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Successful playdate
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Embarrassed by your child’s play date behaviour?

Often misbehaviour is a means to get parents’ attention. Parents can get carried away visiting with each other and lose track of the behaviour of the children. If your kids are age 4 and under, you need to be within reach at all times to catch things before they turn into misbehaviour and help the kids to work it out. Other steps to include a happy and successful play date for all:

  • Be sure that your child knows what is expected (how to treat the visitor). Discuss it together and then have them tell you what the expectations (and consequences) are. If your child typically yells at the visiting child, try telling them: ‘When you choose to treat your friend kindly you can keep playing. When I hear yelling, you are choosing to spend time on your own until you are back in control of your voice.’
  • Plan the playdate with your child ahead of time. What are the activities your child wants to do? What are the toys they are willing to share? What toys need to be put away before the visitor arrives?
  • Communicate and share a plan. When the visiting child arrives, have your child ask what their friend might like to do on this playdate. Work with the kids to determine a simple schedule for what they might do. Set up the schedule so that they play for a bit and then do something with you (snack, painting, go for a walk), before returning back to independent play, and then back to you if necessary. Breaking up the independent play means that the kids are getting your attention at times when the behaviour is positive and not just when there is misbehaviour.

Keep play dates short, follow through with consequences and set the kids up for success.

Image of kids playing from Shutterstock.

Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit to ask your own parenting questions, and learn how to receive 20% off all services as a Parenting Power Member!
Comments | Tagged under play, solutions
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Sara Dimerman
January 20, 2014
Sara Dimerman
10 ways to say 'I Love You'
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With Valentine’s Day and Family Day both just around the corner, you may not only be thinking of ways to say ‘I love you’ to your partner, but to other members of your immediate family too.

Saying ‘I love you’ is not nearly as meaningful if our actions don’t match our words.  Showing love takes effort and intention. Combined, words and actions have a powerful effect. So, what are your plans for showing love in February?

Here are some suggestions for showing love all year round:

1. Disconnect from technology. Connect with each other. One way of doing this is to deposit your Blackberry, iPod and any other distracting electronic device in a bowl at your front door. Retrieve when you leave to go out again. Resist the urge to check emails and texts throughout the day, especially while in the company of others. Encourage family members to avoid screens of any sort for specific periods of the day. Giving your undivided attention to the people you love is worth more than money can buy.

2. Do the unexpected. Prepare a snack, make someone you love a cup of tea or bring them breakfast in bed when they least expect it. Clear the dishes in the sink and put a load of laundry in the washer without being asked. Offer to drive your child or partner when he or she is anticipating taking the bus. Don’t wait for an occasion such as Valentine’s Day or a birthday to plan a special event or reserve a table at your favourite restaurant. Include a special ‘thinking of you’ note in a lunch box. Sprinkle rose petals on your bed.

3. Make someone else happy. On occasion, going to see a movie of his choice, even though it’s last on your list, says ‘I love you.’ The same is true for listening to rock music, when you’d rather listen to jazz, for example. Hopefully, this show of love will be reciprocated on another occasion.

4. Schedule family time. As opposed to having each family member off in his or her own corner of the house, doing his or her own thing all the time, make time to sit together as a family over several meals during the week, take time to play a board game or even watch a favourite television show together. This creates a feeling of connectedness. Even though most children would never admit to it, they enjoy the feeling that coming together as family evokes. It’s these times that they will remember fondly when they are on their own.

5. Be playful. When life gets too serious, play hide and seek, wrestle on the floor or skip down the street, arms linked. We’re never too old to let our hair down and to get back in touch with our childlike selves. The times that I’ve gotten into play fighting and tickling matches with my kids are some of my most treasured moments—and it doesn’t have to stop, even between adults.

6. Say hello and goodbye. It’s easy as you rush out the door in the morning to forget to say goodbye. Try to remember. Saying goodbye and offering good wishes for a great day ahead says that you care. When you come back home, take time to connect with your family members. Catch up on the news of the day. If you’re occupied when someone arrives home after some time away, finish what you are doing quickly or stop to enquire how that person is doing. These points of connection are vital.

7. Take care of one another. Massage aching feet, offer a hot water bottle or a blanket when someone you love is cold, run a bath with bubbles and make sure that your family eats nourishing food. These are some of the caring ways to say ‘I love you.’

8. Set clear limits for your children. Even though your children will say that they hate having a curfew and resent having to live by your rules, they inwardly know that the rules you have set are because you care. Asking them to return home at a reasonable time and to live with certain restrictions is your way of saying that you care enough to set clear, loving limits and that you love them enough to make sure that your rules are adhered to.

9. Work as a team. When each family member knows that they have a role to play in making sure that projects get completed and that the home runs smoothly, he or she feels that they are an integral part of the family unit. When you sit down as a family to discuss an upcoming family vacation or a difficulty that the family is facing, and then ask for everyone’s input, you are showing that you love them enough to include them in your discussion and that you value their input.

10. Say ‘I love you’ with conviction. Anyone can say ‘I love you’, but said too often or recited as part of a perfunctory goodbye ritual, these words can sound empty. Instead, cup your partner’s face in your hands, look into his or her eyes and say ‘I love you’ with expression and emotion. Hug your children tight (if they’ll let you) and whisper ‘I love you’. Said at the right time and not over used, these words, combined with acts of caring, will convey their intended special message.

Image of heart from Shutterstock.

Sara Dimerman is a psychologist and provides counselling to individuals, couples and families. She is one of North America's most trusted parenting and relationship experts and the author of three books: Am I a Normal Parent?, Character is The Key and How Can I Be Your Lover When I'm Too Busy Being Your Mother?: The Answer to Becoming Partners Again. Learn more or listen to advice from Sara and her colleagues by searching for 'helpmesara' podcasts on iTunes or visiting Follow Sara on Twitter @helpmesara.
Comments | Tagged under kids, family, valentine, love
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