on the scale steady throughout the season.

Amanda doing the squat for a burpee

1. Take Four for Fitness
Making time to break a sweat will torch some of those calories from pie and cake. To quickly maximize the burn, try a Tabata routine—a type of high-intensity interval training that requires you to push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds and repeat for eight rounds. That’s just four minutes of work!

The move Amanda says works best to sculpt from head to toe: burpees. To tackle this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, then jump your feet behind you so you’re in a push-up position. Perform one push-up. Next, jump your feet forward toward your arms, then stand and jump straight up, clapping your hands over your head. You’ll burn approximately 75 calories in just four minutes with this move—that’s about one chocolate chip cookie. For similar results without the full-on burpee, alternate jump squats and push-ups (you can put your knees on the floor to modify it) for your 20-second intervals.

2. Keep Moving
While you’re waiting to take the ham or casserole out of the oven, do a few quick moves, such as triceps dips or step-ups with the kitchen chair. It always helps to take the stairs and walk more too, so park farther from the mall entrance or grocery store to get more steps.

3. Grab and Go
At the dessert table, put the two treats you love the most on your plate and walk away. Enjoy each bite and then start a conversation with someone at a spot located away from the sweets so you’re not tempted to snag more.

4. Graze at a Slow Pace
When you’re having a group dinner, eat slowly and put your utensils down every now and then to help you do so. Savor the flavors and pay attention to how you feel. If you let out a big sigh from being so full, it’s definitely time to stop nibbling.

5. Plan for Celebrations
Don’t show up to your company’s or friend’s bash on an empty stomach. Have a snack, like an apple, before you go so you’re not feeling ravenous and ready to scarf down whatever you see first. Also, sip water between cocktails and swap the sugar- and fat-filled choices, such as eggnog or a flavored martini, for lighter beverages, like a vodka soda with lime or red wine.

6. Mentally (and Socially) Prepare
Give yourself a little pep talk before a full day of dining so you’re ready to turn down the second (or third) helping. And let others know you’re trying to watch your weight so they don’t peer pressure you into having more food and drinks.

 

When Friends Turn to Foes

Written on December 3, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Two’s company and three can be a crowd when it comes to tween girls and friendships. So how can a mom help her daughter smooth things over when an expanding circle of friendship starts to wreak havoc? Our parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman received an email from a worried mother dealing with just such a dilemma. Here’s Rosalind’s advice for keeping the peace.

Dear Rosalind,
My 8-year-old daughter (I’ll call her Alexa) has known another 8-year-old girl (let’s call her Becky) since they were 4 and they’ve gone to the same school. Last year a new girl (let’s call her Jamie) came in halfway through the year and my daughter befriended her. Jamie has a difficult home situation and lives with her great-grandmother. Sadly, Becky is one of several people—including Becky’s overprotective mom—who don’t like Jamie and are giving my daughter a very hard time over the friendship. They’ve begun excluding Alexa. Becky used to cling to Alexa like glue and Alexa never pushed her away. I can’t understand why this girl has become so unkind to my daughter.

As hard as this is to believe, I’d bet any amount of money that the overprotective mom thinks she’s in the right—that in her mind she has a perfectively justified reason for supporting her daughter (Becky) in excluding your daughter’s (Alexa’s) new friend. So let go of “understanding” this woman’s perspective or why her daughter can’t accept the new friendship and focus on supporting your daughter and her new friend.

The only time I would talk to the nasty mom is if she confronts you or something happens between the girls that necessitates you speak with her. If that does happen, I’d say to her, “My daughter likes this new girl and we support the friendship. Our daughters don’t have to be friends, but I would like your support in allowing the girls to go their separate ways without being hurtful to each other.” Then get ready for this woman to be defensive or tell you the reasons why the new girl is a bad influence. Don’t get sucked in. The most you should say in response is, “That’s not been my or my daughter’s experience with this girl and I hope you would respect that.”

You also need to talk to your daughter. Tell her that you’re disappointed that her old friend isn’t being nice to her or the new girl. Maybe she’ll turn around one day but for right now, ask your daughter to give her some space until she can be a good friend.

If the old friend continues to be mean to her or the new girl, she needs to tell you and/or the person she thinks is the smartest adult at school what’s happening. But at base, this is an opportunity for your daughter to learn an important lesson from you: Sometimes good friends do things that make it impossible to continue the friendship for right now. Maybe later things will change. But in the present, it’s important to have friendships with people you actually like who allow you to be friends with others as well.

How would you handle a girl (and her mom) putting friendship pressure on your child? Post a comment and tell me. 

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Read more of Rosalind’s parenting advice here

Do you have a parenting question? Email askrosalind@familycircle.com.

 

Happy #GivingTuesday

Written on December 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm , by

You’ve made it through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But have you heard of #GivingTuesday, the global day dedicated to giving back? In December 2012, #GivingTuesday was founded by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation to bring families, businesses, community centers and students around the world together in celebrating generosity and giving. Today, December 2, 2014, marks its third annual observance, and it’s not too late to get involved. Helping those less fortunate is a great idea to focus on at the start of a month full of gift giving, family celebrations and winter fun. So today, find a way to do something small for someone else—as a family, with friends or with others in your community. For a list of #GivingTuesday movements in your neighborhood, click here.

And if you want to add a little do-gooding to your holiday shopping and donating this season, check out our tech-savvy friends getting into the giving spirit today. Microsoft is offering store customers a free $10 donation card to #YouthSpark on GlobalGiving with any purchase (while supplies last). They’ll also match today’s contributions (up to $350,000) to #YouthSpark on GlobalGiving, which supports organizations providing critical technology skills and resources to youth around the world.

Also, starting today and running through December 31, PayPal’s launching a holiday giving campaign to match 1% of each donation made at www.paypal-donations.com. Consumers can choose one of thousands of U.S. 501(c)(3) charities, with 100% of every donation reaching each cause.

How will you give back today? Remember to hashtag all photos and posts with #GivingTuesday.

Blades of Glory: The Only Ice-Skating Tips You’ll Need This Winter

Written on December 1, 2014 at 10:03 am , by

Minnesota Ice Skating

Looking for a fun, active family outing this holiday season? Head to the rink! After a morning on the ice with our friends at Fruit of the Loom, we gathered tips from Wicksie Tu, an instructor at Winter Village in NYC’s Bryant Park, to make it entertaining for everyone, even ice-skating newbies.

Before you get out on the ice, layer up in tight clothes—baggy garments will catch wind and drag you down. Also, tie skates tight enough so the ankle stays steady and can’t sway from side to side as you move.

Once you’re ready to hit the rink, Tu has a few drills for beginners: First, march in place to get comfortable on blades, then begin to move forward while you march. When you feel confident, push off the ground like you would on a scooter. For those more at ease on the ice, move your feet in a diamond shape to go forward a few times, then backward. Next, try driving off your forefoot to glide on both skates for a few seconds. Or if you’re feeling daring, lift a leg and slide on one foot.

Ready to increase your speed? Do as the pros do and cross one foot in front of the other as you continue to push off the ice. To come to a halt, do the snowplow stop (which is best for beginners and similar to the pizza-wedge stop used in skiing): Bend your knees and move your toes toward each other while pushing your feet outward. You’ll form a V or pigeon-toed shape and shave some ice.

Ice Skating

Now that you’re a pro when it comes to technique, follow these dos and don’ts when it comes to form and you’ll stay upright with ease.

DON’T look down. When you gaze down at the ice, your body tends to lean forward, which throws you off balance. Keep your eyes focused in front of you and your hips centered.

DO bend your knees. If you feel yourself tipping, bend your knees a few degrees (they should always be slightly bent, but emphasize it more) and place your hands on them. This will help stabilize you.

DON’T lean back. Tumbling backward can be dangerous, because you risk hitting your head. Counteract that tilt by bending your knees, putting your arms out to the side and keeping your shoulders and hips aligned. 

DO get loose. People tend to think stiffness will make them steady in the rink, but it actually ups your chances of wiping out. Roll your shoulders down and back and just relax.

DON’T use the toe picks. Those little spikes on the front of your skates work well for performing jumps and tricks, but they can get in a newcomer’s way. Avoid dragging your feet and your skates won’t get stuck, causing you to trip.

Is It Okay for a Mom to #BreakTheInternet?

Written on November 25, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Celebrity provocateur Kim Kardashian hoped to create an earth-shattering event when she posed for naked pictures in an attempt to #BreakTheInternet. (Warning: That hot link goes to her Paper Magazine spread, which includes nude photographs.) Her ample derriere was widely posted throughout cyberspace. Reactions seemed to range from disinterest to disbelief and astonishment.

Many people voiced concern about her seeming lack of seriousness related to her role as a mom and the potential long-lasting effects of images like this on her daughter. “Why would a mother want to pose like that?” some asked.

Yes, she is a mother. She is also being mothered by a woman who is her manager and obviously supportive of her recent photo spread.

For me, the underlying issue is not about her being open to displaying herself as a sexual being. She has the right to pose in any way that she chooses. There has not been any suggestion that she is abusive or negligent to her adorable daughter. The exhaustion of motherhood, with its additional responsibilities and time demands, can impact intimacy and sexual desire. Those are two situations that require process and communication—not a photo shoot.

The real issue is the way the media drives our consumption of knowledge around individuals who seemingly do not inject any sense of purpose or additional meaning into our lives. Enough. How great would it be if we could #BreakTheInternet with examples of kindness, generosity and overall goodness?

The positive news: According to the Wall Street Journal, the Rosetta spacecraft’s landing on a comet had more tweets then a champagne glass landing on Kim Kardashian’s rear. Score one for the comet and zero for Kim Kardashian. And that is really big, big, big news.

What do you think about Kim Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet? Post a comment below and let us know.
 Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet. Read more of her posts here.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.

 

The Most Important Thing You Can Teach Your Daughter

Written on November 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm , by

Being the parent of a teen girl has never been easy. But being a parent of a teen girl in this gadget-driven, video-vixen, text-versus-talk culture can be monumentally difficult. In this guest post, Sophia A. Nelson, author of The Woman Code: Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life, explains how to rise above pop culture, catty friends and blaring headphones to give your daughter the tools she needs to succeed.

As an aunt of one tween (age 12) and a bona fide teen (age 16), I take some pride in being very in touch with this new generation (Generation Text, Generation Connection or, more fondly, Gen Y) of young ladies. As a speaker, the author of two successful books about women, and a coach for women in corporate America, faith-based communities and universities, I cannot stress enough how important it is for us as moms, aunts, mentors and role models to boldly and honestly take back our girls by teaching them to know their value.

Of all the modern things we struggle with as women of our time, variations on one age-old question still determine how far we will go in life: “Am I good enough?” or “Can I be enough?” or “Am I worth enough?” Our girls struggle with this even more. They are constantly bombarded with images of beauty, overt sensuality and celebrities who make it to the top by way of YouTube—or worse. They experience the world far differently from us. And it’s up to us to be the bridge over turbulent waters to help keep them centered and focused on what matters most: their value.

How? you ask. It’s really simple.

We have got to reengage in old-fashioned conversation (that means speaking and eye-to-eye connecting) with our daughters. Make them put the gadgets down. We have to talk, not text. We have to stop trying to be a friend and start being what our moms and grandmoms were to us: teachers, advisors, protectors and disciplinarians without apology.

Here are five keys I use with my own nieces, and that I write about in The Woman Code. When put into practice, they shift the energy in our relationships as older women connecting with the next generation of young women.

1. Value yourself. Yes, we can tell our girls, daughters and nieces that their value is not defined on a TV set, a YouTube video or social media. We can drill home that it is defined from within. But know that they are also watching how YOU value yourself. So make sure you are teaching and leading by example.

2. Dare to engage in courageous conversations. Don’t duck the hard issues young girls face today. Be open and be willing to listen. You are the adult. Make sure they know you are there to protect and love them, and that you actually were their age once. It’s all about connection and conversation.

3. Teach your daughters to be authentic. Let them know who proper role models are: women like first lady Michelle Obama or singer Carrie Underwood. Teach them to live from their gifts from the inside out, not to be part of a crowd or a follower.

4. Share with your daughters the power of choosing the right friends early in life. I call it “know your front row.” If you see your daughters with the wrong crowd, intervene. Explain why these friends are not going to help them to win in life. Stress the importance of not engaging in gossip, bullying other girls or allowing themselves to be bullied. This is a favorite pastime of girls—tearing down other girls. And it causes great damage for years to come.

5. Prepare them to guard their hearts—not gate them, but protect them so that they will love the right men, surround themselves with the right friends and honor their deepest desires for marriage and family later in life.

 

Sophia A. Nelson is an award-winning author and journalist. She is a noted TV personality and thought leader on all things women. Her new book, The Woman Code: 20 Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life, is now in stores everywhere. You can tweet her @iamsophianelson.

Clean Your Home for the Holidays in Four Steps

Written on November 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm , by

With November upon us, we’re about to enter prime party season—you know, that time of year when guests are coming over and your home needs to look its holiday finest. No worries! Study up on these quick-clean tips, and your space will be on its way to sparkling in no time.

De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. Before you even pick up a mop or vacuum, best to clear off any surfaces that look messy. Grab a basket or bin and go through the rooms where you’ll be entertaining, collect out-of-place items and stash them in a closet for the time being. Target the coffee table in the family room, and get rid of catalogs and old magazines. Wipe down your downstairs bathroom vanity. Clear countertops are a must in the kitchen, and never leave pots or pans in the sink for company to see. Load and run the dishwasher before the party, even if you don’t have the chance to put everything away. The latest machines, including Samsung’s new Chef Collection model, are whisper-quiet and could even be run during the festivities if need be.

Shine surfaces in high-traffic areas. Guests tend to congregate in a few key places during get-togethers: the kitchen, the family room, the dining area. Whatever your cleaning weapon of choice—microfiber cloth and hot soapy water, disposable wipes or all-purpose cleaner and a rag—the process is the same. You want to focus on any visible surface where dust and grime build up. In the kitchen, run a disinfectant over the counters, stove, sink and island. Do the same in the powder room, wiping the sink, faucet and toilet handle. Spend a little time on the toilet, swishing the bowl with a long-handled brush and disinfecting the seat. Dust off the coffee and side tables in the family room, and make sure you wipe down the dinner table before you set it or lay out a spread of food. Be sure to use clean cloths each time you attack a new surface to avoid cross-contamination. Some pro cleaners even designate particular rags or cloths for certain rooms or jobs—a few for the bathroom, a few for the kitchen and so on.

Fake it till you make it. If you have enough time to mop the floors and dust off all your downstairs light fixtures, ceiling fans and baseboards/moldings, by all means do it. But if you can’t, your best recourse is to vacuum area rugs and give the kitchen floor a quick once-over with a wet mop or steamer. Fluff pillows and cushions on the sofa, and buff away fingerprints on stainless-steel appliances and streaky mirrors. Put out fresh hand towels and a candle in the powder room. Empty the trashcans. It’s all about the illusion of tidiness—that is, until you can actually take the time to do a deep clean, post-party.

Make it fun. Cleaning is a chore, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complete drudgery. Bust out that wireless speaker before the party starts, and check out one of the many cleaning playlists on Spotify. Or crank your own. Make it a point to get through all the songs before you stop.

This post was sponsored by Samsung.  Opinions/content are Family Circle editorial. 

Five Top Parks for Family-Friendly Hikes

Written on November 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm , by

In honor of National Take a Hike Day, we’ve rounded up the top five family-friendly (and warmer-weather!) trail destinations with the help of Foursquare. Users rated the best spots across the country for lacing up your boots and having a good time hitting the trail. Our picks from among those top spots promise tons of picturesque views and lots of entertainment for parents and kids alike, thanks to sights that are a history lesson (see #2), vocab booster (find out what a hoodoo is in #3) and solid workout.

 

View of Stone Mountain in Georgia#5: Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, GA

You’ll trek through woods, along lakeshores, past granite slopes, and by wildflowers on various routes in this park. Opt for the 1-mile walk to the top of the mountain and you’ll get a stunning glimpse of downtown Atlanta and the North Georgia mountains, plus there’s a snack bar and souvenir shop at the summit. After taking a stroll, head to The Great Barn, which has slides and trampolines for even more active fun.

 

View of Lake Austin#4: Covert Park at Mount Bonnell, Austin, TX

You’ll have to climb steep stairs to reach the top of this park, at approximately 775 feet above sea level, but the breathtaking sight of Lake Austin (a portion of the Colorado River) makes it totally worth it, as does the view of the city skyline on your way up. Bring a packed lunch as a reward for your (and your teens’) hard work, or head up later in the day for an ideal seat to watch the sunset.

 

View from the trails at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah#3: Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon, UT

Choose between easy, moderate or strenuous trails (for the super-fit family), each of which boasts Douglas fir and spruce forests, mossy overhangs and tall, natural rock columns called hoodoos. Turn your one-day trek into an overnight stay and you can also take a gorgeous moonlight hike, go on a horseback ride or stargaze with telescopes.

 

View on Lands End hike#2: Lands End, San Francisco, CA

You’ll want to start your journey at the Lands End Lookout—the park’s new visitor center, complete with historical background on this prime Bay Area locale. Then, stroll up the shoreline for photo opps of the Golden Gate Bridge, old shipwrecks and the Sutro Baths—ruins of large, privately owned swimming pools built in the 19th century.

 

View of the LA basin#1: Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA

With a whopping 53 miles of trails, you’ll never get bored. But for the best scenic route, start at the Griffith Observatory parking lot and climb to Mount Hollywood, the park’s highest point, where you can see the entire LA basin. You can also wander to the famous Hollywood sign for a frame-worthy family pic or make a pit stop at the LA Zoo.

Can’t get to any of these locales? Just slip into your sneaks and take a long walk in your own neighborhood. You’ll still burn calories and enjoy the mood-boosting benefits.

Got a favorite hiking spot of your own? Post a comment below and tell us what it is.

Photos courtesy of Foursquare

Putting an End to Negative Self-Talk in Kids

Written on November 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm , by

A little negativity can go a long way. So when you’ve got a kid who is constantly down on himself, getting him to listen to a positive perspective can seem like an impossible task. A few days ago, the following email from a parent with just this problem landed in the inbox of our parenting expert, Rosalind Wiseman. Here’s her advice for silencing negative self-talk.

 

Q. My 10 year-old son has such a defeatist attitude. He’s always saying, “I’m no good at this or I’m no good at that.” His so-called teammates and friends blame him when they lose games and they never invite him to anything after school. I always struggle to think of the right things to say that my son will actually take to heart. How can I help him?

A. I understand how frustrating this is for so many parents. You feel like there’s nothing you can say to make it better. And if you don’t say, “No honey, you’re great!” you worry that it sounds like you agree with him. So here are my suggestions.

1. Stop using “You’re so great” as your go-to response. It comes across as not listening to your child. Instead, what I find more helpful is to say something like this:

You: I’m really sorry. Will you tell me a little more about why you’re feeling this way? Are there specific things you’re feeling down about?
Your child: I’m so slow. I get teased all the time because I’m the slowest kid in the world. No one has ever been as slow as me in the history of my school.
You: Wow, that’s really hard. I can imagine how annoying that is because it’s not like you want to be slow, and then the kids who tease you make it even worse. There are a couple of things I want you to just consider, not necessarily agree with, but just consider. No one can be good at everything. But the same is true the other way. No one is bad at everything either. I want to make a list of the things you’re good at and the things you’re not so good at. Then you can choose if you want to work on something on your list you want to get better at. Like if you want to get better at running, you can work on that.

2. Consider who’s inspiring these comments. Since classmates or other kids on the team are feeding negative comments to your kid, you might add something like this:

“I know it’s a lot to think about but I want to talk about what’s happening with your friends too. If other kids are mean to you, there are two ways I think you can handle it. Maybe you can think of more. You can laugh it off. Like, if kids on the basketball or track team are teasing you because you’re not as fast as them, you could say: ‘Yes, I’m really slow.’ Sometimes admitting it takes away some of the teasers’ power. Or you could choose not to run in any races or play in any games until you feel more confident. What do you think is a good way to handle it?”

Then listen to your child as he thinks through what he wants to do to have a little control and dignity in this situation.

3. Think about the benefits of being left out here. On the issue of those boys not inviting your son to things: take a step back. I know it feels bad when other children don’t include your child. However, in this case, do you want your son to be in a situation where they could easily ridicule him under the guise of joking around and playing? Overall, what he needs to do is work on the things he identifies for himself that he wants to get better at and then choose genuine friends who make him feel good instead of tearing him down. Even having one friend who treats him well is way better than hanging out with a group of kids who make him feel bad.

How would you handle a kid who’s down on himself? Post a comment and tell me.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Read more of Rosalind’s parenting advice here

Do you have a parenting question? Email askrosalind@familycircle.com.

 

 

When Dads Need Help Understanding Tween Girls

Written on November 3, 2014 at 10:24 am , by

Carpools are supposed to make everyone’s lives easier, but this one ride may have caused more trouble than it was worth. Check out our parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman’s correspondence with a mom who was upset by a dad who made her daughter feel like an outsider.

Dear Rosalind,

The father on carpool duty picked up my daughter and his from dance class and then took them to a party my daughter wasn’t invited to. When he dropped his daughter off, the windows opened, everyone saw my girl and she was humiliated. She is rightfully questioning whether this girl is a thoughtful friend, while I’m left wondering how to talk to the parents about this so the same situation doesn’t happen again. It’s hard enough to navigate new friendships and the party circuit without parents undermining your kid.

Signed,
Disappointed by Carpool Dad

 

Hi, Disappointed,

I am not excusing his behavior, but I always try to understand why a parent would do something that’s insensitive to a child. Once I understand it, it’s easier to figure out how to talk to the parent so it doesn’t happen again.

In this case, I am guessing that the dad didn’t have a clue what was going on until it was unfolding. Even if he did, he probably did what a lot of us do in awkward social situations: pretend it’s not happening. Think about it from his perspective. He’s picking up carpool and when he realizes that your daughter isn’t invited, he’s between a rock and a hard place. If he had called you from the car, that would have been worse for your daughter. If he hadn’t put her in his car, he would have had to leave her at practice. So my question to you is: What would you have liked him to do?

And regarding your daughter’s friends who attended the party, unless they’ve been excluding her in other ways, they could have felt awkward about the whole thing too. I totally understand that your daughter felt terrible and left out. However, I think this is one of those times (unless there is a pattern where the girls are being mean to her) when you acknowledge how crappy the situation is but she’s strong enough to feel those bad feelings, admit them and then move on.

Look forward to hearing back from you and I hope at least some of my advice is helpful.

Best,
Rosalind 

 

Dear Rosalind:

Ideally, I would have liked the father to bring my daughter home before dropping off his daughter at the party. We have seven elementary schools that feed into three middle schools, so there are new faces right now, and new friendships forming/shifting. My daughter was upset not to be invited, but not devastated. She didn’t think much of her friend going on and on about the party in the carpool ride. She interpreted that as rudeness and thought her friend should know better. She was most embarrassed by being seen in the car by friends she did know who were already at the party. She hasn’t let it bother her since and has moved on—a good sign.

Anyway, I resolved this with the parents, by text, and I’ll paraphrase.

Me: With that party, last week was rough on my daughter, so just wanted to let you know that it’s not a problem to shoot me a text or call, even last minute, if it’s not convenient to bring her home, or if plans change, it’s easy for me to come down to the dance studio. I know how quickly plans change with tweens on a Friday evening!

Other mom: I’m so sorry about that. I was away when the last minute request came for my daughter to go to the party and I was trying to communicate everything to my husband but was busy and didn’t think about all the implications.

Me: I absolutely know there was no ill intention, just wanted us all on the same page for the carpool to work for all the girls.

 

Now, here’s my bottom line after the back-and-forth with this mom: What I love about this parent is that she’s role modeling appropriate involvement in her tween daughter’s life. She recognizes her daughter was upset but not devastated. She reaches out to the other parent to share her concern but is clear about wanting to move forward for all the girls. The only thing I would like even more is if the dad was involved as well. We need to bring dads into these situations more often, especially when they are directly involved, as this dad was. I get that this can be hard, but I’d like to encourage dads to be involved in the social dynamics that can come up.

How would you handle this carpool conundrum? Post a comment and tell me.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Read more of Rosalind’s parenting advice here

Do you have a parenting question? Email askrosalind@familycircle.com.