16 Rules of Parenting Etiquette That Will Make YOU One Popular Mama

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Cheesy Mom Joke of the Day: Mom what’s it like to have the greatest daughter in the world?? 

Scroll to the bottom of the post for the answer! 

Just a few days ago, I had the worst experience. I was at a park. My kids were playing and I was sitting back on a bench enjoying their happy voices.

And then, another parent came to sit by me. I tried to be friendly and chat, but everything she did just rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t handle her! She didn’t handle her kids’ negative behavior when they needed it, she gave my kids food without asking me, she seemed to be digging into personal topics that I didn’t want to talk about, and through all that she kept correcting MY parenting!

By the time we went home, I was so frustrated! I complained in my head about that rude mom…. until I finally thought to myself… “What if I’m the same way? What do I do that frustrates other moms?”

I really didn’t want to be THAT mom, so I decided I’d better launch an in depth research frenzy to educate myself on how to be a socially appropriate mama.

Here’s what I learned about how to be a well-liked and polite parent. 

people laughing and talking outside during daytime

1) Don’t ring the doorbell when you visit a family with a newborn.

Have you ever been jolted out of a deep postpartum nap by a ring of the doorbell, only to hear a high-pitched scream from the baby monitor immediately after?? NOOOOOOOO!

Babies need a lot of sleep! And so do their mamas. When you visit a family with a newborn, you never know who is napping. To avoid waking the baby or mom unnecessarily, knock on the door instead of ringing the doorbell.

It’s also a great idea to call or text in advance to make sure you are visiting at a good time.

2) Don’t feed other children without asking the parent first.

girl liking candy lollipop

It’s so kind when a well-meaning person offers my little one a snack or a treat. They always seem so excited to share with her and make her smile by giving her something yummy.

But it’s important to check in with the parent first. You never know if the child has an allergy, a food intolerance, if the family is vegan or vegetarian, or a million other situations. Not to mention that it’s not always safe to accept food from strangers…. 

I remember trying to help my child calm down in the grocery store once. We were trying to work through her feelings and talk about the problem we had. A sweet gentleman walked by and gave her some gummy worms. She calmed right down, but I felt like I missed a chance to teach her important calming skills.

3) Clean up at restaurants.

My dad used to call my brothers and sisters and I “vultures”. Now that I’m a parent, I really understand that reference. The food comes out, and it’s gone within seconds. I say “gone”…. What I mean is the dishes are empty. But the food isn’t completely gone- it’s just everywhere it’s not supposed to be! Like on the floor, the table, the benches.

It’s ok, just sit back and have fun on your night out. It’s not worth it to try to avoid the mess or clean it up as you go. You’ll never enjoy a meal if you’re stressing trying to prevent the unpreventable.

Just make sure to clean up what you can at the end. Pile the dishes, use napkins to wipe up any spills, and pick up pieces of food that might have (and certainly did) fall to the ground.

Or if you don’t want to clean up, at least live a nice tip.

4) When you catch yourself talking too much about your own children, take a break and ask other parents about their kids.

The other day, I was going on and on about my little girl and how smart she is, and how perfect her teeth are, and how cute she looks in pigtails, and how excited she gets when she sees pictures of cows, and how much she loves chocolate, and how well she’s talking, and how she loves to read books, and how she dances to Daniel Tiger songs….. And then I realized, “Oh crap, I’m that crazy mom!” 

I love my little ones, but nobody likes a blabbermouth. Yes, be proud of your kids’ accomplishments- but don’t dominate the conversation. Make sure you’re asking questions about the other parents’ kids and lives.

5) RSVP when your child is invited to birthdays or other parties.

round chocolate cake with candles on top

Have you ever planned a cute and fun birthday party for your cutie pie? You spend money, you arrange for food, you plan out games and activities. And then only two kids show up??? Or on the other extreme, every other kid brings a plus one that you were not aware of?? Now how are we going to decide who gets cake and who doesn’t, cause there’s for sure not enough for everyone!!

It’s important for the party planner to know how many people to expect so that they can make arrangements in advance. RSVP’s are the only way they know what quantities to order.

Always RSVP- and do it as quickly as you can.

6) If your child accidentally breaks something, make sure to replace it.

This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised. How would you like it if this happened to you??

Make sure you either pay for it or purchase a similar replacement item to replace whatever got broken.

Better yet, involve the child so that they can have the experience of fixing their mistake. It doesn’t need to be a negative or a punishing experience- just explain to the child that there are things we can do to make it right and help them carry out those solutions. Now, an unfortunate accident has become a great teaching moment! 

7) When your kids are sick, keep them at home to avoid spreading illness.

person lying on gray sofa

When I see a kid sniffle, and wipe their nose on their hands, and then reach for my child’s toys…. I want to dive at them screaming “NOOOOOOOO” before the little snotty hand reaches it’s target! It’s nothing personal, I just need to save my house from those icky germs! 

If you know your kids are sick, keep them home. They will be more comfortable, they won’t spread germs, and they can heal quicker.

Think of the problems sickness causes for other families– parents might miss work, the children could miss school, and everyone’s miserable for a solid month while the illness slowly circulates to each person- twice. Then they’re finally freed from the clutches of that nasty flu or cold.

Let’s just avoid this, shall we?

8) Don’t allow yourself to get upset when other moms make critical or judgmental comments.

Did anyone say, pull your hair out? Bite your tongue in half to keep the words in?? Break out in sudden and devastating violence because you just can’t contain the rage anymore???

It’s so difficult to stay calm when someone is being judgy of your parenting, but you can do it! You’re the bigger person. They’re acting like a 5-year old, but you can be the adult.

You DO NOT have to accept their advice or change what you’re doing. Just say, “Thanks for the ideas!” in a kind way (try to swallow the sarcasm if you can), and then do what works for your kids and your family.

9) Keep comments positive and encouraging and sporting events.

man tying boy's shoes on field

I don’t know what it is about kids’ sporting events that brings out insane competition in the parents. For all that’s Holy, it’s a game! For little kids! It’s about having fun, teaching the kids cooperation and teamwork, and building great memories.

Have you seen those crazy parents who treat it like they’re reliving their forgotten dreams and their own success or failure depends on the performance of a twelve-year old? I just want to slap them back to reality and tell them, “Today’s not about you!”

Always remember to speak kindly to members of other teams, other parents, coaches, refs, and basically everyone there.

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Other Great Reads: 

27 Universal Truths to Live a Happy Life NOW!

Perspective of a Child

The Secret to Foolproof Goals- How to Become the Parent You’ve Always Wanted to Be

Over 35 Guilty Pleasures for Moms that I’m NOT ABOUT to Stop!

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10) Avoid personal comments or questions.

There are lots of topics that can be hurtful if approached in the wrong way. When to have children, how many children to have, discipline decisions, adoption, etc. can be touchy to discuss.

Let parents bring these topics up on their own or ask in advance, “Are you comfortable if I ask you about this?”

11) When a child cries in public take them out of the main area of the restaurant, theater, or store.

selective focus photography of girl crying

No parent should be embarrassed when their kids struggle in public. It’s ok, it happens to every parent. We all get it. Our heart and our loving thoughts go out to you, sister.

But there is a polite way to handle it, and it’s best for the child too. Find a calming, quiet place to bring your child while they calm down. This helps others enjoy their experience and helps your child have a safe place to work through his feelings with your help. 

12) Always send your child with money when they are invited to an event, on a trip, etc.

Don’t assume that the child will be paid for! Just because I’m driving all the kids to the movies doesn’t mean I have $70 to buy 6 tickets for all of my son’s friends!

An invite doesn’t mean that the other family is planning to cover everything. Send your child with some cash so that they can purchase food, tickets, or whatever else they need.

13) Clean up the toys after a play date.

assorted-color interlocking blocks on floor

Kids make messes when they have fun. It’s ok. But if you want to be invited for future play dates, make sure you spend a few minutes to pick up the toys after the fun is over.

14) Behave the way you want your child to behave.

We’ve talked a lot about kids’ behavior, but let’s remember that parenting etiquette is mostly the parent’s job. It’s about how you respond to your children in a positive and socially appropriate way.

It’s your job as a parent to set an example for your child’s behavior. If you want your child to be responsible and kind and polite, you have to be responsible and kind and polite too.

15) Don’t discipline other people’s kids. Offer guidance.

It’s never ok to physically punish another person’s child. No grabbing their arm, no spanking, no flicking them on the nose, or whatever else you do.

There are times when it falls on your shoulders to set appropriate guidelines for other kids, especially when they are at your house, when you are babysitting, or even if the other parent just won’t do it. I know, shoot me now. I hate having to deal with other people’s kids. I just have more patience for my own kids because, you know, I love them and stuff. But it has to be done.

If you find yourself in this situation, follow this recipe:

-If the other parent is present, politely ask, “Do you want to handle this one, or would you like me to?”

-Begin by explaining the problem to the child and let them know what you expect from them instead. Example: “At our house, we don’t hit. Next time, you can come get me if you feel upset and I’ll help you work it out.”

-If the problem continues, remind the child of the natural consequences of his actions. “When we hit, other friends don’t want to play. If you’re kind, we can keep having lots of fun!”

-Follow through with appropriate consequences. Make sure you don’t threaten anything you aren’t willing to carry out. If you say the play date will be over the next time the problem happens, then follow through.

-When you see the parent next, explain exactly what happened and ask if you crossed any lines. This will give them a chance to explain to you how they would prefer for you to handle similar situations if they come up again.

16) Keep every child safe.

Moms and dads work together to make sure kids stay safe. If parents watch out for each other, there will be fewer child abductions, fewer accidents, fewer injuries.

If you see a kid walking toward the road, no matter whose child it is, safety is everyone’s job. You get a free pass to intervene if it means keeping a child safe. 

man carrying boy both smiling

 

There you have it! 16 rules for being a polite parent. Do these things, and you’ll be welcomed in mom circles and parent hangouts.

It’s totally worth it to live by the rules of parenting etiquette.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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Cheesy Mom Joke of the Day Answer: I don’t know, go ask your grandmother!

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Surprise GIVEAWAY!! FREE Pregnancy Weight Gain Tracker

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. 

Hey Mamas,

This giveaway has expired. 🙁

But don’t worry!!

You can still get a copy of your FREE Pregnancy Weight Gain Trackers- for every mom who wants to stay healthy during pregnancy by following this link! 

I hope you enjoy!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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20 Things I Wish I’d Known BEFORE I Started Potty Training

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. 

I’ve heard a lot of potty training horror stories in my (short) time as a parent.

I thought I’d heard it all, and I was ready to go when my first child started to show signs of being ready to potty train.

I was wrong.

So, so, unfortunately, dangerously… wrong.

If I’d only known…

Here it is- everything I didn’t know about potty training. Here’s hoping that this information will help some mom out there!

1. I Don’t Know Everything.

Yeah, I know this one is obvious to everyone else, but for some reason, this took me a while to get.

I’m kinda slow that way.

But it was refreshing to finally get over myself and start using my resources- asking for help from other moms, researching answers, and trusting my mom-gut.

2. My Child’s Choice

Before I toilet trained my child, I imagined that potty training was my job as a parent. I imagined deciding when to toilet train my child and that I would have all the control of the process.

Just…. No.

And this is a good thing! My daughter decided when she was ready, and she showed me that she was ready by asking to use the potty. She started holding her poop when she needed to go. She would say “poop!” before her diaper was even dirty, then go poop a few minutes later.

Every child shows different signs, but the choice to toilet train was very much her choice. And I’m really glad it went that way! It seemed to be perfect for her.

How did your children communicate to you that they were ready to toilet train? What toilet training methods did you use, and why? Comment below!

three toilet papers

3. Kids Like Water

I’ve always known this… But I never really thought about how kids’ interest in water affects potty training.

Because, if you take a second to stop and think about it (which I didn’t)…. There’s water in the toilet bowl.

And the water swirls around in a cool way. It’s really pretty exciting.

And kids think so too.

I guess the point here is, watch your little one’s hands, or right into the toilet they’ll go!

4. Splash Zone

I do get a tiny bit of credit for assuming that there would be a splash zone if I was potty training a boy. But I wasn’t. I have a daughter. So I’m good right??

Wrong.

Splash zone principles still apply.

Pee can and will spray past the toilet seat if you’re not careful! Watch out, mamas!


More Great Reads: 

AMAZING Miracle of Moms- Let’s All Be That Mom Every Day

Helping Your Toddler Understand Time- Less than $20 DIY Resource for Parents

How To Survive a Tantrum in Public (Ages 3 and Up)

How to Make and Follow Through on a Kick @$$ Chore Chart


5. Clean Up Time Is All The Time

I also get some credit because I came prepared knowing that I would be dealing with lots and lots and lots of accidents! Which I did.

But, for some reason, in all my preparation, I only prepared emotionally for the accidents. I did not have a plan for cleanup- as in what cleaners to use, what’s safe on carpet, or specific towels or rags that are ok to clean up urine and feces.

I did learn some great tips though- such as:

  • Pee leaves a bad smell. Certain chemicals combat the smell, so be careful what cleaner you use. If you use the wrong one, the smell will linger even though you’ve tried to clean it. I really liked using vinegar solution or dish washer liquid soap.
  • Carpet is quite a process to clean, and it is best to act fast. The longer the urine sits in the carpet, the more difficult it is to clean. Check out this great post for more information.
  • When I had my first accident, I used this one blue rag that I have. It’s not a nice one, so I figured it would be fine to use it to clean pee. Then later, I happened to grab that same blue rag to wipe down my counters… and I couldn’t do it. Too gross for me to know where it’s been… Next time I potty train, I’ll have specific rags set aside for cleaning toileting accidents.

6. Rejected

When I started toilet training, I thought it would be a fun and positive to give my child a treat for using the toilet- just to make it special for her.

My little girl loves chocolate, and candy, and sweets, but we don’t have them in our home often, so I thought she would be very excited!

To my surprise, I offered her some Reece’s Pieces and she said “No.”

Whaaaaaat the h*&#??? What happened to you??

I swear she’s never said “no” to candy before or since. Only right when it mattered.

So if you’re planning to give treats to your child to help them learn potty training, make sure beforehand that the child likes the treat!

closeup photo of cupcakes on round white ceramic plate

7. I’m Out of Butter….

I tried to be ready to toilet train by choosing a week or so that I didn’t need to run any errands. I didn’t have much on my calendar, and I moved around my schedule for the few remaining appointments to happen later.

So we got started!

And then I looked in the fridge…..

Uh oh.

So we had to pack up and go to the store. We stopped every 5-10 minutes or so to run to the bathroom, mostly false alarms, but it’s better than cleaning up urine in Walmart!

If you’re going to potty train, don’t forget to stock up the fridge!

8. Sick Day

After a few weeks or months (I have no idea how long it was- my potty training memories are a blur) my poor little girl got sick with a moderate fever and a cold.

I didn’t think it would affect her toileting because she didn’t have diarrhea or anything, but it totally did.

I had no idea!

She was being lethargic and seemed tired all day, and it carried over into going potty. It was difficult to get to the toilet fast enough because she just didn’t feel good.

Moms- be aware- sick children might have troubles using the potty.

9. Night Night, Sleep Tight

When I began toileting, I assumed that my child would learn to use the bathroom during the day and that skill would just sort of transpire into night time toileting.

Also wrong.

Unfortunately, I learned that sleep training is totally different than daytime potty training.

The urge to pee or poop doesn’t always wake children and they may go just because their bodies are relaxed in sleep. It’s unconscious. It’s not naughty behavior, it’s truly just an accident.

The child might be completely unaware until he wakes up and is all wet from peeing the bed.

In my daughter’s case, the best advice I’ve heard was to keep her in diapers or pull ups at night until she is consistently staying dry at night on her own. Then slowly switch to having her sleep in her underwear.

10. Connected At the Hip

I’ve always been connected at the hip with my daughter. We go everywhere together, we spend as much time as we can with each other, it’s amazing!

But during potty training time, it was literally EVERY second.

I couldn’t leave her side because she might have an accident in the few minutes or seconds that I stepped away- and she often did have accidents when I tried to step away.

Potty training was an important time for me to take time for myself since it is a long, stressful-at-times process.

I wish I had known that in advance because I could have arranged for more help from supportive neighbors, friends, and family if I had more time.

11. Waste Not, Want Not

There’s lots of extra skills children learn during potty training other than just pooping in the toilet.

Wiping their own butt is one of them.

For some reason, I just didn’t think about that until I was in it. Or more specifically, until half the roll of TP was in the toilet bowl.

Hmmm. Now what??

(For those of you who are interested- I scooped out wads of soggy toilet paper using a plastic fork into a double wrapped plastic Walmart bag. Then I tied it shut, tied those two bags in a third bag, and threw it all in the trash. Fork and all.)

gray wooden outdoor portable bathroom

12. Toileting Time Warp

At the beginning of toileting, I took my daughter potty every 10 minutes, and more often than that if she showed any signs of maybe needing to pee in between the 10 minute timer (like if she was touching her genitals, doing the “potty dance”, or squeezing her legs together).

But after a while, she was picking up the skill so I spread out our visits to the potty. 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, then every 30 minutes, every hour…

It’s a total time warp. Weeks passed without me realizing.

I wish I had soaked up that time with my child a little more. Although it was a lot of hard work, it was one-on-one time with my sweet little one. It’s not easy to get that kind of quality time. I wish I had appreciated it a little more.

13. Preparation

There are lots of times in daily life that a toilet is not conveniently nearby. For example, driving in the car.

My little girl didn’t have to go to the bathroom before we left, so I assumed that she could make it all the way until we reached our destination. That’s just not always true.

I learned to take my child to the potty before we ever got in the car.

baby beside green textile

14. What About the Pants?

My toddler did not know how to dress or undress herself at the time when we started toileting.

Woops.

That meant that she was unable to go to the restroom without mom’s help. She needed me to help her pull down her pants and put them back on.

That was fine for a while, but after weeks of taking my child to the toilet dozens of times every day, I was excited for her to be able to go on her own. That meant teaching her some basic dressing skills.

I had no idea I’d be teaching that!


Resources:

Click the Images Below!

  • Potty Time Watch

  • Potty Chair

  • Potty Seat with Ladder

  • Potty Training Reward Chart

  • Cotton Training Pants

  • The Potty Train


 

15. Vacation Time

Going on vacation is difficult with a child who is just learning to use the potty.

Our family went to visit Grandma. It takes four hours to drive there. We couldn’t leave until after dad got home from work at 5:30. I made sure the car was ready to go so that we could get started on the long drive as quickly as possible.

The drive to Grandma’s is a who lot of nothing. Just barren dessert. There’s only one gas station on the way.

So of course, I took my little girl in to the bathroom at the gas station.

But she had to go again only 15 minutes after we left the gas station.

Ugh. Now what??

In desperation, we pulled over and put her in the diaper. 

Traveling issues like this one contributed to some toileting regression for my little one.

16. Mom’s Routine

I never thought about how to help my toileting child when I had to shower. Our usual routine was to bring a few toys in to mom’s room, where she would play happily while mom took a quick shower.

But there’s no shower fast enough to guarantee that there won’t be a potty accident. After all, my daughter needed my help to pull down her pants to use the toilet.

Sure enough, one day, my daughter called in to me in the shower, “Poop!”

I had soap all in my hair. I thought maybe I had enough time to rinse and then rush out to help her.

That was wrong.

four Mad About Curl and Waves labeled bottles on wooden surface

17. Mom’s Hygiene

Between my shower issues and the time warp I was living in, I had no idea how fast my hygiene slipped.

I would randomly stop to take a look at myself and think…. “Ewww. Let’s get it together, self.”

Maybe half the reason we stay home during potty training isn’t just to avoid accidents in public. Maybe mom’s not fit to be in public. I know I wasn’t!

18. Verbal Praise All Around

I always tried to show my baby that I was proud of her. I told her things like, “You did it!” and “You’re learning how to go potty!” and “You didn’t have an accident today!”

My favorite potty training memory is sitting in the women’s room at Walmart (apparently Walmart is the only public place I ever go… Just realized that) and out of nowhere my little girl yells, “Mommy, you pooped on the potty! Yay!”

Awesome!

I was embarrassed at first, but I can’t help but look back on that moment with a little chuckle.

And then I got smart. I thought… “Hey, if she gets a treat for going potty…. Maybe I do too???”

Yep. Good choice.

19. No More Treats!

And then comes the day when I realized that my toddler really didn’t need to have a treat any more.

How are you supposed to stop that habit once it starts?

I learned all about fading away rewards in college and at work, but it was the first time I had to use it in my parenting.

It seemed like it had been a while.

If you choose to use treats, remember that they have to end sometime. And that’s a whole ‘nother story.

girl making hand gesture on her face

20. Never Ending

Toileting doesn’t stop once a child seems to “have it down.” Accidents happen forever more.

  • Lots of children get so excited about what they are playing that they don’t want to stop to go pee, and so they have an accident.
  • Lots of kids struggle to get sleep training down.
  • Lots of kids have accidents when they feel stressed or under pressure.

Potty training isn’t a “one and done” sort of deal. It’s just life.

So get cozy, keep a smile, on, and don’t stress too much.

It’s still your happy life, and it’s still your sweet baby. Make sure to enjoy it before life moves on and you’re left remembering how it was.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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How to Respond When Children Wander Away (Or Worse)

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

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Safety Trivia: During Christmas time, it is common to decorate with what poisonous plant? (See answer at bottom of page)

 

Every parent has stories about losing their kids for a moment or two in a store, at a gas station, at Disneyland, or at a park.

Those moments are nerve wracking for mother and child.

We know that children are usually just fine, but with child trafficking and other abuse out there, no parent can take any chances. 

Please comment below: Have you ever been separated from your child in public? What did you do? 

Let’s discuss this topic in the following sections:

  1. How to Be Proactive In Prevention
  2. What To Do In the Moment
  3. Skills for Your Child
  4. Worse Case Scenario

woman in white blouse and blue denim jeans helping a baby crawl on green grass

Photo by Jordan Rowland on Unsplash

How to Be Proactive In Prevention

Many, many bad situations can be avoided with a little preparation on the parents’ part. Try these tips to keep your family safe:

Teach your children a “Magic Safety Word” that they respond to automatically. Practice and practice your word until the children know to run to mom any time they hear this word. You can use fun games, like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light to practice running to mom when you hear the word. My husband’s family uses a whistle- that works great too.

Teach your children their full name, phone number, and address. If they are too young, you can write it on their arm, on the inside of a jacket or shirt, on backpack tags, or on the bottom of  their shoes.

-Get your child safety tools such as a GPS watch. 

Teach children to stay next to you, and teach them why. Have the stranger-danger talk often. In addition to teaching children to avoid strangers, teach them about “community helpers” such as policemen or store employees who can help the child if they are ever lost.

man and woman holding baby's hand while walking on road

Be aware of common abduction techniques.

  • Abductors try to get their victims in the car as quickly as possible for a fast getaway.
  • Not all abductors are men. Women also help in child trafficking because they draw less suspicion than men do.
  • Abductors try to change the child’s physical appearance quickly. Some abductors carry items like a shirt or a wig to put on the child so that they do not match the physical description that people are searching for.

-If you are going to a particularly crowded place such as an amusement park, try these tips:

  • Arrange a meeting place just in case someone gets separated from the group. If you lose each other, immediately go to the meeting place and look there first.
  • Take a picture of each child at the beginning of the day so that you know exactly what their clothing looks like in case of an incident. Use some kind of bright or unique piece of clothing that is easily recognizable.
  • Use the “buddy system”– assign each child a partner. Everyone is in charge of keeping an eye on their partner. This keeps everyone on their toes and decreases the chances of getting separated.
  • Use a sharpie to write your name and phone number on the child’s arm.

Resources:

GPS Watch

Mini GPS Tracker

Backpack Labels

The Game Plan Game: Everyone Needs A Game Plan for Safety, Life Skills and Feelings Management

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What To Do In the Moment

Despite our best efforts, children sometimes get lost in crowded places. They get distracted, they wander… it happens.

But it is terrifying because there are too many bad people in the world that would take advantage of a lost and unprotected child.

Here’s what you do:

Stay calm. Getting worked up overstimulates your senses and makes you less effective. For your child’s sake, keep it together.

Don’t hesitate! Act fast. Most abductions are quick and silent, so don’t worry about embarrassment. Just get to work.

Use specific details to get other people looking for your child as well.

Be loud. Shout the child’s name, or even better- call out a description of the child to the people around you. Abductors want to blend in and go unnoticed. If a large group of people are aware of a missing child’s physical appearance, it is difficult for an abductor to sneak away with the child.

Use the resources around you. Watch for a main office, a help desk, employees, policemen, or just ask the strangers around you. They can all help.

-If possible, keep a family member at the location where you lost the child. Most children don’t go far.

timelapse photo of people passing the street

Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

Skills For Your Child To Know

In these scary situations, the child is likely scared and confused as well. Giving the child tools beforehand can help them make smart decisions.

Never get in anyone’s car or leave the store or location where you lost mom.

Never put on any different clothes than what you were wearing when you lost mom.

Know who the “community helpers” are. Know what clothes they wear so that you can find one to help you. Another common technique is to teach children to ask a woman with children with her, hoping that another mom will have sympathy and help the child.

Know your parents’ phone number, your full name, your address, etc. so that the helpers can contact mom.

-If there is a family meeting place, teach the child to go there first. If there is no meeting place, the child should stay where he lost you.

Teach the child mom’s full name. People pick their own name out of background noise more than other sounds. I am more likely to hear “Becca Sheffield” over the hum of a crowd than “mommy”.

Is this information helpful? Please comment and like!

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More Great Reads: 

AMAZING Miracle of Moms- Let’s All Be That Mom Every Day

The Most Important Word in the English Language (For Parents)- Remember

When Life Is On A Parent’s Side- Taking Advantage of Natural Consequences

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Worse Case Scenario

There is a story of a boy named Jake who was almost abducted in a crowded beach.

His family was enjoying a nice day, visiting vendors and booths. Jake was right next to Mommy. She let go of his hand for a second, and he was gone that fast. 

Jake’s mom called for him.

A nearby army cadet heard Jake’s mom shouting, and offered to help. He and his army buddies started shouting to the crowd, “We are looking for a boy, He is 4-years old, blonde and in a red T shirt. Have you seen him?”

Jake’s mom attributes his safety to that specific phrase.

Turns out, Jake was with a man who promised to show Jake a “real rocket ship” if Jake came with him. 

When so many in the crowd started looking for the boy in such specific detail, the abductor knew he could not get Jake away without being spotted, so he just left.

Jake was found soon after.

(Read the full story here)

woman in white dress shirt holding her daughter in tutu dress beside of asphalt road during daytime

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Please comment below: Have you ever been separated from your child in public? What did you do? 

This story makes me so scared for Jake, so angry at that man, so relieved that it all turned out ok, and so determined never to let anything happen to my own children. 

Keep your sweet little ones safe, and help the other moms around you.

There is bad in this world, but it’s nothing compared to all the good. Thank you for being the kind of moms who will help my child if she’s ever lost. And I’ll do the same for you. 

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

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When Life Is On A Parent’s Side- Taking Advantage of Natural Consequences

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Please comment below- When have you used natural consequences to teach your kids?

 

Life is tough and unforgiving… But every once and a while, the stars align and Karma comes through for you!

Every once and a while, life does the parenting for me!

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What are Natural Consequences?

Natural consequences are life’s way of teaching.

Basically, every time we act, there are good and bad ripple effects of what we do. If there are more good than bad ripples, we consider that action to be a good thing and we continue that behavior. If there are more bad ripples than good, that behavior is a negative one and we stop behaving that way.

There’s no teacher to plan out and enforce the rules, they just happen. We just learn from the good and bad effects of our actions without someone to control the outcome.

Parents have a goal in mind to help their children become the best people they can be- people who will choose to send good waves into the world through their actions.

That’s why we correct our children when they act out. That’s why we try to teach them skills that they will need- like being responsible, being kind, building strong relationships with people around them, managing money and time effectively, and being a good citizen.

boy and girl answering questions on white paper

In order to encourage our children to act the in an appropriate and responsible way (so that they can become what we want them to become), we often set up our own rules, along with consequences for breaking those rules.

The awesome thing is that we don’t always have to set up rules and consequences. Sometimes life does it for us!

One Parent Who Had Life (And a Wise Dentist) on Her Side

A while back, I had a client with special needs who struggled to brush his teeth. He didn’t like doing it, he hated that his mom was always asking him to do it.

In desperation, this good mom tried many different techniques to encourage him to brush his teeth every day. She tried sticker charts, she tried various apps designed to help kids with self-help skills, she tried hand-over-hand, she tried being silly and making it fun, she tried immediate rewards after each time he brushed… She tried everything she could think of.

Most of the time, when she implemented a new strategy the child would comply for a day or two and then relapse. He was just as frustrated with the situation as his mom was.

And then one day, I came to visit the family. I checked up with his mom to see how he had been doing with brushing his teeth.

All she said was, “Watch this.” She sent him to the bathroom, asked him to brush, and stood back while he cleaned his teeth completely independently. No help, no bribing, no encouragement, no plan. He just did it.

I couldn’t believe it!

When I asked what changed, she explained that he had a dental appointment. It had been at least a few days since he had brushed when he went to visit the dentist. His mom spoke to the dentist privately and filled the dentist in on the problems they were having.

So this wise dentist had a one-on-one chat with the child. He didn’t try any grand plan or implement rewards or consequences. All he did was explain to the child what would naturally happen to his teeth if he did not brush.

Now, this good mom had briefly explained it to the child- usually saying something like, “Your teeth won’t be healthy” or “Your teeth are dirty.”

But the dentist did much more- He showed the child pictures of the stages of tooth decay. He showed the client how teeth turn yellow, then brown, then black, then fall out. He explained that it can hurt and can mean extra dental visits and procedures.

He didn’t try to exaggerate facts or scare the child into submission (if anything he was very careful to keep it G rated). He simply stated some of the bad things that would happen if this habit continued in a clear way, using visuals to help the child understand.

And that’s all it took.

That’s the power of natural consequences.

Now, every parent knows that there is no single strategy that will fix all your problems.

But give it a try! What if it’s exactly what you needed?

How to Use Natural Consequences

Here’s how to do it.

A bottle of DOSE Juice is poured against a pink backdrop

  • Step 1: Identify what the problem behavior is.

A while ago, my daughter started dumping out her juice onto the table every time we sat down to eat. She would wait until we weren’t looking because she assumed she would get in trouble. At first, I thought she was spilling on accident, so I asked her to help me clean it up and we moved on.

After a while, I started to catch on to the pattern, so I watched a little closer. Sure enough, she was pouring out her cup and watching the liquid spill out and run across the table. At first I was frustrated, but after trying to see things from her perspective, I realized that it probably did look pretty cool- like a waterfall or a stream. I love watching waterfalls.

I didn’t want to yell or put her down, but I did want her to learn that you can’t just pour out your water anywhere.

  • Step 2: Think of natural consequences to the problem behavior.

I tried to brainstorm all the possible consequences that I could implement. I considered not filling up her glass again after she spilt it… After all, if the drink is all gone, then it’s all gone! But I am very careful not to use natural consequences in a way that could at all endanger my child. In this case, I didn’t want her to get dehydrated or maybe choke on her food if she didn’t have a drink to wash it down with.

I also considered asking her to drink out of a sippy cup instead of a real glass. I know she would have hated that because sippy cups are for babies. I didn’t end up going with this solution for two reasons: 1- I didn’t want to shame my daughter or make her feel bad about herself and 2- this technically isn’t a natural consequence- it’s a consequence of my own invention.

After a lot of thinking, I had an idea.

  • Step 3: Decide on a safe consequence to implement. Allow the child to make the mistake in order to feel the natural consequence.

The next time she poured out her juice, I helped her clean it up but this time I refilled her glass with water instead of juice.

  • Step 4: Explain the consequence to the child so that they understand why it is happening.

When she asked for more juice, I told her that she already had her share of juice. I explained that if I gave her more juice, there wouldn’t be enough for the rest of the family to have some.

Then I calmly suggested that next time, it might be best if she decided to drink her juice instead of pour it on the table.  

And guess what? She never spilled intentionally again! (To the best of my knowledge… hahaha)

Every once and a while, when a child wants to try a behavior that I have discouraged repeatedly (and one that is safe!) I go ahead and let him try it out.

It doesn’t take long until he realizes that mom knew what she was talking about.

I once saw a video of a kid shooting himself in the nuts with a nurf gun. Yeah, that was pretty funny. I’m sure there was a natural consequence that taught him something that day. Not from his mom. From life and his real experiences. And I bet he learned it better than if mom had just told him about it, too.

red Wrong Way signage on road

Positives of Using Natural Consequences

  • It Makes Sense

Natural consequences are so easy for a parent to use because they are logical.

All you have to do is explain to your child the natural progression of events if their behavior continues. Think to yourself, “Why don’t I want my child to act this way?”

For example, I don’t want my child to be mean to other children because then she won’t have friends to play with. People won’t want to be around her if she is mean to them.

I don’t want my child to spend all her money because then she won’t have money left when she needs something.

I don’t want my child to skip homework assignments because she won’t master the material. If she doesn’t master the material, she will feel confused during later assignments that build on what she is learning now.

  • It’s Honest

Do you ever hear parents trying to exaggerate or scare the child into behaving?

I do understand the temptation to do that. It can be effective and that’s hard to argue with. The problem is eventually that child will find out the truth, and then you’ll have to face the fact that you lied to him.

Natural consequences aren’t lies.

They’re the honest to goodness result of a person’s actions.

Honest parents never have to worry about if the child has discovered their secrets. Honest parents never have to worry about if the child is hearing the truth from friends at school. Honest parents never have to worry about accidentally letting something slip. Honest parents can relax.

No hiding. No shame.

woman covering her face in front of wall

Natural consequences are a great way to do that, without losing efficacy.

  • It’s Not a Temporary Rule

Notice in all my examples above- the parent doesn’t have to contrive these scenarios.

It’s just how life is!

That’s what separates natural consequences from chore charts, and sticker rewards, and even praise- All those things take YOU to implement. That means, if you’re not there, a child might not keep up the behavior that you wanted.

But natural consequences are universal. They won’t end after the child leaves your side. He can go to school, he can hang out with friends, he can move out and leave for college, he can raise a family of his own- and through all this these principles still apply.

Not like that chore chart. That only applies as long as you are enforcing it.

Parents who use natural consequences are teaching a lifelong skill of understanding how a person’s actions affect yourself and others in the long run.

  • You don’t have to be the bad guy

man and girl sitting on brown dock near boat and two white ducks during daytime

This is the BEST!

You know how when you take away your teenager’s phone she curses your name and says that you are ruining her life?

You know when you tell your middle schooler to do his homework and he claims that his stupid teacher gives more homework than all the other teachers and there’s no good reason why he should have to do it?

You know how you try to get the kids to help clean the house and they treat you like a dictator?

My favorite part of natural consequences is that nobody can blame me!

I didn’t make the rules. That’s just life!

It’s really nice to have some of that parent blame taken away. I didn’t ask for this to happen. I didn’t make it so. I am just a kind person trying to help my child avoid some mistakes! And I finally get the credit as such. 😊

When NOT to Use Natural Consequences

Now that doesn’t mean this is a perfect fit for every situation. Like all parenting strategies, we have to be conscious of when to use natural consequences.

Here are a few situations when I avoid using natural consequences:

  • When a child is too young to understand

selective focus photography of baby holding wooden cube

Natural consequences can be difficult for kids under age 4 to understand.

If you can shorten the logic to one or two sentences, maybe it could still be helpful on a 2-3 year old.

For example, I tell my daughter “You have to sit in the car seat because it keeps you safe.” At 2 years old, I’m not sure if she fully understands what I mean, so I usually pair this with another parenting hack.

For example, “You have to sit in the car seat because it keeps you safe. But the car seat makes you tall enough to see out the window! What animals can you see? I see a cow!”

  • When a child wants to do something unsafe or illegal

Sometimes, a child wants to try out something that isn’t safe, like not wearing a seat belt. Of course, we can verbally explain natural consequences to help him decide to buckle up, but we would never want to let a child actually experiment with unsafe actions just to learn the natural consequences for himself.

Same goes for unsafe sex, dressing inappropriately for weather, playing with knives, trying drugs, etc.

Sometimes the consequences are just not worth trying out. And a child’s safety is always most important! 

Give natural consequences a try, and let me know what you think!

Let life be the bad guy for once. Turns out, life is a pretty good teacher anyways!

Please comment below- When have you used natural consequences to teach your kids?

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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