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7 ways to practice peaceful parenting IRL—from preschool to grade school 📚

How to connect with your kids—even when they’ve hidden your car keys.

7 ways to practice peaceful parenting IRL—from preschool to grade school 📚

Gone are the days when your mere look of disapproval was enough to derail your toddler’s plans for world domination. Nope. Now she’s three and going for broke.


Peaceful parenting is less about strict do’s and don’ts and more about a set of principles that help us connect with our kids—even when they’ve hidden our car keys and can’t be bribed.

Here are seven ways peaceful parenting might work when your child is in that stage—you know the one—somewhere between three and eternity.


1. How to peacefully deal with teaching them to clean up after themselves

Your child may not be successful in doing this independently for quite some time, mama, so don’t set your expectations too high.

Model what you want them to do and point out next steps. When you show, instead of tell, the brain processes it in a different way. Kids can follow your example and do it again another time. (And keep in mind, there is always the option to reevaluate what possessions your kids have. Maybe it’s time to donate some toys and clothes?)

2. How to peacefully deal with little (or big!) messes throughout the day

Consider this when you find a new portrait from your little artist on your kitchen wall: This is normal behavior, not akin to vandalism. Say something like, “I know you love to draw but this isn’t a good place to draw. Where else do you think you can draw instead?”

Help them think of a solution. If they are given the responsibility to think of where a better place would be then the learning will stick in their minds better.


3. How to peacefully deal with enforcing basic hygiene skills

Hygiene isn’t always top of mind for kiddos. Kids are busy and they don’t mind fuzzy teeth and bedhead.

Since we do mind paying their dental bill and would also like the general public to know that we try to take care of them, we have to be the ones to follow through.

Set an alarm. This is for you, not them. Setting an alarm on your phone for 10 minutes before you leave the house reminds you to remind them. Then supervise—at least peek in to make sure they’re really brushing.

When needed, help. Younger kids need help with teeth and hair and washing in general for far longer than we usually think. Scale back your help as they get older.

4. How to peacefully deal with lying

Gah! Why? We know they’re lying and suspect they know we know. Yet, they’re committed. This is actually a primitive and unrefined tool for staying connected and conflict-free. We know that it doesn’t really work that way but they’re new here.

For example, when your child lies about brushing her teeth, here’s what’s happening in her brain: She’s going to brush and then remembers she hates it. She decides that she’ll just hang out for 3 minutes instead so that she doesn’t have to brush.

Then you ask her The Question and she wishes she would’ve brushed but doesn’t want conflict with you so she answers in the affirmative.

Instead of seeing lying as the ultimate affront, try to understand the need that is being met by lying. How can you help her meet this need for secure relationships without letting the lie slide?

5. How to peacefully deal with hitting and hurting

Biting, throwing and hitting are normal parts of development for most kids. So just because your 5-year-old chucks a ball at your baby’s head doesn’t mean you’ll be visiting her in prison someday.

The way you react to this will set a precedent. Try to remain calm. If you fly off the handle then your 5-year-old is more prone to do the same.

It’s common for kids to immediately regret hurting someone. Help them make amends and talk about how to handle it next time they feel a strong emotion.

This sends the message that she can make mistakes and she can take responsibility and fix them.

6. How to peacefully deal with the refusal of dinner

My son went through a phase when he stopped eating what we prepared each night. The phase lasted until he moved out, which is to say we are still in the thick of it since he’s just 15.

When he was younger we gave him the choice of eating the dinner as it was made or having a sandwich. Choices that you can live with either way will save you. Red cup or blue cup? Sandwich or dinner?

7. How to peacefully deal with bedtime struggles

Bedtime is the biggest separation that children go through in their day. It also happens at the time when kids are most emotional because they’re tired. We see their looming bedtime as the gateway to adult freedom but they see it as missing out.

Make bedtime routines simple. And be consistent. A longer routine might actually stimulate kids and prolong the process.

Parenting peacefully takes time and energy, no doubt. It’s hard work to take other people’s feelings and needs into consideration at every turn, but it’s so worth it. When I hear my kids use these same strategies with each other and with other people, it makes my heart burst. Peaceful parenting is connection on purpose and that’s exactly what I want my kids to go out and sow in this crazy world of ours.

In This Article

    An expectant mama's to-do list can feel endless… but here's the good news: A lot of those tasks are actually really exciting. Planning your baby registry is especially thrilling: You get a say in what gifts friends and family members will buy for your new addition!

    But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

    Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

    Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.


    A crib to grow with your baby

    Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

    First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.

    $269.99

    A safe + convenient car seat

    Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

    The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.

    $99.99

    A traveling nursery station

    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

    It's hard to beat a good playard when it comes to longevity. This item can be baby's sleeping place when they're sharing a room with you for the first months. Down the line, it can function as a roving diaper change station. And when you travel, it makes a great safe space for your little one to sleep and play.

    $99.99

    A swing for some backup help

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.

    $219.99

    An easy-to-clean high chair

    Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

    Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.

    $99.99

    A diaper bag to share

    Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

    When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.

    $64.99

    A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

    Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

    We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.

    $29.99

    A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

    Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

    Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.

    $165.99

    A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

    Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

    A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.

    $39.99

    A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

    Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

    Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.

    $39.99

    Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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