Toys that teach aren’t a new thing, but a growing number are calling for kids to build with blocks, circuits or everyday items before reaching for a tablet screen.

Play is how kids learn about the world around them, whether it’s a toddler throwing a ball or teens playing video games. It’s about seeing how things work and what happens when they do something. And over the years, toys have gotten more high tech to keep screen-obsessed children engaged with such play. But there’s growing worry among parents and educators that toys are moving too far in that direction. Educational toys that have a math and science bent _ marketed under the umbrella of STEM _ are now trying to get back to the basics: less screen time, more hands-on activities. “When kids use their hands, your outcomes are much higher,” said Pramod Sharma, CEO of one such toy company, Osmo. “It’s very different than if they’re just staring at a screen watching TV.” With Osmo, kids learn everything from spelling to coding not by touching a screen, but by snapping together magnetic blocks. A screen is still part of it; an image is beamed onto an iPad through its camera. But the idea is to have kids learn first with their hands, then see their creation move to the screen.

Learn By Building

Educators agree that whether you’re talking about a toddler playing with blocks, or a teen building a computer from scratch, the act of putting something together helps educational concepts sink in. “The way the world comes to us is actually through tactile activities, so tactile toys where we build stuff are incredible helpful,’ said Karen Sobel-Lojeski, who studies the effects of technology on children’s brain development at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York. Bloxels attempts to bridge the physical and the digital. Kids build their own video games by putting plastic blocks in a special tray, instead of writing out code. Using a phone or tablet’s camera, an app transforms the shapes created with the blocks into digital characters and scenery. Makey Makey, a startup founded by a pair of MIT students, asks kids to come up with their own electronic creations by combining software, circuits and everyday items like bananas and doughnuts.

Good But Popular?

Sobel-Lojeski said toys are most educational when kids can learn how things work by building. But Juli Lennett, a toy industry analyst at NPD, said such toys are rarely on kids’ wish lists. On the other hand, tech toys that have subtle educational value, but aren’t specifically marketed as such, can be strong sellers. Lennett cites Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar, which introduces basic coding concepts by letting preschoolers assemble segments that each tells the caterpillar to do something different, such as turn left’ orplay sound.’ “I’m not sure that kids are asking for it, or that their parents just want their kids to go to Harvard, but it’s definitely one of the top-selling toys this holiday,’ Lennett said. Tracy Achinger, a former automotive engineer in Shelby Township, Michigan, said her 8-year-old son got interested in coding after starting computer programing classes this year. So for Christmas, she’s buying him an Ozobot, a golf ball-sized robot that kids can program by drawing different colored lines or using a kid-friendly, block-based programing language.

Tech Has Its Limit

Achinger’s 3-year-old son will be getting an iPad this year. She said she isn’t against screen time, but believes parents need to keep an eye on what their kids are watching and playing. She said her older son has been playing creative games such as Minecraft’ for a few years.We try to keep it educational,’ Achinger said. I really think those kinds of games get their imaginations going as they create their own worlds.’ The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its guidelines to shift the emphasis away from banning screen time and toward balancing high-quality content with non-screen activities. That doesn’t mean every toy with a screen is educational. Barbie has her own smart home in the form of the voice-activated and Wi-Fi-connected Hello Dreamhouse. And new versions of Elmo, Furby and the Cabbage Patch Kids have apps, which Lennett said are often more about branding than learning. Sobel-Lojeski said slapping an app on a previously low-tech toy can backfire. Instead of letting the child imagine how a particular toy would talk or behave, the app fills in those holes.It cuts the child off from play that is much more important for development,’ she said. Some of the drive for tech in toys comes from parents who believe that the younger their kids are exposed to technology, the more prepared they will be for a lucrative career someday. But Sobel-Lojeski said Albert Einstein came up with breakthroughs without ever touching a computer, let alone tech toys at a young age. “We can easily be tricked into thinking that all this stuff is going to make our kids more intelligent or better scientists and that’s just not true,’ she said.

Resist The Screen

Companies that make computers for kids also see the value in a construction element. Kano shows kids how to build their own computers in a kid-friendly storybook format. Kano co-founder Alex Klein said he had to resist suggestions to just put Kano into app form and skip the computer construction all together. He said the act of building a computer was key because it created a huge sense of energy and momentum for what followed on screen.’ But Klein said screens aren’t going away anytime soon.You can’t compete with screens with kids,’ he said. “So, for us it’s not about trying to push against what this next generation thinks is good or likes. It’s about providing a new angle on it that’s more creative.’

We sometimes think of volunteering as something that requires long hours and hard work. Some opportunities do—and are totally worth it. But there are ways to fit volunteering into even the busiest schedule. Enter microvolunteering.

This kind of volunteering fits into those slots in your day when you’d otherwise have a snack, drink another coffee or swipe through social media posts that—let’s be honest—you’ve probably already seen. Even better, it’ll leave you with the fuzzies instead of a sugar high, caffeine jitters or FOMO.

Microvolunteering is usually done in short bursts, often on a digital platform and generally involves completing discrete tasks, such as writing a letter or tracking your workouts to raise funds. “The key points [to microvolunteering] are the timeframe (not exceeding one to two hours), the lack of required commitment, doing it on one’s own and contributing a small piece to a larger project,” explains Eric Shirley, manager of corporate events and projects at Volunteer Canada, an organization that works with non-profits and companies to encourage volunteerism.


Microvolunteers often see immediate rewards, which can be very satisfying. “Platforms award virtual badges, display the amount of funds raised and show a history of completed tasks,” Shirley says. As with regular volunteer work, it can be an opportunity to develop or showcase your skills or pursue a particular interest. For example, one innovative platform lets you share your love of language by playing word games with kids. (More on that fun option later!) Unlike some other volunteer work, though, microvolunteering doesn’t require extensive training and can benefit almost any organization around the globe—not just those in your community.


Microvolunteers can be disconnected from the organizations they help. That’s because, as Shirley explains, microvolunteers are “more likely to be working with international opportunities, not necessarily in [their] local community.” Plus, the non-profit you’re contributing to has no guarantee of your commitment, which can make it hard to plan initiatives. And because many microvolunteer platforms are app- or web-based, using them means you’re getting that much more screen time each day.

Glad you asked! Here are five ways to get started:

This app tracks your workouts (or your commute) to raise money for a charity of your choice. For every mile you cycle, stride or jog, it will donate money from corporate sponsors to organizations that range from Habitat for Humanity to Every Mother Counts and Shot@Life.

Sign up for emails, download the app or follow the Urgent Action Network on Twitter to be notified when people are in danger due to human rights violations, then join the letter-writing campaigns by sending your own message or using a sample letter.

Instead of browsing the internet while eating at your desk, spend those 30 minutes listening to a Grade 1 student reading a book and playing word games with them on a video link through the TutorMate program.

For every vocabulary question you answer correctly on Free Rice, 10 grains of rice go to the UN’s World Food Program. Plus, you can challenge friends—proof that volunteering doesn’t have to be totally selfless.

Remember when you were young and it felt like the world was your oyster, but also, you had no clue what you wanted to do? Help students going through this stage by answering questions about your chosen career on Career Village, a forum-style website.

KRECHELLE has eight people in her household and she manages to always keep it clean and tidy. This is how she does it.

“GIRL, how is your house so clean with six children, work and school and all the fights?”

The truth is, if you come mid nerf battle on a spaghetti bolognese day there is just no hiding that eight people definitely live and eat here.

But for the most part it’s tidy. And that makes me happy. I suppose we stick to a few simple rules.

1. Kids help

We paint, we build blocks, we get muddy outside. The kids can have tons of messy fun but they must clean up after themselves, always. Toys go back away, dirty clothes go in the wash and clean clothes go in their allotted spots.

They know how to put things in the bin. Get themselves dressed. How to put their clothes in the wash. Where their shoes and bags go. How to make their beds. It’s just routine and habit. I’m not a slave driver. But they have responsibilities and for the most part, they enjoy them.

2. Throw sh*t out

No but seriously. I only have pots and pans I use regularly, I have minimal furniture, enough blankets for each person in the house but we don’t have useless sh*t. No one needs six sheet sets; you just don’t. You don’t need a set of Tupperware you’ve never used before. I know Aunt Betty gave you it for your seventh wedding anniversary but if you’re not using it, it goes.

And that broken toy on top of the fridge that’s been there for two years that you’re ‘totally going to fix any day now’ — THROW it out. If it doesn’t make you happy and you don’t use it regularly, you do not need it. Maybe someone else does?

3. Stuff is sorted. Always. Mostly always

New stuff comes in and old stuff goes out. Things stay folded. We try and keep it regularly sorted. We have a blanket cupboard, a dinosaur storage box, an art storage box, a gift wrapping area, a vacuum cupboard, a cleaning cupboard. You get the picture.

Things that aren’t used again, we throw. Everything has a place. Organisation is the key. Our drawers aren’t full of crap except for our ONE “crap drawer”. Everyone needs one “full of crap drawer”. With pens and rubber bands and hair ties and paddle pop sticks and takeaway menus.

4. Utilise your morning

I never close the door for school run on a dirty house. Well, almost never. I make sure the kids have tidied their rooms and made their beds. If they mess the lounge playing forts in the morning, they tidy it up as we walk out the door. The sink and benches must be clear and washing swapped first thing. It works and it’s done by about 7.20.

The rest of my day is clear when I step out of the door at 8.20am. OK 8.30 … or maybe 8.43.

We’re always bloody late. My house is clean. Trust me we’re not late because it’s clean; it’s normally shoes. It’s always because of shoes. We’re not miracle workers, our kids still manage to lose their shoes. Every. Damn. Day.

5. One DEEP clean day

One per week every week. Floors, bathrooms, toilets, sinks, bedding, wipe over of tables, TVs, fridges and microwaves. Done. Don’t over complicate. It takes about two hours. Don’t put pressure on yourself every day. The morning clean should be enough. And then your one deep clean day, turn the music up for deep clean day. I love Saturday mornings and just get it done.

6. No need to vacuum

Not every time. Invest in a broom with a dust pan and a spray mop. A mop that sprays disinfectant on the floor and wipes it up. I love my spray mop. It works wonderfully well. His name is Peter and he’s one of my best friends. I use him after dinner. And after spills and lollipops and then I throw the cloth that attaches to the bottom in the wash. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

7. Candles

A sweet scent is as inviting as fresh throw cushions. They make your house feel fresh. They make it smell like apples when it doesn’t smell like apples. Fck I love apples. And I love candles. And when it’s been a really bad morning Glen 20 and candles in combination work a treat. Preferably in a well-vented area and not at the same time. That sht’s flammable. Also open windows and doors; fresh air is as good as a bloody holiday.

And there you have it. Keep on top of things. Don’t worry about it all week. One morning a quick wham bam thank you Ma’am cleaning session. And Bob’s your uncle.

God, I put in a lot of sayings into one post. You’re welcome.

I hope this has kind of helped. I’ve sprained my ankle so naturally my house looks like a tornado has hit it and everyone threw their belongings and ran for cover and no one’s been sighted since.

My husband is “helping”. Don’t tell him, but he just kind of moves mess around. He’s trying though, and he makes me tea so I should probably shut right up.

Because at the end of the day some of my best memories from when I was a kid was sitting in a three-week-old sheet fort I built in my parents’ lounge room surrounded by food crumbs watching Harry Potter.

A clean house does not make memories. But staying on top of things gives you more time to make them.

Being bullied is not an easy thing to cope with. Bullying can leave kids feeling helpless, vulnerable, and confused. Consequently, when kids are bullied, they are often so shocked by bullying that they are not sure what to do. But this indecision and lack of response can open the door to more bullying. Make sure your kids are prepared should the situation ever occur.

How Your Child Can Deal With a Bully
To keep bullies from harassing your kids, make sure they know what to do if confronted by a bully. Aside from developing their assertiveness skills, building their self-esteem and improving their social skills, they also need practical tools on how to handle bullying situations. Here are seven ideas that any child can implement.

Ignore the bully. Not reacting when someone says or does something hurtful is often the most effective response to bullying. Most bullies are looking for a reaction. They want the target to get angry or cry. And, if your child has an emotional response to bullying, it often continues and may even escalate. Conversely, if your child keeps on walking with his head held high every time someone engages in name-calling or any other type of bullying, the bully will eventually move on when he realizes he will not get a response from your child.

Tell the bully to stop. Again, bullies often do not expect someone to stand up to them. In fact, they often target kids they believe they can intimidate. As a result, telling a bully to stop in a strong and confident voice can be very effective. In fact, bullies often count on finding a victim who will not say anything at all. But if your child makes sure the bully knows he cannot walk all over him, the bully is more likely to stop what he is doing.

Make a joke or agree with the bully. Some kids are naturally funny and find it easy to laugh right along with the bully. When kids are able to do this, it demonstrates that they are confident about who they are; and it does not bother them if other people point out their flaws. In fact, they are often secure enough to laugh right along with the bully. When your child laughs with the bully, it diffuses any power the bully thought he had over your child, and his bullying methods become ineffective.

Avoid bullying hot spots. Sometimes all it takes to prevent bullying is to avoid places where bullies hang out. These bullying hot spots include areas like the far corners of the playground, vacant hallways, bathrooms, locker rooms, and the back of the bus. Be sure your child knows where these spots are located and that he avoids them or travels with a buddy when he can. Sometimes the best way to deter bullying is to avoid crossing paths with the bully.

Stick with friends. Bullies usually look for kids who are alone or socially isolated. Be sure your child knows that hanging out with friends is a great way to prevent bullying. If your child struggles with social skills or has very few friends, take steps to help him develop friendships. Having just one healthy friendship can go a long way in protecting your child from bullies.

Know how to get out of a bullying situation. Talk to your child about ways in which he can defend himself against bullies, especially if the bullying is physical. For instance, be sure your child knows to keep his eye on the exit and to use it when the opportunity presents itself. Other options include making a lot of noise, attracting attention, and knowing how to deflect any type of physical aggression. Your child does not have to “fight” the bully to defend himself. He just needs to know how to diffuse the situation and get to safety.

Report the bullying to an adult. Be sure your child knows that the best way to prevent bullying is to report it. Without adult intervention, bullying often will continue or escalate. Talk about the reasons why kids don’t tell others they are being bullied and be sure your children know that you understand their fears. Stress that while it takes a lot of strength and courage to report bullying, it is the smartest way to handle this type of situation. Also be careful not to engage in victim-blaming or to criticize your child for getting bullied. Bullying is a choice made by the bully and never the responsibility of the victim.

via NEW KIDS-CENTER: If you want to have fun with your kids and want to spend quality time with your family, then the following family activities are ideal for you. Not only are these family activities a great source of enjoyment for all involved,butit gives you a chance to get to know your kids better and to interact with them more openly. Such activities can help in forming a strong bond between family members. It does not matter where in the world you liveengaging in family activities can give you a great deal of satisfaction.

Eight Recommended Family Activities

1. Record a Family Video

Ask theelder members of the family to share their life experiences with the kids and record them on a video camera while they are sharing their stories. These videos are going to become a source of knowledge for the children and willeducate them about life and can be regarded as their heritage as well. They can motivate the kids and give them a sense of pride. You can also ask the family members to conduct interviews of each other and record those on tape. These sound bites can serve as a precious time capsule for your family.

2. Work Together in the Garden

Get the whole family to work in the garden. Plant some seeds into a patch of soil and ask all the family members to join in and help you in taking care of the small plants. Assign the tasks for the kids and parents, so all of them will get to participate in nurturing theseedlings as they grow up. This activity will help children in learning the important lesson about loving nature and would, as well as giving them immense pleasure and joy when they watch the seeds turn into beautiful flowers and plants.

3. Cook Meals Together

Have the children join you in the kitchen and cook a meal with you. It will be a fun exercise for the kids and they are sure to enjoy it a lot. Eating meals that you have cooked together always helps in fostering a strong bond among family members and also gives you a chance to communicate freely with your kids. This is why psychologists recommend families eating their meals together.

4. Watch Movies Together

Watching movies together with theentire family is also an activity that can strengthen ties among family members. You can watch movies picked either by you or your children. The idea is to enjoy a movie with the kids and to discuss the important lessons that the movie teaches. Remember to have some popcorn ready when watching the movie and make sure that the movies are family-oriented and can give some sort of a message to the kids. Movies, likeToy Story 2, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, How to Train Your Dragon, Hugo, A Bug’s Life and Spy Kids, are some of the movies that you can watch with your kids.

5. Reading and Painting

Reading a favorite book together is also a great way of uniting family. Pick out a story that is loved by all the family members and ask one of members to read it aloud. You can take turns to read the story as well. You can also ask the children to paint and makeself portraits. Give the children paints and colors and let them loose. You can always join them while they are making it and help them in creating the perfect portrait. After they have finished, hang the portraits on walls, telling everyone how artistic your kids are.

6. Go Camping

Going on a camping trip with kids can prove to be a great exercise which brings all of you together and strengthen the bond between you and your kids. Remember to brush up on your story telling skills before going on a camping trip so that you can keep your children entertained. With so many apps available to you on your phone, you can also educate your child about the natural wildlife while on your camping trip.

7. Take Exercise and Do Sport Together

Exercising and doing a sport together is a great way of spending quality time with your kids. Not only will it help you in keeping your family fit and healthy, but it will also provide a fun activity that you can all participate in. It can offer you the chance to teach some important life lessons to your kids as well. You can play any kind of team sport that the entire family is interested in, such as going for a bike ride if you and your kids are into biking.

8. Play Some Games

  • Board Games

Board games like Checkers, Scrabble and Monopoly can be ideal family games that you can play with your kids. They can help you in keeping your children entertained and improve their strategy skill, word building and money skills, etc.

  • Q&A

Invent interesting questions about your family’s likes and dislikes and write them down on card paper. Write the answers of these questions on the backside of these cards and begin the game. The person who answers the all questions correctly wins.

  • Kick the Can

This is a fun game in which more than four people can participate at once. One child has to kick a can and count till a hundred while the other hide. Then the kicker has to search for them after setting the can straight. The gameends when all the hiding people are captured by the kicker.

  • Scavenger Hunt

Going on a scavenger hunt is also a great game that you can play with your kids. The items of the scavenger hunt can be anything and the reward can be a dollar or any memorable items.

via the spruce: Raise a responsible child who’s happy to help out, not reluctant to pitch in. With some patience and a few parenting tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be well on your way to raising a responsible child who becomes a responsible adult.

Assign Age-Appropriate Tasks
Everyone in your house can be given specific tasks to teach them responsibility. Even your toddlers can help out and starting them young makes it easier to hand them even more responsibility as they grow older.

Assign age-appropriate tasks around the house. Preschoolers can dust with socks over their hands. Older kids can help empty the dishwasher, vacuum or set the table for dinner.

Lay Out Each Family Member’s Responsibilities
You can give your newborn a pass on taking responsibility right now. But your two year old can still get involved and be one of your tiny helpers.

Lay out each family member’s responsibilities ahead of time to get everyone on the same page. Even Mom and Dad can be listed on chore charts and weekly calendars so the whole family knows everything that each other does to make your household run smoothly.

Praise Them for Taking Responsibility
A job well done deserves praise. We often forget to add in the praise for each task kids complete because we don’t get that same praise every time we wipe down a kitchen counter or empty out the dryer’s lint trap. But as our children are learning what responsibility is, we need to be sure we’re there to praise them for a job well done when they pick their clothes up off the floor and dust their furniture.We often forget to add in the praise for each task kids complete because we don’t get that same praise every time we wipe down a kitchen counter or empty out the dryer’s lint trap.

But as our children are learning what responsibility is, we need to be sure we’re there to praise them for a job well done when they pick their clothes up off the floor and dust their furniture.

Avoid Constant Rewards
Do you get free ice cream every time you mop? Keep this in mind as you try to raise a responsible child.

Instead of promising your child a candy bar if she takes out the trash, let her feel the reward of taking responsibility without having to be bribed. You can surprise your kids with rewards or reward them one day a week but don’t carry around a pocket full of candy so you can dole a piece out every time one of your kids does something they’ve been told to do.

Use Reward Tools Wisely
There are so many tools you can use to outline responsibilities, mark those achievements and work toward a goal or reward without having to take the route above of bribing and giving your child something every single time she does something that you’ve defined as her role in your household.

Look for household responsibility charts. Many have space for all of the kids in your house in one spot so you don’t have to buy separate charts for each child. One favorite is the Magnetic Reward Responsibility / Behavior Chart that accommodates up to three children. This great chart comes with pre-printed responsibilities you use, such as “brush my teeth” and “finish my homework.” But it also comes with blanks you can write on with the included dry erase pen so you can customize the responsibilities. Each child gets a color star to place in the box when they’ve completed that responsibility and at the bottom they get to define the goal they’re working toward once they complete all responsibilities, like “go out for an ice cream” or “get a new book” when they reach a certain level of stars.

Let Your Children Feel the Consequences of Not Taking Responsibility
What would happen if you stopped cleaning the house, taking the kids everywhere they needed to be or didn’t brush your teeth anymore? Of course you’re going to fulfill your responsibilities and you can make sure your kids do too.

We tend to ride our kids to get this and that done — those chores and other responsibilities that we’ve laid out so many times, yet they seem to keep forgetting. Of course, you don’t want your child to fail science by not reminding her to study for her test but there are other responsibilities you can simply let her ignore and feel the consequences of not taking the responsibility to do them. Before you get started on laying out your child’s responsibilities, let her know what those consequences will be.

You can do this as one continuing consequence, like not completing those five responsibilities each week results in a loss of TV or you can set those consequences week by week based on the activities you have going on at the time.

Take a Step Back
We know what would happen if we shirked our responsibilities and we don’t want our kids to neglect their responsibilities either. It can be incredibly frustrating when your child seems to not hear you or to flat out ignore you, though.

But it’s important to take a step back. Don’t lose your cool and bark about how important their responsibilities are. You want them to enjoy being responsible, not resentful of it.

Be Patient
It will take time for your children to master their responsibilities. They’re still kids and it will take time for them to remember their responsibilities and fully understand their importance.

Your guidance is crucial when you want to raise a responsible child who becomes a responsible adult. But it needs to be done in a nurturing way that encourages them to participate and actually gets them excited about contributing. Otherwise, your child starts to see responsibilities as something they’re getting in trouble for instead of something that’s actually rewarding. Pick your battles and remember raising a responsible child is a long-term goal that won’t be completed overnight.

Via Aha! Parenting: Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child

Have a strong-willed child? You’re lucky! Strong willed children can be a challenge when they’re young, but if sensitively parented, they become terrific teens and young adults. Self-motivated and inner-directed, they go after what they want and are almost impervious to peer pressure. As long as parents resist the impulse to “break their will,” strong-willed kids often become leaders.

What exactly is a strong-willed child? Some parents call them “difficult” or “stubborn,” but we could also see strong-willed kids as people of integrity who aren’t easily swayed from their own viewpoints. Strong-willed kids are spirited and courageous. They want to learn things for themselves rather than accepting what others say, so they test the limits over and over. They want desperately to be “in charge” of themselves, and will sometimes put their desire to “be right” above everything else. When their heart is set on something, their brains seem to have a hard time switching gears. Strong-willed kids have big, passionate feelings and live at full throttle.

Often, strong-willed kids are prone to power-struggles with their parents. However, it takes two to have a power struggle. You don’t have to attend every argument to which you’re invited! If you can take a deep breath when your buttons get pushed, and remind yourself that you can let your child save face and still get what you want, you can learn to sidestep those power struggles. (Don’t let your four year old make you act like a four year old yourself.)

No one likes being told what to do, but strong-willed kids find it unbearable. Parents can avoid power struggles by helping the child feel understood even as the parent sets limits. Try empathizing, giving choices, and understanding that respect goes both ways. Looking for win/win solutions rather than just laying down the law keeps strong-willed children from becoming explosive and teaches them essential skills of negotiation and compromise.

Strong-willed kids aren’t just being difficult. They feel their integrity is compromised if they’re forced to submit to another person’s will. If they’re allowed to choose, they love to cooperate. If this bothers you because you think obedience is an important quality, I’d ask you to reconsider. Of course you want to raise a responsible, considerate, cooperative child who does the right thing, even when it’s hard. But that doesn’t imply obedience. That implies doing the right thing because you want to.

Morality is doing what’s right, no matter what you’re told. Obedience is doing what you’re told, no matter what’s right.
– H.L. Mencken

So of course you want your child to do what you say. But not because he’s obedient, meaning that he always does what someone bigger tells him to do. No, you want him to do what you say because he trusts YOU, because he’s learned that even though you can’t always say yes to what he wants, you have his best interests at heart. You want to raise a child who has self-discipline, takes responsibility, and is considerate — and most important, has the discernment to figure out who to trust and when to be influenced by someone else.

Breaking a child’s will leaves him open to the influence of others who often will not serve his highest interests. What’s more, it’s a betrayal of the spiritual contract we make as parents.

That said, strong-willed kids can be a handful — high energy, challenging, persistent. How do we protect those fabulous qualities and encourage their cooperation?

Eleven Tips for Peaceful Parenting Your Strong-Willed, Spirited Child

1. Remember that strong-willed kids are experiential learners.

That means they have to see for themselves if the stove is hot. So unless you’re worried about serious injury, it’s more effective to let them learn through experience, instead of trying to control them. And you can expect your strong-willed child to test your limits repeatedly–that’s how he learns. Once you know that, it’s easier to stay calm, which avoids wear and tear on your relationship–and your nerves.

2. Your strong-willed child wants mastery more than anything.

Let her take charge of as many of her own activities as possible. Don’t nag at her to brush her teeth; ask “What else do you need to do before we leave?” If she looks blank, tick off the short list: “Every morning we eat, brush teeth, use the toilet, and pack the backpack. I saw you pack your backpack, that’s terrific! Now, what do you still need to do before we leave?” Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves will have less need to be oppositional. Not to mention, they take responsibility early.

3. Give your strong-willed child choices.

If you give orders, he will almost certainly bristle. If you offer a choice, he feels like the master of his own destiny. Of course, only offer choices you can live with and don’t let yourself get resentful by handing away your power. If going to the store is non-negotiable and he wants to keep playing, an appropriate choice is:

“Do you want to leave now or in ten minutes? Okay, ten minutes with no fuss? Let’s shake on it….And since it could be hard to stop playing in ten minutes, what can we do to make it easier for you in ten minutes?”

4. Give her authority over her own body.

“I hear that you don’t want to wear your jacket today. I think it’s cold and I am definitely wearing a jacket. Of course, you are in charge of your own body, as long as you stay safe and healthy, so you get to decide whether to wear a jacket. But I’m afraid that you will be cold once we are outside, and I won’t want to come back to the house. How about I put your jacket in the backpack, and then we’ll have it if you change your mind?”

She’s not going to get pneumonia, unless you push her into it by acting like you’ve won if she asks for the jacket. And once she won’t lose face by wearing her jacket, she’ll be begging for it once she gets cold. It’s just hard for her to imagine feeling cold when she’s so warm right now in the house, and a jacket feels restrictive and hot. She’s sure she’s right — her own body is telling her so — so naturally she resists you. You don’t want to undermine that self-confidence, just teach her that there’s no shame in letting new information change her mind.

5. Avoid power struggles by using routines and rules.

That way, you aren’t the bad guy bossing them around, it’s just that

“The rule is we use the potty after every meal and snack,” or “The schedule is that lights-out is at 8pm. If you hurry, we’ll have time for two books,” or “In our house, we finish homework before screen time.”

6. Don’t push him into opposing you.

Force always creates “push-back” — with humans of all ages. If you take a hard and fast position, you can easily push your child into defying you, just to prove a point. You’ll know when it’s a power struggle and you’re invested in winning. Just stop, take a breath, and remind yourself that winning a battle with your child always sets you up to lose what’s most important: the relationship. When in doubt say:

“Ok, you can decide this for yourself.”

If he can’t, then say what part of it he can decide, or find another way for him to meet his need for autonomy without compromising his health or safety.

7. Side-step power struggles by letting your child save face.

You don’t have to prove you’re right. You can, and should, set reasonable expectations and enforce them. But under no circumstances should you try to break your child’s will or force him to acquiesce to your views. He has to do what you want, but he’s allowed to have his own opinions and feelings about it.

8. Listen to her.

You, as the adult, might reasonably presume you know best. But your strong-willed child has a strong will partly as a result of her integrity. She has a viewpoint that is making her hold fast to her position, and she is trying to protect something that seems important to her. Only by listening calmly to her and reflecting her words will you come to understand what’s making her oppose you. When your child resists taking a bath, for instance, start with non-judgmental acknowledgment and curiosity:

“I hear that you don’t want to take a bath. Can you tell me more about why?”

You might elicit the information (as I did with my three year old Alice) that she’s afraid she’ll go down the drain, like Alice in the song. It may not seem like a good reason to you, but she has a reason. And you won’t find it out if you get into a clash and order her into the tub.

9. See it from his point of view.

For instance, he may be angry because you promised to wash his superman cape and then forgot. To you, he is being stubborn. To him, he is justifiably upset, and you are being hypocritical, because he is not allowed to break his promises to you, but you broke yours to him. How do you clear this up and move on? You apologize sincerely for breaking your promise, you reassure him that you try very hard to keep your promises, and you go, together, to wash the cape. You might even teach him how to wash his own clothes so you’re not in this position in the future and he’s empowered. Just consider how would you want to be treated, and treat him accordingly.

10. Discipline through the relationship, never through punishment.

Kids don’t learn when they’re in the middle of a fight. Like all of us, that’s when adrenaline is pumping and learning shuts off. So instead of trying to teach at those emotional moments, take a deep breath and connect. Kids cooperate because there’s something they want more than getting their way in the moment — they want that warm relationship with us. The more you fight with and punish your child, the more you undermine her desire to protect that warm connection with you. If she’s upset, help her express her hurt, fear or disappointment, so they evaporate. Then she’ll be ready to listen to you when you remind her that in your house, everyone speaks kindly to each other. (Of course, you have to model that. Your child won’t always do what you say, but she will always, eventually, do what you do.)

11. Offer him respect and empathy.

Most strong-willed children are fighting for respect. If you offer it to them, they don’t need to fight to protect their position. And, like the rest of us, it helps a lot if they feel understood. If you see his point of view and think he’s wrong — for instance, he wants to wear the Superman cape to church and you think that’s inappropriate — you can still offer him empathy and meet him part way while you set the limit.

“You love this cape and wish you could wear it, don’t you? But when we go to services we dress up to show respect, so we can’t wear the cape. I know you’ll miss wearing it. How about we take it with us so you can wear it on our way home?”

Does this sound like Permissive Parenting? It isn’t. You set limits. But you set them with understanding of your child’s perspective, which makes her more cooperative. There’s just never any reason to be mean about it!