Updated: Mar 15, 2020
The first step is preparation so do this before you go to bed or first thing in the morning if you get up before your kids do. Don't skip this step if you want this magic mom/caregiver trick to work.
Get a pen (or marker) and paper and make a list in large letters of your child's best traits and
qualities. Do this for each of your children. Hang it where you'll see it often.
From the time you greet your child in the morning, start to look for those traits and let them know how those traits are helpful to you. You can say something like,
"Good Morning Penny. Your smile makes me feel so good!"
"You got along great with your brothers, this morning Sheldon. Thanks, I was able to make myself something to eat and I have time to sit down with you all at the breakfast table."
Keep it up throughout the day. Make sure you're sincere in your noticing.
Plan some sensory activities during your day. The best, most engaging activities involve many different senses. Here's a short list of ideas. I'm sure you can think of many more.
Sand Play, Water Play, Sand and Water Play, Swinging, Paint with Water Colors, Play with Sponges and Water (tip: put containers 1/2 filled with water on top of towels for less mess), Plant Seeds, Watering Plants, Smelling Spices, Spray Bottle with Water Outside, Playgrounds, Play Dough!
The more play dough the better. Here's a great recipe if you want to make your own:
In a medium saucepan or electric skillet combine
2 Cups Water
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Salt
4 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
4 Tsp. Cream of Tartar
Food Color (optional)
Stir constantly on medium heat until the dough pulls from the sides of the pan and is the consistency of very thick mashed potatoes. Turn it out onto a table and start playing with it as soon as it cools a bit. Store in an airtight container.
With all of these super fun learning activities you'll need to think about time frames, how much of your involvement your child needs to be successful and how much time you have to give. Always make sure you allow for plenty of time to play because kids are engaged by these activities. It's up to you as the adult to set the time frame and realize that some kids need more monitoring than others. Always give a 5 minute warning to avoid meltdowns.
The combination of you noticing their best efforts and providing an engaging learning environment that also soothes is guaranteed to improve their behavior by at least 50%, making an easier, less stressful day for you.
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Nanci J Bradley (60) is a child and family educator, author, energy facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, lifelong learning, healthy eating, fun and more than anything else, PLAY! She studied early childhood education at Triton College and received her BS in education from Northern Illinois University in 1986. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison, WI