“I’m a Different Butterfly” – Expanding Empathy and Social Awareness through Summer Reading

There’s a new children’s book that explores what questions arise in an individual about their own self-perception and how others react when one looks different than others. I’m a Different Butterfly was written for ages 4-8 and is the story of Lulu Noire, a black butterfly who feels unsure at first about looking different from other butterflies but comes to realize, through interactions with other animals, that she is beautiful the way she is. This playful book offers opportunities to explore issues with young children of friendship and of learning from and embracing differences.

Author Sherri Oliver cares deeply about teaching young children how to relate to and form friendships with others even if they may look different than those around them. Sherri is a former child care program director for a nonprofit serving children and families and has a B.A. in Communications from Howard University.

She also created a discussion for families to pair with her book to enhance the opportunity for reflection. Some of those questions include:

  • How would you feel if others expressed that they didn’t like you because they feel you are different than them?
  • Say… “Nature made me, me.” Say it again… “Nature made me, me.” What does this mean to you?
  • What does it mean to appreciate others?
  • How are you and your best friend different? (Best friends can be another child, imaginary, pets, a grandparent, etc.)
  • How are you and your best friend the same?

What books are on your children’s summer reading list that stretch their thinking about how they might learn from and connect with others who look, sound, or live differently than they do? Reading can offer an important opportunity to build social awareness, empathy, and sensitivity in your child.

Check out this great new children’s book – I’m a Different Butterfly – and the helpful discussion guide to add to your summer reading list!

Here are also a few other related children’s book recommendations:

One Day, So Many Ways
By Laura Hall, Illustrated by Loris Lora

Discover what daily life is like for kids all around the world! Meet children from over 40 countries and explore the differences and similarities between their daily routines. Over 24 hours, follow a wide variety of children as they wake up, eat, go to school, play, talk, learn, and go about their everyday routine in this stunning retro-style illustrated picture book. Gorgeous illustrations! This book is a must have. Published by Quarto Group


The Skin You Live In

By Michael Tyler, Illustrated by David Lee Csicsko

With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. Vivid illustrations of children’s activities include a wide range of cultures.

We Are Family

By Patricia Hegarty, Illustrated by Ryan Wheatcroft

Through illness and health, in celebration and disappointment, families stick together. Some families are made up of many people, and some are much smaller. Sometimes family members look like each other, and sometimes they don’t! But even though every family is different, the love is all the same. Illustrations many varied types of families.


Starting Today — Mindful Parenting for High Needs Kids

Does your child learn differently than other students at school whether or not he or she has been labeled ADHD, dyslexic, gifted, or dealing with auditory processing disorder? Or are you regularly challenged at home by behaviors that seem confusing or frustrating to you? Is your child easily upset by loud noises, rough textures, or spices and tastes beyond their standard fare? If so, there are likely numerous talks in the Mindful Parenting for High Needs Kids online conference that could provide support for you starting today!

Jennifer Miller of CPCK will speak with Jason and Cecelia Hilkey, conference organizers as well as parenting experts, on Friday, May 17th about a favorite topic: food! But instead of sharing recipes, we’ll share ideas for how you can create a calm, positive environment at mealtimes in which children want to stay and connect and want to try new foods. We’ll discuss how you can raise a child who has healthy habits around eating together.

Check out the short video below on “Creating an Enjoyable Family Dinner” to give you a “taste” of what we’ll be touching on but be sure to catch our discussion too on Friday since they’ll be so much more! 

To join, sign up here! 

Creating an Enjoyable Family Dinner

Free Online — Mindful Parenting with High Needs Kids

Once again, parenting and child development experts Cecilia and Jason Hilkey are hosting a 5-day online event THIS WEEK from Thursday, May 16th through Monday, May 20th. The line-up of speakers and their expertise is remarkable. I’ll be talking with Cecilia and Jason about food and how food impacts our children’s social and emotional development! In my experience, every child has his or her sensitivities. And these can become challenges in family life. Learn how to support your child bolstering their development and strengthening their social and emotional skills.

This conference is for you if:

  • You have a highly sensitive or special needs child in your family (or you teach one);
  • You want expert advice to guide your child to make friends, stay motivated, do their best and yet feel loved by you no matter what;
  • You want to use connection and understanding to help your child manage their feelings and behaviors (rather than threats or bribes); and
  • You are curious about when to have healthy boundaries and when to let things slide.

Join tens of thousands of other parents, professionals, researchers, and authors sharing the science of parenting. Get practical tools to make everyday family life easier. Join me! Sign up here!

Drum Roll, Please! Big Announcement…

It is with great pleasure and delight that I announce the very first book from Jennifer S. Miller and this site: Confident Parents, Confident Kids: Raising Emotional Intelligence in Ourselves and Our Kids — From Toddlers to Teenagers. 

When I asked fifty parents in a neighborhood Mom’s Club the question: “what one issue do you want to read a parenting book about?” – they responded: big feelings – mine and my child’s. How do we deal with them and promote confidence and emotional intelligence? So that’s precisely what this book is about. 

Here are some numbers that tell a bit about the journey I’ve taken to publishing a book. I’ve:

  • blogged each week for over seven nearly eight years for a total of 481 posts;
  • developed nine distinctly different, full book proposals (about one per year) over that time;
  • surveyed countless (and of the ones I did count – 150!) parents to learn what they care most about and what keeps them up at night;
  • researched, wrote, and sent out specifically targeted query letters to 46 literary agents with mostly rejections, no response, or non-committal interest;
  • landed with my 47th – Tina Wainscott of the Seymour Agency – I am so grateful for you!!!!
  • conducted research with partners Shannon Wanless and Roger Weissberg to demonstrate the essential link between parenting and social and emotional learning (which is highlighted in this book);
  • expanded audience reach from family, friends, and collaborators to 22,000 followers and views in 152 countries and growing; and
  • engaged in countless collaboration discussions and projects with readers, contributors, researchers, educators, and other professionals who care about making a difference in the lives of families.

Last summer, I entered into a partnership with literary agent Tina Wainscott who took a look at my book proposal and instead of trying to reshape it to fit a pop culture view of what works in publishing, she encouraged me to deeply infuse it with everything that Confident Parents, Confident Kids has always been about. So I’ve been able to write and fully illustrate the book of my dreams, the one in which I tell the stories of our community, of our dialogue with one another about ways in which we can become more confident in our parenting and raise confident kids with small, simple, everyday practices that are tied to research. These practices promote kids’ and parents’ social and emotional development and as a result, offer ways to cultivate their inner resources and thrive. Quarto Publishing and the Trade Winds Press team not only loved the content and its potential to help parents but also, loved the illustrations and supported the development of a full-color book!

Thank you, Tina Wainscott, Amanda Waddell, Todd Conly, David Martinell and the whole team at Quarto/Trade Winds Press for making this possible — and doing it collaboratively. I am also especially grateful to my family – extended and immediate – who supported me through this intense process. I am grateful to CASEL and Roger Weissberg for the rigor and research you put into the social and emotional learning framework that is the backbone of this work. I am grateful to partner Shannon Wanless for her heart and mind and passion in collaborating on moving this work forward. I am grateful to the NBC team – Esta, Jamie, and Gabbi – for your rich partnership and expanding my reach! And to the many other CPCK collaborators pictured here, I thank you! And thank you, reader, for your role in making this possible! This book would not exist without your readership and participation in this critical dialogue!

I hope you’ll share this great news with anyone you know who is interested in reading about parenting! Here’s more on the book:

Confident Parents, Confident Kids lays out an approach for helping parents—and the kids they love—hone their emotional intelligence so that they can make wise choices, connect and communicate well with others (even when patience wears thin), and become socially competent and confident human beings.

How do we raise a happy, confident kid? And how can we be confident that our parenting is preparing our child for success?
Our confidence develops from understanding and having mastery over our emotions — and helping our children do the same. Like learning to play a musical instrument, we can fine-tune our ability to skillfully react to those big feelings that naturally arise from our child’s constant growth and changes, moving from chaos to harmony. We want our children to trust that they can conquer any challenge with hard work and persistence; that they can love boundlessly; that they will find their unique sense of purpose; and they will act wisely in a complex world. This book shows you how.
With author and educator Jennifer Miller as your supportive guide, you’ll learn:
  • The myths we’ve been told about emotions, how they shape our choices, and how we can reshape our parenting decisions in better alignment with our deepest values.
  • How to identify the temperaments your child was born with so you can support those tendencies rather than fight them.
  • How to align your biggest hopes and dreams for your kids with specific skills that can be practiced, along with new research to support those powerful connections.
  • About each age and stage your child goes through and the range of learning opportunities available.
  • How to identify and manage those big emotions (that only the parenting process can bring out in us!) and how to model emotional intelligence for your children.
  • How to alter challenging patterns we fall into responding to turnaround even our toughest moments into teachable ones.

Available for Pre-Order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble NOW. The actual release date will be November 5, 2019.

Upcoming Social and Emotional Learning Conference in Baltimore, MD

Shannon Wanless, Director of the Office of Child Development in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh and Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids will be presenting a workshop in Baltimore at the end of the month. Come join us! We’ll be presenting at the national Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Conference which brings together practitioners and some of the top SEL thought-leaders in the nation to learn best practices and strategies for effective implementation. The conference is targeted for professionals who work on behalf of children and youth – school administrators, state and federal officials, national experts, educators, psychologists, policy-makers, program coordinators, youth development workers, student support specialists, and counselors. It will be held May 20-22, 2019 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, MD. Registration is still open so check out this link to learn more or sign up!

Here’s the workshop Shannon and Jennifer will be presenting:

Essential Connections Between Parenting and Social Emotional Learning World Café 

Two findings from a recent study conducted with 90 social-emotional learning professionals, who were also parents, concluded that parents care about their children’s social and emotional development and care about using social-emotional strategies in their own parenting practices. In this session, participants will learn how to communicate about social and emotional learning (SEL) when talking to parents, practitioners and scholars. While these groups are not far from each other in their values, sharing ideas and working together can, at times, be challenging when their words and examples are not aligned. Participants will explore vignettes gathered from SEL experts, who are also parents, that highlight the connections and the disconnections across settings. Additionally, evidence from school-based SEL research will be shared in terms of its applicability to parenting and ways the field might be informed by this rich body of work while adapting to the unique needs of parents. Participants will enjoy plenty of dialogue and interaction working to identify ways to translate best practices to parenting from varying cultural backgrounds and a wide range of family histories.


“Bring Your Child to Work Day” With My Son, E

Today was “bring your child to work day.” And up until yesterday, I hadn’t planned on bringing my own child to work despite the fact that I’ve written about the concept in the past. My child, E came home from school saying other kids were going to their parents’ work. Couldn’t he come with me? I hesitated. “Won’t he be incredibly bored since I am either writing, illustrating or talking with others in meetings?” I thought. But I began considering how to involve him in those activities and realized that a.) it wasn’t that difficult to find ways to involve him; and b.) I could actually make it interesting so that he could learn about what I do. I found myself feeling grateful that I could help him understand the work that is so meaningful in my daily life.

I thought, since today is blog publishing day, that I would interview him about his perceptions on parents, on teachers, and on what he wants to learn about related to social and emotional skills. We took a selfie and from it, he drew this beautiful (keeping-it-forever) illustration of the two of us. 

I also had a video conference meeting with the Making Caring Common Project at Harvard’s School of Education in which they were examining activities that could promote empathy. In advance of the meeting, my son helped review those activities and had numerous ideas to share. 

It was well worth the short time it took for me to reframe my perspective from “all I do is sit in front of a computer all day” thinking to a full day’s work agenda that substantively involved my son and gave him a genuine sense of what I do all day. I encourage you to think about it. Any day can be “bring your child to work day”! How can you give your child an authentic experience of what you do? 

Here’s my interview with eleven-year-old E Miller.

  1. What does your Mom do for work? 

 She does parenting work and helps moms and dads better understand kids and helps them be better parents.

2. What do you think parents need to know and understand about kids?

Kids are very active. They are always excited and full of energy. 

3. If you became a parent someday, what would be important to you to learn in becoming the best father to your son or daughter?

Punishing doesn’t help anything. Instead talk to him or her about why she or he did that and find a solution.

4. What do you think teachers need to know and understand about students? 

They get bored at school easily and they do not know what to do about it so they play in their desks or start talking with their friends because they are not doing anything active. Punishing does not help anything so what I would do is make learning fun and make a game out of it.

5. If you became a teacher someday, what would be important for you to learn in becoming the best teacher for your students?

I would make learning fun.

6. What motivates you to work hard?

It’s different doing something you want to do versus something you don’t want to.

7. What do you think kids need and want to learn about their feelings?

If I’m really upset, I sit down to relax and calm down.

8. What do you think kids need and want to learn about making friends?

How to get friendships and how to keep friendships.

9. If you could offer one bit of wisdom to any and all parents, what would it be?

Be a kind person to kids because they are more delicate than you think.

10. After visiting your Mom’s work, is your impression of what she does the same as what you thought it was or different? In what way?

Different. I always thought you had a boring on-the-computer, editing job. Not doing fun stuff. But now, I see that you have a really fun work that you can do a lot of stuff. Super fun. 

Hope you try out this worthwhile experience with your child!

Celebrating Earth Day — Connecting with Our Kids By Exploring Nature Together

“Mom, come quickly!” E says practically jumping up and down. “There’s a bluejay in our yard!” And this scene has played out over and again but with varying creatures – bunnies, beetles, and butterflies – oh my! If you have a patch of grass outside your door, there’s an opportunity for your kids to explore nature. Take them to a park and no screens, toys or equipment are required for discovery. In Spring, it seems we are all feeling “nature-starved” and ready to get out to experience the beautiful weather.

There’s strong evidence that points to a range of benefits for children who get outside and play. In schools, teachers have worried that taking kids outside will result in misbehaviors and a lack of control. But when they’ve tried it out, such as leading students through a park while creating field journals or tending a community garden, they found just the opposite. Students were more engaged and held greater focus on the learning taking place. (1)

And for families, there are significant benefits for discovering nature together including greater:

  • family connectedness
  • cooperation skills
  • empathy and perspective-taking skills
  • caring
  • sense of awe and wonder
  • motivation to learn (2)

One study compared a group of preteens who spent five days in nature with no screen time with a demographically similar group of preteens at home who engaged in regular activities including daily screen time.(3) That study showed that the children who spent the time in nature after only five days were more skilled at taking social cues including nonverbals and understanding each others’ emotions. That short time spent with peers in nature enhanced their abilities to connect and communicate with one another.

The experience of being in nature, appreciating and discovering and learning together as a family, is an incredibly simple and yet, powerful way to spend time together. You really only need to go for a walk together outside. But sometimes, we appreciate and can use a bit more structure and inspiration. So in celebration of Earth Day, here are some ideas for exploration at various ages and stages.


Discover Bugs; Play Hide and Peek!

This game involves lifting up and peeking under any and every rock you can find and explore the world of bugs that lives underneath. Preschoolers will be thrilled by the pill bugs, worms, slugs and more that are just waiting to be discovered. The nine- and ten-year-old in the photograph below still find it exciting!

Track Animals

Go on a nature walk and look in the dirt for tracks. See if you can follow and attempt to identify various paw prints you see in the mud. And be sure to leave your own!

My son and his friend excavating behind the garage in search of bugs!

Early Elementary

Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Print off one of the many checklists on Pinterest and head to the park or a woods nearby. Some lists are fairly simple and straightforward such as, find a stick, a stone, and a ladybug. Some are more involved such as, find litter, find an animal hole, or find a group of mushrooms.

Plant a Garden

Designate a small spot in the yard to dig up and allow your child ownership over the lot. Help her line the edges with rocks to divide the space. Pick out seeds at a local garden shop and consider all of the requirements for growing – sun, soil, water? Plant, tend, weed and marvel. If you plant herbs or vegetables, incorporate the crop into family dinners and your child can feel proud to have grown what you are eating.

Create a Habitat

You may select a cardboard box or else find a small place in your yard for your child to create a habitat. Consider what animals might want to live there and what they require to be happy? Will they need a water source? What kind of food will they gather? Help your child make a habitat for a local chipmunk, ant colony or mouse.

Middle to Late Elementary

Create a Nature Journal

You’ll need a few items in order to create a nature journal. Get a blank notebook. Fill a pencil pouch with colored pencils and a glue stick. And pack your camera (or camera phone if that’s the only option) too. Now head to a natural setting. The challenge is to recreate the natural setting in your notebook by drawing, taking pictures of and writing about the different aspects of the habitat you are experiencing. Draw pinecones. Write about the smell in the air. Glue pine needles onto your pages. Imagine getting it back out in the middle of winter. Would your notebook place you right back where you are? This activity can enhance a child’s discovery and appreciation of a place while adding their own creativity to the mix.

Assemble a Nature Art Collage

Go on your nature walk together with an empty bag for collecting. Pick up natural treasures along the way such as seed pods, buckeyes, and flower petals. Then, find a suitable backdrop like cardboard or even, a wood plank. Now arrange and glue (an adult may need to help if a hot glue gun is necessary).

Go “Creeking”

As adults, we can forget or simply underestimate the incredible lure of a trickling stream. You need no instructions for kids here. Just let them go (and make sure their shoes can get muddy and wet!). Skipping rocks, looking for crayfish, and finding fossils are all on the agenda here. In my experience, we have to practically drag our child away when it’s time to leave.

Middle to High School


Check out a field guide from your local library or bookstore. Find a natural subject that most interests your son/daughter. There are guides for fossils, rocks and minerals, plants, wildflowers, birds, woodland creatures, trees and more. Now head to the park or hiking trails and see what you can identify together.


Camping as a family does not have to require major equipment or planning. In fact, you can pitch a tent in the backyard or at a nearby nature preserve and enjoy the bonding that occurs because of it. Make a bonfire and share ghost stories. Take a hike. Pick out the constellations in the night sky. Leave your electronics behind.

In addition to all of the aforementioned benefits of getting out in nature with your children, it can have the added impact of calming us down and changing to a slower, more steady pace in contrast to our daily lives. Use this Earth Day as a reminder to find simple ways to appreciate nature with your kids and enjoy the many benefits of exploration together.



Earth Day Facts and History


How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature
by Scott Sampson

Balanced and Barefoot; How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident and Capable Children
By Angela J. Hanscom

Supportive Organizations:

The Nature Kids Institute

The Children and Nature Network

Science Kids


(1) Scott, G., Colquhoun, D., (2013). Changing spaces, changing relationships: The positive impact of learning out of doors. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 17(1), 47 – 53.

(2) Garst, B. A., Baughman, S., Franz, N. K, Seidel, R. W., (2013). Strengthening families: Exploring the impacts of family camp experiences on family functioning and parenting. Journal of Experiential Education, 36(1), 65-77.

(3) Uhls, Y. T., Michikyan, M., Morris, J., Garcia, D., Small, G. W., Zgourou, E., Greenfield, P. M., (2014). Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues. Computers in Human Behavior, 39, 387-392.

Originally published April 20, 2017.

In Youth Connections Magazine… “Cultivating Trusting Relationships”

Between Adults and Children…

This article responds to the question: “How can you become an ‘ask-able’ adult?” Whether you are a teacher or a parent, how can you be sure children are coming to you with their important questions and confiding in you with their problems and worries? This article is one of a six-part-series focusing on parenting with social and emotional learning including one article on each of the five research-based social and emotional competencies. This series is sponsored by the Montana Center for Safety and Health Culture and their helpful site: https://parentingmontana.org which offers many more tools and resources for building relationship skills! Here’s how this feature article begins…

“It’s sad our girls aren’t talking. How are they going to work anything out that way?” said Tara, the mother of Janie’s teenage daughter’s best and oldest friend. “I didn’t know they were fighting,” replied Janie as she walked away wondering why she hadn’t heard first hand about her daughter’s friendship woes. When she returned home, Janie asked her daughter about it. “Oh, it’s nothing,” was her daughter’s response. She recalled just last evening noticing the light on under her door late into the evening and could see her daughter’s tired, worn expression. “I can see you’re upset. And Mrs. Anderson mentioned that you and Cara aren’t talking. Won’t you tell me what’s going on?”

As Janie wondered why her daughter chose to struggle in silence, she thought about their conversations about Cara over the past months. Janie didn’t approve of how Cara pressured her daughter to take risks she might not otherwise take and had made that well-known to her daughter. Had her comments about Cara created a barrier between her and her daughter? Was she now not safe to confide in? Her frustration mounted as she tried to figure out what she might do or say to get her daughter talking again.

How does an adult become “ask-able” – the kind of adult with whom children and teens are comfortable coming to and confiding in? Parents and educators need to be able to help with smaller, everyday issues like when children and teens face simple friendship problems and the big upsets that accompany them... READ the full article here! 


Ten Positive Ways to Deal with Whining

“Mooooommmmm, I don’t want to go to the sitter’s,” seven-year-old Elaina says in a high-pitched, sing-song (as in a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard, not melodic) way. The powerful whine is wielded to get her Mom’s attention. And it works every time. How can you not hear, turn toward, and grimace at that tone? In fact, research confirms what we already know — that whining is the most annoying sound we can hear even beyond crying or yelling which also makes it a power tool for our children and teens. Though whining peaks between the ages of two and four, this tool is not limited to the young. We encounter adults who whine in the workplace when the work is stacked high or whine at partners who face a pile of dishes. 

Because whining is so irritating, we, as parents or educators, often don’t react in the best ways. “Stop whining!” might be an automatic response or “Just do your job!” may be another. Both expressions are likely to be said with force and aggression since we reactively want to match the astringent tone with the same level of emotional energy. In order to become adept at reacting to whining, we need to understand the motivation behind it. The whining may be an attempt to:

  • gain more connection with you. With children, often any attention, even if it’s negative, is good attention;
  • get a physical need met. Hungry? Tired? A mash-up of these is more often the case.
  • get an emotional need met. Children may be upset and seeking your support and understanding.
  • seek comfort and solace in behaviors from their younger years. As our children grow older, they retain all of the ages and stages from their past and can fall back to old habits when they are feeling sensitive and vulnerable.
  • gain control of their situation. If your family has been particularly stressed, you might experience your child whining more frequently. 
  • avoid responsibilities. Children can feel overwhelmed by the mound of school work they have or a full messy room you are directing them to clean up.

Our responses then can be most successful if we address their motivation. Keep in mind that all whining is a request for your attention. How you respond can turn around the situation so that your child feels supported and knows how to gain your attention without using his power tool: whining. Here are the top ten easy tips.

  1. Plan for your Own Reactions

    Naturally, we’ll want to cringe when our child whines. After all, that’s the intended reaction to bring our full attention to our child. But if we think ahead and decide how we’ll react, we can lessen future whining instead of unwittingly encouraging it with our negative responses. What can you do to help yourself remember to stop, breathe, and pause before responding? Post a note on the refrigerator? Wear a red bracelet? Then, practice moving toward your child to show support. If you are too annoyed and it will clearly show in your voice, don’t talk. Place your hand on their shoulder, rub their back or hold their hand. Show that you are trying to understand and support them acknowledging they are having a rough time. If you react in upset, this rise out of you will reinforce more whining. They’ve gotten you excited and they were hoping to do just that. So it’s worth taking a moment to breathe.

  2. Teach Positive Ways to Ask for Attention.

What could your child say or do that would guarantee your attention to their needs? Often we inadvertently reinforce whining only offering our focused attention when that annoying communication tool is used. Instead, practice ways your child could genuinely gain your focus. “Mom, I could really use a hug right now,” “Dad, I want to tell you about what happened to me today,” or simply, “Excuse me, Mom.” After practicing together what you want your child to say, work on recognizing when they are asking in appropriate ways and give them attention in response. Also, if your child is frequently interrupting you when you are talking to another, how can you create a hand signal to get your attention so that they don’t have to interrupt you to get their needs met? Maybe they raise their hand or you give each other a high five indicating you’ll be with them in just a minute. If you have a young child who may not be as comfortable with words, you may practice a signal that they can consistently use. For example, a preschool teacher guides young children to place their hand on her arm and she, in return, places her hand on their hand. This signal is a positive way they’ve agreed children can seek her attention.

3. Trading Places — Dramatically Play through Gaining Attention

This strategy is best used if played (read: practiced) in advance. If your child is in the midst of whining to you, stop and say, “Switch!” See if you might change places — you playing the child, your daughter playing Mom. Now, Mom gets to whine and see how the daughter will respond. If she struggles, then you might ask “How can we help you feel better? How can we help me feel better too?”

4. Be Certain to Have Sacred Time Together Each Day

If your child is whining for greater connection, they may only increase their efforts until they get that attention from you. If you have multiple siblings to share your attention among, why not create a daily ritual in which you can solely focus one-on-one time on each? Perhaps bedtime is an opportunity for a five-minute time to connect and share with one another thoughts from the day? When the whining occurs, you might mention that you are looking forward to that special time together.

5. Empathize and Identify the Feeling

The whining may be occurring because your child is feeling sensitive or hurt. How can you help meet that emotional need? First, name the feeling to help your child figure out what’s going on inside of her and show you are working to seek understanding. “Are you feeling sad? How can we help you feel better?” might be all that is needed — that and a good hug — to chase the blues away. Also, reading and learning about your child’s development at each age and stage can help extend your patience as you gain understanding realizing that they are working hard to learn particular physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills.

6. Met Physical Needs

Can you tell if your child is simply worn out? Time to take a break, enjoy a quiet time, or work on a consistent bedtime routine so that a full night’s sleep awaits. Do you know your child is hungry, or in this case, hangry? Try out a high protein snack to see if it might do the trick.

7. Break Down Big Responsibilities into Small, Manageable Ones

Children can easily become overwhelmed with too many choices or too many tasks. And that overwhelm can contribute to whining and giving up trying. That’s why it helps to recognize when they are feeling like it’s all too much. Break down any homework or clean up tasks in one small step at a time. “Do you want to put away your Legos or your books? Or “Do you want to begin with your math worksheet or spelling words?” Turn on some music while you get clean up tasks accomplished to add enjoyment. This will teach them how to manage their workload and prevent future whining episodes.

8. Notice Positive Attention-Seeking Behaviors

All too often we get in the habit of calling out behaviors we want to change but when things are going smoothly, we are simply relieved and may not say anything. When you see improvement, tell your child at the moment what they are doing well, particularly if it is a behavioral issue you are working on with him. Be specific. “I notice you waited until I was finished with my conversation to ask me a question. That takes patience and I appreciate it.”

9. Embrace Regression in Positive Ways

If your child is seeking comfort in acting as she did in her younger years, take notice. How can you relive some of the joys of those younger days or relish in old comforts to help soothe a weary, growing child? You may get out a long-forgotten toy or stuffed friend. You may watch videos of her toddler self. Reflect on the best of those times and also the best of these times. What makes this particular age so uniquely wonderful?

10. Connect More During Stressful Family Times

Whether you are moving, renovating, having a baby, or dealing with the passing of a loved one, these stressful times can become ripe conditions for your child to whine more. And those are precisely the times when we do not react well considering that we may already be stressed to our limits. So during particularly stressful times, we can help ourselves by creating more frequent opportunities for loving connection with our children. Add more hugs, more snuggles, and more time to read together to help get through the rougher times together showing support for one another.

Simply put, if you are dealing with a whining child, it requires a little more of your time to focus on that child. As you offer more positive connections, you’ll experience less whining. And all family members can feel a greater sense of loving connection.

Starting Today…Building Confident Kids!

Jennifer Miller will be speaking with Mom and Educator Heather Davis today on how you can play a critical role in supporting your child’s social and emotional development. Her interview will be available FREE for the next twenty-four hours. And there are many expert speakers with practical strategies you’ll find valuable this week in whatever role you play with children. SIGN UP HERE!

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