Tools For Learning

Inspiration for Parents & Educators

Current Parenting Trends


With the many demands of family life today, many busy and stressed parents are relying on current parenting trends not often favored or employed by parents in the past, namely TV Babysitting, Helicopter Parenting, and Child-Led Parenting to help the households to run more smoothly.

While I personally understand how difficult it is to satisfy your family’s needs as well as your own, I am, however, a proponent of a middle-of-the-road approach to each of these current parenting trends. Unusual times call for unusual methods but in moderation….that is the key to successful parent-child interactions and most important great parent-child relationships.


I think most moms and dads will agree that the TV can be an enticing babysitter. With so many entertaining, educational programs available today, permitting your kids to watch TV exposes and teaches them many new things they would not ordinarily come across at their young age in your home.
What is important when using the TV as a babysitter is to balance this popular current parenting trend with social interaction that is crucial to developing well-rounded kids.


I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “helicopter parenting”. This current parenting trend describes parents who hover over kids, ready to fly in and save the day for even the slightest issue. From arguing with teachers who they think have “offended” their kids, to making every choice and decision for their kids. How exhausting that would be for any parent and especially how embarrassing it would be for the kids. Children need to learn to make their own decisions and fight their own battles. It’s perfectly OK to step in, and sometimes interject yourself in some situations that you know that your kids could be physically or emotionally harmed. A good rule of thumb is to first ask your younger kids if they need some help in handling a tricky situation that you’re observing.


Child-Led Parenting is a current parenting trend when parents are super sensitive to their kids’ needs. If kids give a parent a hard time at the set bedtime, the parent would permit them to go to bed when they want. Mealtime is another example, kids would choose what they want to eat and when. The main idea with this current parenting trend is that kids are not machines and should be given freedom to make their own choices.

While I strongly believe that kids should be given 2-3 manageable choices of their parents’ choosing, but I can see that this parenting trend could be very disruptive to a smooth family schedule and environment. Young kids developmentally can’t possibly understand that a set mealtime and sleep schedule is necessary for the overall smooth running of the household. Although there are times when a concession is in good order, but not a steady diet of the kids setting the household rules! It can also present an undesirable situation where the kids rule the home, rather than the other way around! Remember, everything, every current parenting trend should
be employed with good judgement, discretion, and above all moderation.

What do you think about the current parenting trends? Do you employ any one of them? Are they successful in your given situation? How?

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Quality Conversations with Kids

imageListening to the quality conversations of my preschool granddaughter with her mom and dad amazes me with her use of big words in correct context. It started me wondering about quality vs quantity of words in young kids conversations with peers and adults. So I did a little research.

What I found out is a growing body of research conducted by Dr. Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University suggests that the quality conversations with kids and their parents is of much greater importance than the number of words a child hears. It’s all about having fluid quality conversations with kids around shared rituals and objects, like pretending to have a tea party, or using a play telephone to have conversation with dad at work. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek says that this is the stuff from which great language is made.

In a previous University of Kansas study found that in quality conversations with kids, parental tone, responsiveness, and use of symbols affected a child’s I.Q. and vocabulary. So what can you do as a busy parent daily with your kids to further the quality of language in conversations? The answer is easy and doable: speak in diverse ways: use different verb tenses and elaborate more. Instead of just saying “the man”, try adding adjectives:”the big, tall young man”. These two tips will help your kid’s cognitive development. Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner is a great time to start modeling interactive quality conversations with kids.Include your kids in your family discussions, no matter how young they are. Rephrase sentences using simpler words for your toddlers so they can have an understanding of your discussions. What a powerful thing to do to raise the quality not only of their language but also of their knowledge and their understanding of words.

I always say:”Listen, really listen to your kids and what they have to say. If you don’t listen to the little things they say to you when they’re little, they won’t share the big things when they’re older.” Now, I would like to add to this and say:
“Talk to your kids, really talk to them and include them in your family time quality conversations with kids!” Observe what happens. Their vocabulary and understanding of words will grow and have meaning in their own conversations with you and others. And sometimes their use of words in context with amaze you and sometimes provide you with a good laugh!

A couple of weeks ago when I was babysitting my 3 year old granddaughter, she asked for what she terms a midnight snack before she goes to bed. We had a late dinner that evening so I filled her favorite blue cereal bowl up about only 1/4 full with her most liked cereal. To my surprise she said to me:
“Gigi, you’re ‘killing’me! Please give me more. I’m really, really hungry!” To my amazement, she heard, learned, and understood how to use this unexpected phrase in correct, perfect context. I wonder still where she learned that particular phrase. But what I do know for certain is that she or someone else was engaging in a conversation with someone that was not pleased in anyway, shape, or form, and she learned through that interaction how to use those words appropriately.

A note to the wise parent: Be careful and mindful of the particular words you share in your quality conversations with kids! If you don’t they may come back someday and haunt you! And by the way:”Happy Halloween!”

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The Joy of the Present


The joy of being occurs in the present!

We  all want true joy in our lives! So, what’s the problem? Why don’t we have the joy and happiness that we seek to enjoy fulfilled lives?

We all spend a great deal of our lives hoping and dreaming about how wonderful our lives would be if only we lost those extra pounds, had a rewarding job, enjoyed well behaved kids, or perhaps owned a large bank account. Some of us on the other hand remenisce how wonderful things were when we were younger, when we didn’t have these health issues, and when there was time when all we had to do was put our minds to do something, and miraculously we had all the energy and resources to make it all come about in a timely manner.  At times we fluctuate between these 2 types of thinking and we’re all wrapped up in knots, stopped in our tracks, and not knowing what to do now, or where to turn. We all falsely believe that our joy depends on others and situations beyond our control, or worst yet, on fate! When we subscribe to this destructive mindset, we can’t possibily realize how amazing our lives are right now.

To clarify things just a bit, the past is just the past – whether it was 10 seconds, 10 minutes, or 10 years ago and the future is not real!; it hasn’t occured yet, and the chances that it turns out how we envisioned is slim to none. When our thoughts are primarily in the past or future, we rob ourselves of endless possibilities by not totally living in the present. Living in the present is a state of mind, not unlike happiness. Living in the future is easy because we believe all our hopes and dreams will come true at some time or other. This illusion may keep us going for a while, but as illisuions go, they may never, ever come into being.We can’t count on the future to provide the environment that offers us the satisfaction that we currently lack. While we’re planning to be happy in the future, other things happen, both good and bad. Life happens! Life doesn’t stand still because we’ve made up our minds that things as we’ve planned them will turn out exactly the way we want. Time is only an illusion. The more we are focused  on either past or future events, the more we miss the abundance that is right in front of us all along.

The joy of being occurs in the present!





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A Kids’ Best Gift


Ever wonder what the best gift you can give your kids? The most powerful motivator and a kids best gift is you and your undivided attention. The moments you spend talking and listening to your kids will make them feel loved and encouraged to do their best. Your kids  have a profound desire for you to be there for them. No matter what you d0, it is never enough—-if you neglect just being there with and for them totally in the moment when you are both together.

Your usual loving gifts for your kids come in guises of presenting them with new and cutting information, providing them with enrichment activities, and giving them every possible material thing in your power. However, all these wonderful things are not what they really need or want: YOU! You think that these gifts  will satisfy their desires and make you feel better. The reality of the situation is that all you do and give them is not what they truly desire. Furthermore, You will not feel as complete or validated in all this “doing” as you once thought.

Take a moment and ask yourself what do your kids really need and want from you? What is the best gift you can give  your kids?

Ask them if you’re not quite sure. They will tell you every time. Prepare yourself for the answers. They may surprise you!

In a recent survey,  the fact that only 10% percent of the kids surveyed said they wished for more time with mom and 15% answered that they wanted more time with dad. Because your full attention is what kids need and the best gift you can give them, it is so important to make every effort to give more attention during the time you spend with them. Quality is much more important than quantity of time. The survey also revealed that what most kids wished that their moms and dads are less stressed and tired when they are together. Only 2% of the parents guessed that the kids would respond in that way!

You have in your repertoire all the knowledge and  strategies needed to  give your kids the best gift ever: YOU! Don’t ever underestimate your influence to get your kids excited and motivated. That excitement can turn into the necessary motivation that will last far into their wonderful future.

Give the best gift to your kids: YOU! —– The gift that doesn’t cost anything but is so priceless! 

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10 Steps to Build a Kids’ Motivation

Tools for Learning ApprovedThe desire to become motivated comes early in life. Kids naturally want to compete, where they stand with others, and desire real goals even if they are only short term. Few Pre-K students are reluctant learners; The real problem of motivation for academic learning usually comes much later.

Using theses 10 steps to build a kids motivation will be a gradual, ongoing process requiring some insight and patience on your part. They must know what worthwhile effort is and must be assisted to discriminate between good and poor effort. Kids must come to realize that you approve of their best efforts even if they don’t always succeed. Appreciation motivates kids to do their best. They try harder when they know you are pleased with their hard work and achievement.

1. Expect the best from kids. Keep in mind their unique talents and needs. Tell them often: ” I knew you could do it!” “Always do your best!”

2. Set limits for acceptable behavior.  “After you finish your project/chores you can can watch your favorite show.”

3. Communicate confident expectations of success based on individual potential. “You played so nicely in school today, I’m sure your always be kind to your friends.”

4. Acknowledge kids’ feelings. Listen, really listen, to their fears, annoyances, and anger, as well as to their achievements and joys. Positive motivation requires that all emotional space not be occupied by any negative feelings. Allow your calmness to quiet any negative emotions.

5. Be specific when you priase children’s efforts. “Your handwriting is so neat and easy to read!” instead of ” Your writing looks good!”

6. Be consistent in your approval or disapproval. If kids are praised for something. the absence of comments the next time they repeat the same behavior may be misconstrued and taken as disapproval. If you ignore behavior that they have been reprimanded for before, it may be taken as permission to continue it.

7. Give many opportunities to make choices. Help kids to become independent with your support.

8. Give concrete rewards! Adults work for them:  money, promotions, and status. Kids, often, but not always, need such rewards. Too often, more is expected of kids than adults. Use your disctretion when choosing rewards. Tangible rewards alone though, often fail. They are most effective when coupled with intangible ones such as praise, a “high five”, or an enthusiatic pat on the back.

High Five

9. Set goals and celebrate kids’ achievements. This helps motivate them for their next goal.

10. Tell kids they are great!. Back up your words with actions. Show them you care about them everyday in everyway. Be there for them in the moment. Even if you are away at a conference or working late, let them know you will check on their progress in your absence.

Above all “Lighten Up!”   Kids always choose to be with a relaxed, less stressed parent or teacher, and value that model of behavior much more than a home-cooked meal, or a spotlessly clean home. Be good to yourself and your kids. Their motivation will flourish in your watchful eyes. Get them excited about the important things: eating healthy food, getting along with others, completing assigned work, and always putting forth their best effort always. That excitement will be the very thing that can turn into motivation that will last a lifetime for them!

Photo by Sean Dreilinger,,  – high five from an unknown cheering parent

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How Important Is Your Mother/Daughter Relationship?

Mother daughter relationships are special

Mother daughter relationships are special

Being a mom is hard work! It’s not just all the things on your to-do list, and never having enough time to do it all.  It’s also the feeling that what you’re doing or not doing will somehow harm your child, and where do you go for some direction?

A recent study from the University of  Georgia shed some light on this subject. It reported that even more than other family dynamics the mother/daughter relationship determines a girl’s future relationship skills and self-esteem. When mothers are not judgmental or critical of their daughters they are more likely to develop good social skills, and healthy attitudes towards food, as compared to less-supportive moms.

This study raises awareness of the mom’s role in the daughters’ self-views, mental health, and social graces. The mother/daughter relationship is important in a number of ways. It’s a girl’s first experience of an intimate relationship, and through this mother/daughter relationship, girl’s learn about trust, about connection and separation, about who they are as individuals, and putting another’s need before one’s own.

It’s all about communication to ensure a strong mother daughter relationship bond. Focus on the positive. Make the most of your converstaions; be construstive rather than critical. Focus on helping her enhance her decision-making skills rather than the error of her ways  from what’s she’s wearing to making social and emotional decisions.  Don’t focus on weight, focus on a healthy lifestyle and consider the mind, body, and spirit connection. Remember, even if you’re not talking directly to your daughter, she will pick up on and learn from what you say to yourself and others.


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5 Tips for Staying Sane as a Stay-At-Home Mom

If not completely exhausting, being a stay-at-home mom can be physically and emotionally challenging. The tasks of chasing after toddlers, constantly cleaning up, prepping dinners, juggling household chores, grocery shopping, and trying to console a crying infant can stress out even the strongest of moms. It’s important to take small steps to keep you  from losing your grip and stay balanced. In raising resilient, happy, physically and emotionally kids self-preservation is the key. No, this is not selfishness at all! After discussing this issue with moms who have made the important decision to be “career” stay-at-home parents I have tried and successful key tips for stay-at-home Moms.

5 Tips for Staying Sane as a Stay-at home Moms

1. Wake up early – before everyone else. Take this precious quiet time to exercise, shower, and prepare/plan for the day ahead.

2. Get out of the house with the kids. Run short errands together, have a picnic lunch in the park with other moms, unwind at the playground, go to the pool for a couple of hours before the kids’ naps, build a snowman, join a play group.Take a brisk walk. You get the picture! Socialization is imperative for emotional health for both moms and kids.

3. Prepare a daily schedule. Don’t put things off until they seem insurmountable tasks. However, don’t cram too many chores in any one day. Pace yourself. That’s the beauty of making a schedule and sticking to it. If you can, and it’s appropriate, include your children in the work to be done, even if it is in some small way. It only takes a few well designed designated moments to get on the ball.

4. Cut out a least one chore for your schedule. I successfully cut out ironing. I only bought wash and wear, wrinkle free clothes.  Perhaps get your partner on board. Give him/her a important chore that you absolutely dislike. Try it, it’s worth a try.

5. Take time for yourself. Take a class one evening a week. Rest when your kids rest, if at all possible. Get a babysitter and meet friends for lunch. It is important for you to find quality time for yourself, and develop your own interests.

6. You, more than anyone else, know your stressors. Think up a creative way to work around , rearrange your schedule, and relieve unnecessary stress from your busy life. Above all be flexible!

I hope these tips will help you gain more time and stay sane while being a stay-at-home Mom!

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