Parenting

How to teach your child important skills without having to pull out all your hair

Your wish for your child is that he becomes self disciplined, independent and he is able to follow rules so that he can become a successful, productive citizen. However, sometimes you feel extremely frustrated because you have to repeat instructions 700 times before he budges. Well don't despair, it is possible to teach your child rules and give him self discipline without the feeling of daily frustration.

 

First of all, why is it important for a child to be self disciplined? Well it's simple. A self disciplined child is able to regulate his emotions better (not scream and shout when things don't go his way), he will be able to follow rules easier (when he's in school and the teacher says to complete 5 questions, he'll be able to do it) and honestly, he'll get along with the kids on the playground a lot better.

So are you ready to learn how to teach your child important skills like how to brush his teeth, tie his shoe laces, make his bed, etc?

1) Make sure the skills are age appropriate: Sometimes parents expect just too much from their kids. Only teach skills that a child can master at that age. Don't try to teach a 2 year old how to wash dishes or a 6 year old to mow the lawn. Sure there are some genius kids who can do it, but the average 6 year old just doesn't have that type of mastery. Before you get upset that your child isn't able to do something, first ask yourself if he is capable. Some children are also not as mature as their age mates. So try not to compare your child to others. Teach him skills that he is able to complete.

2) Make sure your directions are clear and simple: Parents are known for shouting out 17 instructions at once- "Go downstairs, get a cup of water, get your bag, grab your lunch, comb your hair, then wait for me to come downstairs." Woah!! Very few children (or adults) can remember 7 instructions at once. First, do not yell instructions from one room to the other. Talking through walls isn't very effective. Call your child into the room where you are, then only give him 1 or 2 instructions at once. Sometimes you can have him repeat the instructions to ensure that he heard and understood you. If your instructions are not clear or simple you're setting him up for failure and setting yourself up for frustration.

3) Watch your frustration level: When you're in a hurry or you're upset, that's the worst time to dish out instructions. You won't have time to explain clearly and your child will be stressed out. Also, if you're giving your child an instruction for a challenging task, chances are that he's going to need extra help. So don't set yourself up for failure. Only assign difficult tasks when you know you're going to have an extra minute to help him. Most kids cannot perform well under pressure. It's a simple fact. They'll get upset or have a meltdown.

4) Remove all distractions: Before giving out instructions, make sure the TV and video game console are off. There's no point competing with World of War Craft or Sponge Bob-don't try. First make sure your child isn't distracted, then give him 1 or 2 simple instructions. Sometime your child won't understand your instructions. Instead of yelling or getting frustrated, just repeat it in an easier format. Many parents will say things like "Why are you so distracted?" or "You just don't listen." But the problem is not the child, the problem is with the teacher. 

5) Use praise: After your child follows through, praise him. If you ask him to pass the salt and he does, say "Thank you." If he cleans up his room, give him a high five. These things not only build his self esteem, but they encourage him to continue to contribute to the household in a positive way. I know what you're about to say, "My mom never praised me for mowing the lawn. So I'm not going to praise my child." Well if you want a child with high self esteem and self discipline who has a strong, positive relationship with you, it'll only help to sow the seeds now.

6) Leave room for questions and errors: Many parents run their households like military installations. They don't leave any room for their kids to question them. It's okay if your child asks you why you use Windex on the glass instead of Mr Clean or why you mow the lawn in a certain way. Children are curious. If you're not satisfying their curiosity at home, when they get older, they'll find other influences to give them the attention they need- and you won't like it.  Plus the truth is that no one wants to raise a zombie child who doesn't ask questions. No one wants their child to just obey without reasoning first. If you want an independent, smart child, leave room for questions and for errors. The best investors and the most successful CEOs are people who are constantly questioning the system. Also remember that your kids will make mistakes. You can either beat them down when they do or teach them resiliency. It's your choice.

What are some ways you teach your child simple instructions? If you're in the Murrieta or Temecula area and you'd like to learn more about ways to improve your relationship with your child, how to strengthen his self esteem, and how to manage misbehavior so that your home becomes a safe haven, call me on 951-905-3181 or email me here. We'll talk about my 8 week parenting support group. If you feel like it's a good fit for you, I'll put you on the waitlist. You too can have a peaceful home with self disciplined, happy kids. 

What does a parenting class look like?

So you've been searching for parenting classes or parent support classes in the Murrieta and Temecula area, but you have no clue what to expect. You haven't asked any of your friends or family members for help because you think they will judge you. In your mind you know you're a great parent and you don't want anyone to tell you otherwise. You want to learn some new tips on being a more effective parent, but you're not sure what a parenting class would look like. Would you have to hold hands with other parents? Will it be a group of moms who share woeful tales about their kids? Would it be a complain fest? What exactly should you expect?

Well I cannot speak for every parenting class out there, but I'll share the way I run mine. My parenting classes are always taught by me- I am a licensed marriage and family therapist in Murrieta, CA. We meet once a week for 90 minutes over an 8 week period. Why 90 minutes? Because my goal is to pack you with useful information that will help you increase your confidence as a parent, help get your child on a good schedule, strengthen the bond between you and your child and understand why your child acts the way he or she does.

When you walk into the meeting room, you'll be greeted with some light refreshments. There'll also be a sign in sheet so I know you attended. You can sit wherever you want. During the first 2 meetings, I ask everyone to wear name tag. I also do the same because most people find it difficult to remember new people's names.

In the first class, we will all introduce each other and discuss why you all chose to attend the class. This is so that we all get a sense of togetherness. Usually this is when people talk about how uncomfortable they are to be in such a vulnerable space. You''ll find that others feel the same way. We will also come up with group agreements- these are do's and don'ts. So if there's anything that irks you, now will be the time to add it to our agreements. I always ask that we keep everyone's business in the room and that we also treat each other with kindness. Typically everyone agrees to these.

I'll give you a workbook that you get to keep. It's a pretty big book that you can look over whenever you have questions in the future. It's very detailed so by the end of 8 weeks you will have a very solid plan of action on how to parent your child. Please understand that parenting looks different in every household so I never tell you what to do with your child. It's your child- you know him or her better than anyone in the room. I'll also ask that you bring the workbook each week as we'll be working from it and you'll be filling it out.

During the group, we will all get to practice the skills I teach. The reason I do this is because sometimes when you're being lectured at, you can leave not actually knowing how to practice what you've just learned. But when you get to practice in class, it makes the concepts a lot clearer. After the 4th week, you will begin to actually practice the skills with your kids at home. So to be clear, your kids will not be attending class with you-this is a parents and guardians only class.

By the time you complete all 8 weeks of the class, you'll be a more confident parent, you'll learn about the developmental and emotional needs of your child, you'll be able to set proper rules and boundaries for your child, and you will instinctively know what works for your family. Now I never actually tell you what to do. Because you are the parent- you know your child better than anyone else. I'm just here as your guide, helping you pool whichever tools you think are right for you.

So if you are in the Murrieta/Temecula area and you think that a parenting class might be the right fit for you, go ahead and call me on 951-905-3181. We will talk about your needs and get you signed right up. Parenting can be a lot more streamlined. Or you can also email me here. Don't delay, spots fill up fast and a new class will start soon.

 

Do you need a parenting class?

Being a parent is hard-but I bet I don't have to tell you that. Kids are so cute and cuddly, but after a while they begin to drive you nuts. They never seem to listen to what you have to say, they throw tantrums all the time, they sometimes don't want to follow a convenient schedule and sometimes, all you want to do is scream at them.

There is a myth out there that mothers are supposed to intuitively know how to take care of their kids. When the baby cries, you're supposed to know why she's crying and you're supposed to be able to fix it immediately. And when you're in public and she throws herself on the floor in the middle of the Murrieta Target? Well everyone immediately stares at you like you're a horrible person. The feeling of shame suddenly overwhelms you and you either leave the store quickly or give her the candy she's begging for. You begin to judge yourself and wonder if you're cut out for this parenting gig.

And as she gets older, she'll start talking back and it sure won't be pretty. You wonder what you'll do then. In your heart, you just want to raise a child who has structure, who is self disciplined and who listens to you from time to time. You know your daughter isn't perfect, but you want her to not give you headaches. You don't want to be screaming at her or spanking her like your mom or grandma did. You dream of going with her to the nail salon and having girl time when she's all grown up. But the problem is you don't know how to get from point A to point B- from strong willed toddler to happy teenager.

Some people think that parenting classes or parent support groups are only for moms with CPS cases. Or that these groups are for moms who use substances or who abuse their children. Well this is quite false. A parenting class is simply an avenue where parents (yes, dads too) or caregivers (and grandmas are welcome as well) go to learn more about their goals for their kids, their family values, how to instill self discipline in their kids and how to help children to be assertive, while still knowing how to follow rules. It's not a group for mom shaming or a group where you learn that you're bad. Actually, in my group, my goal is to help you understand your child so well that at the end of the class you'll be pretty confident as a parent.

So if you're a parent who loves your child, wants her to accomplish great success in the future, wants her to learn empathy, wants her to learn independence, wants her to learn how to share and play well with others, and wants to know how to strengthen your parent-child bond, then a parenting class is just for you.

Let's face it- there is no such thing as a parent who knows it all, so why not spend some time learning about the developmental needs of your child and how to strengthen your relationship with her so that she wouldn't have to throw herself on the floor of Target in order to communicate her needs with you.

If you're interested in enrolling in my 8 week Toddlers to Tweens class, you can call me on 951-905-3181 or you can email me here. We'll talk about if the class is a great fit for you, what goals you're looking to accomplish and how you can become a much more confident parent. Remember, parenting is hard, but it doesn't have to be totally painful. With some new tools in hand, you can learn how to make your journey a lot smoother. Call today-don't be shy.

What's an appropriate punishment for your child?

Your child brings you so much joy. She makes silly faces, pronounces her words all wrong and paints her face with spaghetti sauce at least once a week. Everyone talks about how she's the cutest thing ever and you're just such a proud mom. But there are times when you wonder whose child she is. She throws herself on the floor, she doesn't listen to anything you have to say and you just feel so fed up. During those times you really think she was sent by your enemies just to torture you. You find yourself shamefully thinking, "Ugh! I wish I never had kids!" Well don't beat yourself up too badly, parenting is a constant roller coaster and I'm pretty sure most moms have had those same thoughts.

So how do you effectively discipline a child without hurting her self esteem or pride? How do you get her to comply without sending out empty threats 76 times a day? You are in luck, I'm going to show you how to effectively discipline your child without guilt or feeling like a bad person.

Before we dive in, let me explain what I mean by discipline. When most people hear the word, they think of belts and switches and chanklas. But that's not the discipline I'm talking about. According to the dictionary, discipline is "Training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character." Merrian Webster. That's the type of discipline I'm talking about. Now that we're on the same page, let's dive in.

1) Set the ground rules clearly: First, realize that your child will always break the rules if she has no clue what the rules actually are. If you have a toddler, let her know, in an age appripaite way what the rules are. So say something like "We keep our hands to ourselves" or "We hold mommy's hands when we are in the store." Repeat this over and over again until she gets it and always reward her with praise when she's following rules-that's the part many parents forget.

2) Have a short discussion when the rules are broken: Okay so as a parent myself, this is the part I can't stand. I just want to yell and get it over with, but what does yelling teach your child? Nada. After you've set clear rules, once your child breaks them, it's time to remind her about the rule she broke and allow her to follow the rule.

So let's say she runs in the house, remind her "What's our rule about running in the house? (Give her time to repeat it). Remember our rule is that we walk in the house so you don't get hurt? So go over there and show me how to walk like a big girl." Assuming she follows through, praise her and keep it moving. So now instead of yelling and teaching her nothing, you have reinforced the rule twice and ensured that she can actually follow it. This can be used when your child does something minor.

3) Ignore minor tantrums: Most parents give their child their full attention when they are throwing tantrums. This only teaches a child that the best way to get a parent's attention is by throwing a tantrum-which is the very opposite thing you want to teach her. When you are at the store and your little girl throws herself on the floor because she wants some chips, just keep moving. You can remind her that you only speak to girls who talk nicely to their mothers. And ensure that you DO NOT buy her the chips, even when she calms down. She will learn two things-she doesn't get attention for tantrums and she doesn't always get her way.

4) Use logical consequences: So there's no one size fits all when it comes to punishments. What works for Sally might be useless for Sue. But make sure the punishments fits the crime and is related to the actual crime. So if Sally hits Sue with a doll, after explaining why we don't hit, also take the precious doll away-a direct consequence for hitting. 

After taking the doll away for about 15 minutes, call Sally back, explain the rule about keeping her hands to herself and why we do it (to keep everyone safe), then have her apologize to Sue and give her the opportunity to play nicely. Got it? So in this instance, Sally is learning the rules, she is being taught reconciliation and she is given a second chance. She understands that there will be no grudge held against her. Her self esteem is left intact. If she hits again, then she can't be allowed to play with Sue or the doll for a longer period of time or even the rest of the day. 

5) Use time outs: When a child I put in a time out, first remind her of the rule she broke and why the rule is put in place. Then give her the rules of timeout. "Sally, you hit your sister. You really hurt her. We keep our hands to ourselves so we can keep everyone safe. Now you're going to sit quietly in the time out corner for 6 minutes and I'll come get you when your time out is over. Do you understand?"

Now follow through. Remind her that her timeout only begins when she is quiet and ignore her completely for all of those 6 minutes. If it's more convenient, you can include a timer so you don't forget her in timeout. This teaches her consequences and structure. 

If she refuses to go into timeout, keep taking her back to the timeout corner until she complies. Eventually she'll learn that rules are rules. If time outs don't work for your child, then try taking away something she holds dear or cancel a trip you were going to take.

Be creative, but don't be cruel about it. Remember the punishment is to fit the crime. Your goal is to teach and shape your child, not to break her will.

If you're in the Murrieta or Temecula area and you are interested in attending a class that teaches you more about the emotional needs of your child, how to improve your relationship with your child, as well as how to implement rules, my Toddlers to Tweens parenting class might just be for you. Call 951-905-3181 for a free consultation call to find out more about the parenting class and see if the class is right for you.

Why do your kids behave the way they do?

Parenthood is a roller coaster ride of emotions. First you find out that you're pregnant-you're filled with glee, some fear and mostly excitement. Then you get closer to your delivery date, and then you have no clue what to expect. The day your child is born, you are so relieved that he or she is healthy and happy. From the moment you take your precious little angel home, you realize that all the books and guides and articles probably got it wrong. Your child apparently does not fit all the labels you mentally prepared yourself for. He is just unique.

As your child gets older, you wonder why he is so different than the kids you've worked with or babysat in the past. So what determines your child's behavior? Well, you're in luck.

 1) Genetics: Every child is genetically predisposed to act in a certain way-it's called temperament. Some babies cry a lot, while others keep it cool and calm. Some kids are shy and others will make friends with anyone with a heartbeat. Some kids are sensitive and others are not. Temperament pretty much stays stable throughout a child's life. What's important is not changing your child's temperament, but figuring out how to understand him and nurture his unique strengths.

 It's not helpful at all to compare your child to others who have a different temperament. Think of it this way, would you like to be constantly compared to Beyonce, Hilary Clinton or your sister? Okay. So cut out the comparisons.

 2) Your child's health: Sometimes your child acts up because he isn't feeling too well. Sometimes people say a child doesn't pay attention, but maybe he has a hearing problem. Or perhaps your child is acting more cranky than normal because he has an upset stomach or he's hungry or tired. Or maybe he's just having a bad day.

So before you get upset or impatient with your child, check to see if he is in tip top health. Remember, your child isn't a robot-he will have bad days along with good days. I'm sure you can relate.

3) The home environment: The way you treat your child within the home really does affect his behavior. Is your home clean? Is your child comfortable and relaxed when he's at home? Is there a ton of chaos, is the home too loud or too quiet for your child? Are family members being mean to your child or does he feel like he is loved and cherished in the home? What type of foods is he being fed? Perhaps he has food allergies or sensitivities that you're not aware of. Is there a lot of stress or are family members generally in a good mood? Are his siblings kind to him?

If a child feels nurtured in the home, he is more likely to be able to be calm and focused. But if there is general chaos, if he spends a lot of time being upset at home or if he's bullied in the home, chances are he'll act out or become more timid. So are you providing an emotionally secure home for your child? 

 4) The social environment: You also have to think about his neighborhood, his school, place of worship and other places he visits. Is his school a happy place or does he have a difficult time with classmates and teachers? These are all questions you should be asking your child regularly-just to make sure things are going smoothly when you're not there. Sometimes kids are too scared to speak up, so it's your job as a parent to ask the important questions.

Does your child have good influences in the neighborhood who make him feel important and supported? What types of shows or cartoons is he allowed to watch? These days kids have access to all sorts of content through social media and electronic devices. Ensure that babysitters and other caregivers are only exposing your child to age appropriate books, music and videos. All these things can drastically affect your child's behavior. If you're confused as to what content is age appropriate just ask other parents or look for reviews online.

So there you have it, these are 4 factors that influence your child's behavior. If you're in the Murrieta or Temecula area and you are interested in attending a class that teaches you more about the emotional needs of your child, how to improve your relationship with your child, as well as how to implement rules, my Toddlers to Tweens parenting class might just be for you. Click here to schedule a free consultation call to find out more about the parenting class and see if the class is right for you. You can also call me at 951-905-3181 to figure out if the class is right for you. Remember, parenting doesn’t have to be rocket science. Call today to find out how to simplify your life.

How to build a better relationship with your child

It is every parent's dream to nurture their children into responsible, happy, successful adults. But the problem is so many parents have no clue how to achieve that dream. Well, let me be honest with you-being a parent is incredibly difficult, but if you are able to create a solid relationship with your kids, your life will be significantly easier.

The job of nurturing your kids begins when they are born. Here are some quick tips on how to continue to build on your relationship with your kids. 

1) Spend time with your baby: The job of bonding with your child should begin when your kids are newborns. Spend time holding your child, lay him on your chest, talk to him, sing with him and let him feel, hear and see the love you emit-and this also goes for dads as well. Doing this gives your child a comfortable sense of security which he will need in order to stand tall as he grows older. Even if you don't have a lot of free time, make sure you're able to carve out alone time with your baby each day. Quality time weighs more than quantity of time.

 2) Utilize drive time properly: As your child gets older, he'll be spending a lot more time in the car, and chances are you'll be his chauffeur. Instead of letting him drown you out with his phone or his music, or you drowning him out with your phone calls, use that time to go over his mood, what he learned in school, learn about who he's hanging out with, what's going wrong in school and so much more information. It's no longer enough to just ask "How was school?" You have to dig deeper. Ask him who he sat with at lunch, what games he played, who his favorite teacher is, who his least favorite teacher is as well as the highs and lows of his day.

 This sends the message that you're listening, you care, and you're a safe person for him to talk to. Close parent-child relationships are built over the course of time.

 3) Make punishments a teachable moment: Now all isn't peaches and rainbows in the world of parenting. There are going to be times when your child steps outside of the boundaries you've created and you have to give him a consequence. It's just the way the world works. First make sure you're not punishing your child while you're very upset-you'll end up saying and doing things you regret. 

After calming down, think through a punishment that fits the situation, then calmly explain what your child did wrong, why it was wrong and give him some time to explain his thought process. Why? Because it helps him learn how to process his emotions and think about consequences (a skill every good human needs to know). When the punishment is over, mend fences with him and let him know that you love him no matter what. Don't ever let your child go to bed thinking he's bad or that your relationship is broken in some way.

 4) Be aware of your child's feelings: Be vigilant. When your child is throwing a fit (yes, even those teenagers), rather than screaming at him, ask him what's wrong. You see kids aren't fully developed and they sometimes don't know how to process things. It's your job to teach him about emotions and how to properly handle them. Don't get mad at your child because he's mad (that's madness-Pun Intended). Rather, help him get to the root cause of his anger and show him that it's okay to not always be happy.

 This shows your child what empathy looks like and it gives him a feeling that he's secure around you. If your child doesn't feel emotionally secure in your home, he'll find security somewhere else-and you won't like it.

 5) Encourage your child to have an opinion: Don't raise a robot. Include your child in some of the decisions in the home. This will teach him advanced reasoning skills which he needs to be a successful and productive adult. After all, no parent wants to raise a child who just follows others blindly.

 6) Focus on the positives: Your job as a parent is to be the coach, guide and confidante. If you're able to play these three roles well, you'll be happy with yourself. But too often, parents focus on the weaknesses and wrong doings of their kids. That isn't to say that you should never correct your child, but if you're overly critical, your kids will be hurt, disgruntled and overly hardened.

Think about the words you say to your children in any given day. Are the majority commands and criticisms or are they ego building and kind? It takes 3 positive words to drown out 1 negative word from a child's mind, so make sure you're pouring in much more positive than negative.

A parent is a child's first mirror.

 

If these tips were helpful to you at all and you want to learn more practical parenting skills to help you improve your relationship with your child, give me a call at 951-905-3181. My 8-week Toddlers to Tweens parenting support group (held in Murrieta) teaches parents ways to improve their relationship with their kids, how to properly manage misbehavior and how to encourage good behavior. You can also email me here to find out if the parenting class is a great fit for you.

How to discipline your child appropriately

During the summer time, there is a growing strain on parents. The kids are home from school and sometimes, your patience wears thin. You love your kids, but sometimes, they get on your last nerves. Now at the back of your mind you know that they're just kids and your expectations for them aren't too lofty. You don't expect them to be perfect little angels all the time, but sometimes you feel like they are NEVER perfect little angels. Over the next few weeks I'll be giving you tips on how to manage your kids appropriately so that both you and them can co-exist in a happy and healthy way. Now doesn't that sound fun? Here are some simple tips to get you started:

1) Set clear rules: Often times when I talk to parents, I notice that their rules for their kids are either non existent or very unclear. Parents spend a lot of time telling kids what not to do and little to no time telling them what to actually do. So for example, if your kids have a habit of running in the house, rather than yelling 100 times "Don't Run!!" Tell them exactly what you want them to do in a simple, clear, calm sentence. Be age appropriate. So if your child is 3, you won't give him 10 rules-he can't remember all that. Say something like "Please [yes say please] walk carefully in the house." Now your child knows the rules. You can even have him repeat them after you.

A quick assignment for you. Write out 5 simple rules your kids can follow, have a discussion with your kids about the rules, make sure they actually understand them, then post them in a public place such as your kitchen or living room. This sets a clear expectation for your kids.

Now you will have to refer to the rules several times until your kids get used to them, it's just a part of a parent's life. Don't be frustrated. I'm sure you've broken a few rules in your day. 

2) Have a clear discussion with your child when the rules have been broken: After setting the rules, explaining them to your child and posting them in a public place, understand that your child will still break the rules. Rather than losing it, be prepared. Now this is to be used when your child breaks a minor rule e.g. he runs in the house, spills a glass of water, breaks a toy-something minor. 

Call the child, remind him about the rule ("We walk calmly in the house"). Then tell him the reason for the rule ("We walk calmly so that we don't break something or hurt ourselves"). Third, give him an opportunity to practice the rule ("Now please go back and walk like a big boy"). And just like that you've helped your child practice advanced reasoning. If all you did was yell, your child would just learn that you're a great yeller. But if you follow those 3 easy steps, he'll get to remember the rules, the reasons for the rules and have the opportunity to practice. See the difference?

3) Ignore your child sometimes: Sometimes ignoring your child is all the discipline he needs. When your child exhibits very minor behavior, sometimes all you have to do is ignore him. What that teaches him is that you will only reward him with your attention when he is following your rules. A great example of this is whining. When you're at the store and your child is nagging you about buying him some candy, simply ignore. Note that sometimes his voice will escalate and he might throw himself on the floor-don't be embarrassed. Stand your ground, don't make eye contact and keep moving. When you do this multiple times he will learn that he cannot always get his way.

But if you buy him the candy he'll learn that all he has to do is scream and throw himself on the floor to get himself some candy-not the message you want to send.

4) Give a logical consequence: And other times you actually have to punish your child. But make sure it's logical. Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill. Remember to use age appropriate punishments. So for example, if your child breaks a toy on purpose, the punishment could be taking away another treasured toy, only after explaining why he is being punished this way. Always give your child an opportunity to redeem himself after the punishment is over. This is very essential as you want your child to get as much practice as he can in actually following the rules. Too many parents just go about punishing without actually teaching their children anything. Your role isn't to be the executioner-it's to be the coach, confidante and guide-don't forget that.

So go ahead and try the 4 steps above and comment below to let me know how it goes for you. If you happen to be in the Murrieta area and you are interested in learning more skills to improve your bond with your child and improve parenting skills, give me a call at 951-905-3181 or email me here. 

In my 8-week Toddlers to Tweens parenting skills class in Murrieta, I equip parents with kids ages 2 to 10 on skills that'll help them parent with confidence. It's never too late to learn effective parenting skills.

 

Fun ideas for quality time with your child

I just wrapped up my series on Anxiety Disorders. In the month of August, I'll be writing about ways to strengthen the parent-child bond. 

So it's summer time, and after a few weeks of summer break, you probably have no clue what to do with your kids. The kids are at home watching countless hours of TV. But to make things worse, sometimes the heat is so bad that you just don't want to step outside. Or maybe you've completely run out of ideas. Well, you're in luck today. The great thing is that you don't have to be a professional to have fun with your kids. Here are some simple, but fun ideas for quality time with your kids this summer.

1) Board games: I know we are in the technology era and most kids would rather be glued to their cell phones than have face to face contact with a human. But trust me, after a few tries, your kids will forget that technology ever existed (okay maybe I'm exaggerating a bit). Luckily in the Murrieta and Temecula area there are lots of options. Go to your local Target, Walmart, Toys R Us or even the Dollar Tree and grab as many board games as you can. I love Monopoly, The Game of Life and a good old fashioned Uno. You can play for hours and hours. There'll be lots of laughs, your kids will learn friendly competition and you can even have a hearty conversation while playing together. 

2) Water play: Okay so I know California is always in a drought and we aren't encouraged to waste water. So go to the store, grab a kiddie pool and fill it up with water. You can also get water balloons, water guns and some swim gear. Channel your inner child and watch your child's face light up. Your child will be more than happy to see you running around the yard-or the street-dodging his water balloons. It's also great cardio.

3) Imaginary Play: Depending on your child's age, it's important to continuously feed his imagination. It's great for brain health and it's also a great way to get to know your child better. You see as a parent, you want to develop a strong bond with your child over time. That's one of the things that keeps your child out of a gang, reduces his risk for drug use and raises his or her self esteem. Quality time gives him or her a feeling of importance and safety in the home. So while you're chopping up vegetables or cleaning the house, imagine that you're a huge dinosaur raiding the city. Start off the story and encourage your child to continue it. You'll learn how truly fascinating a child's mind is.

And if your child is a bit older, play truth or dare. Ask your child questions like "If I could meet anyone in the world, I'd meet...." or "If I could travel anywhere in the world, I'll travel to..." Get creative. 

 4) Good old fashioned car conversations: When you're shuttling your child out and about to camp, recitals and appointments, use the time in the car to get to know him. Ask him what he likes about himself, how his school year was, what he doesn't like about school and how he genuinely feels about living in your home. These are deep conversations that help you better understand the inner workings of your child's mind. Because you're not face to face with him, it's a lot easier for him to answer the questions truthfully. Just be careful about your reaction if he tells you something shocking.

The more quality time you spend with your child, the more you send the message that he or she matters to you. I know you can't spend every waking hour with your kids, so make the time you have with them count. Quality time together as well as quality conversations strengthen the bond you have and ensures that your child can run to you when things go wrong.

I run an 8-week parenting skills class in Murrieta. It covers the developmental stages of children, teaches parents how to take care of themselves even though they're busy, talks about how to spend quality time with your kids, ways to teach your child useful information and the greatest part is you get the support of other group members. If you're interested in enrolling in this parenting class in Murrieta, give me a call at 951-905-3181. It's never too late to strengthen your relationship with your child.