New Perspective for the New Year

What if all the things we think are important really didn’t matter at all….?

I know that thinking like this might rock your world but
what if…
your child’s grades & getting inducted into the gifted class or national honor society didn’t matter?
what if…
how your child performed on the STEM classes or AP exam didn’t matter?
what if…
having all the cool people sit with your child at the lunch table didn’t matter?
what if 
scoring the winning touch down or making the select soccer team didn’t matter?
The world is telling you that all this stuff matters.
The world is telling parents that signing our kids up for soccer at age three is important.
The world is telling parents that spending money on expensive preschools is essential.
The world is telling parents that it is key to keep your child busy in all kinds of enrichment.

What if all this didn’t matter because the only thing that mattered was that you
taught your child to behave, 

encouraged your child to be kind and giving
instilled in your child a sense of rules and boundaries and respect for authority
spent quality time with your child undistracted by the hub bub of the world.
allowed your child to suffer through loss and you didn’t give in so they could avoid pain

What if being a resourceful, reflective, and responsive parent was all that mattered?
What if all parents started to focus on this most important job?
What kind of children would show up on the doorsteps of our schools?
What kind of children would be playing and participating on our rec. sports teams?
How would this affect the outcomes at school and sports and extra curriculars?
I believe that in the end kids would do better on their AP exams, be more likely to get good grades, do better on the soccer field and succeed in all those things we mentioned above if they could just learn to behave.

In the end wouldn’t everyone ensure success for our children if we focused more on teaching children to get along and less on the skills that the world is telling us are important.  I truly believe that all kids can do well at all things when they learn to behave, when they begin to get along, when they learn to listen to authority and to their peers, and when we focus on the skills that are more human and less worldly.

Give your Child the Gifts they Need…

Give attention to your child in the smallest ways every day and all day…
– catch them being good
-catch them when they need you and look them in the eye and listen
-put your phone down or distractions away and be there and be present
-lead them side by side coaching them as they build independence on new and different tasks
-spend time doing what they are interested in, connecting to what they love even if it is just for 5 minutes
Give attention to your child in the smallest ways every day and all day
So, when they need BIG attention you will be ready
Give law, order, rules, routine, boundaries and correct your child with rules and routines in small ways every day and all day
-zero tolerance for hurting, fussing and disrespect
-nip the small behaviors like: rolling eyes, talking back, ignoring
-set up rules and boundaries on day to day procedures and routines
-keep a tight ship on what matters most even if it seems small
Give law, order, rules, routine, boundaries, and correct your child with rules and routines in small ways every day and all day
So, when they mess up in BIG ways they will be ready and know that you mean what you say.

Raising them to Leave the Nest…by Renee Mattson, M.Ed.

In 6 months, our oldest child Evy will be turning 16 and be able to drive. She will be behind the wheel as Toby and I sit teeth-clenched beside our little lady bug with her “Temps”.  YIKES!!! I know we will be gritting our teeth for lots of reasons beyond the mere fact that a 15 year old is driving us down the highway with minimal to no skills… DOUBLE YIKES!!!  But mostly because we know it’s the beginning of the end in terms of our time with Evy in our nest.

She has almost 2 years of high school under her belt and here we are with only a few years left with her in our home…I pause as I type this wrapping my brain around how our family will change and did we do everything we were suppose to do to prep her for her way…and the answer is a resounding YES.  Honestly, Toby and I have joked for years that Evy has always been more mature than her mom and dad, but is she ready to face the real challenges that life will most certainly bring her way.

What are the skills we dreamed we would give her…

  • How to be a friend... that is loyal and patient and kind and brings joy to others
  • How to speak up when things are not right... to save a friend or stranger
  • How to work diligently so that you can attain the things you dream of
  • How to bounce back and try try again when things don’t go your way or you mess up
  • How to Pause and take time for yourself... go for a run, take a well deserved nap, regroup
How did it happen that I REALLY feel confident that she is ready to leave the nest?
I can’t quantify it… I can’t qualify it…
I can’t name a time or place where each skill was gained,
but I know she is ready.  I know that we can safely let her go.She knows boundaries and knows her conscience… She knows how to judge right from wrong and listens to her gut…. Maybe at first the gut response was her knowledge of what things fit within the boundaries of our family and so maybe this is where our parenting came in…
We allowed for flexible thinking, but we ALWAYS tried to have clear boundaries of STOP and GO behaviors. 

She knows that actions are always followed by consequences … She realized that she could choose to do all kinds of things and she also realized that with that power in choice she also had to take on the consequences of her choice.
We tried to step out of the way and let the consequences do their job.

She knows she can count on her parents for consistent follow through and support.  If we promise we deliver (positively and negatively).  If we set the boundary and consequence we follow through, if she does something successfully we are there to help her celebrate ALWAYS.  We focused more on her recovery skills than her choices.
We realized that it was inevitable that she would ebb and flow between mess and success and we tried to be the steady current that kept her afloat.  

I can now see that the one thing that mattered most for Evy is that:

We tried!!
We tried and tried…again and again.
Continually messing up
Continually figuring it out as we go along and
Continually using her as our little guinea pig.

So that a year from now she will drive off out of driveway only to head to a friend’s house without us in the car… and then a few years later head down the highway on her way to her dorm room and so on and so on. Continually figuring it out along her way knowing that we are here as a continual steady current of support and we will never stop trying as we ebb and flow through parenting mess and parenting success.

We hope that you will see Child in Bloom coaches as steady current of support as you keep trying…remember that we are parents too, learning along the way and with many tips and tools of support that can help pave the way to positive parenting.

A Clean Slate by Rachel Caswell

We all make mistakes and need second chances. We give our friends, coworkers, loved ones do overs. We offer forgiveness and a chance to try again.

As parents, we need to give our kids that same opportunity. We need to give them the chance to fail and try again. But, I know it can be tough when we get caught up in the frustrations of misbehavior.

Our two year old daughter has had a tough weekend for a number of reasons. She’s starting to test the waters to see what she can get away with. When we asked her not to touch our coffee cup, she stared at us and kept tapping it. When we asked her to sit at the table to eat her breakfast, she reached for her bowl, looked us in the eyes, and turned it upside down.

Parenting is hard, but we can offer second chances.

I heard my husband talking to my daughter in the other room. He said, “How about a clean slate?” “Let’s start over.” As I listened to him, I smiled. It had been a tough morning, but he was at a place where he wanted our daughter to get a second chance. A clean slate. A do-over.

Child in Bloom teaches parents the importance of letting kids rewind and try their behavior again. What a valuable lesson for our kids and us big kids too. Sometimes we just need a clean slate.

Let’s all go into this week giving our kids a chance to rewind and try again to succeed.

The Problems Just Keep Coming… Give your Child Solutions and Tools to Help

The problems just keep coming…No matter how we try to avoid the road blocks that stand in the way of our child’s life it is bound to happen that they come across a problem and they will need skills to solve around it.

The worst thing we can do as parents is to constantly problem solve for them, instead we need to focus on giving them chances to practice critical thinking skills on their own.

This means we might have to sit back and watch them suffer and struggle a little.  The suffering and struggling is good for them.  It helps them to become critical thinkers and resilient to the point that they can bounce back from the problems easier and easier with each new experience because like we said earlier…the problems will keep coming.

Recently, one of my long time Child in Bloom fans emailed me for some books to use to help kids learn to problem solve.  Here are the books I mentioned to her:

My favorite… Battlefield of the Mind for Kids  by Joyce Meyer (there are some religious, Christian themes to this which goes nicely if you are looking for a faith based approach to problem solving).

Great Ideas and Activities that are Kid Friendly… The Survival Guide for Kids with Behavior Challenges  by Dr. Tom McIntyre  (This is about how to make good choices and stay out of trouble, but I have to admit I DO NOT like the title of this because I think this book good for ALL kids and I can’t imagine any child wanting to read a book titled this way… Still, it is a great book!)

The American Girl Series has some great troubleshooting books for friendship, safety and simply growing up.

Look for books on Conflict Resolution

Here is a great book on parenting that has some wonderful ideas on creating problem solving kiddos… Thinking Parent… Thinking Child

I love this book as a teacher (I used to use it in my classroom way back when…) Teaching Conflict Resolution Through Children’s Literature It is a list of great activities and literature books that support conflict resolution and critical thinking.



“Name it to Tame it” written by Abby Hottle SLP and Renee Mattson  M.Ed.


“Name it to Tame it”

It’s a phrase coined by Dr. Daniel Siegle, author of The Whole Brain Child, No Drama Discipline and co-founder of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. Name it to tame it is a great strategy to help your child conquer and identify with their big emotions. Are they feeling scared? Are they angry? This is where you can come in an create a meaningful, teachable moment to support your child by identifying what he or she is feeling. The act of being able to put a name on a big emotion is therapeutic and healing.

Consider helping your child come to the conclusion on their own, for example, thinking out loud by saying something such as, “I wonder if you’re feeling scared about going back to school?” or “It sounds like you are feeling mad.”  or “I can see from your face (or body language) that you are sad.”

For some children who have more challenges understanding and using a lot of language, offer less words. For example, “You’re mad!”

Remember that it can be tricky to process a lot of words at a time when a child is experiencing a big emotion.  This can happen even when they are super excited.
Try to cater your language to their specific needs.

Name it to tame it works best after connecting with your child.
First Offer a hug, a gentle touch, or some sort of physical touch.
Then Name it to Tame it.

Name it to tame it also applies to behavior. Let’s name the behavior and increase the child’s awareness and understanding of what they are doing. For example,
We don’t “talk nasty.”
We don’t ” grab toys”
We don’t “have hurtful hands”

Without naming it we end up running in circles, and generalities that we can’t exactly pinpoint.
Without pinpointing we are not able to zero in on what it is we do not want to happen anymore.

The same can be true when we are trying to identify what we want…

Be Nice
Be a Good Boy
Be Kind

These are all honorable expectations but way too general for little ones to understand.
So next time specifically name what it is you are looking for.

We use kind words to talk to our family and get what we need.

We wait our turn instead of grabbing toys from our friends.

We use our hands to play and show what we need but never to hurt.

The same is true for naming routines or special things you do with your family.
If there is a specific name for the routine or special activity we are much more likely to hold to it and follow through on doing it regularly. The naming of it helps us to hold tight to it – name it, tame it… claim it!  When we name what we want or don’t want from our kids it is easier to function as a family.

Remember naming it is the first step, and  then you really need to
Teach Model and Practice new things to do in an effort to replace the old behavior.

Name it.
Teach it.
Model it.
Practice it.
Replace the old named behavior with the new named behavior!


“Two Steps Forward, Look…Two Steps Backwards” by Renee Mattson M.Ed.

Many times couples will call us to help them with a certain part of their child’s day.

“Help! We have morning time routines that are stressful and unproductive.”
“Help! We have bedtime routines where no one is listening & everyone is stressed out.”

In both of these situations (and in others that we deal with), we often tell our clients to look two steps back to the routine that happens just before the current routine.  So for morning time, we look back towards bedtime… and for bedtime we look back towards daytime.

We tell them to ask themselves:
What happens at bedtime that could affect the morning time routine’s success?
What happens throughout the daytime routine to positively or negatively affect the bedtime routine?

In the middle of stressful times in your day (especially morning and bedtime) parents and children get carried away by “time crunch stresses” and these time crunches cause everyone to be a little more cranky, emotional, and dramatic.  If you can preplan these time frames by doing some preemptive work in the time frame before hand, you might make morning and bedtime go more smoothly.

Making Mornings go more smoothly by looking two steps back towards the bedtime routine.
1. Set out clothes the night before (some families even let their kiddos sleep in their school clothes so there is no drama about clothes when they awake in the morning.  Whatever works right?! 😉
2. Bring clothes downstairs the night before so you don’t have to make so many trips back and forth in the morning
3. Have children go to bed as early as possible the night before so they are well rested and get out of bed a little easier, and make sure parents go to bed earlier too so everyone is a little nicer in the morning.
4. Set up a plan for wake up for yourself that allows you to get out of bed before your kiddos, so you are on offense rather than defense.

Make Bedtime routines more doable by looking two steps back towards the daytime routines.
1. It’s hard to have the patience to follow through during the bedtime routine when everyone is exhausted. So, first, really work on following through when you have more energy during the day .    Showing your child that you are consistent and that you follow through as best you can in your day to day interactions will help the interactions at night time go more smoothly.  This is because they will know from their experiences with you during the daytime that mom and dad consistently mean what they say… If you are “willy nilly” with your daytime policies, it is very difficult to follow through solidly with your bedtime policies because everyone is a little more cranky and tired and worn out by bed time.    So, making your follow through solid during the daytime will help you follow through better at night time.
2.  Draw out the plan for bedtime with your kiddos at a separate time of day (other than bedtime) so that you can have a clear conversation and demo about how you want it to go without everyone being too exhausted to hear or see it.  Teach outside the moment and never in the middle of the temper tantrums right before bed.
3. Make up a visual checklist of the things that have to be done before you enter into bedtime, and then during bedtime, encourage your child to check things off as you go. Share the power and control by adding choice and flexibility in the order of how things get checked off, and add in connection time.
4.  Be willing to have your child TAKE a LOSS (door closed, lights out, lost favorite toy) if they get out of bed.  Remember you didn’t take these things from them… they lost them by choosing to defy the routine.  If they choose to stay in bed, then they choose to have the door open, the light in the closet on and their favorite toy in bed.

These things may help you to release out of this power struggle and give them  the power to change their day or night.









Pool Rules!!!

Pool Rules!!!

After spending several days lounging at a pool on vacation, I have some specific observations…

Pool Rules are always posted
So that the life guards and management can hold the guests accountable…
Are your House Rules posted?
If not they should be.
It will make it so much easier for the management (you the parents) to follow through if the rules are posted.
Have your drawn out a plan for your pool rules that are visual and easy to see… You may want to keep this rule list laminated or in a sealed plastic Baggie in your pool bag.

Focus on Go behaviors
When kids are running at the poolside instead of yelling STOP RUNNING! (Which is always a pool rule)…
Try yelling… WALK…
Giving kids the GO behavior to focus on is more productive than barking at them about the STOP Behavior.

Make your self crystal clear (like the sparkling pool waters).. Click here to Read more
Speaking of Stop Behaviors if you have to say stop make sure you are crystal clear about what it is they need to stop.   Instead of throwing out a multitude of STOP IT’S, QUIT IT’s , ENOUGH of THAT’s… Get specific and crystal clear on what you want your child to put an end to.   Also teach them to be crystal clear with each other so they can tell their friend or relative what they do not like about the play situation.
Instead of saying Stop it… Say, “Stop hitting your brother with the pool noodle.”
Instead of saying Quit it… Say, ” Quit splashing the lady while she is reading her book”.
Instead of saying Enough… Say, “Enough crying and fussing over going to the snack bar again.”

Try not let the Pool Scene stand in the way of your Follow Through…
The Pool is one of those dreaded places where kids are naturally apt to make a scene…
They are hot and bothered and overwhelmed and so are their parents.
All eyes are on the parents when their child acts up and the whole pool arena becomes a
parent judge-a- thon where all the other parents can critique and evaluate how you handled a sticky situation.
Don’t let the parenting pressure at the pool affect your rules, consequences, and follow through.

Make a Plan that is leveled and logical.
Have a plan that involves sitting out or rewinding the situation  if you have misbehaved.
Taking a break at the car or in the bathroom (if you are fussing… Have another mom ready to help you with your other kiddos if needed)
Or simply going home (taking a loss) …even if you just got there

To avoid the bad behavior in the first place… 

  • Make sure you leave before the afternoon “I need a nap” fussing ensues.
  • Make sure everyone is well hydrated and well fed
  • Break it up with different options for play and fun… Not everyone wants to swim all day.
  • Connect with your kids… Play with them, join in the fun a little or else they will try to get your attention in inappropriate ways.
  • Just like you would never forget to pause and put on sunscreen, Pause before they jump right in and go through the plan and the rules of how this pool time is going to look.

The moral of the story at the pool is clear…
Set rules and boundaries and don’t be afraid to follow through even if it means packing it up and trying it again tomorrow.


Father Them… Anyway

The idea for this post came to me this morning when I saw a quote from Mother Teresa of Calcutta.mother teresa

I have read it several times before and tried to use it as a model  myself when dealing with difficult people in my life, but today it rings true as a model for fathers…

Here is my own version to help Dad’s everywhere deal and cope with the most difficult job of parenting…

Children can be hard to manage and control…

Lead them anyway

Children can make messes and fuss when things don’t go their way…

Play with them anyway

Children can say horrible things that sound disrespectful and scathing…

Forgive them and allow them to Rewind anyway

Children can be expensive and require us to sacrifice so much…

 Support them anyway

Children are always breaking the rules…

Be clear and firm about your rules anyway

Sometimes it’s just easier to give in than to deal with the melt downs…

Children are begging for consequences…

So,  follow through anyway

Children are needy and should be able to do more things on their own…

They are begging to be shown new skills…

So help and teach them anyway

Lead, Play, Forgive, Support, Be Clear and Firm, Follow Through, Help and Teach your children. 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO OUR CLIENTS (These dads are some of the best dads on the Planet who really care and want their families to function better… They know they cannot do this difficult job on their own and together with their child’s mother they have decided to get the support they need to make this job a little more doable).

Contact us… at   We are here to help!







Summer Musings from Anne Jaroszewicz …

Summer…the best time of year, and three warm, glorious months to take a break from the routines of the school year and recharge.   It’s a time we encourage our children to take walks in the woods or simply lie in a hammock and daydream!  But, when was the last time WE took that walk in the woods or lay in that hammock and daydreamed about our hopes and dreams for our children?

I was reminded of the importance of spending that time in the hammock and  “thoughtfully wishing” a future for our children when I recently re-read Hal Edward Runkel’s book, “Scream Free Parenting”.   In it, he takes us through an exercise of visualizing our children as the adults we hope they will be.  He asks us to consider questions such as, ‘What is the content of (your adult child’s) character?  How self-sufficient is he/she?  Does he/she take responsibility for his choices?  Is he/she physically healthy and active?’  You get the picture.   Once we answer these questions, we realize, in order for our children to become the adults we hope they will be, they need practice….practice making choices (even bad ones!) and learning that choices come with consequences (good and not so good!).  And they need to start practicing NOW, when they are young!

So, in addition to spending that time in the hammock this summer, look for opportunities to give your kids practice in, Decision-making (PB&J or grilled cheese? Blue or Pink shorts? Swim or bike ride?), Responsibility (chores first, then fun), and Choices have Consequences (follow through when they break the rules…EVERYTIME).  No, the Summer won’t be without fights, meltdowns, and tough parenting moments, but thanks to your “thoughtful wishing” you will know it is all part of Helping Them GROW!

Add List Making to your parenting practices and see how you can change your family dynamic this month…

Who doesn’t feel better as they check things off their list?
Putting all this info down on paper, helps us to set goals and remember what we don’t want to forget.

Here are some list ideas to get you started…
The Training List…. What are the social and emotional skills you need to teach your kids?  When you see a negative pattern of behavior from your child, note it on your training list.  This list is simply a list of the things you have recognized as something you need to go over with your child outside of the moment.  Keep this list in mind when you have a teachable moment with your child.  Use your child to help problem solve the situation and don’t forget to do most of your teaching and training using visuals (draw or act out what you would like it to look like next time) and avoid the long lecture or emotional ranting and raving.

The Stop and Go Behavior List:  What are the Stop Behaviors that you would like to see go BYE BYE?  What are the replacement behavior options that you need to train (teach, model and practice)?

The Leverage List:  What are the positive things that your child wants that you could use as leverage for good choice making?  What are the things they love and already have that you could take away if needed?  These “things” don’t need to be things at all… They can be simply adding in an extra five minutes on the iPad,  a special trip to the library with mom,  a walk around the block with dad…. Whatever makes your child soar… Let’s work towards it!  Or If you feel like your child has so much already,  let’s start working towards earning these things instead of just handing them over without good choice making.  This list will be fluid and ever changing as your child’s interests and development ebbs and flows.  So add to it whenever you see a window of leverage,  and make sure you run to it when you need to secure a solid and meaningful consequence.

The Calming List:   What are the things that help your child calm themselves?  If you have a list of these, look at it and use it to help them calm down when they need to PAUSE.  Each child in your home will have different things that work, so your list should be specific to the child.  You can also post images and/or words to have the options readily available for your child when they need to choose how they will calm down.   This list can be ever changing too, so keep adding to it as you see your child new methods to regulate their emotions.  If there is something that really works to help calm them, make sure to purposely plug these calming strategies into their day.  If you are like most parents you might want to think of a list of things to help you calm when you are upset.

The Elephant List:  When your child wants to do something right now, but it just isn’t the time or place to do it, use your elephant list to write it down and help your remember.    The Elephant list helps  you remember  what you promised.   The list becomes your reminder and your child will feel safe knowing that although the answer is NO now it might be YES later.    Good News:   your child will feel like they are being heard… Bad News:   you actually have to play that 100th game of Candyland sometime in the near future.

Solutions for …”MEAL-TIME MELTDOWNS”

These are some of the best tips and actions plans we have used to support families with children who are picky eaters, fussing at the table, or simply making mealtimes miserable…

1.  Give Kids the Power they are “Craving”  through choice and voice and purpose
Choice:Offer more than one vegetable. Offer two options on the number of bites
Voice:Listen to their opinions and work w/ them outside the moment to problem solve it
Purpose: Give kids jobs around the kitchen… “The pastry chef” “The salad master”

2.   Change it up
Eat in different space (move to the fancy dining room or outside)
If your kids are squirming all over their seat why not try a new kind of seat
Add a special treat to dinnertime like candlelight or music or conversation cards

3.  Do Something Different with Dessert
Put it on their plate as part of the meal & let them choose to eat it 1st if they like
Put it on a fancy serving tray in the middle of the table (even if it is just fruit or oreos)
Save it for a special treat after so many days of good meal manners
Get rid of it all together and just add it in as a special surprise for good choices

Draw out or video tape a plan for how you want dinner to be… allow the kids to help with this
Read and watch what to do and what not to do at the table
TMP  specifically about how many bites are expected, what kinds of food choices
TMP   specifically about how we speak to parents and siblings at the table
TMP  how to listen and not interrupt
TMP  what the consequences of poor choices will be and follow through

5.  Have Rules and Cues for eating posted…these become the bad guy
Use the pictures to point so you don’t have to use words…
Point to the rules (no interrupting) when they try to step into conversation
Point to the number one when they are taking their first bite, 2 for second…
Point to the dinner rules before getting started…

6.  Be happy with the smallest “bit” of progress when it comes to sensitive “buds”
Maybe they will move from yuck!!! to smelling the new food
Maybe they will progress from smelling to licking the new food
Maybe they will progress from licking to sucking on the new food
Then… biting it and chewing it and swallowing it…

7.  Allow little guys to alternate back and forth between eating and fun…
First Take a bite then color on your picture page
First Take a bite then tell me a story from kindergarten
First Take a bite then we will read a short poem…
Whatever works… at least they are eating!

8.  Keep it consistent…
We drink Milk at dinnertime
We have three bites for three year olds
We try everything…
We do not hurt the cook’s feelings with nasty words

9.  Think about set up…
Provide Healthy Appetizers so you have another chance to get in the good stuff
Provide more choice by offering taco bars, potato bars, pasta bars and more
Get them involved in the set up so they get excited about the choices

10.  Be flexible with where and when they make their healthy choices… 
Could we add more healthy snacks into their lunch box?
Could we sneak it into their smoothies after school?
Could we offer it as a power snack in the middle of playing super heroes?

Action Plan for Getting Grumpy Kids out of Bed…

Serve your little one “breakfast in bed.”  

Many kids wake up starving especially those finicky picky eaters who refused to eat the night before.  So why not have a granola bar waiting for them at their bedside when they wake up to help them get their blood sugar flowing and help them to start off on the right foot?  One client recently told me how this worked so well for their oldest child that they have begun to use it with all their kiddos.  Their son was extremely slow to warm up to the idea of getting out of bed, but with a yummy snack ready for him he was more apt to jump out of bed.  That boost of energy helped him be less moody and more ready to accomplish his early morning routines… Of course like all our action plans, this is just an idea but one worth trying if you are at your wits end.  If you do this or any new response with your parenting, remember you have to TEACH MODEL and PRACTICE the expectations. You can’t just “willy nilly” start this plan tomorrow without boundaries and expectations.   They need to know the procedures so they can follow them.  

How does your child unwind before bed?

Here are some quick tips on getting kids to sleep…
1.  Meditation:  There are some great apps, CD’s, and books out there that focus on mediations for children and help children reboot their brains as they attempt to fall asleep or calm down when they are revved up.  My favorite are books are by Maureen Garth: Moonbeams, Starbright and Earthlight.  They have make believe stories that parents can calmly read to sleepy kiddos.  The goal is that the child will be able to revisit the meditative scene in their minds when mom and dad are away or when they are trying to cope with stress or worry.
2.  Calming Sensory Tools:  Depending on what your child’s sensory choice is, find something that he can fiddle with that helps to calm his senses.  Oral children might use a calming chewy necklace to chew on.  Visual children might like to count stars on their ceiling or watch a lava lamp. Tactile children may want to lay stuffed animals around their bodies to make them feel snug.  Auditory children may want to listen to a sound machine or a comforting box fan as they fall asleep.  Whatever they need make it part of your bedtime routine.
3.  Storytelling about their day… Catch your child being good throughout the day and send them off to sleep with a recap on all the growing and blooming they did that day.   Don’t spend time lecturing or debating right before bed, but instead spend time affirming how you saw them making progress (even if it is the tiniest bit of progress).  Remember it is our job to help our child retell their storyline so that it is more positive than negative.  As you send them off to dream their night away,  help them to see that you have noticed they are really trying and really BLOOMiNG!
4.  Keep it simple and calm…  Many parents I work with have designed the most intricate bed time rituals.   Do you feel like your list of to do’s before bedtime continues to grow and grow… turn on the fan, rub their back twenty times, sing four songs, tell about your favorite part of their day.  Whatever you do for your systematic bedtime, make is short and sweet.  End with a quick I love you and you love me… come across confident and not nervous about bedtime.   They will feed off of your confidence or anxiety and mirror each back at you.  So keep it less emotional and more matter of fact.  A few steps for each part of the routine should be all you need.
Next Day prep: clothes picked out, backpack ready to go, lunches made.
Bathroom steps: potty, teeth, possibly a bath (but you really don’t have to do this every night!)
Bedroom steps:pjs on, one to two stories and prayer
5.  Visuals and Charts to Support:  If you are using a visual chart to support your bedtime routine, make the children in charge of it.  The reason I like to put the kids in charge is that I am just so busy (like you) and odds are I will forget to follow through on it.   So make it so that they own the chart.  If they want to earn the sticker or stamp they have to remember to do the things on the chart AND remember to give themselves the credit.
6.  Leave your timeframe Open ended:   Who says we need a hard an fast bed time?  It IS best to have a regular bedtime, but who says we have to have a hard and fast bed time?  In order to release the power plays that sometimes go with bedtime rituals, give your child a window of time that they may hop in bed… For Example:  Quiet time begins at 7:30 and lights out will be 8:15.   You can hop in your bed at any time between 7:30 or 8:15.  If you are not following expectations and hurting, fussing, or disrespecting the rules (too loud, too rowdy), then you will go to bed right then.   This open ended approach gives them the pseudo power they love to gain, and helps you have a system for lights out!
7.  If you have an escapee… Whatever works…. within reason and respect and as long as you have given them a preview of what will happen, you have gone through it visually, and you are dealing with it “in the moment” without a lot of emotion.
Here are some tried and true methods that I have seen work!

  • The gate goes up if you get out of bed.
  • The door is open as long as kids are in bed.
  • The light stays on as long as you are on your way to dreamland.
  • Some parents will start by sitting in the room as the child gets calm, then moving little by little towards the door.
  • Some parents put the kids in the bed and then tell them confidently that mommy will be putting a few towels away and come back and check on you.
  • I have even resorted to telling them that their favorite animal will have to sleep with Mommy tonight if you cannot stay in your bed… “Lamby is tired and will come to sleep with me if you get out of bed”
  • If they are 4 or 5 they might have a solid enough sense of time that you could postpone a reward until morning if they fall asleep without problems.
  • Younger than that it might be too big of a time lapse to get them to connect the dots between reward and behavior.

8.  When all else fails design a Social Story/Picture Story detailing how we go to sleep… NO NO’s and Yes Yes’s to help them visualize how this will go.  Read the book during other parts of the day so they can begin to visualize it.

Show and Tell

A teacher could spend their whole day saying NO NO NO.
No running,
No calling out,
No leaning on chairs,
No talking, NO NO NO…
But what works better is to give a child or a classroom of children the YES YES YES behaviors they desire instead of constantly correcting.  So, if you find yourself constantly calling your child out and you feel like a broken record, try calling out the expected behaviors instead.  A teacher who wants her children to walk down the hallway without talking will call out… Walk Walk Walk, Quiet Quiet Quiet to give the group the specific expected behaviors.  By doing this, the teacher is investing more in the positive behavior than the negative behavior.

For parents, this means telling your child what to do… giving them a new replacement behavior instead of correcting what NOT to do.  If you find yourself shouting out all day and using negative correcting methods like:  Stop Hitting!  Don’t Do That!   Quit Pushing!   No! No! No!
Use the phrase, “SHOW ME” to encourage a child to model the better choices. For instance, for a three year old big brother who has a tendency to be rough with his baby sister, use these “SHOW ME ” phrases:  “SHOW ME how you tickle her toes… SHOW ME how you snuggle with her… SHOW ME how you share your toy with her.”    This takes the negative spin off the correction and invites the child to make a better choice.    It lessens the chance of the power play between parent and child because the child gets busy trying to show you the better choice and avoids the repetition of the bad choice to get your attention.

Another way to avoid so much NO NO NO is to encourage a child to TELL you the better choice… TELL ME how you will behave outside with your brother,  TELL ME how you will sit at the table,  TELL ME what went well in the bathtub tonight,  TELL ME How you can talk nicely to your mom.

Have your child use show and tell to improve behaviors.  You can use these methods on the spot or call a family meeting and have kids show and tell their best choices of the day!

Teach Model and Practice MUTE

Kids say the Darndest things.  
They ask adults their age,
They ask teachers if they are pregnant (when they are not… YIKES!!),
They tell their grandparents their breath stinks
and they say things like, “I don’t like you”
or “Yuck, your green beans taste like throw up”How do we teach our kids to filter what they think from what they say?

Here is a Child in Bloom approach to help…

We have to identify the behaviors that are not okay.
No Hurting  No Fussing No Disrespect
This means: no hurtful words, no fussing words, or no disrespectful words.

We have to give them new replacement behaviors or new things to say or do.
We have to set expectations and consequences for behaviors.
We have to teach model and practice these things… VISUALLY
We have to follow through on these expectations and consequences
We have to notice the positives… when they do it correctly
When you TEACH MODEL AND PRACTICE show your child
the difference between
Thinking and Saying

Use thinking bubbles and talking bubbles
in your visual storylines to show the difference.

As our child’s first  and most important teacher, it is your job to help them gain the filter and become aware of what needs to be MUTED and what is okay to express.
Give your child lots of scenarios to practice and role play.
Giving them opportunities to brainstorm new ways to handle sticky situations.

Here are some scenarios to start with…


“The Bus driver is in a bad mood today.” I can think this (thinking bubble),
but I better not go up to the bus driver and say,
“Why are you being so  mean today?” That might make the bus driver crazy mad.”I don’t like the spicy chicken my mom made for dinner.” I can think this (thinking bubble)
but I cannot say “This chicken is horrible.”   Of course that might hurt my mom’s feelings.

“I already have the gift that grandma gave me”, I can think this (thinking bubble), but I cannot say, “Uggh I already have this game!” That will make your grandmother feel badly.

Giving kids new phrasing to replace the old phrasing might help:
What about saying to the bus driver something nice…
“Have a good day.”
What about saying to mom something nice about something else on your plate,
“I really love the sweet potatoes you made.”
What about saying to your grandmother,
“Thank you for the gift”

It is okay to teach children to MUTE or CHANGE the negative talk that happens in their brain before it comes out of their mouth…

Give kids Choices you both can live with…

We know that Choice is one way we can give children the power they are trying so desperately to gain.  When setting up your choices keep these things in mind:

  • Give them two viable choices that you can live with.
  • Make one of the choices a more preferable choice that they may desire more.
  • Giving them a Choice takes them off the Power Playing Track and onto the Decision Making Track
  • When giving them a choice start with a fact question :  Where? When? With Whom? What? How?

Here are some examples:

  • Where will we put your lego project when we leave for grandmas… on the table or on the counter?
  • When will you brush your teeth… before pjs or after pjs?
  • Who do you want to bring with you into the tub… your super heroes or your pirates?
  • What veggie will you eat…salad or asparagus?
  • How many things will you clean up… 10 or 15?
  • How will you go upstairs… crawling up the stairs like a baby or running fast like cheetah?

These choices can work for tweens and teens too… See examples below:

  • Where will you do your homework… on the couch or at the kitchen table?
  • When will you start your social studies project… Friday night or Saturday morning?
  • Who could you call to help you with your homework… neighbor or grandpa?
  • What outfit will you wear to church…  the blue polo or the long sleeve oxford?
  • How many math problems will do before dinner…   5 or 10?
  • What time should we meet up at the entrance to Kings Island… 5 or 6?

Whatever you do avoid the Why questions because they put the focus on feelings and lead to debate and power struggles.

Make a Parenting Mental Checklist

If there is a behavior that is driving you crazy, run through our Parenting Mental Checklist to see if you have covered all your bases…

Did you…

  • Teach, Model and Practice before this situation came up?
  • Fast Forward and give the child a chance to see and visualize how we behave?
  • Pause and Remind before transitioning into this situation?
  • Did you set a clear boundary and consequences for their choices?
  • Did you follow through on what you set up?
  • Did you use minimal words (3-5 words at a time)?
  • Did you stay calm without getting emotional?
  • Did you catch them being good (even if it was small bits of progress)?

If not,  no worries… there is always tomorrow.  Just by changing one of these parenting behaviors you might start to see a change towards positive behaviors!!   Make a sign with these cues and hang it somewhere in your house so you can use it to help you remember the parenting tools you want to use next time.

Sibling Success

Sibling Success?
Is it even possible?

Here are some quick tips to help you think about the sibling relationship a little differently…

1.  They ARE different… PERIOD… so don’t lump them all together and expect them to react the same way, enjoy the same things, and have the same talents or needs.   Avoid comparisons that pit them against each other… Let them be their own unique person within the family, in their own race against themselves not against their brother or sister.
2.  Rejoice When they find a common ground (even if it means they found it ganging up on you 🙂
3.  Focus on retelling their sibling story in a positive light and do this by catching them making connections and good choices together… Are there any moments in their day when they actually get along? If so, notice these moments more than you notice the arguing, the shoving and the complaining.
4.  The smallest bits of honest attention might change their day… everyone wants you to connect with them so give them 3-5 minutes of time to be your special kid… allow them to show and tell and lead the conversation without judgement or critque just connect for a small moment of each day with each kid.
5.  Let every kid have some power 

  • Switch roles sometimes (let the little guy be the leader)
  • Give more choices (on how they will do things) while sticking to your boundaries
  • Allow everyone to have a voice and to be heard… “I hear you… sounds like”

Make your Child’s “Drama Behavior” Exit Stage Left…

Do you have a drama king or queen living in your house?
What about a three-nager acting like they rule the roost?
Or maybe you have the “real deal” (teen) causing all kinds of headaches.

Here’s what we have found… When parents get silly, act and think like a child more, and add in positive drama opportunities themselves there tends to be less power plays.    Adding in more silly and fun times might lead to more connection time between parent and child.  This in turn leads to less attention and drama seeking behaviors from the child.   So let your guard down and get dramatic!

We don’t mean you need to mirror  that yucky teen dramatic behavior  (huffing and puffing around the house).   We mean get silly, relax, have fun, add in role playing, funny voices, laid back antics and maybe you will avoid the power struggle.  Laugh more, play more, create more, joke more and connect more.   Don’t be so serious all the time.

If your child wants to play pretend then follow along and join them on their adventure to a different world.  Connect to the child where they are even if they are in make believe ” la la land” .  It is perfectly normal for 3-5 year olds to spend much of their day in the dramatic play world so join them.

Sticking to your guns and trying to forcefully change a child’s mind simply won’t work in the middle of their temper tantrums… So change up the vibe by adding in dramatic responses that are silly and engaging and connected to dramatic play experiences.  These are the things that will help them regroup and get them off the temper tantrum track.

We know you will see behaviors shift and attitudes lift when you get silly and dramatic and mirror back a kid like perspective.

Behavior Changes for 2016 by Anne Jaroszewicz

Sticking with those Parenting New Year’s Resolutions?

If one of your resolutions was to change the dynamics in your household around PARENTING, Child in Bloom wants to help you get there.  Here are a few tips to help insure your SUCCESS!

  1. Start small – begin by taking on ONE behavior at a time.  When we try to change everything at once, we end up right back in the ‘whack-a-mole’ cycle! Ask yourself (and your spouse), what is the ONE behavior that, if changed, could really improve the day?
  2. Identify a replacement behavior – If they can no longer do X, what CAN they do instead?  NAME IT! This is so crucial to getting everyone on the same page, (and for sticking with your 2016 goals!).
  3. Teach, Model and PRACTICE the NEW scenario.  Draw it out or Act it out – Say,  “This is what ____________behavior looked like in 2015 – This is the NEW WAY our family is going to do this in 2016! If you have never done this type of Parenting (TEACH/MODEL/PRACTICE) this ‘new’ NEW YEAR’s approach should get them to sit up and take notice!
  4. Make it VISUAL!   Write down the ONE behavior you are working on and then POST it EVERYWHERE!  (Over your bathroom and kitchen sinks, at the kitchen table, on the wall in the playroom, on the dashboard of your car, in your wallet!).  When the behavior comes up (and it will!), point to the sign as a reminder of the NEW 2016 plan, and thenREVIEW the plan and let them REWIND and try it again – the right way.
  5. STICK WITH IT!  It’s a NEW “BEHAVIOR DIET”, and it is going to take some getting used to.  Studies show people who make it through the first THREE weeks of a diet have a very high rate of dieting success – but it is HARD to get past weeks one and two!

Think of that grumbling stomach when you are dieting as a metaphor for the grousing and grumbling you will hear from your kids.  REDIRECT them to the replacement behavior, just as you might redirect your food choices from chips and ice cream to healthier choices if you are dieting.CHANGE is HARD!!!  EXPECT it to be hard!  Have a calendar somewhere in plain sight, and cross off each day of the New Behavior Plan.  COMMIT to sticking with it for a minimum of 3 weeks.  IT WILL BE SO WORTH IT!!

Make 2016 your family’s “Year of Change”.  Good Luck, and remember, the coaches at Child in Bloom are here to help give you a Boost anytime you feel like giving up!


Hit the Parenting Powerball!

How can some people have kids that are so well behaved?

What is it that makes it look so easy for them?

After four years of working with more than 250 families, I think I finally have some insight into what makes this game of parenting work successfully.

Just like the real lottery, YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO PLAY TO WIN
-you need to show up
-you need to be the author of the rules of the home
-you need to follow through every single time

1.  Literally you have play:   I call this CONNECT CONNECT before you CORRECT… Connect to your child by listening to them, hearing how they want you to engage with them. Then think like a child and get playful and silly.  When you have invested play time with your child it is like “money in the bank” for you. The energy and engagement allows you to build a relationship of trust and genuine connection.  Then when it is time to correct you can more successfully play your “authority card” and follow through on your expectations with success.

2.   You can’t play the game of parenting without a clear understanding of the rules:  Kids don’t show up with a rule book and believe me they will never make a list of the house rules on their own.  They need YOU to do this and if your child is misbehaving odds are his behaviors are trying to tell you to step it up and gather control.  It is super scary for a child to feel like they rule the roost.  They need you to play the role of parent and show your authority by designing a system of HOUSE RULES.  

3. You have to mean what you say and follow through… If you said you will not tolerate certain STOP behaviors and that there are consequences to those behaviors, you better follow through on what you said.  You have to be present and aware to catch those STOP behaviors and that means nipping them as soon as you see them …every single time.  This way the child knows you are present, aware and you mean business.

The most successful parents I know have these three things:

1. A Balance of Connection (Play) time and Correction time
2. House Rules are identified and expectations and consequences are set
3. Follow through on the expectations and consequences every single time

Having a Happy and Healthy Parent Child Relationship is worth all the money in the world… So work on it to  make it happen!!

Child in Bloom’s Top Ten List for Potty Training Trouble Shooting…

1.  Follow the Child’s Lead and allow for a lot of Exploration and Questions
2. Design a Storyline of how this might happen… Read it a lot!!
3. Release your Inner Germaphobe and Clean Freak...
This is germy and filled with messes!  Know that there will be messes
4. Focus on Saying… No Big Deal a lot to train your brain to be laid back about this…
5. As the Weather Warms Up go outside a lot and let kids where long t-shirts or dresses so their is less mess and quick access to the potty… bring the potty with you or simply hose them off 🙂
6.  Practice makes perfect so make sure your child is drinking lots of fluids so it is happening at regular intervals for practice
7. Let them watch their family and friends go potty… this is normal 🙂
8.  Invest in a few tools that work... old fashioned rubber underwear that they can feel the wetness, a soft cushy potty for the big potty so it is comfortable, a stool to put their feet on for balance and security, and a mini potty for every floor of your house and maybe even the car 🙂
9.  If you are do a reward system…Don’t try to make it have a specific end… make it more open ended and fluid so you can reward as you go along and as they go through the ups and downs of training.
10.  This is about training you more than them… Pay attention… and set the timer to help you remember it’s time to try.