Want Quick Happy tips? Head over to Marc and Angels Hack

Practical Tips for Productive Living - Wonderful Quick and effective reading articles around the wellbeing, happiness and positiveness in bullet points numbers. I personally use it for easy reference

Want quick inspiration? Inspiration Peak is the place to go!

Check out and subscribe to Inspiration Peak in my Fav Websites for everyday quotes. Works a charm every single day. You're more than welcome to suggest a quote too!

Mind, Body, Green - Ultimate Wellness articles

I love their articles for it is written by various authors coming from wellbeing, yoga, holistic nutrition background that brings you closer to nature and serenity...

Lifehacker - Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done

Slightly drawn towards IT tips but they do also have tips about anything and everything you need under the sun, including tips for baking and cleaning! Check them out

Thursday, July 28, 2016

1 Mealtime Mistake That’s Making You Gain Weight

It's not what you see on the plate but what you eat first. I was told this a while back about which food to take on first and have been working this way:

1. Vege first (50% half the plate)
2. Meat next (25%)
3. Carbs last (25%)

Read below to know why :)

Thanks Audrey Bruno!


The next time you sit down to eat, take a good long look at your plate before you dig in. The food you’re eating and the way you prepared it might be totally healthy, but there could be another, almost invisible factor causing you to eat more than you originally intended to. And if you’re interested in losing or maintaining your weight, letting this little mistake slip under the radar could be getting in the way of your goals.
Your portion sizes might be too big, and they way you plate your food could be the reason why. Your healthy-eating game plan seems airtight: You diligently set your brown rice down, top it with a lean protein like chicken, and finish things off with veggies. But here’s the rub: Arranging your food in this format may cause you to accidentally pack on too much of some foods and too little of others. According to Maxine Yeung, M.S., R.D., owner of The Wellness Whisk, when you plate your carbohydrate and protein first, “by the time you get to the veggies, there’s little room left on the plate.” In a well-rounded meal, she says, veggies should be the main focus. So you don’t want to plop them on the plate like an afterthought. 
“Changing the way you view your meal to make the vegetable section your primary focus is so important because they contain all the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water your body needs,” Yeung explains. So what’s the best way to plate your food? Veggies first, then protein, then grains—if it sounds upside down, that’s because it is. This method, developed by Yeung, is called plating backwards, and it’s an extremely simple solution to the common too-big-portion problem.
Making it a mealtime habit is easy. When you plate, Yeung says you’ll want to aim for your portions to be 50 percent non-starchy vegetables, 25 percent lean protein, and 25 percent carbohydrates. If you plate the classic way (carbs, protein, vegetables) you’re more likely to end up with 50 percent carbs and 25 percent vegetables. To strike the right balance, she says, “Start by filling about half your plate with vegetables, then add protein and carbohydrates in about equal portions.” And if you’re still unsure about your portion sizes, she suggests using MyPlate’s visuals as a guideline.
While Yeung primarily likes to use this method at home, she says you can also apply it to mealtime at buffet-style situations, and even while choosing an item from a restaurant menu. Using this trick forces you to look at your meal in a different way. So when you’re flipping through dinner options, whether it be on Seamless or at your favorite Mexican spot, you’ll be more inclined to spot the dishes with larger vegetable portions. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

7 Interesting Facts you need to know about your Blood Type

Really interesting stuff...our body is made up of 90% blood so it's worth taking more than just a pinch of salt!
When’s the last time you thought about your blood type?
It’s not exactly the sort of thing that pops into your head as soon as you roll out of bed. At least not until you realize just how much of an impact your blood type actually has.
Here are 7 surprising facts that’ll definitely leave you with a new appreciation for the blood running through your veins.

1. Your blood type affects what food you should be eating.

shutterstock_285292964
As confirmed by naturopath Peter J. D’Adamo, various blood types result in varying nutritional needs.
People with Type O blood tend to have digestion and stomach problems. As such, they require a high-protein diet with plenty of lean meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.
Type A individuals have a sensitive immune system and should eat lots of citrus and vegetables like broccoli, spinach and garlic.
People with Type B blood tend to produce higher than normal cortisol (stress hormone) levels. As such, they should avoid trans fats, vegetable oils and alcohol.
Type AB individuals typically lack in stomach acid. They should consume things like apple cider vinegar and manuka honey to raise stomach acid levels and ensure proper digestion.

2. Your blood type affects your personality.

People with Type A blood tend to be kind, compassionate individuals that put other people’s needs before their own. Type B blood is often found in individuals who are outgoing, friendly and emotionally flexible.
Type AB individuals tend to be rational and strong, with very little worry. Type O individuals, on the other hand, tend to worry a lot and are very practical and organized.

3. Blood type also affects fertility.

shutterstock_253719508
Studies have shown that women with Type O blood tend to be the least fertile.
The study, which looked at several women in their 30s, found that women with that blood type either contain few eggs or eggs that have a hard time maintaining fertility.

4. Stressed or angry all the time? Check your blood type!

Because people with Type A blood produce more cortisol than normal, their stress levels also tend to be higher than average.
People with Type O blood are more susceptible to outbursts of anger.

5. Blood type affects the amount of belly fat you have.

shutterstock_277907678
Type A blood causes the body to react badly to specific foods like dairy, meat and shellfish. That reaction makes it difficult to lose belly fat.
It also causes acid reflux, an increase in diabetes risk, bloating and indigestion.

6. Blood type also affects your pool of ideal mates.

In addition to ‘letter’ types, blood is also classified as either Rh negative or Rh positive. 85% of all people are Rh positive, and when two Rh+ people mate, things go smoothly.
But problems arise when an Rh negative woman mates with an Rh positive man. This exposes the baby to potential risks. Rarely is it fatal – but it can be.
ALSO READ: PEOPLE WITH RH NEGATIVE BLOOD MAY HAVE THIS INTERESTING ANCESTOR!

7. Knowing your blood type can save your life.

shutterstock_215905168
Knowing your blood type is important for a number of reasons.
Say you’re traveling abroad and wind up in a car wreck.
You could require a blood transfusion. But unless you’ve got documentation signifying what your blood type is, doctors won’t be able to quickly tell what kind of blood you need.
Transfusion with a blood type different than your own can lead to a number of complications, some of which can  put your life at risk.

Do you know your blood type? If so, did you learn something interesting about yourself today? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The collapse of parenting: Why it’s time for parents to grow up

As confusing as this article can be, it is sort of a wake up call to parents and maybe something for us parents to gear into...I guess. It's abit daunting to me for the moment.

Original article here


If anyone can be called the boss in modern, anti-hierarchical parenthood, it’s the children




For modern families, the adage “food is love” might well be more true put another way: food is power. Not long ago, Dr. Leonard Sax was at a restaurant and overheard a father say to his daughter, “Honey, could you please do me a favour? Could you please just try one bite of your green peas?” To many people, this would have sounded like decent or maybe even sophisticated parenting—gentle coaxing formed as a question to get the child to co-operate without threatening her autonomy or creating a scene.
To Sax, a Pennsylvania family physician and psychologist famous for writing about children’s development, the situation epitomized something much worse: the recent collapse of parenting, which he says is at least partly to blame for kids becoming overweight, overmedicated, anxious and disrespectful of themselves and those around them.

The restaurant scene is a prime example of how all too often adults defer to kids because they have relinquished parental authority and lost confidence in themselves. They’re motivated by a desire to raise their children thoughtfully and respectfully. In theory, their intentions are good and their efforts impressive—moms and dads today are trying to build up their kids by giving them influence; they also want to please them and avoid conflict. In reality, parents are at risk of losing primacy over their children.
The dinner table is ground zero. “When parents begin to cede control to their kids, food choices are often the first thing to slide,” Sax writes in his new book, The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups. A rule such as “No dessert until you eat your broccoli” has recently morphed into “How about three bites of broccoli, and then you can have dessert?” The command has become a question capped with a bribe, as Sax puts it. Dinner at home requires polling kids on what they’re willing to eat; the options might include roast chicken and potatoes or chicken fingers and fries. You can bet which they choose. So parents renegotiate: How about sweet potato fries?
Parents in North America have become prone to asking their children rather than telling them. “It’s natural,” says Gordon Neufeld, a prominent Vancouver psychologist cited in Sax’s book. “Intuitively, we know that if we’re coercive, we’re going to get resistance.” For trivial choices such as which colour of pants to wear, this approach is fine, he says. But “when we consult our children about issues that symbolize nurturance like food, we put them in the lead.” That triggers an innate psychological response, and their survival instincts activate: “They don’t feel taken care of and they start taking the alpha role.”
So if the girl served green peas does eat one bite as her dad asked, Sax says, “she is likely to believe that she has done her father a favour and that now he owes her a favour in return.” Food may be the first manifestation of the collapse of parenting, but many of the problems within families are a result of this type of role confusion. In this way, what happens over a meal is a metaphor for how uncomfortable parents have become in their position as the “alpha” or “pack leader” or “decider” of the family—the boss, the person in charge. The grown-up.
That discomfort comes from a loving place, of course. Many parents strive to raise their kids differently from how they grew up. They say, “I can’t do the stuff I was raised with, it doesn’t feel right. I don’t want to yell, I don’t want to spank,” says Andrea Nair, a psychotherapist and parenting educator in London, Ont. “There’s a massive parenting shift between our generation and the one before. We’ve come a long way from when you called your dad ‘sir’ and when he walked in the house you would jump out of ‘his’ chair.”
The evolution hasn’t been easy, though. “We’re trying to pull off the emotion coaching but we haven’t received the training,” says Nair. “It’s like teaching your kids to speak French while you’re learning it in the textbook.” Parents have made it a top priority that their kids feel heard and respected from a young age. They want to be emotionally available to them, and for their children to be able to express their own emotions. “Kids have permission to have tantrums now because [they’re] learning how to manage feelings,” says Nair. “Someone said to me, ‘Are we seeing more tantrums now than we used to?’ And I wonder.”
Parents also want a democratic household where each family member has a say about what happens—Should we go outside now? Are we ready to have a bath? Would you like to have the party here?—and they cultivate independence and freedom of thought in their children. Strict obedience used to be praised; now it is seen as outdated and potentially dangerous. Compliance might mean your kid is a pushover, which no parent wants, especially as bullying has spread from the schoolyard to cyberspace.
There are broader influences shifting the parent-child dynamic as well. Over the past half-century or more, the public has come to scorn power imbalances based on gender, race, religion and sexual orientation, and historic gains have been achieved in the pursuit of equality. Even corporations are now replacing pyramidal management with “flat organization.” In Western society, where equality for everyone has become a cultural objective and a constitutional right, children are treated like they are one more minority group to honour and empower. “Empower has come to seem virtuous,” Sax says. “Empower everyone, why not?”

But many kids are actually overpowering their parents. That’s the problem, say those working in child development. A functional family unit hinges on the one social construct that contemporary society has been working hard to dismantle: hierarchy. “You need a strong alpha presentation to inspire a child to trust you and depend upon you,” says Neufeld of parents. “If we don’t have enough natural power then we’re hard-pressed to [make] the demand or [set] the limit” for children. “The parent always has to be honoured as the ultimate person,” he continues. “We need to put parents back in the driver’s seat.”

If not, the consequences can be far-reaching, starting with children’s eating habits, which might contribute to them becoming overweight and obese. Like the father in the restaurant, many parents can’t convince their kids to eat well. It doesn’t help that junk food is sometimes a reward for acing a test or scoring a goal. The message: healthy food is for losers. On-demand snacking—in the car, at the mall, while out for a walk—appears to disrupt metabolism and circadian rhythms, as well as hormonal balance. That many parents carry with them a canteen of water and a stash of goodies wherever their kids go is further proof of how much they want to satisfy their children, literally and figuratively. “I don’t want them to get hypoglycemic,” one mom told Sax while lugging a cooler of snacks to her car for a 30-minute drive.

Contributing to the extraordinary weight gain among North American children in recent years is a dramatic decline in fitness. There is even a medical term for it, “deconditioning,” which is described in the Collapse of Parenting as a euphemism for “out of shape.” It has landed kids as young as 11 and 12 in the cardiologist’s office complaining of heart-disease symptoms including chest tightness and shortness of breath. In fact, some hospitals in the U.S. have even opened pediatric preventive cardiology clinics.

While children are less active than ever, they do not, ironically, get enough rest. A common question Sax asks students is, “What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time, when you are by yourself with no one watching?” The most common answer in recent years: sleep. That’s because children are too busy with school assignments and extracurricular activities to go to bed at a good hour, or because when they get to bed, they are on their cellphone or computer, or playing video games.

This chronic fatigue may be associated with the rise of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and prescription drug use among children. “Sleep deprivation mimics ADHD almost perfectly,” writes Sax. In his experience as a doctor, insufficient sleep is one reason why kids are more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder. In general, “It is now easier to administer a pill prescribed by a board-certified physician, than to firmly instruct a child and impose consequences for bad behaviour.” Stephen Camarata, a professor of hearing and speech sciences and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville echoes that point: “Parents say, ‘My child can’t do this particular exercise, they’re not paying attention,’ therefore I have to identify them as having a clinical condition.” A medical diagnosis might negate parental shortcomings or a child’s misbehaviour. “It displaces that failure,” he says.
Camarata worries that parents are asking too much of kids too soon, as he outlines in his latest book, The Intuitive Parent: Why the Best Thing For Your Child Is You. He points to the surge of books, toys and software marketed to parents of young children promising to accelerate learning. The ubiquitous metaphor that kids are information sponges has parents saturating them with educational exercises. “We’re treating them like little hard drives,” says Camarata, but “this idea of pushing children to the absolute max of their developmental norm doesn’t give them time to reason and problem-solve. It actually undermines both self-confidence and fluid reasoning, or the ability to think.”

Schools, too, have been focusing more on academic achievement than socialization. Sax documents how, 30 years ago, American students in kindergarten and Grade 1 learned “Fulghum’s rules,” which include tenets such as “Don’t take things that aren’t yours” and “Clean up your own mess” as well as “Share everything” and “Don’t hit people.” But since the 1980s, as other nations pulled ahead of the U.S. in scholastic performance, the primary objective of educators has become literacy and numeracy. In Canada too, says Neufeld, “we have lost our culture. Our society is far more concerned that you perform. Schools will always drift to outcome-based things.”

That’s partly why a “culture of disrespect” has sprouted in North America. As kids have become less attached to and influenced by the adults in their lives, same-age peers have come to matter more to them. It’s a theme in Neufeld’s book, Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, co-authored by Dr. Gabor Maté. Young children “are not rational beings,” says Neufeld. Part of growing up is testing boundaries; little ones, by their very nature, can’t be relied on to hold each other accountable—nor should they.
“Kids are not born knowing right from wrong,” says Sax, pointing to longitudinal studies showing that children who are left to discover right from wrong on their own are more likely to have negative outcomes in the future: “That child in their late 20s is much more likely to be anxious, depressed, less likely to be gainfully employed, less likely to be healthy, more likely to be addicted to drugs or alcohol. We now know this,” he says. “Parents who are authoritative have better outcomes, and it’s a larger effect than the effect of race, ethnicity, household income or IQ.”

Mothers in a park. (Tyler Olson/Shutterstock)
With stakes so high, authoritative parenting would seem imperative. But there is a psychological hurdle that people will have to overcome first, says Nair: “How to respect their child but also be the decider” of the family. Part of the challenge lies in the fact that parents don’t want to fail—at nurturing and governingsimultaneously—and they certainly don’t want their children to fail in their personal development, in school and at social networking. These worries feed off each other in the minds of parents; that’s why parents second-guess the way they speak to their kids, what they feed them, how they discipline them and what activities they permit.
This is all the more true for the growing number of parents who delayed having children until they were “ready” with a secure job, a good home and a dependable partner. “People purposely wait so they can nail it,” says Bria Shantz, a 35-year-old mother of two in Vancouver. “That creates even more pressure. They want to get this perfect.” Shantz is, in fact, the daughter of Neufeld, and she has called upon him for advice or reassurance. That Shantz, who has a leading child psychologist in her family, one who helped raise her, can still occasionally succumb to parental insecurity, says everything about its potency: “There’s this slight panic. You want to do everything right,” she says. “Nothing prepares you for how much you want it to go well.”

So as soon as parents conceive, they begin amassing a library of books on how to deal with the fantastic chaos about to enter their lives in the form of a baby; the collection grows with each developmental stage. They subscribe to online newsletters and smartphone apps that alert them on milestones their children should reach by a certain age. From the outset, parents are tracking how quickly their child is growing, how much they are achieving. For every expert a parent consults by phone or in person, they’re also checking in with the virtual wise man, Google. That almost never helps.

There is no parental concern too obscure not to have an online group devoted to it. Shantz is part of one focused on “baby-wearing” because she’s trying to decide whether a “wrap” or a “ring sling” would be better for her nine-month-old. “It’s the weirdest site to be on. You see posts and you feel guilty because [parents] are carrying their babies everywhere, doing all these things, having this connection.” And yet Shantz hasn’t been able to delete herself from the group, even though she keeps meaning to; nor has she been able to pick between a wrap or sling.

That pull and push moms and dads feel­—between caring about how other parents are raising their kids while rejecting the constant comparisons—defines this generation of parents for better and worse. Katie Hurley, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles and author ofThe Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World, says, “We’ve been conditioned to question ourselves—to constantly look for information to make sure we’re doing it right. Because of that, parents are in a state of learned helplessness.” [tweet this]

So what are people supposed to do? The answer is so basic that at first it might seem unsatisfying: For starters, says Hurley, realize that “nobody knows what they’re doing when they leave the hospital with an infant. Every parent learns by trial and error”—every year of their child’s life, and with every child they raise. That’s as true today as it ever was, and parents who recognize this will shed some guilt and anxiety. Building on this idea, Nair says that parents must “have a higher tolerance for things not going well.” How they recover from their own occasional mistake, outburst, loss of patience or bad call may say more to a child than how they are in happy times. “We’re missing that opportunity, which is how learning works,” she says. “That’s how we become more confident.”

A significant portion of Sax’s book is devoted to the importance of parents modelling traits they want to encourage in their children. Chief among them, he says, should be humility and conscientiousness—which run counter to inflating a child’s self-esteem and sense of entitlement. To that end, he encourages parents to fortify their adult relationships so they are not overly concerned with pleasing their kids as a way of satisfying their own need for affection. Neufeld also urges parents, including his own adult children, to establish a network of surrogate caregivers—relatives, neighbours, daycare workers—who will not undermine their authority but back them up when they need help.

And invariably, they will. “Parenting is awfully frustrating and often a lonely place,” says Neufeld, especially when a child misbehaves. In those moments, he recommends parents reassure kids that their relationship isn’t broken. “When parents realize that they are their children’s best bet, it challenges them to their own maturity.” It gives them the confidence that they know what’s good for their kids, and that they should stand up to them—this is, in fact, an act of love required of parents. They become, in effect, the grown-ups their children need

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Playing with Your Child: Games for Connection and Emotional Intelligence

This I find REALLY useful as playing with kids shouldn't be so tiring these days.  All they need is kisses and hugs at the end of the day. And these games have plentiful of them.

Taken from AHA! Parenting (I like this website already)

"Play can be the long-sought bridge back to that deep emotional bond between parent and child. Play, with all its exuberance and delighted togetherness, can ease the stress of parenting. Playful Parenting is a way to enter a child's world, on the child's terms, in order to foster closeness, confidence, and connection."
-Lawrence CohenPlayful Parenting*

I know, you think you hate playing with your child. But what if I gave you permission to set a timer and forget about your To-Do list and just connect with your child for ten minutes? What if I promised that if you do this on a regular basis, your child will become more cooperative, and you will feel more energized? What if it helped you become a happier parent?
Children need to play. It's their work. All mammals play; it's their way of learning skills they'll need when they're full-grown, from finding food to getting along with others. It's also the way small humans process their emotions.
All day, every day, children have to manage complicated feelings: Fear (What if there IS something under the bed?), Jealousy (Maybe you do love their sibling more!), Humiliation (The teacher acted like he should already know that, and all the kids laughed!), Panic (What if she doesn't make it to the bathroom on time?), Anger (It was my turn!), Disappointment (Doesn't anyone care what I want?!).... The normal challenges of every day for a growing child of any age stimulate all kinds of feelings. Children release these emotions through play. Laughter, specifically, transforms our body chemistry by reducing stress hormones and increasing bonding hormones.
Kids are more physical than adults. When they get wound up emotionally, their bodies need to discharge all that energy. That's one of the reasons they have so much more energy than we do, so they wear us out.
But we can use this to our advantage, because when we play physical games with children, they giggle and sweat and scream -- and they release the same pent-up stress hormones that they'd otherwise have to tantrum to discharge. Playing is also how kids learn, so when you "teach" an emotional lesson by playing, your child really gets it. Best of all, playing helps parents and kids feel closer.
I realize that at the end of the day you might be exhausted. I personally would much rather snuggle on the couch than initiate an active game. The good news is that these games don't have to last long -- maybe 10 minutes at most, or even as little as 2 minutes.
And believe it or not, most parents find them energizing. That's because the tension and irritation we carry around makes us tired. When we play, we discharge stress hormones just like our kids, giving us a little more energy as we head into the evening.
So when your child asks you to play, make a deal. Sure, you'll play dollhouse, or build a train track. But first, will they play a roughhousing game with you for a few minutes? Don't be surprised if your child loves this kind of play so much, he begins begging for these games over and over.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

When your child is annoying, or in your face.

"Are you out of hugs again? Let's do something about that!" Grab your child and give her a LONG hug -- as long as you can. Don't loosen your grip until she begins to squirm and then don't let go immediately. Hug harder and say "I LOVE hugging you! I never want to let go. Promise I can hug you again soon?"Then let go and connect with a big, warm smile, and say "Thank you! I needed that!"

A more intensive version, for when a child has a new sibling, or you've been doing a lot of disciplining.

Convince your child on a very deep level that you LOVE him by chasing him, hugging, kissing, then letting him get away and repeating -- again and again.
"I need my Michael....You can't get away...I have to hug you and cover you with kisses....oh, no, you got away...I'm coming after you....I just have to kiss you more and hug you more....You're too fast for me....But I'll never give up...I love you too much...I got you....Now I'll kiss your toes....Oh, no, you're too strong for me...But I will always want more Michael hugs...."
This is my favorite game, guaranteed to transform your child's doubt about whether he's truly loved (and any child who is "misbehaving" harbors that doubt). (I call this the Fix game because it Fixes whatever's wrong. From a parent: "I'm kind of shocked how much my son is loving the Fix game!? I don't think I've ever heard my son say, "Let's do it again!" so many times :)"

A stepped-up version involving both parents.

Fight over your child (jokingly), vying to see who can snatch him up and hug him. "I want him!' No, I want him!" "But I NEED him so much!" No, I need him! You ALWAYS get him!"

When your child is grumpy.

"You seem to be in a NO mood. I have an idea. I want to hear you say NO as much as you want. I will say YES, and you can answer NO in the same tone of voice. So when I say YES in this low voice, you say NO in a low voice. When I say YES in this squeaky voice, you say NO in this squeaky voice. Okay?"

To a child who is getting over-excited or too revved up:

"You have so much energy right now. What can we do with all this energy? Do you want to spin around? Come over here (or outside) with me where it's safe to spin around, and I'll spot you."
Find a safe place where no other kids or parents are there to further stimulate him, and let him spin around, or jump up and down, or run in circles around you -- whatever he chooses. When he drops in exhaustion, snuggle him and say
"It's so much fun to be excited. But sometimes you get over-excited and you need a little help to calm down. Now, let's take three deep breaths to relax. In through the nose, out through the mouth. 1.....2......3......Good! Do you feel a little calmer? It's good to know how to calm yourself down. Now, let's go snuggle by ourselves and read a book for a bit."

When you and your child seem to be having a lot of power struggles.

Give your child the chance to be the more powerful one and to outsmart and over power a terrible monster -- You! Swagger and strut and roar at your child about how you will catch him and show him who's boss....but when you chase him, always trip and bumble and let him outsmart you or over-power you and get away. Give him a remote and pretend he can make you stop, start, move forward and backward. When she high-fives you, pretend she almost knocked you over. Another version of this is giving your child a feather, or a pillow, to hit you with. Every time he hits you, fall over! Repeat as long as he's giggling. Acknowledge your child's formidable power: “You are so strong! You pushed me right over!”

When your child is cheating at a game.

Say "Looks like we have new rules now....But how come you always win?!...I hate losing!" Overdo your role as the "sore loser" so that your child gets to laugh at you.

When your child is super-clingy or has been experiencing separation anxiety.

Cling to your child, being super-exaggerated and silly. "I know you want me to let go so you can go play, but I NEED you! I only want to be with you. PLEASE be with me now?" Keep holding your child's hand or clinging to her dress. She will like the feeling that SHE is the one in charge of letting go, rather than feeling pushed away. If you act silly enough, she will also giggle and let off some of the tension around good byes. When she definitively pushes you away, say, "It's ok. I know you will come back. We always come back to each other."

When your child goes through a stage of only wanting Mommy (or Daddy).

Let the preferred parent sit on the couch. Get between your child and that parent, and boast
"You can't get to Mommy! You are all mine! Only I get to be with you! I will keep you from getting to Mommy!"
As he tries to get to Mommy, grab at him, but bumble and be unsuccessful. When he reaches Mommy, she laughs, cheers, hugs him and then lets him go. You lament that he got through, but continue to boast and challenge him and try to grab him. Exaggerate your boasting. "You can't push around me to get to Mommy!" and then bumble and let him push past you. He should giggle and giggle, which means that he is releasing his fears and anxieties.

When your kids are fighting a lot:

When tempers are calm, say "Would you two please fight with each other now?" When they begin to fight, pretend to be a TV commentator. "We're on the scene tonight watching two sisters who can't seem to get along! Will they work things out or not? Stay with us while we observe this behavior live! Notice how big sister is bossy, but little sister is provocative! Both girls want the same piece of salami! Can they work this out? Are they smart enough to realize there's more salami in the fridge? Stay tuned..." Your kids will giggle and let off tension, and get to see how ridiculous they are.

When your child feels like a bottomless pit:

Every day, spend 15 minutes snuggling. Revel in touching your child. Don't structure this time. Just kiss him on the nose, nuzzle her hair, let him sink into the comfort of your lap. Even if your kid is eight, treat him as if he's a baby, just beginning to be verbal. Rock him in your arms. Play the physical games you played when she was tiny. Resist tickling, which can make kids feel invaded and out of control. Mostly, just snuggle and lavish attention. If you want some help getting into the mood, look together at old baby pictures: "You were so adorable, almost as adorable as you are now!"

When your child goes through a stage of whining a lot.

Remember that whining is an expression of powerlessness. Refusing to "hear" until they use a "big kid" voice further invalidates them. But of course you don't want to reward whining by "giving in" to it, either. Instead, express confidence that your child can use her "strong" voice and offer your assistance to help her find it, by making it into a game:
"Hey, where did your strong voice go? It was here a minute ago. I LOVE your strong voice! I'll help you find it. Help me look. Is it under the chair? No...In the toy box? No.... HEY! You found it!! That was your strong voice!! Yay! I love your strong voice! Now, tell me again what you need, in your strong voice."
(If this doesn't work, it's because your child needs more tenderness and maybe a chance to cry. See the article on whining.)

To help a child fall asleep at night.

Say goodnight to each part of your child's body, touching each part in turn gently, with a little massage.
"Good night shoulder...good night arm....good night elbow, good night forearm, good night wrist, good night hand, good night fingers."
Take your time so your child relaxes each part of her body as you "recognize" it. The more you can simply relax and connect with your child, the more you are helping your child be in her own body and be fully present.

When your child has stolen something.

Get him laughing about this by enacting a stuffed animal "stealing" things from all over the room. Meanwhile, the stuffed animal mother is searching for the stolen things-- "I can't find the dog dish anywhere! Wherever did it go?!" Of course, the pile of stolen things is right in front of her. (You'll still need to have a conversation with your child about how he wishes he could keep what he stole, but it must be returned, and that in the future he can ask you if he wants something. But playing a game like this first will take the shame and anxiety out of the situation for both of you, and will help your child be open to making amends.)

When your child has been screeching or complaining:

Give permission.
"Ok, there's been so much complaining (or loud screeching)! This is your last chance to complain (screech) for the rest of the day. I'm setting the timer and putting on my earphones. I want you to complain (screech) as loud as you can for the next three minutes. You only have three minutes so make the most of them. After that, we're all back to normal inside voices. 1, 2, 3, GO!"

To help a child who's coping with a challenging issue, like the start of school, or playground struggles, or being sick:

Have one stuffed animal be the parent, and one be the child, and act out the situation. Using stuffed animals removes it one step from reality so most kids find it more comfortable, but some children like to actually act the situation out themselves (as opposed to using the proxy of dolls or stuffed animals).
"Let's pretend we're in the sandbox and I want your truck but you don't want to share" or "Let's pretend you're the teacher and I'm the student" or "Let's pretend you're the doctor and I'm sick."
Playing out these situations that cause so much stress for kids helps them to feel more in control of their own emotions, and lets them be the powerful one in a situation where they might have felt powerless and humiliated in real life.

To work through a problem that keeps coming up, such as a child who dawdles in the morning or at bedtime.

Sometime on the weekend, grab a mom and baby stuffed animal. Have them act out the morning (or bedtime) routine. Have the little one resist, whine, collapse. Have the mom "lose it" (but don't scare your child by overdoing it. Have the mom be a funny, incompetent bumbler.) Your child will be fascinated. Then, hand your kid the "mom" and play out the scenario again, with you being the kid. Make it funny so you can both giggle and let off tension. Make sure to include scenarios in which the kid goes to school in his pjs, or the mom goes to work in her pjs, or the kid has to yell at the mom to hurry up and get ready, or the mom says
"Who cares about that meeting? Let's tell the boss it's more important to find your toy car!"
Give him in fantasy what he can't have in reality. You may learn something about how to make things work better. Almost certainly, you'll see more understanding and cooperation from your child on Monday. At the very least, you'll defuse the tension get a great chance to see how your kid perceives you!

To reconnect.

Start a pillow fight, or a snowball fight, or a wrestling game in which you take each other’s socks off (an excuse for hugs). Or give your child a pillow to hold, and try to steal it from her. Always let your child win. Kids need to rough house. You might even find you like it too!
As long as your child is laughing, that game is working to alleviate anxiety and increase well-being. Don't be surprised if your child wants to play these games over and over. They relieve stress, help your child master emotion -- and believe it or not, they're fun!
*These are games I often recommend to parents, and while I have adapted them over the years, I didn't invent them. Some originated from the rich tradition of play therapy or were invented by my clients; some were inspired by the work of Lawrence Cohen (Playful Parenting), Becky Bailey (I Love You Rituals), Patty Wipfler (Hand in Hand Parenting) and Aletha Solter (Attachment Play.) For more ideas on using play to connect with kids and help them resolve challenges, I highly recommend their books, below.