I used these 10 positive parenting phrases in real life—here’s how it went

Parenting can often feel like a power struggle to get our children to behave in a way that feels acceptable to us. We want our children to act well, but more than that, we want them to thrive. But sometimes it feels as though I am merely surviving the difficult moments and barking orders, which is rarely effective.

I want my children to grow up with emotional intelligence, to feel safe and comfortable in expressing their (many!) emotions—but I also want them to respect boundaries and rules. Personally, I have struggled with figuring out how to do both.

That’s why I’ve turned to positive parenting techniques, hoping to find a way to use those challenging moments as an opportunity to teach and direct my children in a loving manner.

Pulling from a few different resources, I started to implement about 10 go-to phrases that have helped our entire family have more meaningful interactions.

1. “How can I help you get through this?”

When our kids are in the middle of a tantrum, it is clear that they are responding negatively to emotions they don’t know how to handle. Often their disappointment is masked with anger or their embarrassment with defensiveness. I’ve realized my kids need me to remain calm and help them get through these overwhelming feelings they are experiencing.

By asking this question, we provide an opportunity for them to tell us what they need and teach them how they can positively redirect those emotions.

2. “I’m sorry you’re having such trouble, let’s reconnect when you’ve calmed down.”

Trying to reason with a child who is out of control is nearly impossible. When I started using this phrase, I noticed that—my son especially—felt safe in taking time and space on his own and then often comes back to me when he feels ready to talk.

3. “I completely understand why you would feel disappointed. It sounds like you were hoping we could go get ice cream after school.”

This works with really any activity. Disappointment is one of the biggest culprits for tantrums in our household. By simply validating these disappointing feelings, I have noticed an immediate shift in behavior, and we’re able to work through disappointment much more quickly and effectively.

4. “Can you try that again?”

I use this in a lot of situations where my kid’s tones are whiney or harsh and the word “please” is left out. This has given our children an opportunity to step back on their own and figure out how they could rephrase a question or request something more appropriately.

5. “I really want to give you my full attention, and I’ll be able to do that in about 10 minutes when I’m finished with this project.”

This has come in handy as a parent who works from home. My kids constantly want to show me things or ask me to play with them, and previously my response was more along the lines of, “Sorry I’m busy.”

This type of response leaves them feeling disappointed and unimportant. Instead, I find that with giving them a tangible timeframe and sticking to that, I’m able to stop myself within that timeframe and engage with them without distraction.

6. “I get angry too sometimes, and that’s okay, but let’s make sure we are all being safe.”

This puts the responsibility on the entire family, not just the child—and sends the message that it’s okay to be angry, but not to be unsafe.

7. “What do you need in order to be ready when it’s time to go?”

This is a big one in our household since putting shoes and jackets on can take 45 minutes. Since I started asking this question, I have noticed our children will often grab their shoes and jackets before even responding. It doesn’t work every time, but it has been far more effective than threatening or consequences or demanding they listen.

8. “I hear you. How can I help?”

Sometimes, kids just want to complain and need to be heard. Other times, they really do want a solution but aren’t quite sure how to ask. When I ask this question, I am usually quite surprised how quickly we can come up with solutions together and avoid a meltdown.

9. “I really like the way you handled that situation. It made a big difference.”

When our kids can calm down on their own, or manage their feelings appropriately—I try to always recognize that and offer praise. Continued affirmation of positive behaviors helps children feel noticed and encouraged to continue to use the tools we are giving them.

10. “My bucket is feeling really drained, can you help me fill it back up?”

This one I borrowed from my son’s classroom, and it has made a huge difference. It allows us to take ownership of our feelings instead of using “you” statements.

We have also been able to find creative ways that we can fill up each other’s buckets, whether a compliment or a nice gesture.

Since using these phrases consistently, I have noticed less resistance and more understanding between all of us. I still fall short and sometimes struggle with remembering to call on these phrases, but I am much more aware of how I communicate with my children now and with how my responses impact their responses.

By taking an empathetic stance, I feel much less frustrated and like I am a better, more confident parent working on creating a healthier and happier home for all of us.

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

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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