How to Make Your Kids Smarter

Be honest—haven’t you dreamed your kid will grow up and have some prestigious career, like a doctor, lawyer, or maybe even the president? Many parents are obsessed with helping their kids become more intelligent, but can parents really make a difference? Smarts aren’t all about genetics; resilience, curiosity, and a willingness to try new things play a big role, too. Try these 6 tips to help support your child’s development and raise a smart, successful kid.

Read, Read, Read

Reading with your kids is one of the best ways to boost their brain development. Whether you’ve got an infant or a young adult, try to read with them, not to them. Encourage them to interact with the story, whether it’s opening and closing flaps in a board book or allowing them to read a page or two as you go along.

Don’t Fix All Their Problems

When your child is hurting, you want nothing more than to swoop in and save the day. Hurt and bleeding? You’ve got a bandage handy. Trouble with friends at school? You’ve got their teacher on speedial.

It’s tough, but taking a step back and allowing your child to problem solve actually helps them in the long run. Problem solving teaches resilience and creativity, two important qualities that are characteristic of successful adults. Next time your kid comes home complaining about the kids on the bus, discuss the situation with them and encourage them to find a solution on their own.

Encourage Them To Journal

Emotional intelligence, or the ability to recognize and manage emotions in yourself and others, is a hallmark characteristic of successful people. It’s even more important than a high IQ! Journaling is one way to develop emotional intelligence from a young age, since it helps kids perceive and come to terms with their emotions.

Feed Them “Brain Food”

A healthy diet nourishes your child’s body and mind. Studies show that the best brain foods are just what you’d expect—whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and proteins like eggs and nuts are all great choices, as are salmon, yogurt, and beans.

Exercise With Them

OK, you’re not necessarily going to take your kid to the gym, but playful exercise, like going to the playground, playing tag, or enrolling them in sports can actually boost brain cells. If you’re struggling to get your kid interested in exercise, make it a family affair—go on a family hike or take a bike ride together.

Allow Independent Play

Today’s parents favor highly structured activities over unstructured play. But sending your kid outside without an agenda helps them to become more creative and curious. Instead of plying them with toys, educational television, or flash cards, try letting them explore for themselves.

In Case No One’s Told You Yet, You’re Doing Great

Your kid might not be the smartest, the most athletic, or the funniest in the class, but they’re your perfect kiddo. Don’t be too hard on them, or on yourself—remember, you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent for your kids.

Helpful Parenting Books for Every Stage

parenting books

Whether you’re the parent of a newborn, a middle schooler, or a full-blown adult, you know that parenting is fun, rewarding, and…tough. Half the time it feels like you don’t know what you’re doing, and once you finally get the hang of it, your kid changes! 

No matter what age your kids are, it’s helpful to learn from those who have already gone through it. Parenting books can help you navigate picky eaters, encourage you during the endless teenage years, and remind you of all that you love about your wild and wonderful kids. Check out these parenting books for support at every stage.

Best Parenting Book for Supporting Childhood Development: The Whole-Brained Child

Do you ever wonder what’s going on in your little one’s brain? Learn the neuroscience behind tantrums, self control, and more—as well as how to handle them in a thoughtful, respectful way. This book helps you understand why your child exhibits challenging behavior and shows you how to respond to it in ways that actually work.

Best Parenting Book for Potty Training: Oh Crap! Potty Training

Let’s face it, potty training is kind of hilarious…so a potty-training guide that’s funny and informative is just what we need! This helpful guide outlines how to get past diapers without bribes, tricks, or tantrums. 

Best Parenting Book for Conflict With Children: How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Every wonder why your kids just won’t listen? Arguing with kids is one of the most frustrating situations for any parent. This book helps teach parents how to manage their own emotions before they get out of control as well as how to deal with their kids’ emotions with empathy and patience. The key isn’t overpowering your kids or giving time outs, it’s effective listening and clear communication.

Best Parenting Book for Co-Parenting: Parenting Apart

If you’re divorced or separated, your primary concern is probably the impact your relationship with your ex will have on your kids. Parenting Apart helps teach parents how to thoughtfully support and nurture their kids during and after divorce, no matter how old they are. If you’re trying to navigate this difficult situation, wisdom from those on the other side can really help!

Best Parenting Book for Toddlers: No Bad Kids

Once your kids start saying “no,” it’s hard to recall that innocent newborn you snuggled just the other day. Where did your sweet, good-natured kid go? Janet Lansbury helps parents learn to handle difficult situations with patience and respect and to understand how pushing boundaries is a developmental milestone for all children.

Best Parenting Book for Siblings: Siblings Without Rivalry

Are you close with your siblings? Every parent dreams their children will grow up to be lifelong friends, but in many families, the dream falls short. If you’re looking to nurture the relationship of your children, give this book a shot for practical advice.

You Don’t Have To Parent Alone

No matter what your family situation looks like, help is available—from parenting books to family counselors to friends and loved ones. Parenting books can be a great first step towards getting support. Have you read any of these parenting books? Which was your favorite?

Fun Questions to Get Your Kid Talking

fun questions kid

Have you been looking to connect more with your child? If you’re hoping your child will open up to you, and you’re looking for some inspiration to get them talking, keep reading! We’ve created a list of 10 questions per theme to start the process.


Questions about School 

How aware are you of your child’s relationship with school? Do you know about their relationships with their teacher(s), classmates, and school work? Here are 10 questions about school to dive a little deeper. 

  1. How do you feel about your teacher/classmates?

  2. What’s your favorite part about school?

  3. What or who made you smile today?

  4. What challenged you today?

  5. If you could sit anywhere in class, where would that be?

  6. What’s your favorite part about the weekend?

  7. Do you feel happy/comfortable in school?

  8. Did anything happen today during recess?

  9.  What’s the hardest part about school right now? 

  10. Is anyone making you uncomfortable at school? 

Questions about Friendship, Family & Home

Are you curious about your child’s views on their friendships, family, or home life? Here are 10 questions to learn more about their perspectives and current experiences. 

  1. Can you tell me something about you that you think I might not know?

  2. What makes you feel loved?

  3. What’s your favorite TV show? What makes it so fun to watch?

  4. What’s a memory that makes you happy?

  5. What made you proud today?

  6. What can I do to be a better parent?

  7. What would you do if you made the rules at home?

  8. If you could change any rule, which one would it be?

  9. What makes someone a good friend? 

  10. If a friend asks you to keep a secret that you don’t feel comfortable keeping, what would you do?

Imagination Questions

Are you hoping to spark your child’s imagination and learn more about how they view the world? It can be one of the most fun types of questions to ask a child because they are often extremely curious and creative. Here are 10 questions to get a deeper look into your child’s imagination. 

  1. Imagine you can do whatever you want for an entire day. What would you do?

  2. What makes you happy?

  3. What do you dream about?

  4. If you could make up a new holiday, what would it be?

  5. If you had a secret hideout, where would it be and what would you keep inside it?

  6. If you could have anything in the world, what would you want?

  7. What do you want your life to look like ten years from now?

  8. What is your biggest dream?

  9. How can you show people you care? 

  10. Imagine you could be any animal. What would you be and why?

Remember to leave space after you ask your question, clarifying only after you leave some time for your kid to think. If you don’t leave enough space for them to think and respond, you might be accidentally interrupting or cutting off the response you are looking to receive by asking these questions! And don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get them talking–it’s a learning process!

Great Ways to Start a Family Tradition

family tradition

Traditions are a great way to deepen family bonds. Creating fun, recurring special family customs will help your family create meaningful memories and strengthen your family’s relationship. Not only will starting traditions help keep your family together, but they can also be a fun way to break up the monotony of daily life. Here are some suggestions for how to start family traditions, as well as some suggestions as to what these traditions could be! 

Daily Thanks

Try asking everyone sitting around your dinner table what they are thankful for each night. The answers will give you insights into what is going on in the lives of your loved ones as well as stimulate conversation on what matters to each member of your family. 

Themed Meal Nights

Picking a night or two each month to serve different kinds of foods is a fun way to teach your loved ones about other cultures, or bring meals and drinks that your family has seen in movies or in books to life. These dinners can be made even more fun by encouraging your partner and children to help you cook, and playing music related to the theme night.

Show and Tell Nights

One fun way to help your family get to know each other better is to take things back to primary school on a monthly or annual basis. You can ask each of your loved ones to select an item that is meaningful to them and then take turns telling the family about what they chose. This can help you keep up with the ever-changing interests of your children as well as show each member of your family that the family is interested in the things that they care about.

Plan a monthly parent and child day

The best way to build relationships is one-on-one. There is no better, more intimate way to get to know someone than to spend a day together. Taking the time to do something individually with your children will create priceless memories and show your kids that you are invested in them. Spending the day with your children and listening to them will help them feel more comfortable with you and open up more areas of dialogue that will be invaluable as they get older. 

Volunteer together

Performing a service project with your family is a great way to both bond and give back to your community. Not only will you be spending time with your loved ones, but you’ll be teaching them important lessons about generosity and the world in which they live. Volunteering together is a great way to instill meaningful family values and create lasting memories. 

See something on the list you like? Family traditions are a great way to promote your values and create a happy and healthy family dynamic. It’s easy to fall into a routine, and adding new habits can seem overwhelming. It’s never too late to begin a new tradition with your kid, so take the leap today!

Questions to Ask Your Mom to Get to Know Her Better

questions to mom

One of the crucial parts of growing up is recognizing that our parents are also whole beings with their own lives and experiences. As our parents grow older, many of us begin to wonder who they are. Learning more about our parents allows us to better understand their choices as well as gain more context for our own lives. It also allows you to bond as two adults, instead of constricting the relationship to purely a mother and her child. Below are some suggestions for what to ask your mom to get to know her better, so read on to boost your relationship today! 

  • What was the most challenging part of raising me and my siblings?

This question will give you perspective on what your parents were going through as you were doing your best to grow up. We often forget that our parents are growing alongside us, and understanding the situations that they experienced can help us gain valuable perspective and empathy. 

  • What kind of trouble did you get into as a child? 

Sometimes children can accidentally fall into the wrong mindset that their parents have always been adults. Asking about your parents’ childhood memories will help you gain a deeper understanding of who your parents are. You’ll also gain a fond memory of laughing while reminiscing on the comedy of growing up. 

  • What kind of parents were your parents? 

While this question can be a difficult one, understanding the way that your parents were raised will help you understand their personalities and decisions. This question will foster emotional intimacy and help your parents to know that you have taken the time to get to know them deeply and empathetically. 

  • What did you want to be growing up? 

This question probes again at who your mom was as a small girl. You’ll gain a better understanding of how your mom got to be the person you know today as she answers the question.

  • What’s something you always wanted to do, and why didn’t you end up doing it? 

Asking your mother about her formative hopes and dreams can really help you understand the things she values and enjoys. Her answer could help you understand her motivations and more about the person that she was before she was your mother. Perhaps you’ll find that you and your mother will have more in common than you ever realized. 

  • How have your notions of what it means to be a woman changed over your lifetime?

This question can give you a more historical perspective on what your mother has been through. Women have faced many different obstacles and pressures throughout history and your mother’s reflections on her ideas on what a woman is and what a woman should be will help you understand some of her insecurities and how she understands herself.

Not only will these questions help you get to know the people who raised you, but will deepen the bond you feel. Your mother will surely appreciate the time and attention you show by asking them these questions. True affection and loyalty is usually born of understanding, so asking your mom these questions today will help you understand both her and yourself better. Perhaps you’ll find you two have more in common than you think!

Fun Activities & the Best Things to Do with Kids

activities with kids

Have you been looking for fun things to do with kids? Life with kids can be busy, but it’s important to shake things up when possible to provide them with new experiences to learn and grow. We have compiled the top 5 things to do with kids of all ages, regardless of exact location or time of year. 

1. Get out in nature

Nature is really important for kids, and there’s a wide variety of options for all budgets and ages. Try googling for national or state parks, waterfalls, mountain hiking trails, rivers, lakes, etc., in your area. A lot of these options are either free or low-cost. Whether hiking, kayaking, or just walking around, there are a lot of fun ways to get the body moving while also taking in some fresh air and beautiful views. 

get out in nature

2. Go to a theme park

While a bit pricier, going to an amusement or theme park can be an exhilarating experience for children. It’s a great way to create memories that can last a lifetime. There are a huge variety of options such as going to a bigger and pricier park, like Disney World, or a local fair or amusement park, which tends to be cheaper in comparison. Whether it’s an all-day affair or just a short trip, your kid is likely to come away feeling refreshed and content.

go to a theme park

3. Go to a museum 

Not to be overlooked or taken for granted, museums are an amazing way to nourish your child’s curiosity and allow them to learn in a more experiential way. Aside from normal museum hours, look out for special events taking place in your local museums throughout the year. There are also typically special dates or times when there is a more budget-friendly entrance fee, and some museums are always free for the public.

go to a museum

4. Go to a zoo or aquarium

When was the last time you visited your local zoo or aquarium? If you are interested in visiting more than once or twice a year, getting a local annual membership can provide a budget-friendly way to help your child explore their interest in animals and nature. Also, keep your eye out for special seasonal events. For example, a winter event displaying holiday decorations and lights at night is very common among zoos across the country.

5. Visit your local library

Curiosity comes very naturally for kids and a library is an amazing place for your kid’s imagination to grow. Not only can kids read and check out books for free, but libraries have all kinds of special events– the majority of which are free. Common events include family cooking classes, yoga, and read alouds. 

We hope these suggestions inspire you to spend more time out with your children! While these suggestions were created to be useful in a variety of cities, if you want more personalized information on your city specifically, you will be able to find a lot of local events and attractions by using a website such as Eventbrite or googling “fun things to do with kids in (my city).” 

Have any ideas you’d like to share? Comment them below so other parents can benefit!

5 Creative Ways to Stay Connected in a Long Distance Relationship

connected in distance

Long-distance relationships can sometimes make it difficult to feel connected–especially when there’s no defined end in sight. While they can get a bad reputation, long-distance relationships often provide unique opportunities for growing a strong, lasting connection and can be fun and healthy. If you have been feeling disconnected from your partner, try switching things up and testing out different methods of creating shared experiences. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered. Here are 5 creative ways to level up your connection in a long-distance relationship. 

       1.  Have a cooking date

During the pandemic, virtual cooking dates became popular for their ability to create both space for open conversation and fun memories together. Whether you both cook the same thing and then compare the end result, or you just want to cook at the same time and then eat together, this is a great way to bond and be mindful together. It’s especially fun when you video chat during. Tip: Try creating something new together, or something a little challenging. 

        2. Virtual Airbnb Experiences

Everyone’s heard of the popular house-sharing site Airbnb, but did you know that the platform also hosts “experiences,” including both physical and online experiences? There is a wide variety of online activities offered, from trivia to cooking classes, dancing lessons, and more!

        3. Virtual Book Club

Another fun way to continue building shared experiences is to read the same book! Try switching off every other month on who chooses a book and then meet up after you have both been able to finish it. If you struggle to keep organized, it helps to agree on a core structure in advance, like what book and date you will choose so that both people have plenty of time to plan and read. 

         4. Order Surprise Takeout

If you liked the idea of a cooking date, but you or your partner doesn’t have the time or energy to make food from scratch, consider ordering some surprise takeout, just for fun! Alternatively, you could send them dessert, or another thoughtful gift. It’s really the excitement from a thoughtful surprise that counts here!

           5. Create a playlist together

If you or your partner loves listening to music, consider creating a shared playlist on Spotify or another streaming platform to listen to when you’re missing each other. Either both people can contribute, or you can make one as a fun gift for your partner so they know you’re thinking about them. 

            6. Stream a movie together

Another popular activity during the pandemic has been virtual movie nights! You can choose a movie together and gather some snacks, while you stream a movie together and video chat. There are a variety of streaming platforms to do this over, such as Zoom, Netflix Party, HosuseParty, or you can just video chat and stream separately. 

There are lots of ways to connect within a long-distance relationship, and switching up your routine in a relationship can be a fun way to bond. Test out anything on the list that looks interesting to you, and let us know how it goes in the comment section!

5 Reasons Your Kids Don’t Talk to You

kids don't talk

Have you been feeling disconnected from your children recently? Do you feel like they don’t confide in you, or that they are sometimes lying to you? If you are struggling to get your child to open up to you, check out our top 5 reasons why your kids don’t talk to you!


      1. They feel fundamentally invalidated, rejected, or ignored

When a child feels that their essence is fundamentally ignored, invalidated, or rejected, they often start to bottle up what they are feeling or thinking. This can be very harmful to a relationship and is unlikely to disappear with time. If you find a child, at any age, routinely avoiding talking about their emotions or experiences with you, consider if it’s possible you might be dismissing or invalidating their feelings or experiences subconsciously. 


       2. You criticize important dreams or goals

While you don’t have to indulge a child in every fantasy they can create, unnecessary dismissal or criticism of goals, dreams, or thoughts is likely to cause a child to close off. We have all had “crazy” dreams at one time, and more often than not, we grow out of them on our own anyway. Allow your child to have their own thoughts and goals in life, and they are more likely to confide in you about what’s important to them. 


       3. You joke about how “ungrateful” or “lazy” they are

While there’s nothing wrong with speaking about your history, or trying to teach your children about your values, frequent comments that start with, “Back in my day,” or, “When I was your age…” might cause your kid to feel judged, which could cause them to shut down, harming your relationship in the long term. Likewise, in almost every scenario, disparaging your kids for being ungrateful, soft, weak etc. even as a joke does more harm than good. 


        4. They feel pressure to perform 

Does your child feel pressured to perform as if everything is fine in order to feel loved or accepted in an area of their life? When kids feel pressure to be strong, they will often hide what they truly think or feel, and might avoid having real conversations with you as time goes on. Try to emphasize that it’s okay to make mistakes and that failing is a part of life. Emphasize and model unconditional love.  


        5. They need a space to open up

If you are craving more connection and conversation with your kids, it’s possible they are too, and they just don’t know where to start. Try creating at least a few times a month for you to bond with your child in a fun way. You could try cooking together, doing crafts, going on a day trip, watching a movie, or anything else fun that you think your child will enjoy. 

Regardless of past mistakes or betrayals, a willingness to change and an apology can go a long way with children. It’s never too late to start making changes, so you can have a healthy and meaningful connection.

Ways to Help Kids Manage Fear and Be Less Anxious

manage fear

Is your child experiencing anxiety? Fear and anxiety are very common in children and adults of all ages and can be managed through a variety of methods, from behavioral shifts to medicine. Today we’re going to give you our top tips on how to guide your child through mild to moderate anxiety.  

Understand and validate their anxiety

It’s easy to dismiss a child’s expressions of anxiety as an overreaction or say they’re upset for no reason. You might even say something like, “Try being an adult. Then you’ll know what actual problems are.” Try to understand that for a child, who is unable to self-regulate, their fears and anxiety are very real. Try to ask questions in a calm, non-judgmental way, and express that you will be there to support them as they work through their fear. Avoid trying to eliminate or solve the problem yourself as this might work in the short term but doesn’t do your child any favors in the long term when they are dealing with anxiety or problems as an adult. Instead, work with your child to create a plan to cope ahead for when they’re feeling anxious. 


Plan and cope ahead 

A good goal is to guide your child to learn healthy ways to cope with anxiety and fear. A few examples might be taking deep breaths, a hug, or taking a moment away from the situation that is causing anxiety until they are able to calm down. Work with your child to understand these methods while they are feeling calm and reinforce them often because that will be a lot more effective than when your child is anxious. At first, you will have to guide these coping skills, but the goal is for your child to learn to self-regulate and use these tools without your prompting.


Create a bedtime routine

Bedtime can be stressful, especially for younger kids. Try to create clear expectations and routines to help develop a sense of stability and security. You might spend a few minutes reading together or sing a special nighttime song, for example. Sleep experts recommend avoiding screens or bright lights for at least 1-3 hours beforehand for the best results. When children are able to get the right amount of sleep, this can really improve their ability to self-regulate and can make managing anxiety throughout the day much easier.  


Encourage the process, not results

Most of us are programmed to say things such as, “Great job,” “Wow, that’s a pretty painting,” or, “You won the game! You’re so good,” without even thinking. Research shows that praising results can actually cause children to become less interested in the actual process, and instead become fixated on receiving more praise. What does this have to do with anxiety? When children feel pressure to succeed, they might procrastinate or experience anxiety around being perfect. Instead, try to encourage the effort your child makes and help them accept that failure is a part of the process. For example, “What are you painting,” “Wow, you won the game? How did that feel?” etc. 


Do you agree with our tips? Are there any that you would add? Leave a comment below!


These tips were created to manage mild to moderate anxiety, and might not be sufficient for a child experiencing severe anxiety or mental illness. If after adopting these tools your child’s anxiety does not improve, or if you have specific concerns, consult a specialist, such as a psychologist or your child’s doctor.


Please note: if your child experiences abrupt changes in emotions or personality, such as becoming extremely withdrawn for seemingly no reason, it might be necessary to consult a specialist to ensure healthy development and assess possible trauma. 

Never Say These 11 Things to Your Child

never say to child

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Whether you forgot to pick your kid up from school or accidentally left their snack on the counter, you’re going to make parenting mistakes.

What we say to our kids can have a huge impact on their mental health, self confidence, and perception of the world. Try not to say these 11 things to your children (even when you’re frustrated) to help them develop into confident, self-assured individuals.

  1. “You’re OK”

You’ve watched your kid trip over the box of Legos for the tenth time today (which you told them to clean up an hour ago), and now they’re crying. While it’s hard to show patience, resist telling them that they’re OK. 

Even though they’ll be fine in a minute, they don’t feel OK right now. Dismissing their feelings sends the message that their emotions can’t be trusted.

2. “Grow up”

Once your kids can walk and talk, it’s tempting to treat them like adults. Even though they may understand you as well as an adult, they’re still immature. They don’t understand the consequences of their actions or how to take care of themselves. Someday, you’ll wish they were little again—don’t wish away their childhood before it’s appropriate.

3. “Great job”

No, we’re not saying that congratulating your kid is inherently bad. But try to avoid lavishing them with praise over every minor achievement. This tells them that your affirmation (or lack of it) is how they should gauge a job well done. Instead, ask them how their achievement made them feel. This helps your child develop internal motivation.

4. “You’re supposed to be the big brother/sister”

Once your second child is born, your first feels…old! But don’t lose sight of the fact that they’re still a little one, too. Avoid putting unrealistic expectations on them—they’re just a kid, after all!

5. “Let me do it”

It can be frustrating when your child is putting on their shoes so, so slowly to step in and take over. Taking control tells them you don’t think they can do it alone. Let your child have some independence—it will develop their self confidence and help them to gain new skills.

6. “You’re just like your father”

You might have a complicated relationship with your child’s father, but don’t project that onto your child. Treat them as a unique person—don’t make them carry the burden of your relationship history. 

7. “You’ll always be my baby”

What you probably mean is “I’ll always love you like I do right now.” Say that. Like it or not, your babies are going to grow up. Embrace the person they are becoming instead of treating them like their childhood self forever.

8. “Stop crying”

Infants and toddlers don’t have words to express their emotions, so crying is how they show you they’re unhappy, hungry, or harboring any number of other complicated feelings. 

Your children can feel as much as you, even when they can’t express it. Don’t dismiss their emotions. Everyone feels sad from time to time, and by telling them to stop crying you’re telling them it’s not OK to be sad. 

9. “You can do anything”

You might really believe this—we’re all prone to have blinders on when our kids are involved. But try and support your kids in things they actually enjoy or show true talent for. For some kids, telling them they can do anything can cause anxiety. Your children rely upon you to help guide them—pay attention to their natural aptitude, and encourage them in it.

10. “I don’t believe you”

Sure, kids lie—but they tell the truth, too. Don’t make your kids feel like you’re always suspicious of them. They’re going to mess up, they’re kids! Showing them they are accepted and loved, even when they make mistakes, will help them to feel more comfortable being honest with you when they mess up in the future.

11. “Don’t be scared”

What are you afraid of? If you answer “nothing,” you’re lying. Your kids’ fears might seem silly to you, but to them, they’re very real. If someone told you to just get over your fear of heights or to stop being scared of spiders, would you? Probably not. So don’t expect your kids to become brave on command, either.

If you’ve said any of the things on this list, take a deep breath and give yourself some grace. It’s OK to be an imperfect parent. By mindfully approaching frustrating situations in the future, you can avoid saying things you regret.