Should I Use Punishment in My Parenting? Answers from ABA Therapy

Photo by Letizia Bordoni on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services 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. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Sheltering Suburban Mom Meme | SO YOU DISCIPLINE YOUR CHILDREN? SHAME ON YOU FOR RAISING POLITE RESPECTFUL KIDS! | image tagged in memes,sheltering suburban mom | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

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Moms,

Do you ever get so frustrated when you are trying your best to be a calm and patient mom, but it just seems like the gentle parenting method isn’t getting through to your kids?

We are responsible to teach our kids to behave in a way that will help them live a successful and happy life…  But kids aren’t always receptive to our best teaching attempts. 

When positive parenting isn’t working, it’s very tempting to try some form of punishment to scare the child straight.

I struggle with the desire to use punishment. It’s an inner battle- Would punishment be effective? Or cause problems in the future? 

This is a letter to myself to remind me of the facts about punishment. I hope this information will help me keep my parenting on track, and hopefully help other moms out there too!

Let’s examine punishment. We’ll get to the bottom of why, how, and when.

woman between two childrens sitting on brown wooden bench during daytime

Definition of “Punishment”

In order to have a cohesive and cooperative conversation about punishment, we need to begin by defining the word.

When I talk about punishment, I’m not talking about child abuse. Things like withholding nutrition or water, solitary confinement, physical abuse, etc. are NEVER appropriate ways to teach children.

In ABA Therapy, punishment is defined as anything that “decreases the future probability of the behavior occurring.” 

That makes punishment sound a lot less EVIL. After all, aren’t we as parents responsible to help our kids curve those bad habits and replace them with good ones?

A parent can decrease the likelihood of a behavior happening again in the future in two ways:

  •  Positive Punishment (Type I): A stimulus is added  that decrease the behavior in the future.
    • Example: When a child touches a candle on his birthday cake, he feels pain from the heat of the flame. It is less likely that he will do that again.
  • Negative Punishment (Type II): A stimulus is taken away in order to decrease the behavior in the future. 
    • Example: A teenager is grounded from her cell phone for breaking the family rules.

Need more info about ABA definitions of Punishment? Check out these resources:

Punishment in ABA

ABA Tool Box 

Good, Bad, Ugly Punishment 


Obviously, punishment doesn’t have to be physical. It’s much more broad and includes a lot of appropriate parenting techniques, such as:

  • Limiting or removing privileges
    • Example: A teenager that engages in risky online behavior might lose access to the internet at home.
    • Example: A six year old who tantrums when leaving McDonald’s play place might not get to play there again for a designated time period.
  • Taking a time out 
    • Example: An eight year old is asked to take a break from a game if he is struggling to follow the rules of the game. After being reminded of the rules, he is allowed to try again.
  • Making amends for your mistakes if they affected another person
    • Example: A teenager that smashed a person’s mailbox might be asked to purchase a new one for that person.
  • Asking a child to wait for something he wants due to inappropriate behavior
    • Example: “I can’t give you a cookie when you speak to me like that. You can have the cookie after you are able to ask nicely.”
  • Natural consequences of the child’s actions
    • Example: A 6 year old has a problem with taking toys from his friends during play time. Eventually, the child starts to notice that the other children don’t want to play with him. A parent can point out the cause and effect in this situation and help him think of a better way to play cooperatively.

Of course, there are inappropriate methods of punishment, such as yelling or hitting a child.

How can a parent monitor themselves when called upon to implement negative consequences for a child’s behavior (in other words, to “punish”)?

How can I identify if my punishment is appropriate? 

baby sleeping on black surface

1) Understand the Effects of Punishment

Parents must understand that punishment has LOTS of negative side effects when used improperly.

  • Punishment causes temporary change ONLY. 

This is so VITAL! If you want long-term change, follow the rules of behavior (see below).

Punishment is a temporary fix, used for the most dire of parenting circumstances. If used by itself, it will only result in a limited and short-lived change in behavior. 

For example, when my toddler runs into the street, I will yell to get her attention quickly in order to keep her safe. She hurries out of the road because I yelled. But, she didn’t learn anything. She will probably get in the road again in the future unless I implement additional teaching. 

  • Punishment increases the tendency to hide behavior. 

Punishment doesn’t teach. It doesn’t help the child know what to do better- only what not to do.

Children who do not know why a behavior is “bad” won’t stop the behavior- they’ll only hide the behavior from you. 

  • Punishment makes a child want to change for another person, instead of changing because they want to improve themselves. 

Punishment doesn’t help a child see your point of view. It doesn’t help them think through the good and bad reasons to continue or discontinue acting a certain way.

The child will change what they’re doing to avoid the punishment, and that’s the ONLY reason. As soon as the punishing agent is gone (often YOU- the parent) they are prone to misbehave again. There’s no internal change or understanding. 

  • Punishment can cause rebellion. 

Nobody likes to be punished. If a parent’s side of the story isn’t adequately explained, it seems to the child like the parent is being mean or insensitive.

Children who don’t understand why the parent acted the way they did are prone to kick against the pricks. They might feel a righteous anger- the need to fight back against the tyranny of your parenting. 

After all, children learn from our behavior. They are just treating you the way they were treated. 

  • Punishment gets less effective over time. 

Even with a child who isn’t openly rebellious, punishment loses its efficacy over time because it loses the novelty. You can remedy this by using punishment LESS often, not MORE often.

Let’s compare this to the example earlier about yelling for a child who is in the road. If the parent had a habit of yelling often, the child wouldn’t respond as quickly to the parent’s calls to get out of the road. 

  • Punishment can escalate quickly. 

Let’s say a parent tried positive, gentle parenting. It didn’t seem to work. After a lot of frustration, they decide to try implementing punishment.

Instead of motivating real change, the child responds negatively to this too.

A common mistake is to increase the punishment. More severe punishment should equal faster change, right? Unfortunately not.

This spirals quickly into chaos. The child resents the parent’s punishment, and the parent tries to respond by increasing the stakes, and the child is more upset by that. Every time the parent increases the punishment, the child feels less loved and more cause to fight back. 

The result is a gridlock of power struggles. 

I’ve heard parents compare this to the fighting robot on The Incredibles. You know, Mr. Incredible is asked to go to the island to stop the robot? The one that gets smarter as you fight it?

“Every second you spend fighting it only increases its knowledge of how to beat you!”

-Mirage, The Incredibles

  • Punishment can harm relationships. 

Obviously, a parent-child relationship can’t stand much of this vicious spiral of one-upping each other.

The parent finds a new way to punish, the child finds a new way to rebel. There’s no love in that. There’s no fostering open parent-child communication. There’s no teaching.

  • Punishment is not always in the child’s best interest. 

Punishment isn’t a cure all.

There are VERY, VERY few occasions to use punishment, and LOTS of occasions to avoid it. 

But I don’t pretend that punishment should be completely avoided. There are some rare circumstances to use punishment, carefully and appropriately.

But WHEN should punishment be used? And HOW can I avoid these negative side effects? 

woman standing on bridge

2) Follow the Laws of Behavior

Let’s go back to ABA Therapy. ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis- basically, the study of how people act and how to use patterns of behavior to positively affect the people around us. 

You can remember the basics of human behavior with a simple acronym: ABC- Antecedent (the trigger that causes a behavior), Behavior, and Consequences. 

The results of our actions (consequences) determine if:

  1. we choose to continue our behavior in the future (we call these positive consequences “reinforcement”)
  2. or if we discontinue our behavior in the future (you know this one already! We call this “punishment”).

Reinforcement is BY FAR more effective than punishment. Positive consequences cause long-term positive behavior and inner change. 

If your child acts out, avoid punishment.

Remember that there are valid reasons that children misbehave. They are just trying to get their needs met!

The first line of defense is to teach your child a more appropriate way to get his needs met.

Rather than saying, “Don’t hit” try saying “Let’s use gentle hands.” Show the child what that looks like, talk about it, and practice it in real life situations. Then reward, reward, reward when the child successfully uses gentle hands instead of hitting! 

Rewards can be anything that motivates the child to continue the behavior in the future, like:

  • Verbal praise
  • Hugs and kisses
  • Being proud of the child
  • Natural Consequences 
    • Example: If the child uses gentle hands, he will have more friends and more fun as he enjoys cooperative play.
  • Getting to enjoy extra privileges
    • Example: Getting to enjoy a fun activity that the child loves, like playing video games or getting to stay up after bedtime to spend one-on-one time with mom.

Punishment is effective when saved for the absolute worst case scenarios (especially dangerous situations)…. and, even then, ONLY when combined with reinforcement. 

Let’s use the example of a child who walked into the street.

  1. The parent’s initial response is to yell (punishment) to get the child out of harm’s way quickly. Because the parent doesn’t yell often, the child responds right away. But the child feels terrible about her mistake. She is crying and doesn’t understand what she did wrong. 
  2. The mom patiently hugs her until she is calm again. This reiterates to the child that the parent loves her even though she made a mistake. This keeps the parent-child relationship strong even though the child was punished. 
  3. The parent doesn’t stop there! The next step is to teach the child what to do instead. They walk around the yard together and mom points out the safe places and the dangerous places, taking time to explain why the yard is safe and the road is dangerous. 
  4. Then the parent ends with reinforcement! As the child plays, the parent notices and praises the child for staying in the safe parts of the yard. This results in long-term learning and behavioral change. 

two person holding hands

3) What is Your Mindset?

If you’re asking yourself if you’re in an appropriate situation to use punishment, first consider your own mindset.

Punishment is not a good way to release your own frustrations.

Before you act, ask yourself: Are you looking out for the child’s best interest?  

three children sitting on grass

4) Consider your Child’s Development

If you’re asking yourself if you’re in an appropriate situation to use punishment, think about the child’s developmental strengths and limitations.

Children’s misbehavior often isn’t misbehavior at all. You can’t break a rule that you don’t understand.

Here’s some basic guidelines for children’s development:

  • Babies: Absolutely never punish a baby. Babies cannot misbehave. They only cry when they need something. Crying is an effective means of communication. Parents should respond quickly.
  • Toddlers (2-3): Toddlers have very limited understanding of rules, consequences, and logic. Patient teaching is the best response to toddlers. Keep it simple!
  • Young Children (4-7): Young children understand rules and simple cause and effect. Most children want to follow the rules. They want to be good. However, they are still impulsive and can forget about consequences in the moment. Guide them in their efforts to make good choices using lots of reinforcement.
  • Older Children (8-12): Older children are able to account for their mistakes. They have the recollection and understanding to predict consequences based on their previous experiences. They are receptive to loving guidance, especially when the parent takes the time to explain why the child should act a certain way!
  • Teenagers:  Teenagers are capable of complex thinking, including morality, situational changes rather than rigid rules, and hidden consequences. Teenagers are heavily influenced by friends, so parents can lose some influence. If parents want to maintain a strong impact in their child’s life, it’s best to have a good relationship with the child prior to the teenage years. Even if you feel that your relationship is strained, you can show love for your teen by setting appropriate boundaries and sticking to them using positive and loving methods.

person holding pen with coffee on table

5) Think of All the Possible Solutions

There’s always a positive solution to every problem. 

If you’re stuck, get creative!

Sit down and write down 50 potential responses to the child’s behavior. It takes a TON of work and thought to list that many realistic solutions. You’ll find yourself getting more in depth ideas.

You’re less likely to have a “blow up” out of frustration because you have so many predetermined ideas to turn to when the behavior comes up!

silhouette of road signage during golden hour

6) Take Advantage of Natural Consequences

Natural consequences are amazing. 

They are life’s responses to how we act.

  • If I go out in the snow without a coat, I  will be cold.
  • If I stay home from work, I won’t get money to buy the things I want.
  • If I yell at my boss, relationships are damaged and I could get fired.
  • If I buy one item, I can’t afford another thing that I might have wanted.

Parents can point out life’s consequences without implementing punishment of their own. 

This is a great way to maintain a loving relationship with your child, help them avoid mistakes, and develop strong character. 

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

7) Behavior is Only Behavior

Remember that your child is who matters most.

Behavior is not everything. It’s ok for children to mess up here and there.

Love your child through all their good times and in their bad times. That will show an ever-lasting love that will help both you and your child respond positively when things get tough.

 

What are your opinions on punishment? I want to hear them! Comment below!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

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3 Reasons and 4 Tips to Save Kids (And Ourselves) From Technology

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services 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. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Trivia: How many children under the age of 6 have smart phones??

(Scroll to the bottom of the post for the answer)

I have heard that technology can cause problems for kids and parents. I kind of thought, “Yeah, well, anything can cause problems. You’ve just got to be in control of it, be smart.”

That is what I thought.

And then I watched this Ted Talk that changed my whole perspective on technology and social media for children.

Can flip phones end our social media addiction? | Collin Kartchner | TEDxSaltLakeCity

 

Please, please take the time to watch this. It’s 17 minutes long, and life changing. I’m so happy I spent that 17 minutes to better understand this issue.

Let me repeat some of the most horrifying, intoxicating, depressing quotes from that video- Not to bring anyone down, but because I think they’re worth remembering. Even better yet, they’re worth changing ourselves!

There is a lot in this video that’s tough to hear, but it’s worth it to make ourselves, our homes, and our kids better!!

Here we go. Let’s do this.

(All quotes come from the Ted Talk listed above (see link)- unless otherwise specified.)

woman holding iPhone during daytime

1) Social Media and Suicide

“What is one thing your parent does not know about social media? It nearly ended my life.”

“…In just the last 7 years our suicide rate among kids (ages 10-17) have jumped 141%.”

“Experts say that handing a smart phone with social media and untethered access to these apps with no training or guidance is like handing them a key to a car with no drivers’ ed.”

Suicide has been a problem in society for most of my life, but I never really thought about the realities of this mass epidemic.

Children are hurting themselves. Children. All the time! Children don’t just do that kind of crap. Children are loving, kind, gentle, forgiving, understanding. Children are my favorite people to be around because of their amazing qualities.

My eyes are opened that a sweet, innocent child who hurts themselves could be lost forever. Over something so insignificant as a phone. That’s insane! It just can’t go on. This has to stop.

person using black smartphone with gray and pink case

2) Problems for Children’s Mental Health

“We are on the verge of the greatest public health crisis this generation has ever seen. That was two years ago. We are no verging. The verge is here.”

“Robs them of their resiliency…”

“Our kids’ entire self-worth at 13 is determined by virtual, unpredictable feedback. The validation that we all crave, to them, is only available in this synthetic way. Their social standing and their self-esteem is determined by a like on an Instagram photo.”

“When you’re 13 today, there’s no place to run. There’s no escape. And it is soul crushing.”

I’ve often wondered about the rising rates of depression and anxiety in particular, but other mental health issues as well, like bipolar disorder.

This video shared research linking depression and anxiety to cell phone use and/or social media addictions in children. This makes sense to me as a professional. I know that children’s brain development (particularly in complex social situations) takes years to properly form.

Neural connections that are actively used are maintained and even heightened by the brain, while neural connections that are not used weaken, wither, and eventually die if they are not used for a long period of time.

That means that our teens’ daily activities drastically affect their long-term development.

Lack of appropriate social and emotional experiences, learning, and growth will weaken or slow the social/emotional areas of the brain. Overexposure to particular experiences (like cell phone or social media use) heighten those areas of the brain.

It makes sense that the result would be an imbalance of development!


Other Great Reads: 

27 Universal Truths to Live a Happy Life NOW!

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

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

25 Best Mom Hacks that Save Time, Energy, and Money


two men and one woman standing on station while holding mobile phones during daytime

3) Our Own Addictions

“The answer of ‘how do we save these kids’ is that we can’t… until we first save ourselves. We as adults and as parents, we have to break free from our screen dependency and our social media addiction. We have to start modeling healthy digital behavior for our kids who don’t hear us, they see us.”

“Now that I’m a teenager, I have never felt more distance, and it’s not because of me… It’s because I can’t get my mom and dad off their stupid phone… I’ve never felt more unloved and more uncared for all because of this stupid phone.”

“This little, precious human being looked at me and with tears in her eyes said, ‘Why do you love your phone more than you love me?’”

“When I had my phone out in front of my kids she didn’t know that I was answering emails to make money so she could go to dance… The only thing she saw when this was out in front of her was ‘that means more to dad that I do.’”

This broke my heart.

It is interesting to me that the presenter did not describe the intense, over the top parents. He described every day dads and moms. The ones who use their phone to check email, to enjoy a break by playing a quick game, to keep in touch with long lost friends, to see their sister’s cute baby on Facebook, to learn something new on YouTube.

It’s all good things- but an imbalance of anything is no longer a good thing.

The child doesn’t know the difference between a parent who is doing good things on their phone and a parent who isn’t. To the child, it’s the same result- a distracted, emotionally unavailable parent.

And I realized as I listened that I fell into that same category of “normal” disengaged parents. I remembered my child pushing her face in between me and my phone, or saying “mom, mom, mom, mom…” over and over because I didn’t respond the first time, or hitting my phone in my hands and saying “No!” And I thought she was the one who was out of line. 

Absolutely not! It was me all along.

Not my child! She can NEVER feel this way again! I learned about this with plenty of time to adjust and I’m going to.

My baby will grow up knowing that she and her daddy and her siblings are the most important thing in my entire life! More important than stupid cell phones, more important than Facebook likes, more important than popularity.

She is the center of my universe, and she’s going to know it!

man beside a boy while holding playing cards

4) What Can We Do?

Throughout the Ted Talk, I noticed four ideas of what we can do to improve ourselves as parents to help this crisis. Here they are:

  • “When I get home from work now… I put my phone in a drawer, I grab that little tiny human, I set her on my lap. I ask her about her day and as she’s telling me I try not to even blink. One thing amazing happened as I was doing this. All the defiance and anger stopped right then because she felt loved and connected.

This is obvious, but really hard to actually do.

The first step is to put the phone away. I never, ever thought I had a cell phone or a social media addiction. I never even had an Instagram or Twitter before I started blogging! I only had Facebook, and I spent less than 1 hour a day on Facebook.

But the cell phone… I actually struggle to be without my phone. I depend on it for my calendar, my alarms, my notes, my grocery list, my email, my games, my social media, my communication with my husband (and everyone else I know for that matter….), researching answers to questions, and basically everything else.

How am I supposed to put it down so that I can give my children all the attention they need?

I don’t really know, but I’m going to figure it out. Time to put it down, even when it’s inconvenient.

  • “It’s ok to show the world that we’re not ok.”

Social media has created a world of perfection. A world where everyone compares their worst qualities to everyone else’s best qualities. A world where you hide your flaws and flaunt the things you’re good at, then beat yourself up quietly when others are good at something you’re not good at.

That’s wrong!

Why do we participate?? Let’s just not!

We can be imperfect, even in public. Even on the worldwide web- even in front of our friends, and our colleagues. And yes, even in front of our children!

  • “What is the proper age to hand our children this technology and these devices… When are you ok with him to start looking at pornography? When are you ok with her to start feeling anxiety and question her self-worth? The minute we hand our kids these devices is the minute they stop being a kid.”

A third suggestion is to delay giving your children access to smart phones, especially because of the access to social media.

I know every parent has their own opinions on this, and I’m still forming my own opinion. But I think this point is very compelling and should at least be considered as parents make their own decisions.

photo of mother and child beside body of water

  • “It is never too late to step up and be a parent!”

I love this quote so much!

It’s absolutely right! We never have to get down on ourselves for our mistakes. We get infinity chances to try again, to fix our problems, to become who we want to be. 

Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and give it another shot.

And when you fail again, just do that again. One more try, and another, and another, and another. Your kids will love you if you keep trying, even if you fail over and over. Trying shows that you love them. You would give up if you didn’t care, but you do care so you won’t ever give up on your kids.

 

I hope sharing this awesome information helps a parent and a child out there! Please share your experiences in the comments below to inspire other moms and dads just like you!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

Click here to get your FREE Parent’s Guide to Self-Care! 

Free Self Care Guide 2

 

Trivia Answer: 1 in 4 of children under age 6 have smartphones, according to this resource! 

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

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services 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. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

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: 

6 Steps to Be a Friend… Without Owning Other People’s Problems

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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If “Mom” Were a Paid Profession… How Much $$$ Would YOU Have Made In 2018?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services 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. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Moms, you have the hardest and the lowest paying job in the world. You are NEVER off the clock, you get no holidays off or paid vacation time, none of the traditional working benefits, no HR department to back you up, no handbook.

And you do it all for $0 per hour, $0 per year.

But what if you did get paid for everything you do?

What would that paycheck look like?

To find out, let’s assess these 13 “jobs” that all fall into the daily life of a mom and how much those careers pay.

(I used salary.com for all of my data unless otherwise specified)

Comment Below- How much money would be “worth it” to you for all the work you do as a mom if you were considering making “mom” your chosen career?

1) Nurse

Moms are the nurse of the family. We have to know how to diagnose common illnesses, what remedies to try, how to administer medication, and how to have great bedside manner with our little patients.

Besides all that, we are constantly on call for the job of nurse. If our child is sick at 2am, we’re out of bed taking care of him. If our kid is throwing up at school, we leave our day jobs to go pick her up.

How much do nurses earn?

There is quite a range. Pediatric nurse practitioners also work specifically with children. The average salary for entry level pediatric nurse practitioners is $102,545.

On the other end of the spectrum, a school nurse (who also specializes in working with children) makes an average of $49, 088.

2) Chef

person cutting vegetables with knife

Moms are chefs at home. They are the primary meal planner- in charge of creating a menu, taking inventory of what food is available, purchasing any necessary ingredients, preparing the food, and making good use of the leftovers.

It could be argued that parents also do the job of Server ($27,308) and Nutritionist ($60,467), but just to be conservative we’ll stick with chef.

But for simplicity sake, we’ll stick with chef. The average chef earns $45,396 per year.

3) Chauffeur

How much driving do you think a parent does every day? It’s a ton! Between all the different lessons and activities our kids are involved in (sports, music, dance, gymnastics, church, clubs, student council, etc.) not to mention just getting to school, I feel like I’m living out of the car.

There are days that we pack dinner to eat on the go just because we know there isn’t going to be time to drive home and eat between the kids’ different appointments. Moms are definitely chauffeurs.

The average chauffeur earns $33,417 per year.

4) Mediator/Judge

brown wooden gavel

Moms and Dads are constantly helping their children solve problems. This could be problems between you and the child, problems between two of your children, or problems between a child and their friends.

There are times when parents do the job of a judge- which is to listen to both cases, review the rules of the family, and make a decision about who was right and who was wrong. This almost always comes with administering some sort of punishment to the guilty party. It’s not a pleasant job.

Judges earn a whopping $162,653 per year! And they deserve every penny. Being a judge is rough.

Mediators are a little different.

Interestingly, they are paid less than a judge although mediating in a family can be more complex and involved than judging in a family.

Mediation involves listening to both sides using reflective listening techniques and guiding a conversation between the two parties to help them come to a reasonable solution on their own. Rather than judging where you are the final say, in mediation the goal is to have both parties agree on a plan of action. This is especially difficult when dealing with two parties who are angry with each other, and sometimes angry with you.

Mediators are paid an average of $64,174 annually.

(https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Mediator-Salaries)

5) Bookkeeper/Accountant

Parents have a lot of behind the scenes work to make a home run smoothly and effectively.

One important job they do every day is managing the family finances. This is comparable to a bookkeeper or an accountant. Moms and dads earn money, track expenses, complete tax forms, and budget.

The salary ranges depending on experience and education. A Bookkeeper ($42,015 per year) has more basic knowledge and skills rather than an Entry Level Accountant ($51,284 per year) who has more specialized training.

6) Professional Organizer

white ceramic bottles on shelf

Moms are constantly organizing. It’s the job of the parents to keep the living space livable– which means implementing all the life hacks that they can find to simplify the day to day juggle.

Moms find creative ways to store all their children’s items, like toys, backpacks, shoes, lunchboxes, video games, etc.

They also get clever about how to fit all the necessities of life into small spaces, making the most of the room that they have. It’s an amazing thing to see!

Professional organizers make $42,825 per year on average.

(https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Professional_Organizer/Hourly_Rate)


Other Great Reads: 

25 Best Mom Hacks that Save Time, Energy, and Money

10 Best Hair Styles for Mom on a Busy School Morning

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

Fill Yourself- Balancing Parent Life and Personal Life


 

7) Cosmetologist

Moms and dads are in charge of their children’s appearance, at least before the kids are old enough to do their own hair and choose their own clothes.

This involves a lot beyond just running a comb through each child’s hair.

Moms and dads wash, cut, and style their children’s hair. They paint fingernails. They even dress the kids.

The average cosmetologist earns $27,278.

(https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Cosmetologist-Salary)

8) Interior Design

four orange, green, blue, and red paint rollers

Parents are responsible for the general appearance and ambiance in their home.

When done well, this makes a big difference in quality of life.

Parents can design a home to promote fun, creativity, education, and relaxation. For example, a parent decides if there is a reading area in their home, if there are educational toys, if the wall colors encourage relaxation, if the children get a say in the design of their room, etc. There are endless possibilities!

Interior designers average $45,198 per year.

9) Photographer

It’s the parent’s job to catch all the wonderful moments in daily life and on special occasions. They are the photographer. It’s up to them to take pictures that will remind each other of the fun and happiness that we experienced as a family.

That’s no small task, and so important! It would be tragic to miss or forget the amazing details of childhood.

Photographers typically make $63,154.

10) Housekeeper

person holding two white towels

A housekeeper is similar to a maid. The job includes duties like doing laundry, tidying, deep cleaning and disinfecting, washing dishes, and making beds.

It’s important to know tricks to get stains out of clothes, how to clean carpets when kids pee on them, which cleaners are most effective for each surface in your home, and what chemicals are harmful to children.

Housekeepers average $25,091 per year.

11) Life Coach/Counselor

Moms and dads are constantly offering helpful advice to get their children through life’s learning process. This is one job of a parent that continues even after your children move out of the house.

You are called upon when your kids are disappointed by a bad grade, when a friend lets them down, when they go through a breakup, when they lose a job, when they move schools and miss their friends, when they don’t get along with their peers, when they experience bullying, when they make mistakes.

Your job is to offer emotional support, wisdom, and guidance.

You help them work through their feelings and guide them to find their own solutions.

A life coach typically earns $46,285 and a family support counselor earns about $38,926.

(https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Life_Coach/Hourly_Rate)

12) Purchaser/Merchandise Buyer

person holding basket filled with vegetables

Shopping is a never-ending chore for parents. Of course, I don’t mean the fun kind of shopping where you get cute new clothes. I mean grocery shopping. No fun.

Most businesses hire a purchaser, who is in charge of keeping warehouses and businesses stocked with essential items. That means everything from their top selling item to the toilet paper in the bathroom.

Moms do that too. We keep our homes stocked with everything from ketchup to batteries to shaving cream.

Purchasers earn approximately $91,360 per year.

13) Teacher or Teacher Aide  

All parents act as teacher aids. They are in charge of helping the child understand the concepts taught at school so that the child can successfully complete his homework. It’s not easy to explain and teach without just giving away answers.

Teacher’s Aids make $22,367 per year.

Some elite parents home school their kids. They take on the full role of teacher. That means you have all the duties of a teacher’s aid, but you also have to plan lessons, implement lessons, research various ways to present the information, test your child’s understanding, and meet the education criteria provided by your state.

I admire parents who can do all that because it’s a ton of work in addition to the regular workload of a parent!

Teachers make around $56,289 annually.

two babies and woman sitting on sofa while holding baby and watching on tablet

Moms, you’re priceless. But every once and a while, it’s nice to see a price anyways. 😊

I know, I probably forgot something…. The list is just so endless. You could include recreation management, pharmacist, tutor, car mechanic, seamstress, fashion designer, landscaper… There’s so much that parents do every day, there’s just no way to include every “job” a mom does.

 

Using the jobs listed above, let’s add all the salaries just for fun to see what the salary for all those roles combined would be!

Now, I know, adding a bunch of salaries isn’t exactly how a mom’s worth should be calculated because you have to control for factors like education requirements, professional experience, professional training, and special skills… Another limitation is that moms might spend much less time per job because they have so many total jobs to do rather than devoting a 40 hour workweek to each thing. For example, I spend about 7 hours per week helping my kids with their hair, but a cosmetologist spends 40 hours per week helping people with that.

Blah blah blah.

I know this number doesn’t mean much, But just for fun, let’s do it! We’ll get around to a more realistic dollar amount later.

All together… Mom jobs’ salaries combined equals….

$565,198 per year!!!!

 

Woo Hoo!!! And by the way, that’s going off of the lowest salaries combined- for example, there is a range in what accountants vs bookkeepers earned, so we used the salary for bookkeeper since it was lower. Just to be safe. So a mom’s salary could be even higher than that!

Again, this is a little bit of an unrealistic number because of various factors that need to be accounted for but WHO CARES???

It’s just nice to know that our work really is worth something!

 

Ok, I did promise a more accurate number.

I did find some awesome people who are smarter than me who did some accurate math to account for education, experience, etc. and the result was a more reasonable salary.

A mom’s (real and accurate) salary in 2018 should have been…..

$162,581!!!

 

person writing dollar sign on sketch book

Still good, but I like the first number better.

Comment Below- How much money would be “worth it” to you for all the work you do as a mom if you were considering making “mom” your chosen career?

 

Thanks for having some fun with me today looking into what a mom is “worth”. Seriously, there isn’t a number that accurately reflects all the love and patience and sacrifice you do every day.

But it is weirdly nice to know that we are worth a lot. What we do really is hard, despite all those haters who ask “What do moms do at home all day?” They might not understand all the jobs you moms do every day, but I do.

Keep it up! You’re amazing.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services 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. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated 2/13/2019

Hey Parents,

Did you ever notice that the concept of time is really tough for kids to understand– all the way from birth up until they are like 7 or 8?

It’s a real problem, because we use time to manage everything in our lives!

  • When to wake up,
  • when to go to daycare or the babysitter’s,
  • when to the store,
  • when to eat,
  • when to nap,
  • when we come home from work,
  • when to celebrate holidays,
  • when to go to parties,
  • when to take a bath,
  • when to go to bed….

And through all this, our poor children don’t even know what we’re talking about when we say, “We will get to have bath time at 7 o’clock. Please wait til then.”

How can we help kids understand what’s coming next in the day?

It’s no fun to be thrown into things without any warning or understanding. What would that feel like to have NO IDEA what is going to happen next until someone else decided for you? And you HAD to do it?? 

I would throw a fit too!

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Case in point-

I was feeling so sad for my poor daughter the other day. She was getting so frustrated because she couldn’t understand why it wasn’t time to eat dinner.

Having a family dinner is very important to us, so I was hoping she would wait until dad got home from work. We do this every day, but those last 15 minutes are always a battle! 

There’s got to be a way to fix it. I’m done fighting this every single day! 

I did what every mom does- I complained to my friends about our problems. My awesome sister-in-law Monica (an amazing mother of four who I really look up to) gave me the best idea!

She said that she had heard of a tool that you can make at home, DIY, for less than $20 that will help children better understand time and routines.

Ummm…. YES PLEASE!!!

I took her suggestions and added my own twists. I call it our “Routine Clock.”

I’m focusing on two parts of our daily routine- eating times (snacks and meals) and sleeping times (nap and bedtime) by marking those events on the face of an analog clock for my child to see.

img_20181128_1245258072.jpg

Do you have any great ideas on how to improve this “Routine Clock”? Tell us about it! Comment below!

Step 1: Gather materials.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A cheap analog clock

Mainstay Sterling & Noble Wall Clock – Black


  • Sharpies

Sharpie 30078 Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Classic Colors, 8 Count

  • Scissors

AmazonBasics Multipurpose Scissors – 3-Pack

  • A screwdriver

TEKTON 2796 6-in-1 Screwdriver

  • Stickers, paint, or any other fun decorations your child might like!

RENOOK Stickers for Kids 1500+, 20 Different Sheets, 3D Puffy Stickers, Scrapbooking, Bullet Journals, Stickers for Adult, Including Animals, and More,Christmas Stickers for Kids.

Crayola Washable Kids Paint, Classic Colors, 6 Count, Painting Supplies, Gift

  • Not required… But there were tiny screws that are easy to lose, so my husband’s magnetic tool tray might have come in handy. I wish I had thought of it beforehand.

Titan Tools 11061 Mini Magnetic Parts Tray

Step 2: Remove the minute hand (or at least mark the hour hand).

The overall goal with this clock is for my child to watch the hour hand approach a marked time for a snack or a meal or nap time in order to visualize when those events are getting closer.

The problem is that the minute hand crosses each of the marked time slots every hour of the day, while the hour hand only crosses them once per day (once per day during the hours that my child is awake anyways…).

So I really need my child to watch the hour hand, not the minute hand. By removing the minute hand or at least marking the hour hand, my child knows which one to keep an eye on.

You’ll have to remove the clock face for this step. It was super easy to do- just take out the screws on the back of the clock.

The minute and second hands were easy to cut with scissors. I did leave a small bit of each hand so that I could set the time on the clock.

If you would rather not cut the minute hand, just mark the hour hand with a sticker or by painting it or using a sharpie to change its color. This will help it stand out so that your child knows to watch the hour hand.

Step 3: Use a sharpie to mark the times of various daily activities on the face of the clock.

Replace the face of the clock. Again- so easy, just screw the face back on.

img_20181128_130937044.jpg

I tried light-colored sharpies so that my child could still see the numbers under my markings.

As my child practices with the clock, I would like to start teaching her how the numbers correspond with the time, which corresponds with our daily activities. I really didn’t want to cover up the numbers with dark colors.

I found that the light green and yellow sharpies were TOO light. You could hardly see the color. But the darker pink and darker green were perfect!

img_20181128_131142352

****Idea- One limitation of this clock is that it still only works to help my child understand the daily routine, not to prepare for curve balls that life throws when the routine is thrown off.

If you want the clock to change based on what your plans are for the day, don’t use sharpies. Try using dry erase markers so that you can add different tasks or activities based on what new things are going on for the day!

Then just erase your clock at the end of the day so that you can put the next day’s tasks on the clock!

For my purposes, I color coded the clock using green and pink. Pink marks are for meals and snacks. Green marks are for naps and bedtime.

My child usually goes to sleep at 7pm and wakes up at 7am, so I marked from 7 to 7:15 in green to mark bedtime/wake up time. Her nap is around 1-3, so those times are marked in green.

Breakfast is between 7:15-8, lunch is between 12-12:45, dinner is between 5-6, and snacks are from 10-10:30am and 3-3:30pm. Those times are all blocked out in pink.

Marking a range of time during which we generally eat or sleep rather than marking one specific time allows some flexibility.

For example, we start lunch any time between 12:00 and 12: 45.

img_20181128_131646909-e1543527079187.jpg

Step 4: Decorate it!

I have not been blessed with a talent for drawing, especially on a curved surface like the face of a clock, so it was surprisingly difficult to make my clock look cute!

In the end, I decided I’d better go simple. I outlined each different task in black sharpie to make the time slots nice and defined, added a boarder around the face of the clock, and called it good.

But let’s be real- kids aren’t judgmental. They love you no matter what, and they’re excited about new things with pretty colors. So I had nothing to worry about.

If my little one were a little older, I would probably invite her to decorate it herself.

Oh, and I also added labels on each routine so that my awesome husband knows what’s coming up next. He always wants to help but doesn’t always know how. Win Win!

img_20181128_133807252

Step 5: Set the time.

Just follow the directions on the package!

Step 6: Put your new tool to work!

Well, we completed our clock about a week ago.

My daughter is catching on fast. I make sure to show her the clock each time a snack, meal, nap, or bedtime comes up. She is starting to point to it all on her own when we are getting close to one of those times in our day.

I chose not to hang it on the wall. Rather, I keep it on the counter.

  • Giving My Daughter a Heads Up

When a meal or nap is coming up, I hand it to my daughter (she loves to hold it) point to the color coming up. I ask her, “Do you know what’s going to happen soon?” or “Do you know what’s coming up next?”

Then we talk about it and I give her a 5-minute opportunity to finish up whatever she’s doing before it’s time to transition.

  • Helping her Understand When She Needs to Wait

It’s so much easier to tell her that she needs to wait to eat! (She doesn’t mind waiting to take a nap….)

If she’s getting hungry just a few minutes before dad gets home from work, I just show her the clock and say, “It’s not time for dinner yet, but look how close it is! Almost time!” 

Then she can hold the clock and check back to watch as dinner time gets closer and closer.

I have noticed frustration levels for both me and my child decreasing every day! It’s so nice to have a simple way to help her look forward to what’s coming up next in her routine.

img_20181128_150940892

Did you try out this “Routines Clock”? How did it go?? Comment below!

Do you have any great ideas on how to make these clocks better? Tell us about it! Comment below!

I hope this resource helps some cute kids out there!

And parents, as always, keep up the good work!

(As a total side note, I recently learned about another amazing tool to help children with time! This one is a clock that lights up green when it is “wake up time.” If the child wakes up too early, the light is off so he knows to keep resting or engage in a quiet activity until the light turns green signaling that he can begin his day! AMAZING!)

Click on the image below!
Mirari OK to Wake! Alarm Clock & Night-Light

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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