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One thing I learned from traveling around the world and sitting at the feet of happiness teachers is that emotions work in a certain way. When I was surrounded by a band of monkeys on a mountain in India I was terrified, and when I was welcomed with open arms in London by new friends I was delighted. Emotions are par for the course in our everyday lives, but how we handle these ups and downs is informed by our understanding of what emotions are and how they work.

In this article, we'll discuss how to help children get a handle on how emotions work, and what they can do to move themselves in a healthier direction. The ideas presented may sound simple, but I have found that if you don't get the small stuff correct, it's harder to move up to the bigger things. If Frankie doesn't learn to handle his frustration over sharing his toys with his sister, for example, he may miss out on the enjoyment of having someone to play with.

My goal is to provide you with simple yet life-changing ideas to nurture your child's emotional health, and ultimately, happier life experiences. Of course, they're not magic, but they are the seeds of emotional mastery, which when learned young can put a child on a positive trajectory. Each idea needs to be shared at your child's appropriate age level, and then deepened over time.

1. Emotions are temporary.

No matter what emotion you're experiencing—happiness or anger—it's temporary. Boys and girls, especially those who suffer from sadness, often mistakenly think that emotions are permanent. They think the big, dark cloud over their heads will never leave, but that's not true. By thinking a new thought, they can often feel a new feeling, and the clouds will pass (most of the time). "This too shall pass" is a motto used by many adults to remind themselves of the temporary nature of emotions and can be helpful on a hard day. Children can also create their own mottos such as, "Big feelings come, and big feelings go."

2. Inside of you (at the center) is joy, your natural state.

At the center of our being is goodness, which equates to pure positive energy or joy. This is your child's natural state. But his or her challenging feelings—anger, sadness, worry, panic, frustration, disappointment, and jealousy—can cloud that natural state. But if your child learns to let these challenging emotions pass by like clouds, the inner sun (goodness) can shine again.

Learning how to let feelings—especially tricky feelings like anger—come and go takes practice. But using a tool like mindful breathing, which Thich Nhat Hanh calls his "anchor," can help a child slow down and let the big emotions pass by as he breathes through these challenging moments.

3. There are different types of emotions.

Children experience a full range of emotions, from misery to happiness, but they don't necessarily understand the different types of emotions. Some types are: fast and slow, big and small, challenging and easy, and positive and negative. For example, anger is a fast emotion and also often feels very big and can be hard to tame without training (like a big lion). But when a child realizes she is bigger than her anger, she can muster her courage and learn how to let her anger go without making not-so-smart choices.

Helping children learn about the different types of emotions and how to connect with them in a healthy way happens over time. When reflecting on a big feeling in a calm moment, some conversation starters may be: "Did that emotion feel bigger than you? Did it happen quickly? Did you feel it when it was small? If so, where in your body did you feel it?"

4. Mixed emotions are common.

Children often feel more than one emotion at the same time, such as when a pet passes away. Ten-year-old Helene had known Moby, her black Labrador retriever, her whole life and was incredibly sad when she died. But Helene also felt relief that Moby wasn't suffering anymore in her old age. Helping children name their emotions, especially when they're mixed and complicated, is the first step toward helping them constructively express them.

Once Helene named her feelings as "sadness" and "relief," she could begin letting those feelings move through her. She painted a special rock for Moby and laid it on her grave, which helped Helene feel a little better.

5. All emotions are useful.

Your emotions are simply sending you signals about what's happening inside of you, so every emotion is useful, whether it feels challenging, like disappointment, or easier, like excitement. Learning how to spot emotions when they're small (like a little frustration before it becomes a volcano-size anger) will help you constructively express it. No emotion needs to be wasted—everything can be used as a stepping-stone to your next best feeling.

Helping children realize that emotions are neither good nor bad but simply signals is essential to their positive emotional development. Conversation starters around this subject include talking about street signals (stop signs, police sirens, and traffic lights: red, yellow, and green). What do they mean? Are emotions like anger, joy, sadness or silliness sending signals, too?

6. You can learn how to increase certain emotions (the helpful ones) and reduce other emotions (the challenging ones) with practice.

Once children begin to realize that they can turn up the volume on certain emotions and lower the volume on others, the world is their oyster. There is nothing they cannot accomplish. The first step is giving children the ideas, and then the tools, while nurturing inner qualities of positive emotional health.

Being thankful is not just reserved for Thanksgiving Day. Gratitude is an emotion that moves children in a positive direction, no matter what. Every night, Hayyam makes a gratitude list as he lies in bed reflecting on his day. He's been thankful for everything from jelly beans to a new karate teacher, and feeling this appreciation, instead of focusing on what he doesn't have, helps him realize how good things really are in his life.

7. No one can do it for you.

Children must learn to take responsibility for their emotional lives and realize that they're the captains of their emotional ships. They can learn to steer toward calmer waves and through the rough ones with more ease. Just like ship captains, they must get training on how to navigate the "high seas of emotions" of anger, rejection, embarrassment, hurt, and feeling left out, for example. But with ideas, tools, and practice, children can become fully themselves in an authentic, meaningful way.

Excerpted from the book The Emotionally Healthy Child. Copyright ©2018 by Maureen Healy. Printed with permission from New World Library—www.newworldlibrary.com.

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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.


While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.

$69.95

Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).

$79.95

Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.

$135.00

Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!

$79.95

Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.

$69.95

Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!

$50.00

Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.

$29.95

Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!

$9.95

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.

$99.95

Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.

$59.95

Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.

$98.00

Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.

$39.95

Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!

$165.00

Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.

$59.95

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

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

When the race began, it was a crowded field—but the closer we get to 2020, fewer and fewer Democratic candidates remain in the race for the presidency. Exits of once high-profile candidates, including Kirsten Gillibrand and Beto O'Rourke, have narrowed the field, and when the fifth democratic debate occurs this week, only 10 candidates are expected to take the stage.

The fifth debate is happening Wednesday, November 20 at 9 p.m. ET and will air on MSNBC.

So where do the 10 candidates in the fifth democratic debate stand on issues of importance to parents? We're keeping track of the plans they're putting forth and how they could impact your family.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

Paid leave: Wants to see "at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave" as noted in her Green Manufacturing Plan.

Childcare costs: Warren plans to introduce Universal Child Care as a right for every child in America. The plan would see the federal government partner with states, municipalities, school districts, nonprofits, tribes and faith-based organizations "to create a network of child care options that would be available to every family."

Health care: Warren is down for Medicare for All, and wants every person in America to have full health care coverage without any middle class tax increase.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Paid leave: Biden has not made a statement about a specific plan or number of weeks he wants to see for paid family leave.

Childcare costs: Biden plans to "provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds."

Health care: Biden plans to build on the Affordable Care Act to offer an affordable public option to American families.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Paid leave: As noted on her website, "Harris will fight for the FAMILY Act to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave" and her Children's Agenda includes plans for "up to 6 months of paid family and medical leave for workers nationwide."

Childcare costs: Harris wants to pass the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would see caps on the amount amount of money low- and middle-income families pay for childcare (with some families paying nothing) and would invest in childcare providers. She also wants to try extending the school day to close the after school care gap.

Health care: Harris wants to see Medicare for AllMedicare for All "cover all medically necessary services, including emergency room visits, doctor visits, vision, dental, hearing aids, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment, and comprehensive reproductive health care services".

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Paid leave: Sanders co-sponsored The FAMILY Act to give workers at least 12 weeks of universal paid family and medical leave.

Childcare costs: Sanders has stated he is in favor of universal childcare. "We have a dysfunctional childcare system in this country, which is too expensive for parents, while providers are paid totally inadequate wages. We need to do what other countries around the world do—develop a high quality universal childcare program," he tweeted.

Health care: As noted on his website, Sanders plans to "create a Medicare for All, single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the point of service."

Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg

Paid leave: Buttigieg supports the FAMILY Act and wants to see 12 weeks of paid leave.

Childcare costs: Promising a "comprehensive child care plan will make high-quality child care free for families most in need, and affordable for all."

Health care: His plan is called Medicare for All Who Want It. As explained on his website, under this plan "everyone will be able to opt in to an affordable, comprehensive public alternative. This affordable public plan will incentivize private insurers to compete on price and bring down costs. If private insurers are not able to offer something dramatically better, this public plan will create a natural glide-path to Medicare for All."

Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang

Paid leave: As stated on his website, Yang plans to "propose and fight for a paid family leave policy, requiring employers to offer at least 9 months of paid family leave, distributed between parents however they see fit; or 6 months of paid leave for a single parent."

Childcare costs: Yang plans to "create a pre-kindergarten public education system for all 3 and 4-year-olds" to "get kids off to a better start, and [relieve] families from having to find and pay for daycare for their children".

Health care: Yang says that though a "Medicare for All system, we can ensure that all Americans receive the healthcare they deserve."

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar

Paid leave: Her plans to support workers include: "garanteeing up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and allowing workers to earn paid sick leave."

Childcare costs: Worked with Republican Dan Sullivan to introduced the the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, "to bring the cost of child care down and provide more child care centers in areas that need them the most."

Health care: On her website she states she: supports universal health care for all Americans, and she believes the quickest way to get there is through a public option that expands Medicare or Medicaid. She supports changes to the Affordable Care Act to help bring down costs to consumers including providing cost-sharing reductions, making it easier for states to put reinsurance in place, and continuing to implement delivery system reform

Cory Booker

Cory Booker

Paid leave: Like several other candidates, Booker supports the FAMILY Act, which would give parents 12 weeks of parental leave. His website states he "also supports efforts to expand paid family and medical leave proposals to help more low-income workers start with higher wage replacement rates."

Childcare costs: Booker plans to build on the Child Care for Working Families Act, to create "sweeping federal investment in high quality child care to make it affordable for all working families."

Health care: Plans to fight for Medicare for All (but he is not calling to eliminate private insurance companies).

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard

Paid leave: Like many of her fellow candidates, Gabbard supports The Family Act. which would see parents get 12 weeks of leave.

Child care costs: Plans unclear.

Health care: Gabbard "supports the Medicare for All Act and serves on the Medicare for All Caucus".

Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer

Paid leave: Plans unclear.

Child care costs: Plans unclear.

Health care: Plans to "create a competitive public option to drive down costs, expand coverage, and deliver quality care to everyone who lives here, including the undocumented community," according to his website.

News

While dropping my son off at preschool the other day, I saw a grown man kneel down, stare deeply into his daughter's eyes, and sweetly say, "Be kind, be strong, and have a wonderful day!" The whole scene made me feel like I needed to step it up in the mom department, since my goodbye consists of yelling, "Bye son!" as he runs towards his singing, maraca-shaking teacher. This preschool father was clearly a saint, and his heartfelt speech made me feel bad, so what kind of parent did that make me?

We've all read about the "types" of parenting styles and maybe even taken an online quiz or two to figure out if we're a Snowplow or a Helicopter or a Laid Back Progressive. All the types I read about never really felt like a perfect fit, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and create some new parenting styles that I can get behind.

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As you're pigeonholing yourself via the types I've come up with, feel free to mix and match, since most of us shapeshift between a Hummingbird and an Authoritarian and a Permissive parent, depending on the day...

The saint

Like the dad at my son's preschool, Saints kneel and listen. They respond to toddler tantrums with superhuman patience and they recite soothing mantras while their child flings spaghetti at the wall or dunks another Elmo toothbrush in the toilet. There aren't many of these parents in the world, but I know you exist because I saw one at preschool drop off and immediately felt like repenting.

The free(ish) range parent

Unlike the more common Free Range Parent, the Free(ish) Range Parent will let their kids roam and explore, but only if they're within shouting distance. Like yearning to be cool as a teenager, I now yearn to be a Free Range Parent.

The problem is that I live in a city and not a lovely and endless piece of land, so it's hard to disguise my terror when it comes to moving vehicles, strange people lurking at parks, or pools, ponds, lakes, fountains—basically bodies of water of any kind.

The Free(ish) Range Parent doesn't need to hover when their toddler goes down a "big kid" slide or scales a 3-foot climbing wall. Yet, although they may appear relaxed, they're primed and ready to pounce if a fall or scrape occurs.

The cosmic mama

Wouldn't we all love to be a Cosmic Mama? The kind of parent who chooses a home birth, who is bold enough to refuse an epidural, and who finds breastfeeding relaxing. I'm not so bold, but I did have a few, very brief cosmic moments when my son was a newborn. Over the three months that I nursed him, I would say there were maybe one to three total minutes of heavenly bonding bliss, which were quickly overshadowed by the more mundane moments of pain and discomfort. Those fleeting moments were pretty great, but probably not enough to qualify me as a Cosmic Mama. Again, I repent.

The keepin' it real mama

This type of parent can often be seen walking into an important work meeting with a large patch of dried baby spit-up on the front of their black Anthropologie jumpsuit, which they bought because it made them feel stylish after being on maternity leave and wearing nothing but a dirty robe and plush socks for three months. They sometimes eat their child's Puffs at the park because they're starving and desperate and forgot to pack their own adult snacks. That said, no matter how ravenous they are they always selflessly leave enough Puffs for their kid.

Depending on their level of exhaustion, if a pacifier falls onto the airport floor, the Keepin' it Real might just give it two halfhearted wipes on their pants leg and mumble, "Well, it'll build their immune system," before handing it back to their child. They might not make gourmet meals for their kids, but they're highly skilled at hiding broccoli and spinach inside of quesadillas. The Keepin' it Real is no Saint, but they're trying—really, really hard.

After careful consideration, I've come to realize that I am approximately 98% Keepin' it Real, with 2% Free(ish) Range Parent thrown in, and I'm okay with it. I've surreptitiously eaten the Puffs and been oblivious to the spit up on my clothes, but that doesn't mean I don't love my kid.

When it comes down to it, we're all just trying our best, regardless of our parenting styles.



Life

You may have watched your child struggle during play dates, talking over their friend, laughing when the joke is no longer funny or becoming too upset over the littlest thing, and wondered when or if you should step in.

As a mama, coaching your child to improve their social skills is the best way to help them learn. Some kids need help developing social skills that will allow them to feel comfortable interacting with others. But when a football coach is watching a football game they do not suit up and take over. They make notes to give the players at half time.

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The best thing you can do for your child is to coach them in private and then act as a silent observer when they are putting their skills into practice. Let your child take ownership over the skills and then you can discuss afterward how it felt.

Here are a few strategies to help you coach from the sidelines during play dates, mama:

1. The problem: The other child is being mean and not listening to your child's requests to play with certain toys.

Should you interfere: Yes

Reason: This is a great teachable moment. Being mean is never okay. Explain that everyone should be treated with respect.

What you can do: Ask the other child if there is something you can help with. Help the children problem solve and set expectations for things we can say or not say.

2. The problem You hear your child being rude and thoughtless.

Should you intervene: No

Reason: As long as your child is trying to practice his emerging skills, it is important for you not to interfere all the time. As long as your child or the playmate are not being mean or cruel, allowing your child and their playmate to work out sharing and meeting each other halfway is part of your child's growth. Additionally, feedback from other children help your child learn about social communication and its consequences—what's funny, what isn't, what keeps play going and what stops it. Any challenges are just showing you what you need to work on before your next play date.

What you can do: Employ a subtle cue or code word to remind your child of his mission like entering the room with snacks, suggesting a specific game or saying a code word like "popcorn."

3. The problem: The children are excited and implementing dangerous behavior.

Should you interfere: Yes

Reason: Whenever there is a safety issue you must jump in to make sure all children are safe. If children are playing with something dangerous, planning an adventure that will lead to safety issues, playing too rough or playing in a space that is not child friendly, jump in and make sure the children know what they are doing is unsafe and what your expectations are going forward.

What you can do: Reinforce safety rules. Create a space and situation where danger is removed and manage any behaviors that might cause harm.

4. The problem: A specific toy or activity is causing arguments between the playmates.

Should you interfere: Yes

Reason: This is a great opportunity to teach your child how to manage conflict.

What you can do: Limit your management of the situation by promoting problem-solving, suggesting that the children put the toy away and offer them a timer to promote turn-taking. After the play date, help your child formulate strategies to help your child learn to manage conflict with friends. The goal is to teach your child the skills to manage relationships without you.

5. The problem: Your child is being clingy and is coming to you to solve every problem.

Should you interfere: No

Reason: You want to help your child stop the clingy behavior rather than reinforcing the idea that they can constantly come back to you.

What can you do: When your child repeatedly approaches you, ask them to think about how they can handle the situation. Prompt them to problem solve, ask what is making them come back so often. Remind them of their mission. What can they do to have fun in the circumstances they're in? Explain that you expect them to try that before coming to get you.
Ultimately, your goal is to help your child generalize the new skills and behaviors—take them from the small stage of home practice to the larger one of a play date. To do so, your child needs to learn to recognize and address what's getting in the way.


Learn + Play

We know how it goes, mama: You finally start finding your footing in the new mama life, and them BAM! Baby is up again at all hours and you seriously don't know why—or when you'll ever get to sleep again. The good news: The 4-month sleep regression is normal, common and temporary. You've got this. But in the meantime, we tip our ☕️ to you!

We talked to the experts at the Baby Sleep Site. Here's what they had to say about how to weather this sleepless storm:

Sleep regressions are normal

The 4-month mark is a big milestone, because it marks the first (and usually the most disruptive and challenging) sleep regression of your baby's life. At 4 months of age, your baby undergoes some major brain developments that impact her sleeping patterns. They become more aware of the world around them. And simply put, your baby starts sleeping less like a baby and more like an adult.

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What changes can I expect?

During this time, you can expect a baby who may have been sleeping fairly well is suddenly waking up every 20 minutes during the day, and almost as frequently at night. It's also common for your little one to experience shorter naps, fussiness at nap and bedtimes and a general disdain for sleep.

Sleep regressions are different for every baby, but you can expect the regression to last from two to six weeks.

This is a challenging time, but try not to worry. Your baby will be looking to you to help navigate them through this—and there are many ways you can do that.

The solution

There is really no fix for the 4 month sleep regression; these changes to your baby's sleeping patterns are permanent and unavoidable. But don't despair. You CAN reclaim your nights by simply teaching your baby how to fall asleep without the use of any sleep associations, like rocking or feeding to sleep. That process is called sleep coaching but understand that it's not for everyone. But if sleep is a real problem in your home, then sleep coaching can be a nice option.

Sleep coaching methods include putting baby to bed drowsy but not asleep, picking up your baby for a bit when they cry and then putting them back down, sitting in a chair to provide a reassuring presence, or even allowing baby limited time to cry it out. There is no one size fits all method for babies and families, so you need to test what works best for you.

Also, understand that four months is generally the earliest you should work on sleep coaching, and it's best to use gentle, gradual methods at this young age.

Sleep times will vary

During this time, you can expect your baby to sleep 14 to 15 hours each day—11 to 12 hours at night and three to four hours during the day spread out over four or five short naps. Some babies are able to sleep eight straight hours or more at night by 4 months, but the large majority don't. In fact, one to three night feedings are still considered very normal at this age. Learn your baby and discover what works best for your little one.

Be flexible

Your baby may be ready for a more by-the-clock sleep schedule at this age, but many aren't, so be flexible. You are still learning what works for you and your baby, so give yourself grace. Know that things will get better and the discomfort of the 4-month sleep regression is temporary.

Do what works for your family and trust yourself to know your baby better than any external authority.

Learn + Play
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