31 Days of Play: May

Saturday, April 28, 2012 No comments
Two kids in a tub!

Happy May! Pick one of the activities below to do each day for some awesome quality time spent with your child.

1.  Get creative with bubble blowing....and popping!

2.  Play in a sprinkler or pool.

3.  Have a sack race, indoors or outdoors.

4.  Family game night! Kids pick the game!

5.  Make a Mother's Day craft. Click here for ideas.

6.  Bake something together.

7.  Put "I love you" notes in all the places you know your child will be. Bathroom mirror, pillow, refrigerator, toy bin...

8.  Fill some balloons with water and food coloring and let them pop them in the bath. See this post.

9.  Start the bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier and read a couple extra books.

10.  Play a pretend game, such as doctor. See this post.

11.  Make a bird feeder. Take an empty toilet paper tube and spread peanut butter all round the outside edge of the tube. Roll the peanut butter tube in bird seed. Cut a piece of yarn that is about 12 inches long. Attach it to each end of the tube to make a way to hang the tube onto a tree. Watch for the birds to come!

12.  Go on a picnic at the park. 

13.  Have a backyard toy car wash!

14.  Stay in your pajamas all day, watch movies, pop some popcorn, and cuddle.

15.  Fill some balloons with helium and put them in your child's room while he's sleeping. He'll wake to a nice surprise!

16.  Turn up the music and dance!

17.  Have an ice cream taste test. Yum!

18.  Make mudpies. 

19.  Camp out in the back yard, under the stars, at least for a little while. 

20.  Play traditional birthday party games...without the birthday party, like pin the tail on the donkey.

21. Play dress up. Take pictures!

22.  Work on a scrapbook together.

23.  Check out this awesome slip -n- slide! Make this, or your own version, and have some slippery fun!


25.  Want to paint without the mess? Check out this no-mess marble painting!

26.  Build a fort and have lunch in it.

27.  Visit a pond or lake. Catch frogs. Go fishing. Ride the paddle boats. Have fun!

28.  Go on a nature hike or walk.

29.  Don't step on the lava! Make a path of pillows and cushions and have the kids jump from one to the other, being careful not to step on the floor (lava).

30.  Make big cars out of a cardboard boxes. Have the kids sit inside the boxes, cut holes for their legs and let them use their feet as wheels to move around.

31.  Play red-light, green-light. Play this with #30. It is so fun!

The "Positive" in Positive Parenting

Monday, April 23, 2012 1 comment
Baby Jackson Portrait
"Give me other mothers and I will give you another world." - St. Augustine

Each baby is afforded one childhood. One. That's it. There is tremendous pressure on  parents to get it right. We don't get do-overs. As Jackie Kennedy said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much."

I know that if you are reading this right now, you understand the value of childhood. You understand the impact of your words on little hearts. You know that every interaction is shaping your child's brain, quite literally.

The responsibility of this can feel so huge as to weigh us down and make us feel as though we can never measure up, as though we are doomed to screw them up despite our best efforts.

Or, it can set us free.

Free to love them. Free to enjoy them. Free to fully cherish this fleeting time.

Positive parenting, on the surface, looks to be about gentle discipline, finding alternatives to spanking or punishment, and learning a more positive way to interact with our kids. In fact, I'd bet that more than 90% of those who Google "positive parenting" have discipline in mind, probably searching, just as I was, for a kinder way to control their kids. Their intentions are good, hearts are in the right place, but still, their minds are muddled with the current trends on "how to properly raise a child." It takes work and time to clear away the muddle, and many don't attempt to. They comfortably stay in that "first phase" of positive parenting. They've traded spanking for the time out chair, yelling for consistency and firmness, and they begin to notice and praise their kids for doing good, getting in that all-important "positive reinforcement" that so many positive parenting sites talk about. I'm not complaining about them. In fact, I salute them. That's a big step in the right direction, and it's not always easy to make.

But when they stop there, they're missing out on the freedom. They're still bound by the notion that they have to train them, control them, correct their every misbehavior, and on the flip side of the coin, bound by the notion that they must be perfect, never yell, never falter.

How can one feel positive and peaceful when there's so much pressure?

When you dig deeper down into positive parenting, you get to the "positive" part of the equation. This is the place where you can exhale and know that:
  • I don't have to perfect.
  • My child doesn't have to be perfect.
  • When we falter, we forgive.
  • We are free to love without conditions.
  • My child's behavior today doesn't define who he will be tomorrow. Neither does mine define who I will be tomorrow.
The coolest thing about giving up conventional parenting and just resting in the relationship you cultivate with your child is that, through this relationship comes real influence, through your example comes discipline, and suddenly you find that parenting is joyful again, without all the hard work. We've been conditioned to believe that parenting is so hard and that we are so self-sacrificing, but when we learn to put connection above all else, our hearts find peace.

Am I painting a flawless picture of forever harmony here? Not at all. There will be conflict, raised voices, bad days or maybe even weeks. There will be disconnects and high emotions and low emotions. There will be struggles and misbehaviors and loss of direction at times.

But that's okay. It's okay. Because we're human, and those things happen in the context of human relationships. Yes, our interactions are shaping their little brains, but this doesn't mean that every negative interaction will damage them for life. In fact, when we come back and reconnect, when we forgive and hug and say, "Do you know how much I love you?" we are creating pathways for healthy relationships, for learning how to come back to peace after a rift, and that's valuable real-world stuff they're learning.  

Have faith in yourself. Know that you are good enough. Believe in your ability to raise your child right. He or she was given to YOU for a reason. Set a positive example. Yes, guide them and teach them, and above all,  know that your relationship is what will make it all stick, not your "discipline." Not the time out chair. Not the taking away of privileges. Your relationship. 

Have faith in your child. Know that he is good enough. Believe in his desire and his ability to do right. Know that a single misbehavior, or even a string of them, does not define him. Know that unconditional love has the power to pull any child (and parent) back into the light.
"If you want your children to follow along a certain path, you must lead the way as the ocean leads a river home by remaining below it. If you manipulate, coerce and bully your children, you will have no power at all. If you lead with humility, gentleness, and by example, you will need no power at all." - William Martin


Alternatives to Spanking

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 6 comments



In light of all the latest research which has proven over and over and over again that spanking is ineffective at long-term discipline at best and harmful enough to cause brain damage and lower IQs at worst, it is time we move forward socially, adjusting our attitudes and behaviors surrounding corporal punishment.

I am not going to take lots of time citing all the studies and listing reasons why you shouldn't spank. The purpose of this post is to give you alternatives, but here is a concisely written article by Dr. Laura Markham titled Should You Spank Your Child? 

So, if you don't spank, what can you do? Here are some disciplining tools that will teach your child while maintaining your relationship.

1. A calm down area.  Some key information that you must understand is that, neurobiologically speaking, children are much better able to internalize what you are teaching when their brains are calm and regulated than when they are in a state of stress, which kicks the alarm in their brain and sends them into lower brain functions of flight or fight. It is for this reason that we want our children to calm down before we teach them the lesson we want them to learn. I have created a space in my home which includes a calm down box filled with several tools for my child to assist him in getting out of fight or flight mode and back into reason and understanding.



Inside the calm down box is our calm down jar made with water, glitter glue, food coloring, and glitter. The idea is to shake the jar, and as you watch the glitter twirl around, it brings your attention onto the motion in the jar and instantly the brain begins to calm.

Also inside the calm down box are a few books, a drawing pad and markers/pencils, and a container of rice.      
The final result is a soothing place to go, engage the mind, and get regulated.

This is not a punishment. You may go with your child to the calm down area or your child may go alone, whichever she prefers. The point is to get her calm. The lesson comes afterwards.

I know this may seem like a very soft or possibly even almost permissive way to deal with misbehavior when you are used to spanking, but the goal of discipline is to teach our child to do better, and there are many routes to that end. Just because this is a kinder and gentler route doesn't mean it is permissive. Permissive parents fail to set and enforce limits and don't discipline (teach) their children at all. 

Here, we are allowing our child the space to calm the mind, and once he is calm, he will better internalize the lesson that is to follow, whereby you teach your child what is acceptable and appropriate and give him alternatives to his behavior. For example, if he hit his sister, then once he is calm, you will restate your limit that hitting is not acceptable and you will give him alternatives to hitting. He has anger and frustration, normal human emotions, he just needs to know what to do with them. Allow him to squeeze a stress ball. Let him rip up paper, clap his hands, or pop a balloon. These sensory activities are often a release for kids. 

You haven't let him by with his misbehavior. Rather, you've waited until he can comprehend your lesson, then instead of punishing him for doing wrong, which doesn't show him how to do right, you've stuck to your limit and given him tools he can use so he can avoid hitting the next time, and his dignity is intact, as is yours. Win-win. 
“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” ― Jane Nelson
2.  Problem-solving. It is tempting to hit kids with arbitrary consequences. "You've just lost your Xbox for 3 days!" "You're grounded!" "Go to your room!" Herein again lies the problem that these methods do not teach your child any how to's for better behavior. Do you know that irritated, empty feeling you get when you've read an article or book that tells you everything you're doing wrong but doesn't leave you with any alternatives? That's exactly how your child feels when you spank him, send him to time out, or give an arbitrary consequence. He now knows what he shouldn't do, but he doesn't know what he can do instead. And if he doesn't know what he can do instead, he is likely, just like you are, to fall back to doing just what it is that got him in trouble in the first place because it's the only thing he knows to do.

Having your child involved in the problem-solving process will not only teach him valuable lessons and instill self-discipline, but it will leave his dignity intact, and he'll feel good about himself and his relationship with you.

Let me give you an example of problem-solving instead of imposing consequences.

Note: Because problem-solving is a cortex (pre-frontal) function, the child probably won't be ready to be involved in the problem-solving process until at least age 4. However, you can certainly let your younger-than-4 children hear you problem-solve. Talk it through with them. "You wanted Emma's doll, so you took it from her, but now Emma is crying. You both want the doll. Hmm. How can we solve this problem? How about you and Emma take turns with the doll?"

Scenario
Your 5 year old son gets upset at Grandma's house and yells "I don't like you!" to her. Grandma tells you about when you pick him up. Instead of telling him he was rude and taking away his TV for 2 days, involve him in making it better.

Ask him what happened at Grandma's. Hear him out. You might say "I understand you got upset. Everyone gets upset sometimes, but we have to be careful with words because they can hurt. Do you think those words hurt Grandma's feelings?" Ask him "How can we make Grandma feel better? Can you think of something?" He may decide to pick her some flowers or make her a card or write her an apology note. If he doesn't come up with anything on his own, offer him a few suggestions like I just listed and let him choose. When he chooses, help him carry out his solution by taking him outside to pick the flowers or giving him supplies to make a card and tell him how much better he will make Grandma feel. Let him surprise her with it! He'll probably be smiling ear-to-ear.

In the above scenario, you have still taught your son the lesson that it isn't acceptable to say rude things to people when you're upset, but rather than him feeling like a loser and leaving it at that, you've empowered him to regain his positive self-concept that he is good and capable, taught him an excellent life lesson in righting wrongs and the value of relationships, and, again, you've not compromised your relationship, which you will come to learn, if you don't already know, is where your influence on your child truly lies.

Obviously every scenario can go a hundred different ways, but the idea is to involve your child in the process. Let your child come up with as much of the solution with as little prompting from you as possible, but do offer coaching if he's young or having a difficult time problem-solving himself. There should be no shaming, blaming, or anger in the problem-solving process. If you're child is upset, or if you are upset, wait until everyone is calm to begin the process.

3.  Time-in.  For toddlers and preschoolers, time-in is an excellent alternative to time-out. To understand why we don't recommend time outs, read this. A time-in is much the same as the calm down area, just without the sensory tools. During a time-in, you remove your child from the situation, sit her on your lap or in a chair beside you, and stay with her. Empathize with her upset and help her to know she is safe. Wait with her until she is calm and regulated, and then move forward with your teaching.
Dr. Gordon Neufeld says this: "All growth emanates from a place of rest. Children must never work for our love, they must rest in it.  We have gone to a practice of parenting that makes them work for the contact and closeness. 'Off to your room! I withdraw the invitation to exist in my presence until you come into line' and we make them work at keeping us close. We might get more compliance, but we get a deeply restless child."

 
Gordon Neufeld on why kids need rest and how to provide it.

4.   Natural and occasionally logical consequences. Life itself is a pretty good teacher.  It is fine to allow your child to experience the natural consequences of his actions, but take care here not to "cause" the natural consequence to occur. If your child refuses to do his homework, facing his teacher without it or getting a lower grade is a natural consequence. If your child breaks his toy by being too rough with it, he has a broken toy that gets thrown away. That is the natural consequence. If you child gets home from a friend's house past the time you set and doesn't get any dinner, that is not a natural consequence, that is a punishment. Having to warm up his dinner or make himself a sandwich is the natural consequence. You should also exercise discretion, obviously, in which natural consequences you allow to occur. If your child refuses a coat in the winter, let him go without it, but bring it along for when he realizes that wasn't such a good idea. Making him suffer through the cold might teach him not to leave his coat again, but it isn't very compassionate.

Sometimes, for children who are too young to problem-solve, a logical consequence can be a good teacher. The key to effective consequences to deliver them with empathy and come from a place of teaching, not from making the child pay. For example, if your 2 year old throws a toy at your head, it is perfectly reasonable to take that toy and put it away. However, this isn't done by shaming the child and saying "That's it! I said no throwing toys! I'm taking that away!!" but rather with an "Uh-oh. Throwing is dangerous. That almost hit me. Let's put the toy away until you're ready to play with it without throwing. Would you like to color?" Your tone and body language is not threatening. You want to convey to your child that you are on her side and that you will do what is necessary to keep everyone safe, not that she is naughty for throwing the toy. She's 2, throwing is fun. She can't control her impulses quite yet. That doesn't mean we allow it though. For children over the age of 5 or 6, problem-solving will take the place of any logical consequence you impose.

Alfie Kohn on punishment.

The argument is often made that parents need to spank or smack hands in order to deter their child from a more painful outcome, such as getting hit by a car or getting burned on the stove.  But after spanking them for going near the road or smacking his hand so he doesn't touch the stove, would you then leave them alone near the road or the stove, having complete confidence that the swat or slap taught the lesson? Of course you wouldn't. So what is the value in the smack? Believe me, if I thought that smacking my kid was the ONLY way to keep him safe, I'd be doing it. But I've found that a serious tone and repetitive teaching (which you have to do whether you smack or not) is effective. 
How tempting it is to slap those daring little hands! Many parents do it without thinking, but consider the consequences. Maria Montessori, one of the earliest opponents of slapping children's hands, believed that children's hands are tools for exploring, an extension of the child's natural curiosity. Slapping them sends a powerful negative message. Sensitive parents we have interviewed all agree that the hands should be off-limits for physical punishment. Research supports this idea. Psychologists studied a group of sixteen fourteen-month-olds playing with their mothers. When one group of toddlers tried to grab a forbidden object, they received a slap on the hand; the other group of toddlers did not receive physical punishment. In follow-up studies of these children seven months later, the punished babies were found to be less skilled at exploring their environment. Better to separate the child from the object or supervise his exploration and leave little hands unhurt. - Dr. William Sears (source)

More reading:
10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child 
The Debate on Spanking is Dead
I Was Spanked and I'm Fine
Plain Talk About Spanking

Some videos to watch:

The false distinction between spanking and hitting.



Long-Term Harmful Effects of Spanking Part 1



Long-Term Harmful Effects of Spanking Part 2



"I was spanked, and I'm okay."




Recommended Reading: Parenting Books We Love

Monday, April 16, 2012 1 comment
Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey, Ph.D. 
In an era when most parenting books focus on the child, this book supports parents in dealing more positively with themselves as well as their toddler–to–school–age children, offering specific tools to stop policing and pleading with kids and start being the parents we want to be.
 Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn.
More than just another book about discipline, though, Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from "doing to" to "working with" parenting -- including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.

 How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Malish. This book features loads of practical advice on how to effectively communicate with your kids. Excellent read.

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.
Hold On to Your Kids will restore parenting to its natural intuitive basis and the parent-child relationship to its rightful preeminence. The concepts, principles and practical advice contained in Hold On to Your Kids will empower parents to satisfy their children’s inborn need to find direction by turning towards a source of authority, contact and warmth.
 Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear, 2nd Edition

Connection Parenting by Pam Leo.
CONNECTION PARENTING is based on the parenting series Pam Leo has taught for nearly 20 years. Pam’s premise is that every child’s greatest emotional need is to have a strong emotional bond with at least one adult. When we have a bond with a child we have influence with a child. Pam teaches us that when we strengthen our parent-child bond we meet the child’s need for connection and our need for influence.
Raising Your Spirited Child Rev Ed: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

The spirited child—often called "difficult" or "strong-willed"—possesses traits we value in adults yet find challenging in children. Research shows that spirited kids are wired to be "more"—by temperament, they are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child. In this revised edition of the award-winning classic, voted one of the top twenty books for parents, Kurcinka provides vivid examples and a refreshingly positive viewpoint. Raising Your Spirited Child will help you:
  • understand your child's­—and your own—temperamental traits
  • discover the power of positive—rather than negative—labels
  • cope with the tantrums and power struggles when they do occur
  • plan for success with a simple four-step program
  • develop strategies for handling mealtimes, sibling rivalry, bedtimes, holidays, and school, among other situations 
 Parenting for Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers

Parenting for Peace by Marcy Axness, Ph.D.

If we really want to change the world, let's raise a generation "built for peace"... from the very beginning. Parenting for Peace is a user-friendly scientific roadmap for how to do exactly that... while bringing more joy into family life!
Parenting for Peace details a unique seven-step, seven-principle matrix for hardwiring our babies and children with the brain circuitry for such essential peacemaker capacities as self-regulation, empathy, intelligence, trust and imagination. The win-win is that a child wired in this vibrantly healthy way is a joy to parent, and as an adult has the heart to embrace and exemplify peace, the mind to innovate solutions to social and ecological challenges, and the will to enact them. To be successful in a changing world.
Parenting for Peace offers readers a user-friendly shortcut around today's information overload, because it gives them the most important research from dozens of leading experts woven together with its own empowering perspectives on bringing more joy into family life.



Positive Parenting in Action by Rebecca Eanes and Laura Ling.

Parenthood is a beautiful journey. We don't have to become adversaries with our children; doing so is very unnatural to our humanity. We are all wired for connection, for closeness, and for love. Positive parenting frees us to move from the traditional parenting roles which create friction and rebellion and allows us instead to move into a more natural role which creates cooperation and peace. The inevitable conflicts that arise in a relationship no longer define the relationship, but serve as stepping stones to greater understanding and connection.

There is an abundance of resources available which tell parents why traditional parenting practices are not optimal, but few help parents learn what to do in place of traditional practices. In this book, we'll discuss the principles of positive parenting, and then we will go through more than 40 scenarios to show you what it looks like when these principles are put into action.

 

The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting by Rebecca Eanes

Do you want to create a more positive and peaceful home? Are you tired of parenting formulas and techniques that just don't work and leave you feeling at odds with your child? Learn the 5 principles of positive parenting and discover how to bring connection and peace back into your relationship with your child. You'll learn a new way in which to relate to your child, one which fosters connection rather than disconnection, respect rather than rebellion, and cultivates a healthy relationship which you can enjoy throughout the years.


For lots more great parenting books, visit the Positive-Parents.org Shop.




5 Ways to Build a Happier Family

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 2 comments
Family Playtime

1. Abandon comparisons. Comparing people is never helpful, whether it is comparing your child to her sibling or one child to another child or your spouse to your friend's spouse or yourself to the PTO leader.  Even favored comparisons (you're a much better singer than your sister!) are harmful. Each person in your family should know that (s)he is adored for being just who (s)he is. Be mindful of your language and thought patterns throughout the day and take a mental note if you find yourself making comparisons, then try to eliminate it altogether. When everyone knows they are loved wholly for who they are at this moment, they will flourish!

Read:
Enjoying Each Child as an Individual
Valuing Your Spouse: 3 Tremendous Ways to Do So
"See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see." - Dr. Wayne Dyer
2.  Unplug and tune in. We love our smartphones, iPads, and social networking sites, but it can be easy to tune out your family when you're plugged in all the time. If you want a happier, closer family, commit to some "unplugged time" daily. Put away all the gadgets, shut down the computer, and connect with your spouse and your kids for some time each day with no distractions.
Sherry Turkle, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self, has been studying how parental use of technology affects children and young adults. After five years and 300 interviews, she has found that feelings of hurt, jealousy and competition are widespread. Her findings will be published in “Alone Together” early next year by Basic Books.
In her studies, Dr. Turkle said, “Over and over, kids raised the same three examples of feeling hurt and not wanting to show it when their mom or dad would be on their devices instead of paying attention to them: at meals, during pickup after either school or an extracurricular activity, and during sports events.”  
Read:
The Long-Term Effects of Technology on Family Time
The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In
'Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, love them close up and teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you've accomplished, invented, authored or inspired will have mattered as much'. ~ Wingate
3.  Create family traditions/rituals.  Traditions and rituals unique to your family gives everyone the feeling of being part of something special and create a wonderful sense of belonging.  Many treasured memories lie in family rituals. Rituals help us identify who we are both as an individual and as a family; they provide something constant, stable, and secure in a confusing world. These traditions and rituals don't have to be complex or expensive, just a little something that says "home."

Read:
The Importance of Family Traditions and How to Create Them
The Importance of Family Rituals

Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. - Susan Lieberman

4.  Home is a safe haven.  Home should be a place of comfort and joy for all family members. Naturally the occasional conflict will arise, but if there is constant bickering in your home between children, parents, or parent and child, it's time to put a stop to it. No one can find rest in a place with such negative energy, and it is stressful to be in constant conflict. If the battles are between your children, set clear limits on what is acceptable and what is not. Do not allow bullying, taunting, or name-calling. Each child has a right to feel safe in his/her own home. See the article below, Solutions for Siblings, for more on this.

Your relationship with your spouse is a model for your children. The way you two interact sets the stage for your child's future relationships. Model respectful communication even through disagreements, and your children are more likely to do the same. If you and your spouse are in constant conflict, seek help.
Chronic parental conflict creates a climate of tension, chaos, disruption and unpredictability in the family environment that is meant to be safe and secure and comfortable to grow up in. Children feel anxious, frightened, and helpless. They may worry about their own safety and their parents’ safety even if there has been no actual or threatened violence.
If you are in constant conflict with your child, there are several steps you can take. The first is to reconnect with your child and re-establish the bond that has been lost.  Second, clean the lens through which you see your child. What does your child look like?  Third, reset the overall tone by remaining respectful when conflicts arise and avoid yelling. If you need to take a time out to manage yourself, there's nothing wrong with doing so. In fact, this teaches your child the valuable skill of learning to handle his own emotions. Work toward problem-solving instead of doling out punishments or consequences.

Read:
Solutions for Siblings
Chronic Parental Conflict: How It Can Be Harmful for Children
Connecting With Your Child
Negotiating Parent-Child Conflicts
It Only Takes 3 Minutes to Stop Yelling at Your Child

My home is the home of peace.My home is the home of joy and delight.My home is the home of laughter and exultation.Whosoever enters through the portalsof this home, must go out witha gladsome heart. This is the home of light; whosoever enters here must become illumined. ~Abdu'l Baha~

5.  Family Meetings.  It may sound like a corny idea at first, but family meetings are a great way to show appreciation, plan things, and tackle problems. During a family meeting, children know that their opinions matter, and family meetings further solidify their place in the family unit. 

Read:
How to Use Family Meetings to Build a Closer Family
Family Meetings

Listen:
Importance of Family Meetings Podcast
"The family meeting is a place where all of our families are defined.  It's a place for us to practice being our best as parents and allowing our children to become their best. It's a place for children to practice using their voice in a productive, positive, and respectful way.  It's a place to show appreciation for each other on a regular basis." - Vicki Hoefle