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9 actions to take when your child misbehaves—that have nothing to do with punishment

What if our children were beautifully behaved all the time? Just imagine that for a moment. Okay, now back to reality. Our children are going to misbehave at some point. Of course, they are. Misbehaving is our children's way of testing themselves, understanding limits, and experimenting with their own sense of agency and identity. It's also a way for them to test their relationship with us. And that's fine, we understand that.

But misbehavior can be difficult to deal with. It can come at the most inopportune times. It can push our buttons. It can derail a perfectly good morning or afternoon or evening.

So what can we do when our children misbehave? We have a few options:

1. Use it as a teaching moment—guide and coach them.

Acting out is almost always a teaching moment. If our children are behaving inappropriately, then we can guide them to behave in a more appropriate way. Sometimes the teaching can happen at the moment and other times, it happens once everyone has calmed down.

Your child might lose it at the shopping mall. But then you wait until you're home to talk through what happened and how they could have behaved differently. You guide and coach them rather than punishing them.

2. Ask a question that encourages a response.

We're very good at telling our kids what to do or what they're doing wrong. But sometimes, it's much more helpful to ask a question to get them thinking. Phrases like:

  • "Would you like me to help you pack up or would you like to do it by yourself?"
  • "Shall we go out in the morning or in the afternoon?"
  • "What's next on your list to get ready this morning?"

3. Problem solve with your littles.

Instead of always fixing the problem or coming up with the solution, we can problem solve with our kids. Ask them what is going on or what they could do differently. If they can't come up with any solutions themselves, feel free to prompt them, give them ideas and then work with them to choose an approach to try. We can then give it a go and reflect on what worked or what else we might like to try.

4. Step back and see if they need help with something.

Sometimes our kids act out because they don't have the skills or capabilities to complete a task so they get frustrated or annoyed and behave poorly. In those instances, we can suggest a next step or show them how to do something. For example, show them how to tie the laces on their right foot and then encourage them to try on their left foot. You can get them to choose a piece of fruit for their lunch box while you make them a sandwich. Or, show them how to sweep the floor and then watch them try.

5. Acknowledge the emotions they’re feeling.

Children can behave negatively when they are overcome by emotion. They can't deal with their big emotions, so they misbehave. We can acknowledge how they are feeling:

  • "I can see that you're frustrated. Perhaps we can try another way."
  • "I know you're tired. I'm tired, too. But let's work together to get this done,"
  • "I know you're really disappointed that we can't go to the playground this afternoon, but the weather is not good. Let's do some baking together and hopefully, the weather will be better tomorrow."

6. Remove them from the situation.

If it's a public place, sometimes the best thing to do is to remove yourself and your child from the situation. Not because you are trying to avoid the learning opportunity or to rescue your child. But because you both will benefit from being in a calmer environment.

In the middle of the shopping mall, there may be too much noise and activity so you leave your shopping for another day. You may want to stay talking to your friends over dinner but your child is overtired so it's time to go home. Your child has had enough time on the iPad so you put it away and go outside together to get some fresh air.

7. Acknowledge their emotions, then walk away.

Give both of you some space rather than try to fix, solve or teach right now. Allow everyone to calm down and then try again. You might understand how they are feeling than say, "I'll just be in the kitchen getting lunch ready." You might begin slowly walking towards the car after you've told them it is time to leave.

8. Keep your response brief and to the point.

We can get into yelling matches with our kids where they talk back and then we talk back and then they talk back, and the cycle continues. Instead, we can be the adult and not contribute to the argument. Try saying something like, "That's interesting" in a very even tone of voice. Or, "I know and I understand" but end it there. With few words and an even tone of voice, we can defuse the situation rather than making it worse.

9. Give them a hug.

When our children are overwhelmed, sometimes all they need is a hug from us. We can hold them and tell them that we understand. We can breathe with them and help them calm down. We can share a loving moment and give our children some of our love and receive some love from them. Acknowledge that they are learning and growing and so are we—connect and bond.

So what it does tell us? We have options! We don't have to react, yell, nag, threaten or punish our kids. We can work with them in a constructive and loving way to bring better behavior to more moments.

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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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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Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

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