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Whether it's starting school for the first time, joining T-ball or attending a parent-child music class together, it can be challenging for young children to learn how to interact in a group setting. That can be stressful (even for mamas!), but it's actually part of the value of enrolling your child in a class. They will learn not only about soccer or gymnastics, but about how to wait for a turn, how to make friends and how to control their impulses.

While we know these social interactions and even stumbles are important, we still want our children to have the best experience possible. No one wants their child to be the one always getting in trouble or fighting with other kids.


Here are a few methods to help your child succeed in group settings:

1. Communicate expectations

If it's your child's first foray into a group setting, tell them the expectations ahead of time. For a sports team, this might mean listening to the coach and keeping hands off the other kids. For a music lesson or story time, it might mean sitting down during the class.

Make sure to take a few minutes to reflect on whether the expectations are reasonable for your child too. Some 2- or 3-year-olds are simply not read for many group settings.

2. Give one-word reminders

If your child is struggling with a certain issue, like remembering to raise their hand to talk, think of a one-word reminder or gesture. Sometimes simply making eye contact and raising your own hand can be powerful. Use the reminder word as your child goes into class, or even send a little note in their pocket with the word and a little doodle.

3. Practice

Practice whatever challenge your child is working on at home. If they're struggling with coming when the teacher calls, take it to the backyard and practice running around, and then calling your child's name. Ask them to stop and look at you when you do this, and then give a silly instruction. Practicing following the rules can be a fun way to connect to your child.

4. Run around first.

If your child is going to school or a different class where they will be expected to sit for a while, help them release energy beforehand. Encourage them to run around the backyard or a nearby park for 20 minutes before you go. Exerting this abundant energy can help a child be successful when it's time so sit still.

5. Ask them to help you

This is one of my favorite tips I learned as a teacher and I use it with my own child regularly. If your child is struggling to follow a rule, ask them to help you remember. For example, if my son is struggling to walk (not run!) in music class, I say "I need your help. Will you please help me remember to walk today? If you see me running in music class say, 'Stop mama!"

It's fun and whimsical and makes your child feel like you're in this together.

6. Leave if necessary

Obviously you can't pull your child out of school, but if you're at an extracurricular class together and things are rapidly deteriorating, don't be afraid to call it a day. This isn't to punish your child, but to protect them.

If they're having an off day and simply can't handle a group setting at the moment, taking them home will protect them from feeling bad about themselves, from feeling the judging eyes of others on them, and from feeling your own disappointment in their behavior. Children can sense these things.

7. Talk to the coach or teacher

It can be hard to know if your child's behavior is within the range of normal. If you're unsure, talk to your child's coach or teacher. Ask if your child's behavior is normal, and if it's acceptable or causing problems for the class.

8. Check in

After they've attended a few times, check in with your child on how they think a group class is going. Do they like it? Is any part of it hard? Do they need help with anything? What's their favorite part? Encourage your child to judge their own behavior and struggles.

9. Talk about issues when you're both calm

Talk to your child about any behavioral issues you're seeing, but wait until you are calm. If you're feeling really angry or frustrated that your child was terrorizing art class today, it's not a good time for a productive discussion. When you're both calm, talk to your child about what you're seeing and ask for their input in coming up with a solution.

10. Notice good behavior

The last thing we want is to give our children the impression that they aren't good or that they're a problem child. Children internalize these impressions and tend to live up to the expectations. Make sure to notice your child's good behavior in a group setting, especially if they're struggling. Saying phrases like, "I like how you raised your hand to talk today" or "I noticed you being so respectful to your coach today" can go a long way towards boosting your child's confidence.

11. Empathize

Let your child know that you recognize being in a group setting can be a challenge. Say something like, "Remembering to raise your hand can be so hard" or "I know it's so frustrating when you really want a turn and you have to wait". You can even share an anecdote about a rule you've had trouble following to show your child you understand and that their struggles are normal.

12. Observe the other kids

We're naturally hyper focused on our own kids, which can make it seem like they're the only ones struggling to behave in a group. Next time you're with your child in a group setting, take a few minutes to watch the other children. Odds are, yours is not the only one struggling. Seeing this can help you keep perspective and understand reasonable expectations for a child of a given age.

It takes time for most children to learn how to be in a group. This is where they learn how to be respectful toward an authority figure, how to recognize and adhere to social rules and how to make friends. They have to do the hard work of figuring out these life lessons themselves, but using these strategies can help set them up for the best experience possible.

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Caring for young children can be challenging enough on a perfectly normal day, but during an emergency those challenges are magnified. Natural disasters and emergencies—such as earthquakes, storms, fires, power outages, flooding or outbreaks that affect a wide community—obviously present a major operational challenge for childcare programs.

That's why childcare providers need to have preparedness plans for emergencies and natural disasters that are likely to occur in their communities. Be sure to discuss emergency planning with your day care, childcare program or after-school care provider.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask to make sure that your child's day care or childcare is ready for emergencies.

1. Does the parent handbook cover emergency planning? Is it up to date?

The parent handbook should serve as a guide for everything that takes place in a childcare program, from drop-off protocols to nap schedules, and it should also include information about the program's emergency plans, response, and recovery. As situations change or arise, the parent handbook should be updated accordingly.


2. What is your communication plan for emergencies or disasters?

While 90% of childcare providers have written emergency response plans, only 70% have plans to communicate with family members during an emergency. Your provider should outline its plan of communication in its parent handbook.

3. Do you perform drills for disasters that are likely to occur in our area?

Ask whether your day care or childcare program has practiced its emergency response plans in a calm, safe environment—in other words, before it's necessary.

4. What is your evacuation plan?

In the rare event that an evacuation is necessary, it's important for providers to include up-to-date evacuation drills and protocols in the parent handbook. Caregivers, staff, parents and children should all know the designated meet-up point during a community evacuation.

5. Do you have a safe, designated evacuation spot in the event of a community evacuation?

Once staff and children calmly evacuate the building, there needs to be a safe shelter-in-place spot nearby. This location should be kid-friendly and have plenty of food, water and ways to keep young children occupied. The location should also be able to accommodate children with special needs and those with medical requirements.

6. What is your shelter-in-place plan?

During an emergency where parents are unable to access roads or public transportation, childcare programs need to have a shelter-in-place plan. Whether children stay at the facility or evacuate to a safe spot nearby, providers need to keep at least 72 hours worth of food, water, and medical supplies up to date. The program should also have parents write notes in advance letting children know that everything is okay.

7. Do you have post-disaster plans?

According to FEMA, more than 40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster. If childcare programs close, parents cannot return to work and recovery cannot begin. Also, young children need a safe, secure, and familiar place to return to after a disaster.

8. How do you discuss emergencies in an age-appropriate manner with children?

A great way for care providers to introduce the concept of emergency plans to children is to have them help create emergency kits. This way children become familiar with emergency response items. Teachers should also let parents know how they plan to talk to children about emergencies in advance.

9. What are your policies for closing?

Childcare providers must give advance warning to parents about closures if there is an impending weather emergency. If roadways near the childcare program are typically out of use during an emergency, both parents and staff need to map out secondary pick-up plans in advance.

10. Are you in touch with local preparedness organizations?

Local emergency organizations can provide advice and tips to prepare for an emergency or natural disaster. Parents, care providers and community organizations should meet regularly and have the most recent copies of the parent handbook.

According to FEMA, in 2019 alone, there were 59 declared disasters in the U.S. These emergencies include earthquakes, tropical storms, fires, floods, severe storms, tornadoes, landslides, mudslides, extreme wind, and snowstorms. But basic advance preparation can go a long way toward helping parents and caregivers feel ready for emergencies and disasters, and can ensure that families and care providers stay safe.

A version of this post was originally published at the Institute for Childhood Preparedness

Learn + Play

The transition to motherhood is tough, and you deserve a little love! Join us March 28th for Motherly's Becoming Mama event in NYC for a day filled with conversations and connections that will leave you feeling inspired. Get advice from expert panels, indulge in a little pampering, and meet other local mamas IRL for a day of empowerment and support.

Register now for early-bird pricing, and access to limited VIP tickets with exclusive gift bags.

Here's what you can expect:

  • A mindful mama meditation to start your day.
  • Interactive panels and workshops focused on the hottest topics for new moms and moms-to-be. Check them out below!
  • A healthy lunch + delicious snacks
  • Pregnancy + postpartum pampering
  • Personalized gifts for you + your baby
  • The chance to test the hottest baby gear on the market
  • A swag bag filled with surprises
  • Amazing giveaways from our brand partners

Sat, March 28, 2020
10 am-2:30 pm
849 6th Ave
New York, NY 10001


Here's what we'll be talking about on our panels:

Navigating the Fourth Trimester: Self-Care for Mom
While having a baby is a joyous occasion it often involves mom putting her own health on hold and speeding into overdrive to care for baby. Here postpartum experts will discuss the importance of postpartum mental wellness, and the importance of asking for help and finding support.


The Motherhood Advantage sponsored by Medela
Motherhood brings so many advantages to the workplace, and yet, it's still a topic often talked about in hushed voices. We'll invite Medela to sponsor this very important panel that will evolve this working mom conversation. Together we can work to erase the Motherhood Penalty, support moms with the proper tools and lift each other up in the workplace.

Parenting in Partnership: Learning to Share the Load
There's never been a more equitable time to be a parent, and yet so many mothers still feel like they're carrying more than their fair share. Let's talk about how to create a parenting team from the start, with tips, tricks and expert advice on leveling the playing field between parenting partners.

*While many of Motherly's events are family focused, there will not be specific activities or play spaces for babies or kids. This event is more mom-focused. Babies under 1 are welcome at this event, but a baby carrier is suggested. Please use your discretion.

Thank you to our sponsors buybuy Baby and Medela.


When I think about Meghan Markle, her effortless style is usually one of the the first things that comes to mind. Whether she's traveling, taking her dogs for a walk, or attending a royal event, her outfits always look timeless and put together. Yet somehow she still manages to wear outfits that feel way more accessible (even when she is donning a gorgeous—but expensive—coat we've had in our cart for much longer than we care to admit).

While I can't quite afford a personal stylist yet or drop a few thousand on a bag, I did do a little digging and found that a few of her wardrobe staples are items that I can add to my closet, with a little investment. And, if you're not in the market to invest this much, don't worry—I found dupes that will do the trick!

Here are our favorite products to achieve Meghan Markle's classic mom style:

Meghan's pick: Rothy's flats

rothys flat

Confession: I own a lot of shoes. But I wear my Rothy's at least once a week and they're the first shoe I toss into my luggage when I'm traveling because they're so comfortable and can be machine-washed. The Point is my (and apparently Meghan Markle's) favorite style because it elongates the legs and goes with literally anything you wear. I love that they're made from recycled plastic water bottles, too. And, they just launched the Mary Jane—it has a bow!—if you prefer a more dainty look with a fun twist.


Our dupe: ASOS ballet flats

asos black pointed toe

This pointed pair will give a similar elongated look at just $23. They come in half sizes and if you're unsure which size is best, ASOS offers a sizing recommendation. The material isn't machine-washable (like our prized Rothy's) but you can wipe these clean with a damp cloth to keep them looking like new.


Meghan's pick: Wool wrap jacket

meghan markle wool coat

There's just something so elegant about this coat. Maybe it's the wrap waist that flatters any body type. Or, it's the way the collared neck drapes (seriously it'll even make wearing pajamas look chic). It's become one of the most recognized pieces from Meghan's wardrobe and we are obsessed.


Our dupe: Tahari wool blend coat

tahari wool blend cape coat

Looking for something more affordable? This coat is marked down to $83 from $360 at Nordstrom Rack. While we haven't personally tried it, at 77% off, we can bet the quality is pretty up to par with a higher-end jacket. Plus, we're obsessed with the pale blue and port wine colorways. The removable waist tie belt and shoulder cape overlay will have you feeling like Meghan Markle in just about anything.

Bonus: We love this Amazon dupe that's just under $80.


Meghan's pick: Longchamp bag

longchamp bag

On the quest for a bag that holds just about everything you need (without having to be a diaper bag)? Say hello to the Longchamp 'Le Pliage' tote. It's water-resistant, has durable leather straps and folds up into a square for each storage or packing. I've had mine for more than five years and it's still going strong—and it's schlepped a lot of heavy things over the years. Plus, it just looks nice with everything!


Our dupe: Amazon shoulder bag

longchamp knock off bag

This dupe on Amazon has 59 great reviews and the large size is under $30! With three sizes, you can pick whatever best fits your style. Each bag comes with a zippered main compartment and interior pockets and yes, it even folds up just like the real thing.


Meghan's pick: Birdies slippers

birdies slippers

Are they house slippers or the most comfortable flats you've owned? Spoiler alert: They're both. Meghan has been spotted wearing The Heron style (I've been spotted wearing the slides around my apartment all day) many times and we think the velvet detail dresses up just about anything, even leggings. The no-slip rubber sole and 7-layer support means you can run around in these all day long without missing a beat.


Our dupe: Chase & Chloe pointy loafer

pointy toe loafer

While you won't experience the cloud-like softness of Birdies, you can achieve a similar look with this pair from Nordstrom Rack for under $20. Both black and tan pairs come with a padded footbed, grip sole and a flexible construction (so hopefully no blisters even from day one).


Meghan's pick: Madewell denim jacket

madewell denim jacket

I didn't own a denim jacket until last year and since then, I've worn it in just about every season. Over summer dresses, paired with a T-shirt, over a blouse, you name it. It add just enough extra warmth without having to put on something bulky and is machine-washable. For an extra-cool and Meghan Markle factor, roughly roll up the sleeves twice.


Our dupe: Old Navy denim jacket

old navy denim jacket

Grab this $30 distressed denim look at Old Navy. I'm not sure how they do it, but their denim jackets are *so* soft. This one is slightly fitted so size up if you're looking for a more oversized look. Just like the Madewell one, this hits right below the waist, making it great to pair with pants or dresses.


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