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Parents

19 Expert Parenting Tips Every Parent Needs

On limiting screen time, raising grateful kids, and a whole lot more.

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1. How to help your baby sleep:

Flickr: nichd / Via Creative Commons

"Although it's super fun to get everything ready for your baby, be mindful when you're decorating the nursery — you want your baby to sleep, not play while they're in their bed. Make sure that you don't have glow-in-the-dark stars, projectors, or music. Rather, opt for blackout curtains, white noise, and put the mobile over the changing table."

— Kim West, LCSW-C, The Sleep Lady

2. How to keep a marriage happy with kids:

Flickr: ishaip / Via Creative Commons

"To keep a marriage happy with kids, it's important to get enough sleep yourself. We pay a lot of attention to children's bedtimes, but it's all too easy for us to stay up too late. When we're exhausted, we start to yell, nag, misplace items, forget things, and otherwise behave badly. And while you're at it, don't let yourself get too hungry. Our physical experience always colors our emotional experience."

Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author and the host of the podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin

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3. How to prepare healthy school lunches:

Flickr: calendow / Via Creative Commons

"Push the protein – I teach my kids to make sure they eat a source of protein at every meal as too many kids only eat carbs. Milk is a good source of high-quality protein and research shows protein can help kids stay full and focused at school. Each eight ounce glass of milk provides nine essential nutrients including nine grams of high-quality protein, calcium and vitamin D that they need for proper growth and development."

Dr. Tanya Altmann, pediatrician and best-selling author of Mommy Calls

4. How to build confidence in your kids when they play sports:

Flickr: emrank / Via Creative Commons

"To build kids' confidence after a game, parents should focus on kids' small successes. Tell young athletes they excelled on defense, or were great team players. Don't focus on their mistakes; talk about how they can learn from mistakes and losses. You might ask, 'Let's think about how you can defend against that team's tall players next time.' In addition, it's critical to avoid obsessing on kids' performance. If your young athletes don't want to talk about the game, follow their lead. Always concentrate on growth and learning to build their confidence in ways that benefit them in sports — and life."

— Patrick Cohn, Ph.D, master mental game coach with Lisa Cohn at Kids Sports Psychology

5. How to safely use a car seat:

thecarseatlady.com

"All of our top ten tips are important, but one tip many parents don't realize is as important as it is is number three, because studies consistently show that more than 90% of all car seats are installed wrong and the average seat has three errors. Don't just think you're doing it right, KNOW you're doing it right — go to www.seatcheck.org and find someone trained in your area to get the installation of your child's car seat checked."

— Alisa Baer, M.D. of The Car Seat Lady

6. How to limit screen time:

Flickr: lens-cap / Via Creative Commons

"Most children are highly motivated to earn screen time as a reward. Establish clear routines for morning, homework time, and evening and proactively set up how your child can earn screen time for completing their goals. Even if you do not allow your child to have screens during the week, you can connect week day routines to weekend screen time."

Dr. Kirsten Cullen Sharma, Neuropsychologist, Child Study Center, NYU Langone Medical Center

7. How to raise grateful kids:

Flickr: soldiersmediacenter / Via Creative Commons

"When we cater to kids' every whim, from packing their favorite gourmet treat in their lunches to ensuring they always have the latest smartphone, they feel entitled and have little sense of what it's like to do without. Figure out what your family can do without for a week or a month (such as eating out, TV time, biking rather than driving to close locations). Cutting back on some conveniences may not seem comfortable at first, but it's a great way to help the whole family appreciate how good they have it."

— Amy McCready, author of The "Me, Me, Me" Epidemic and founder of Positive Parenting Solutions

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8. How to motivate kids:

Flickr: dfataustralianaid / Via Creative Commons

"We now have increasing science on the benefits of "downtime." Whether it is just a few minutes of closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, or contemplating what you just heard or saw, periods of relaxed wakefulness have been shown to enhance attention, strategic problem solving, creativity, morality, and motivation. Downtime activates the brain's default mode network allowing certain biological processes to exclusively occur so sometimes the best thing to tell your child is 'do nothing!'"

Dr. Shimi King, author of The Self-Motivated Kid

9. How to raise generous kids:

Flickr: chrisyarzab / Via Creative Commons

"The best way to raise generous kids is to involve them with your own giving from the very beginning by giving it forward. Simple things like picking up trash when you are on a walk in your neighborhood or just talking about ways in which you give can be very influential. Even better, empower them by asking for their own ideas on how to be kind and generous to others!"

Jennifer Iacovelli, author of Simple Giving: Easy Ways To Give Every Day

10. How to snap the perfect family portrait:

Flickr: superformosa / Via Creative Commons

"If you have young children who take naps, schedule the photoshoot for 45 minutes past nap times. This will help prevent crankiness."

— Daneen Augello, owner of Daneen Augello Photography

11. What toys to give your new baby:

oliverandadelaide.com

"Do not provide too much color – and present your child with the soothing colors of nature rather than synthetic colors. Bright colors early on become too stimulating. Most importantly, be selective and do not provide an overabundance of choice. Keep it simple. You will see that when a child has fewer choices in front of her, she will have focused play."

— Gary Osborne, Creative Director & Founder of Oliver and Adelaide

12. How to raise a happy kid:

Flickr: shubhamoy / Via Creative Commons

"Teach emotional regulation. When parents take the time to teach kids how to identify, process, and cope with their emotions, they are better prepared to handle the ups and downs that life has to offer. Feelings are important. Recognizing that all emotions matter sets kids up to live happy lives."

— Katie Hurley, author of The Happy Kid Handbook

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13. How to deal with picky eaters:

David M. Goehring / Via Flickr: carbonnyc

"How you — the parents — talk about food, eat food and present food to your little kids is everything. If you have a limited diet yourself, eat breakfast in the car and dinner standing by the sink, 'don't do gluten/sugar/meat/vegetables/spicy foods/slimy foods/etc.,' you are signaling to your kids that food is something to be feared, avoided if possible, or at a minimum, endured. You are in effect giving them permission to be picky, on their own terms.

So… lighten up, and at the same time, take it more seriously! Enjoy a variety of foods more yourself. Tell you husband, mother-in-law, neighbor or anyone else that's a bad influence to stop criticizing. Be a little more adventuresome yourself, show your kids that food can and is supposed to be enjoyable, and give them as many opportunities as possible to try new things. Eventually, they will follow your lead."

Nancy Tringali, author of My Two-Year-Old Loves To Eat Octopus: Raising Children Who Love To Eat Everything

14. How to talk to young children about sex:

Goldenkb / Getty Images

"Parents can put themselves at ease by realizing that conversations with young children about 'sex' really aren't about 'sex' at all! Children as young as four are naturally curious about the world around them and where they fit in. That's why at about age four they often ask, 'Where did I come from?' They will be quite happy with an answer like, 'You grew inside your mom in a special place called a 'uterus.' Later on when they ask other predictable questions like, 'How did I get out of there?' or 'How did I get in there in the first place?,' parents can continue to respond with the same kind of straightforward matter-of-fact information."

Deborah Roffman, author of Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to BecomeYour Kids' Go-To Person about Sex

15. How to encourage emotional intelligence:

Flickr: louandtraciplus / Via Creative Commons

"Fun and easy-to-use emotional intelligence tools like interactive board games and question and answer cards that get kids dancing spontaneously or answering fun, unconventional questions help teach self-control, social skills, impulse control, and better behavior. Kids won't even know they're exercising their emotional intelligence, the biggest indicator of life success. An added bonus for parents in the short term – emotional intelligence training will improve behavior and minimize meltdowns and help children with school readiness."

– Sofia Dickens, founder of EQtainment

16. How to prepare to breastfeed:

Flickr: daquellamanera / Via Creative Commons

"Whether breastfeeding or using pumped milk, new parents have questions. Putting a baby or even multiples to the breast will be easy for some and challenging for others. Have support within arm's reach — your partner, lactation consultant, and your team players. Share your wishes for success. Keep necessary supplies handy like a nursing pillow, baby supplies, natural nipple butter, cotton washable nursing pads, a comfortable bra, pump parts, snacks and drinks. If you experience any pain or soreness, concerns about your milk volume, the baby's intake or output, weight or sleep concerns, don't hesitate and ask for help."

— Linda M. Hanna, Director of Care at My Nursing Coach and Mahmee

17. How to stop whining:

Alex Motrenko / Getty Images

"'What you focus on, you get more of' is a basic concept in Conscious Discipline. The more you focus on whining, the more whining you will hear and the more whining kids will do! Change your focus to help kids change their behavior. First, consciously notice all the times kids ask for something or handle frustration constructively. Then, make a BIG DEAL out of it: 'Look at you! You asked for more play time in a calm voice! That is so helpful. I can understand exactly what you're asking for when you speak clearly like that!'"

— Dr. Becky Bailey, developer of Conscious Discipline and author of Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline

18. How to entertain-educate kids:

Flickr: douglaspimentel / Via Creative Commons

"My father Lou Gallo started a program with musician Brady Rymer called 'Singing Stories.' The concept behind it was that anything you can read, you can also sing. Rolie Polie Guacamole has continued his legacy at our singalongs and library programs — we did a recent singalong with Eric Carle's book, Brown Bear. Try making your child's favorite story into a song, and see what happens! It's a super simple thing to do, and it could turn into a unique song that lasts a lifetime."

Frank Gallo, vocalist/guitarist of the kid's music band Rolie Polie Guacamole

19. How to protect your kids against cyberbullying:

Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images / Via gabriella.global

"Recognize that smartphones and social media accounts can be used as weapons in the hands of children. Spend time with your children exploring social media together. If nobody is teaching them about online ethics, how are they supposed to learn it? Most importantly, remember you are the example — they see your social media profile and online behavior and are likely to replicate it."

Gabriella van Rij, Cyberbullying Expert

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