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When your kid is in full Ron Burgundy-style "I'm in a glass case of emotion" mode, it's easy to match their level of anxiety—thanks to the crying, the screaming, the jumble of words made unintelligible because of the crying and screaming...

"For a lot of parents, when they see the meltdown, it's easy for them to notice the behavior: the falling out, the crying, the emotion," says Brandy Wells, licensed independent social worker specializing in childhood mental health and the creator of My Motherhood Magic. "But usually underneath all of that is a need that needs to be met."

Being in tune with your child's needs requires a lot of patience and communication. Yet in an attempt to calm your child as quickly as possible, you might focus on the behavior, and not whatever's causing it.

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"Parents ask their children: What's wrong with you?" says Jacob Kountz, a family therapist in Bakersfield, California. "A more helpful question would be: 'Help me understand what happened.' This type of curious language primes children that they aren't being accused of something, it stays away from unhelpful language such as wrong, and it allows children to share their thoughts and feelings."

Raising thoughtful and emotionally intelligent children starts with teaching them how to share their thoughts and feelings.

The following phrases can help you teach your kids how to express themselves—and help prevent meltdowns.

1. "I can see that you are upset. You are allowed to feel that way. I'm here when you're ready to talk."

Raena Boston, a mom of two boys ages two and four, says this phrase helps her affirm her sons' feelings. "It reminds me that I don't have to rush them through their feelings," she explains.

Why it works: Letting your child know that you see them—that it's okay to have feelings and that you're there for them—helps them feel safe. And having that safety gets them out of melting down and into communicating.

2. "I would feel [insert emotion] if that happened to me, too."

"Phrases like 'That does sounds upsetting' or 'I would feel that way too,' let children know that it makes sense for them to feel that way and it's not bad to have feelings," says Linda Kudla, a licensed clinical psychologist in New York and Massachusetts with expertise in children and adolescents.

Why it works: "When kids know that someone isn't going to tell them to feel differently or that their feelings are wrong, they'll seek out that kind of comfort more often," Kudla explains.

3. "I see that you had a hard time with [x], what can we do to make it easier next time?"

This phrase has worked wonders for Stepha LaFond, a New York City-based mom coach and mother of two. "My 5-year-old likes to have autonomy," she explains. So when her daughter gets frustrated, LaFond encourages her to come up with solutions. "She lights up thinking about solutions and is excited to follow through with it," LaFond says.

Why it works: Encouraging kids to come up with their own strategies for dealing with frustration is part of a strategy that social worker and mom of three Brandy Wells calls FLIP IT: Identify the feeling (that's the F), then if needed, set an appropriate limit for how to express the feeling (for example, "it's okay to cry, but we don't hit"). I stands for inquiry, encouraging kids to come up with solutions and strategies of their own. "And then P is prompting—helping them problem-solve," Wells explains. "You want them to practice asking, 'What do I need to do?' And if they're not able to do that, then you are able to give them that assistance."

Thanks to this practice, Wells's daughter has learned that drinking water helps her calm down. "So when she has a meltdown, she's really good about saying, 'I just need my drink of water,' Wells says.

4. "Your words help me understand you better."

You know those meltdowns that are more tears than words? Samareua Pope, a pre-med student and mom of one, uses this phrase to help her daughter use her words. This phrase helps remind older children who have grown past the preverbal toddler years that words can be a powerful way to release their feelings—and to get help if they need it.

"I make sure to reassure her that crying is okay, but I simply can't assist if I don't know what's going on," Pope explains. "It's interesting to see how quickly my daughter will switch gears from crying to speaking. I've found that speaking with her calmly and asking her to express herself has not only helped her to grow emotionally, but her vocabulary has enhanced as well. I'll encourage her to make a complete sentence. It works wonders and she feels much better afterwards."

Why it works: Pope's daughter knows she has the power to make herself heard and understood through her words. Imagine teaching that powerful, empowering lesson to your kiddo!

5. "It seems like you're having a hard time finding the words to explain what you're feeling. Is there another way that you can show me what's going on?"

"My son has big feelings and can be what most people perceive as sensitive," says dance and movement psychotherapist Jennifer Sterling. "It's often difficult for him to find his words right away, so asking him to draw something or use colors that represent how he's feeling, or inviting him to move with me in ways that help him explore what he might be feeling is something we use regularly."

Why it works: Kids don't always have to "use their words" to be understood, and listening isn't the only tool parents have to understand their children's needs. "Creative expression has been an incredible tool for us," says Sterling.

6. "I'm your mother, but I don't live in your body. What does it feel like? What's your brain feeling?"

Feelings don't happen in a vacuum—they live in our bodies. Yetunde Rubinstein uses this phrase to help her daughters (ages 10 and 12) realize the power of self-awareness. "They know what hurts, what feels off, even if they can't explain why," Rubinstein says.

Camille Trummer, a fellow mom of two, guides her 5-year-old daughter to use the sentence structure "My heart feels [blank]. My body feels [blank]" with the same intention.

Why it works: This phrase can help teach your children about the mind and body connection, and can also help you as a parent to separate the behavior from the child—they're not being bad, they're trying to communicate about what feels bad.

"When your child bangs his fist on the table, you have the urge to correct him, but you know that's not really going to fix the problem," says Tamar Chansky, a child psychologist and founder of the Children's and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety in Pennsylvania. "Instead of discipline, say, 'Your body is saying something with those fists, what is it saying? Can you ask them?'"

7. "What color are you right now?"

Assigning feelings to colors is done in cartoons (hello, Inside Out!), marketing, and also as a common therapeutic strategy for children. "Green can be calm and ready to learn, yellow means starting to lose control, red means out of control, and blue would be tired or low energy," explains Amy Rollo, a psychotherapist and founder of Heights Family Counseling in Houston, Texas. "No zone is labeled as good or bad, but as expected or unexpected."

You can also work with your child to develop a color system that's unique to them, assigning colors to emotions such as sadness, excitement, fear, anger, and shame.

Then add in body awareness by asking your kiddo where they feel those emotions on their bodies, suggests Sarvenaz Sepehri, a California-based licensed clinical psychologist. "For example: fear might show up in [the] stomach when one gets butterflies in their tummy, or happiness might get expressed by how fast one's heart beats," she says.

Why it works: "Children begin to make the mind-body connection, as well as learn appropriate coping skills," Rollo says.

8. "Let's take a deep breath. Look in the mirror, wipe your face and straighten your clothes."

"I know that sometimes even as an adult I need a moment alone to pull myself together," says pre-med mom Samareua Pope. "I want to encourage my daughter to be fearless and to face things head on, which is why I implement the looking-in-the-mirror portion of this phrase. This works the best because nine times out of 10 she comes back with a dry face and an eager attitude to work through what may have just been happening."

Why it works: This phrase is like a reset button for kids, teaching them how to center themselves and move past the meltdown.

Deep breathing is a coping mechanism that works across all age groups—taking a deep breath in and a long exhale helps with getting grounded. A sweet way to teach your child how to do this is by saying, "Smell the flowers, blow out the candles."

9. "I'm going to go fishing...tell me if I caught anything!"

"If you have a child who is reluctant to say anything about feelings, you can say, 'I'm going to go fishing. I'm going to name something that someone might be feeling now, and you tell me if I caught anything,'" says child psychologist Tamar Chansky. "The parent can mime casting a fishing line and offer a feeling—'I'm mad because I keep missing the net when I try to shoot a basket'—then say, 'Did I catch anything?' If not, try another feeling," she says.

Why it works: "Eventually parents 'catch' the right feeling their child has," Chansky says, "or sometimes, just having the conversation helps kids figure out what they need. At the very least they appreciate your efforts at valuing their feelings and trying to help them express them."

None of these phrases and strategies are one-time fixes, but they can all be part of an ongoing conversation between you and your kids. Give your kids the space to provide answers and solutions themselves, and they'll grow to understand how to express their feelings and emotions—even the tough ones.

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Things We're Loving

It was a historical moment for the world and a scary moment for a woman who had just become a mother for the first time. When the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital on July 22, 2013, with her new baby in her arms she was happy—but understandably scared, too.

Kate Middleton recently appeared on Giovanna Fletcher's Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast and when Fletcher asked her about her postpartum debut Kate said she felt a little freaked out when she stepped out with her newborn.

"Yeah, slightly terrifying, slightly terrifying, I'm not going to lie," Kate said.

During the podcast the Duchess opened up about her pregnancy and birth experiences, explaining how much hypnobirthing helped her and that she didn't know whether she was delivering a prince or princess until Prince George was born as she'd opted to be surprised.

She was surprised and thrilled when she met her son, and looked forward to post-pregnancy life after spending her pregnancy quite ill with hyperemesis gravidarum (a seriously debilitating form of extreme morning sickness). She was happy, but was also (very understandably) overwhelmed. In addition to all the pressure new moms feel, Kate had an army of photographers waiting outside the hospital for her.

"Everything goes in a bit of a blur. I think, yeah I did stay in hospital overnight, I remember it was one of the hottest days and night with huge thunderstorms so I didn't get a huge amount of sleep, but George did, which was really great," she explained. "I was keen to get home because, for me, being in hospital, I had all the memories of being in hospital because of being sick [with acute morning sickness] so it wasn't a place I wanted to hang around in. So, I was really desperate to get home and get back to normality."

Kate wanted to get home, but she also did want to share her baby boy with the public who had been so supportive of her young family, she explains.

"Everyone had been so supportive and both William and I were really conscious that this was something that everyone was excited about and you know we're hugely grateful for the support that the public had shown us, and actually for us to be able to share that joy and appreciation with the public, I felt was really important," she shared, adding that "Equally it was coupled with a newborn baby, and inexperienced parents, and the uncertainty of what that held, so there were all sorts of mixed emotions."

"All sorts of mixed emotions."

The now-iconic images of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge exiting the hospital with their firstborn have gone down in history, but so has Kate's bravery that day.

There's been a lot written about whether those pictures put pressure on other moms who might not feel ready for heels and blowouts right after giving birth, but one thing critics of the photos often miss is the positive impact it had on other young women.

Yes, Kate looked beautiful, but she also looked like a woman whose body had just given birth—and the iconic images of her in that polka-dot dress taught a generation of women that the female body isn't an elastic band and that recovering from birth takes time.

"I, myself remember being really surprised when Kate Middleton came out of the hospital holding Prince George," Tina, now a mom herself and a model of postpartum realness in Mothercare's "Body Proud Mums campaign" explained last year.

Tina recalls how Kate's postpartum appearance showed her a reality society hadn't: "She had the baby bump, and I remember being surprised that your belly doesn't just go down after giving birth. I also thought how stupid I was to have ever thought it would. I guess pre-children you just have unrealistic expectations."

Tina wasn't stupid, she just hadn't been shown the truth.

So thank you, Kate, for stepping out of that hospital in 2013, despite being terrified, and showing the world your beautiful baby and your bump.


News

Despite the encouraging growth of free or subsidized preschools in some American cities, the fact remains that preschool and daycare cost about as much as rent in many areas.

But there's some good news, which is that parents who pay for preschool or daycare while they're at work may qualify for a credit that can help you save money on taxes this year. Here's what all parents should know before filing their returns.

Is preschool tuition tax-deductible?

The sum of your child's entire preschool tuition is not tax deductible, but you may be able to get something better than a deduction: a credit called the Child and Dependent Care Credit, worth up to $1,050 for one child and up to $2,100 for two or more kids.

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How do I know if I'm eligible for the Child Dependent Care Tax Credit?

There are a few criteria to be eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Credit:

  • If you have someone take care of your child so you can work or look for work
  • Your child is under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year (no age limit if they are disabled)
  • You must be able to claim your child as a dependent
  • Your filing status must be single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a qualifying child, or married filing jointly.

Does preschool tuition count as dependent care?

Yes, it does count if you are paying someone to take care of your child so you can work or look for work. Day camps, such as summer camps and sports camps, count as well, but overnight camps don't.

How much could I potentially get back on taxes for preschool tuition?

If you are able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit, you may be able to claim up to $1,050 for one child and up to $2,100 for two or more children.

The great thing about credits is they are a dollar for dollar reduction of your taxes. So if you owe taxes of $1,050 and have one child, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 and wipe out the taxes you owe.

The credit is based on a sliding scale: Depending on your income, your credit is 20%-35% of your childcare expenses up to $3,000 (or $1,050), and 20%-35% of childcare expenses up to $6,000 (or $2,100) for two or more kids.

The bottom line: While this tax credit is unlikely to completely cover your child's preschool tuition for the year, don't miss out on this tax credit if you're paying for preschool or daycare for your child so that you can work. And remember to check your eligibility for other tax credits and deductions for families, including the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit.
Work + Money

Celestial baby names are flying high right now, and the brightest star of them all? Well, it's actually Luna, the name of the Roman goddess of the moon, and the Latin word for "moon."

At #23 in the US in 2019, Luna's rise has been, well, astronomical ever since it re-entered the Top 1000 in 2003, for the first time in almost a century. That was the year that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was first published, featuring the kooky but courageous Luna Lovegood.

The once-unique baby name has since been picked up by stylish celebrity parents such as Penelope Cruz, Uma Thurman and John Legend, and now ranks in the Top 100 in at least 18 other countries, including Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and Slovenia.

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But if Luna's meteoric rise to the top of the baby name popularity charts puts you off, here are 100 more magical, moon-inspired baby names to consider.

Baby names that mean moon

Girls' names that mean "moon" include a multitude of attractive Turkish names containing the element ay, meaning (you guessed it!) "moon." These range from rising international star Ayla to popular picks like Miray, Belinay and Aysima, which are all in the current Turkish Top 50 for girls.

Boy names that mean "moon" include dozens of dynamic Japanese names like Michika, Reito and Tsukio, which can all be formed from different kanji combinations to give various moon-related meanings.

Moon-inspired girl names

  1. Aruna: This pretty Japanese name, which can mean "moon love" (depending on the kanji characters used), is a perfect underused alternative to popular A-sandwich choices like Aria and Aurora.
  2. Esmeray: A beautiful Turkish name with the evocative meaning of "dark moon", which might appeal to lovers of rapid riser Esme.
  3. Lusine: Also spelled Lucine or Lusineh, this sophisticated Armenian choice could make for an unexpected route to Lucy or Lou.
  4. Mahina: A moon goddess in Hawaiian mythology, whose attractive name literally means "moon" in the Hawaiian language.
  5. Sasithorn: This poetic word for the moon is also used as a name in its native Thailand, pronounced "sah-see-TAWN". Sweet short form Sasi also means "moon".

And here are a few more of our favorite lunar names for girls from around the globe:

  1. Adzumi
  2. Aysel
  3. Channary
  4. Hala
  5. Indu
  6. Livana
  7. Lua
  8. Mahrukh
  9. Miray
  10. Neoma
  11. Orana
  12. Quilla
  13. Runa
  14. Saran
  15. Sihana
  16. Tsuki
  17. Vinterny
  18. Volana
  19. Zira
  20. Zulay

Moon-inspired boy names

  1. Ainar: This strong-sounding Kazakh name is actually unisex, meaning "male moon", "fire moon" or "pomegranate moon" (what a great image!).
  2. Isildur: A literary lunar name from J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium, in which it belongs to a heroic king.
  3. Jerah: A rare Biblical boys' name with a contemporary sound, which could make for a great underused alternative to the likes of Noah and Jeremiah.
  4. Mani: Properly spelled Máni, this energetic mini name belongs to the personification of the moon in Norse mythology.
  5. Vikesh: A strong and striking Hindu name which is fairly common in India, but virtually unknown elsewhere.

And here's a selection of other great moon names for boys from around the globe:

  1. Asaki
  2. Aydemir
  3. Badar
  4. Chanchai
  5. Dal
  6. Ehaan
  7. Hilal
  8. Iyar
  9. Kamer
  10. Koray
  11. Luan
  12. Mahan
  13. Maziar
  14. Naito
  15. Nantu
  16. Qamar
  17. Rakesh
  18. Rua
  19. Zoro
  20. Zunair

Galactic moon names

We recently reported on the rise of planetary baby names, as well as of mythological names relating to the heavens, like Apollo and Zephyr: Greek gods of the sun and the west wind, respectively.

But how about the names of other moons? There are some stellar options out there, mostly drawn from myth, legend and literature—right on trend, but rarely used.

Galactic moon-inspired girl names

  1. Amalthea: A moon of Jupiter, named for the goat (or goat-keeper) who raised the infant Zeus. It would make a lovely longer form for the fashionable mini-name Thea.
  2. Calypso: A fun-filled name with a lively rhythm and musical links to the West Indies. Callie and Cleo could make for great nicknames.
  3. Leda: The name of the beautiful mother of Helen of Troy in Greek mythology is surprisingly underused, despite its simple, international appeal: it was given to just 17 baby girls in 2018.
  4. Thebe: Far rarer than Phoebe, but with the same light and simple sound, Thebe is another moon of Jupiter.
  5. Skathi: This tiny moon of Saturn is named for Skaði, the Norse goddess of winter and archery.

And here are a few more appealing faraway moon names for girls:

  1. Anthe
  2. Belinda
  3. Bianca
  4. Carme
  5. Cressida
  6. Despina
  7. Elara
  8. Galatea
  9. Helene
  10. Io
  11. Larissa
  12. Mab
  13. Miranda
  14. Ophelia
  15. Pandora
  16. Perdita
  17. Rhea
  18. Rosalind
  19. Thalassa
  20. Titania

Galactic moon-inspired boy names

  1. Ariel: This handsome Hebrew name may have become far more popular for girls in the US, thanks to a certain Little Mermaid, but it's a truly unisex choice in Israel: #4 for boys and #23 for girls in the last year on record (2016).
  2. Fenrir: The name of a monstrous wolf in Norse mythology, and of an evil werewolf in the Harry Potter books—but if Wolf itself can catch on…
  3. Hyperion: One of the Titans in Greek mythology, Hyperion lends his majestic name to another of Saturn's moons.
  4. Narvi: Also spelled Narfi, this quirky Norse mythology name belongs to the father of Nótt, the personification of the night.
  5. Umbriel: A moon of Uranus, named (along with Ariel and Belinda) for a character from Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. The name was probably inspired by Latin umbra "shadow."

And here are more magical moon names for boys from myth and legend:

  1. Aegir
  2. Atlas
  3. Caliban
  4. Ferdinand
  5. Francisco
  6. Janus
  7. Loge
  8. Neso
  9. Nix
  10. Oberon
  11. Pan
  12. Prospero
  13. Proteus
  14. Puck
  15. Sao
  16. Stephano
  17. Surtur
  18. Titan
  19. Trinculo
  20. Ymir

This post by Emma Waterhouse was first published on Nameberry

Learn + Play

My son is terrified that he might win his school's reading contest. If he does, he'll be invited, with the other winners, to attend a special lunch at a local Chinese food restaurant. My son loves books. He hates Chinese food. In fact, he hates pretty much any food that isn't chicken fingers, french fries, ketchup, bagels and cream cheese, or cereal. Occasionally he'll eat a jam sandwich but only if the jam isn't homemade. He'll eat apples, but only Red Delicious. And carrots. Raw.

I know what you're thinking. I let our child dictate the menu for the entire household based on his sugary and basic likes. Except I don't. I just have a very picky eater.

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His fussiness over food has been something I've struggled with. I devoured articles on picky eaters and followed their advice to the letter. Did you know that if you present picky eaters with a certain food an average of 17 times they will finally try it because it seems "familiar"? Except he didn't.

I tried sneaking "good" food into what he would eat. Bran muffins harbored shredded zucchini. Pizza sauce hid pureed carrots. Chocolate cake was made moist with pumpkin. I felt like a cheater. And still, it didn't work. This kid has olfactory skills that would shame drug-sniffing dogs – assuming the drugs smelled like broccoli.

I model good eating. A plate loaded with organic veggies aside whole-wheat pasta, for example. Homemade bread teeming with hemp seed. Even my "bad" food is good—biodynamic wine and homemade tortilla chips.

Nope. He had none of it.

I felt inferior to friends whose toddlers nibbled shrimp or requested sushi with an adorable lisp. I envied their breezy sophistication. Their worldly and open-minded kids. I feared a life that precluded ever taking my son to a restaurant that didn't offer a kids' menu. I imagined the future people who would never date him, joking with their friends about his love of "nuggets." I imagined the jobs he wouldn't get because the executives, over lunch, would conclude he couldn't think outside the box, given that his food was served in one.

But most of all, I worried about what my son's narrow appetite said about me.

I was pedestrian. Parochial. Predictable. Picky.

It's with that realization that I was able to abandon my mission to convince, cajole, bribe, trick or otherwise coerce my child into eating food he refuses.

I ate pizza for the first time on my 19th birthday. Tried lasagna in my second year of college. And finally indulged in spaghetti and meatballs when, at 23, I was poor, studying in France and ordered the cheapest—and most recognizable—thing on the menu. I was 25 before I tried any type of ethnic food. Twenty-eight before I ate lobster. I still don't eat ketchup. Or mayonnaise. Or mustard. I'm not just anti-condiment. I also won't touch fish with their eyes intact. Liver. Tongue. The list goes on and on.

My own childhood menu consisted of bologna sandwiches (white bread, thank you very much). Saltines. Boiled potatoes. I ate hamburgers, plain. Chicken (white meat only) with no skin or sauce, broiled. Iceberg lettuce and carrots. Occasionally I would eat an apple. My brother refuses to accept I've ever been a child since I didn't eat peanut butter, "the official food of childhood," he points out.

What changed? Well, I grew up. Moved away from home. Spent time in another country renowned for its food. On my own, I began to experiment. To try, just a nibble. With no one taking inventory of what went into my mouth, I felt freer to explore and draw my own conclusions.

I'm beginning to believe my son will follow a similar path. Just the other day he tried red pepper. "Yuck," he said.

Will he someday meet me for sushi? I doubt it.

But I don't like sushi anyway.

Life
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