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Too often, weekday mornings can seem like a race against the clock. When your alarm goes off, you start out with the best of intentions (serenity now!). But, by the time the bus arrives, you are frustrated, frazzled, and yelling at your kids—again.

Not only is yelling an upsetting way to start your morning, it is also generally ineffective. If it happens over and over again, it can set up a bad parent-child relationship that can result in continued noncompliance by kids and distress in parents.

In fact, in the long run, persistent negative interactions between parents and children can lead children to avoid their parents and make tasks even more unpleasant for them, and cause parents to give up on making requests. At the most extreme levels, persistent parental criticism can increase the risk for depression in children and teens.

So, what is a parent to do? Deficits in organizational skills are an important problem. Many kids need help learning to get organized in order to more effectively carry out tasks related to their morning routines and school responsibilities. Their problems with organization can hinder school performance and lead to high levels of family conflict.

In our new book, The Organized Child: An Effective Program to Maximize Your Kid's Potential—in School and in Life, Elana Spira, Jennifer Rosenblatt, and I guide parents through research-based ways to improve kids' organization, time management, and planning skills, while also preserving positive parent-child relationships.

An alternative to yelling

First, we recommend that parents work hard to avoid yelling at kids because this only works temporarily—while using firm but pleasant requests helps kids to be more cooperative immediately and in the future. Rather than catching kids' mistakes and providing harsh requests, we recommend changing directives into "positive prompts."

What are positive prompts? A positive prompt is simply a pleasant request with some honest encouragement. Children are really no different from other people—they like to be treated with respect and good manners. A request starting with "please" and followed by "thank you" when the task is completed makes children more willing to do as they are asked.

This may sound Pollyannish, but respecting children and praising their efforts does lead to improved behavior, as noted in the work of experts such as Russell Barkley, an expert on ADHD, and Alan Kazdin, the former president of the American Psychological Association. My research team has found that parents using positive prompts, and teaching children new skills in managing their lives at home and at school, can help children to grow into more responsive, responsible kids.

Our studies show that even the kids who struggle the most can improve. In fact, children with the greatest deficits in organization, time management, and planning made large improvements that contributed to two wonderful outcomes: Their school work advanced, and the parents and children experienced significantly less conflict. Critically, in one large study, the benefits lasted into the next school year.

How can you start building improved organizational skills with positive prompting? It's quite simple. Here are some of the guidelines we recommend.

1. Move close to your child.

Don't yell a prompt from the bathroom to your kid's bedroom. If you do, your child is more likely to ignore you, making this a wasted reminder.

2. Get your child's attention.

Make eye contact! If they are texting or playing Minecraft, they won't hear you.

3. Ask for one thing at a time.

If you give your child multiple reminders at once, odds are that they will forget at least one of them. Focus on what's most important for that day.

4. Be clear.

Please put your homework folder in your backpack" (vs. "pack up").

5. Use a positive, encouraging voice.

It's difficult, we know! But try your best to keep the frustration out of your voice. Try taking three deep breaths (and a slow sip of coffee) before speaking.

6. Don't nag.

When you nag your child, especially about something you've asked them to do before, it is quite likely that all your child hears after the fifth or sixth time is "blah, blah, blah."

7. Stick with the present; forget about the past.

"Please pack your lunchbox" (vs. "Let's see if you can remember your lunch today, unlike yesterday").

As your child becomes more comfortable with a specific behavior, fewer prompts will be needed. But don't taper them off until you notice a change in your child's behavior. Prompts and praise are useful until the behaviors become habitual. Too often, parents expect kids to get it right the first time, but waiting until the behavior is ingrained is key to success.

After you become skilled in using positive prompts and praise for simple tasks, you can learn to encourage higher-level organizational skills in your kids, too. After determining what they need to manage their routines and handle the organizational demands at school—such as writing down assignments, getting the right materials and books home and back to school, and improving time management—you can use positive prompts and careful guided instruction here, as well. Parent-child interactions are critical to teaching lessons that stick with children, putting them on a path to success.

We all want to help our children be more organized—and we want to maintain our close bonds. Using positive prompts is one of the ways to do that. By understanding how to prompt positive behavior in our kids, we can preserve our peace of mind and theirs.

The tools for turning rough mornings into pleasant ones are in our hands.

Originally posted on Greater Good.

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Our babies come out as beautiful, soft and natural as can be—shouldn't their clothes follow suit?

Here are nine of our favorite organic kids clothing brands that prove safe fabrics + stylish designs are a natural fit.

Estella

A brick and mortar store in Manhattan that opened in 2002, Estella is NYC's go-to shop for luxury baby gifts—from sweet-as-pie organic clothing to eco-friendly toys.

L'ovedbaby

@lovedbaby

We l'oved this collection from the moment we laid eyes on it. (See what we did there 🤣) Free of things harsh added chemicals, dangerous flame retardants, and harmful dyes, this collection is 100% organic and 100% gorgeous. We especially adore their soft, footed rompers, comfy cotton joggers, and newborn-friendly kimono bodysuits.

Looking to stock up? Don't miss Big-Find Thursday every week on their site—a 24-hour flash sale that happens Thursdays at 9 a.m. PST and features a different body style, collection, and discount every week!

Hanna Andersson

@happyhannas

One of our all-time favorite brands for durability, style, + customer service, Hanna Andersson doesn't disappoint in the organic department, either. From an aww-inducing organic baby layette collection all the way to their iconic pajamas, there are so many organic styles to swoon over from this beloved brand. And we swear their pajamas are magic—they seem to grow with your little one, fitting season after season!

Monica + Andy

@monicaandandy

The fabric you first snuggle your baby in matters. Monica + Andy's (gorgeous) collection is designed for moms and babies by moms with babies, and we love it all because it's made of super-soft GOTS-certified organic cotton that's free of chemicals, lead, and phthalates. Newborn pieces feature thoughtful details like fold-over mittens and feet.

Finn + Emma

@finnandemma

"Here boring designs and toxic chemicals are a thing of the past while modern colors, fresh prints and heirloom quality construction are abundant." We couldn't agree more. Made from 100% organic cotton, eco friendly dyes, and in fair trade settings, we love this modern collection's mix of style + sustainability.

We especially love the Basics Collection, an assortment of incredibly soft, beautiful apparel + accessories including bodysuits, zip footies, pants, hats, and bibs, all available in a gender-neutral color palette that can work together to create multiple outfit combinations. The pieces are perfect for monochrome looks or for mixing with prints for a more modern style.

SoftBaby

@littleaddigrey for @softbaby_clothes

You'll come for SoftBaby's organic fabrics, but you'll stay for their adorable assortment of prints. From woodland foxes to urban pugs, there's no limit to their assortment (meaning you'll even be able to find something for the new mama who's hard to shop for). Plus, the name says it all--these suckers are soft. Get ready for some serious cuddle time.

Gap Baby

@gapkids

Organic may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Gap, but this popular brand actually carries a wide variety of organic (and adorable) baby + toddler clothes. From newborn layette basics to toddler sleepwear—and more—there's something for everyone in this collection. Everything is 100% cotton, super soft + cozy, and perfect for eco-conscious mamas.

Winter Water Factory

@winterwaterfactory

Certified organic cotton with Brooklyn-based swagger? Be still our hearts. Winter Water Factory features screen-printed textiles in bold designs you'll want to show off (get ready for some major Instagram likes). And the husband-and-wife co-founders keep sustainability at the forefront of their brand, meaning you can feel good about your purchase--and what you're putting on your baby.

The company makes everything from kids' clothes to crib sheets (all made in the USA). For even more cuteness, pair their signature rompers with a hat or bonnet.

Under the Nile

@underthenile

Under the Nile has been making organic baby clothes since before it was cool. Seriously, they were the first baby clothing company in the USA to be certified by The Global Organic Textile Standard. They've kept up that legacy of high standards by growing their Egyptian cotton on a biodynamic farm without the use of pesticides or insecticides, and all of their prints are made with metal-free colors and no chemical finishes.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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