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Have an assertive child? Good.

4 expert tips to raise a confident child

Have an assertive child? Good.

Years ago I worked with a young girl who, from the outside looking in, appeared happy, calm, social and engaging. In fact, when I first observed her among her peers, I wondered why her mother was worried about her. She played among other girls without a hint of trouble. In the classroom, she appeared focused and interested.


It was during a classroom observation that it hit me: While this student appeared happy and well-adjusted, she lacked assertiveness skills.When the teacher posed a question, she scanned the room to make sure no one else raised a hand before tentatively raising hers and answered in a very quiet voice. If another child raised a hand after her, she put hers down and let the other child take centerstage. A closer look at her play revealed that she was always the go-with-the-flow player. She never pitched ideas or shared opinions. She simply did what the others wanted to do.

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While this young girl didn’t appear to be under stress at school, she saved it for home. She cried to her mom night after night and sometimes wished to start over somewhere new.

She didn’t know how to change.

Many children struggle with assertiveness skills for a variety of reasons. For this young girl, politeness was highly valued in her home and she didn’t know how to merge her polite demeanor with assertiveness.She didn’t believe that the two could work together.

From the moment kids can speak, we teach them to listen. We shush them when they cry. We try every trick in the book to “tame” tantrums. We speak for them when they begin new classes, groups, or teams. We arrange their play dates and make choices on their behalf. We bombard them with negative feedback: Take turns, share more, wait longer, be more patient.

While kids do need to learn how to get along with others, and turn-taking is a good skill to have, children today learn these skills in a much different way. Thirty years ago, kids learned these skills out in the community. They roamed their neighborhoods in search of pals, asked to join an existing game, advocated for themselves and others during play, and scheduled their own play dates. Thirty years ago, kids had to pick up the phone, talk to the other child’s mother when she answered, and then invite the friend over.Today, these things are done for children and even “free play” tends to occur in a controlled environment with an art project at the ready.

Kids today have limited opportunities to use their voices and that makes it difficult to practice assertiveness skills. The good news? Parents can help their kids build assertiveness skills!

So, what are a few of the best ways to raise an assertive (and happy) kiddo?

Role play three ways.

Many kids have difficulty understanding the difference between passive, aggressive, and assertive communication. While describing the three in detail (right down to the flimsy handshake of the passive communicator and the overpowering crossed arms of the aggressive one) can be useful, kids tend to process information more efficiently when they act it out.

Create three characters to represent each style and brainstorm some scenarios that might actually apply to your child (e.g.,sharing toys with a peer). Take turns “trying on” each character and then discuss how it felt to play each role.

Create an “all about me” board.

I find that teaching kids to identify their strengths helps them find their voices. It’s natural for kids to compare themselves to others.They see the strengths in their peers and wonder how they stack up.

An “all about me” board gives kids a chance to think about(and showcase) their interests, strengths, likes and dislikes, and their support networks. All they need is a poster, some art supplies (my kids love to cut and paste from magazines), and time to create!

Craft a bill of rights.

We spend so much time teaching kids the “don’ts” of th eworld that we sometimes forget to teach them that they do have rights.

If we want to raise kids capable of asserting their feelings, thoughts, and needs, we have to begin by helping them understand their own rights. This should be unique to each child, but all kids should understand, for example, that they have the right to say “no” when something doesn’t feel right.

They have the right to voice their opinions. They have the right to be treated with respect.They have the right to ask for help when they need it.

They have the right to be themselves.

Teach them how to follow through on goals.

One of the best ways to help kids learn to assert their needs is to teach them to set and reach their own personal goals. In school, they do what they have to do to reach their academic goals. At home, they should learn to set their own goals, break them down into manageable pieces and ask for help when necessary.

Just last week, my nine-year-old daughter wanted to makeM&M cookies on her own. She made a plan and followed it: Find the recipe.Get out the ingredients. Turn on the oven (ask for help with that). Follow the steps and ask for help when something is unclear.

You know what? I only helped her twice! She knew when to speak up and when to work through something on her own. Those are life lessons that you can’t learn from a worksheet.

For more ideas on promoting assertiveness and raising a happy + healthy child, check out my new book, The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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It's 2020. The world is changing. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

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