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We can't control the challenges our children will face in life, but that doesn't mean we can't prepare them. One of the most powerful gifts we can give our kids is resilience—the ability to overcome the inevitable obstacles headed their way.

Helping kids develop resilience means they will be able to recover from setbacks, rather than wallowing in them. Unfortunately, there are a lot of well-meaning things parents say that can inadvertently hinder this developing skill.

Avoid these 10 phrases to help your child develop resilience:

1. "You're fine."

While "you're fine," may seem like just the kind of phrase to encourage grit and resilience, it's actually sending the message that kids can't trust what they're feeling. This is another version of "suck it up."

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Instead, try validating your child's emotions, while using your tone and body language to send the message that you believe they will be okay. If your child falls and scrapes their knee, you can empathize and check on them without acting like it's an emergency. Don't run over and swoop them off their feet while crying tears of your own. Walk over calmly and take a look at the scrape, asking if they are okay.

This approach lets your child know that while, yes, they are hurt, their feelings are okay and they will recover.

2. "Let me fix it."

Whether it's because we're in a hurry or because it's so hard to watch our children struggle, it's easy to want to fix their problems. This doesn't mean you can't help and support them, just try not to take over.

If they're having trouble tying their shoes, it feels easier to simply do it for them than to stand by and see if they really need a little help. If they are struggling with a friend, you might want to talk to the other child's parent and try to fix things behind the scenes than let your child navigate the situation. But doing these things will only hurt in the long run.

Offer the minimum amount of help they need to be successful. Instead of simply tying their shoe for them, try offering verbal support, saying something like "now make a bunny ear." If they're still struggling, offer to tie one shoe for them and let them try the other shoe.

Watch your child to see how much they can handle. You want to challenge them, but not overwhelm them. There will of course be times when you don't have time to let your child do something for themselves, and that's fine too. Maybe there's no time for your child to tie their own shoes in the morning before school, but they can practice on the weekends. As they become more capable, they can do more and more for themselves.

3. "That's easy, you can do it."

While this little phrase might seem encouraging, telling a child something that seems challenging is easy will only take away their desire to try. Instead of telling them a task is easy, try "I know that's hard, but I think you can do it." This emphasizes their ability to overcome hard things.

4. "You might fall."

It's not fun to watch our kids fall and get hurt, but when you see your child doing something that makes you uncomfortable, try to assess the situation.

Are they likely to get injured, or just get a little bump or a bruise? Is there a way you can spot your child to protect them without them noticing? By constantly telling our children to be careful, or that they might fall, we are sending the message that they are not safe.

Every parent has to use their judgement and own comfort level with risk. If you see your toddler starting to climb up a slide and a big kid is at the top about to go down, you will likely want to stop them so they don't get kicked. But if you see your toddler climbing a ladder on the playscape for the first time, try simply being there to catch them if they fall, without letting them see your fear.

What you're comfortable with will likely change with your child's age, but it's important for them to learn to assess risk for themselves so that they can determine when they really aren't safe, and when it's okay to take a little risk to try something new.

5. "I give up."

Perhaps the most important tool for teaching resilience is modeling. Does your child see you give up easily or get upset when you try something new, or do they see you staying calm in the face of challenges? It's important to let your child see you struggle, and let them see that it's okay.

Try learning a new skill together so that they can see that this sometimes frustrating process is not just for kids, that everyone faces struggles when learning something new.

6."Calm down."

We want to teach our kids how to calm themselves down when they're upset, but saying "calm down" isn't the way to do this. Try saying, "let's take a deep breath together" instead. Or even look your child in the eyes and take a few deep, calming breaths yourself.

We can gradually equip our kids with specific techniques to regulate their emotions. This might mean practicing deep breathing together, or asking for a hug or hugging a favorite stuffed animal. It might mean stepping outside to take a break from a situation and experience the calming effects of nature.

Help your child develop these tools when they're not too upset to hear you. Eventually they will learn to turn to them when it feels like things are in crisis.

7. "I packed all your things for you!"

Making life too easy for our kids robs them of the chance to face the minor challenges and discomforts that help to naturally develop resilience.

You can help your child gradually take over the responsibility for these tasks. For a 3-year-old, you might remind them to carry their lunchbox and backpack to the car in the morning, instead of carrying their things for them.

For a 6-year-old, it might look like creating a checklist together of all of the things they need to remember in the morning, but putting them in charge of going through the checklist.

A 9-year-old might be able to take full responsibility for remembering their things, but this of course depends on the child.

Gradually increasing their level of responsibility will help them be successful. We love our children so of course we want them to be comfortable and happy and to have a great day every day, but in the end, it's more important to equip them with the tools they need for the not so good days.

8. "That's too hard for you."

Children try to do things that they may not be ready for all the time. They might reach for a 1,000 piece puzzle, they might want to help you with a "grown-up task" like building a new shelf or fixing something on the car.

It's easy to tell kids that something is too hard for them, or that they're not ready to do something, but try steering them to a more age-appropriate task instead. You might say, "It takes a lot of practice to get ready for a 1,000 piece puzzle, why don't we try the new 100 piece one you got for your birthday together?" Or, "I can't let you use my power tools, but let me show you how to use a hammer and you can practice on this piece of wood."

Saying these phrases directs children toward something they can be successful with, without sending the message they we think they're incapable.

9. "Not like that!"

Take note of how often you find yourself saying some variation of "not like that!" to your child. It's so tempting to stop them when we see them doing something wrong like holding their fork in such a way that spaghetti is about to fall all over their shirt or putting their shoes on the wrong feet.

But why not let them drop the spaghetti, then let them clean it up? Why not let them wear their shoes on the wrong feet so that they have a feeling of accomplishment rather than incompetence?

It's okay if things aren't done perfectly, it's okay if our kids have to stop and clean up a mess.

In these instances, sit with your child while they clean it up, helping if necessary. You can then show them a more effective way to complete a task. You might say, "Can I show you a trick? If you hold your plate with two hands, you won't drop it next time."

10. "You figure it out."

While we want to send the message that we believe our children are competent, this doesn't mean they're on their own. On the contrary, children will be more likely to feel like they can try something new and face a challenge if they know they have support.

Instead of sending them off on their own to face a tough situation, let them know that you're in it together. Say something like, "Let's sit down and come up with a solution together."

Involve them in the process, but let them know you're there to help too.

Resilience is a tough quality to teach because it involves watching our kids struggle, even watching them fail. This can be a hard thing for parents to do, but remind yourself that you're not making your child struggle, you're letting them struggle.

You are allowing them to face every day challenges so that when the big challenges come, your child will know that they can face the challenge and be okay.

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Most nights as I put my daughter to bed, rocking her to sleep in the darkness, I find my mind wandering to all the things I need to accomplish once she's asleep. I can't forget to throw that load of laundry in the dryer. I need to make sure I finish that lesson plan. I really should mop the kitchen tonight if I have time. As a busy working parent, the mental to-do list is never-ending, and my mind is always taking inventory of all that I've accomplished, and all I've yet to get done.

But tonight as I rocked her, I looked down at my daughter's legs, which now stick out past my arms when I cradle her in the rocking chair. I recalled how my arms used to wrap completely around her tiny little body. She used to lie in my arms, swaddled tightly like a little burrito, and her entire body would fit perfectly in my arms. It feels like this was only yesterday.

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I blinked, and somehow my tiny, sleepy newborn became a sweet, but strong-willed toddler.

I stared down at her little face in the darkness, forgetting the list of things I wanted to accomplish once I put her to bed. I watched her eyelids flutter as she fought sleep, and I recalled all the sleepless nights we spent in this rocking chair.

I remembered rocking her back to sleep on that very first night home from the hospital, so overwhelmed with love and joy, but also plagued with exhaustion.

I thought of all the nights between then and now. The tough, sleepless nights—through growth spurts, teething, and colds—and those sweet, easy nights where she drifted to sleep effortlessly and slept the whole night through.

I watched her eyelids become heavy as she drifted off to sleep, and I snuggled her a little tighter and rocked her a little longer. The days have flown by since we brought this tiny little blessing home, and I know that time is never going to slow down.

I know that there will come a day in the not-too-distant future where my precious little girl won't want her mama to rock her to sleep anymore. She won't want to hear Goodnight Moon for the one-millionth time. She won't want me to kiss her forehead and wish her sweet dreams before tucking her into bed.

So tonight, I made sure to be present in the moment rather than letting my mind wander to the next item on my to-do list. I watched my precious girl fall asleep and I savored every moment of it. I rocked her and rocked her and then rocked her some more.

I stared at her sweet face, wishing I could freeze this moment and keep her my baby forever. But I know that the future will bring new and exciting things as well.

For the time being, I'm going to enjoy where we are right now and do my best to just be in the moment. Because the laundry will still be there in an hour or two, and if the floors don't get mopped until tomorrow, nothing is going to happen.

Right now, just being here in this rocking chair with my baby is the most important thing in the world.

Life

With American officials now cautioning that Coronavirus outbreaks are highly likely within the 50 states, experts are also urging schools and businesses to prepare for disruptions. If it comes to this, the United States can follow Hong Kong's model—where protests through the fall shut down schools and then the threat of Coronavirus led classrooms to shutter again through the majority of winter.

With schools closed and the city effectively on lockdown as the threat of Coronavirus touched all aspects of public life, students around Hong Kong have been forced to adjust to virtual schooling, and that means mothers have been forced to adjust, too.

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"Extending the class suspension has been a difficult decision. Yet as the WHO [World Health Organization] predicted, the epidemic will last for a while and the Bureau thinks it is the safest decision to ensure the physical well-being of students," said Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung in a press statement this week, announcing the decision to push back opening schools until April 20.

For American mom Arcadia Kim and her family, this effectively put their lives in Hong Kong on standstill even though they were all healthy. Rather than wait it out in Hong Kong, the family decided to "self-quarantine" in Hawaii earlier at the beginning of February which they were able to do as American citizens. As the family hastily packed up their lives with just one hour of notice, they included their digital tablets and laptops—which have since become not only their lifelines to home, but also the children's method for schooling.

"Online classes and virtual school look like 'ready player one,'" says Kim, who runs Infinite Screentime, which helps families strike a better balance with screens. "[It's like] some dystopian future where you are plugged into the matrix."

Although screen time is a stressful topic among many modern parents, Kim had a unique vantage point on the perks and pitfalls: A former chief operating officer for Electronic Arts, Los Angeles, she was closely involved in the development of some of the most popular video games in the world—and understands exactly how they were created to be addictive.

After being conscious of her children's screen time throughout their lives, it felt strange for her to encourage them to log hours upon hours on their computers in the name of school. "They are in front of their computers for nearly six hours a day," she says of her children's virtual schooling. "It looks crazy, but this is crazy."

Still, for being pushed into this new way of schooling that they didn't request, Kim was impressed by the way her children quickly adjusted. Whereas they could have lost one year of education, the Kim children now wake up across the ocean from their school, log on by 8 a.m. to receive their assignments and then get to work for the day—which looks like anything from the 13-year-old Skyping with a tutor who is a PhD candidate in microbiology, the 7-year-old assessing the symmetry of objects using a tablet, or the 10-year-old learning scratch programming.

To provide a counterbalance at the end of the screen time-rich school day, the family makes a point of getting out and exploring their new surroundings.

While the circumstances in Hong Kong may be unique, students, parents and educators from around the world are embracing online classrooms for a variety of reasons. According to a 2019 report from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), nearly 300,000 K-12 students in the United States were enrolled in full-time virtual schools.

However, experts from NEPC, a research organization based out of the University of Colorado at Boulder, expressed concern about the effectiveness of virtual schooling—which is still somewhat of an unregulated, "wild west" approach to education. Notably, the graduation rate from virtual schools is approximately 50 percent while the national average for public schools is 85%.

"Given the lack of understanding of what is actually happening in virtual education, policymakers should require that any virtual school operating in their jurisdiction be required to provide the necessary information to examine the effectiveness of the virtual education that is actually being provided," the authors suggested in the report.

Kim agrees the downsides to virtual schooling remain clear, especially because educators in Hong Kong had to scramble to offer this option on such short notice. "There are some things that seem better and more conducive to learning online than other things," she says. "Can a 7-year-old really understand the significance of the Day of Death by watching YouTube videos only? It would have been much cooler if they could have done the dress-up festival like the school had planned."

Yet Kim says her eyes truly have been opened to the possibilities that virtual schooling presents through this experience—even as she's looking forward to her children having the chance to go back to their normal classrooms. "This is going to be the future," she says. "[Online school] will force kids to be more self-reliant and motivated. Parents will need to be more flexible about what is to come."

News

Pregnancy is a naturally beautiful thing in a woman's life and the same should be true of the skincare products we use. But, that's not always the case. Did you know that just because a label says "gentle" or "all-natural" it doesn't mean it's non-toxic and pregnancy-safe? There can be a lot of sneaky ingredients that aren't so great for you, mama. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns that prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can be linked to cancer and reproductive issues later in life. The good news is that you can reduce exposure to toxic chemicals by carefully reading labels.

The Cosmetics Database has a list of good-for-you ingredients if you're ever unsure. And, to get you started, these are our favorite all-natural, pregnancy-safe beauty products:

Acure prickly pear + fig extract shampoo

Acure shampoo

Free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, petrolatum, silicone, and just about anything that could threaten you or your baby, this is one of the most accessible shampoos on the market that actually works wonders for pregnancy and postpartum hair loss. It increases hair's elasticity and aids in preventing breakage after a few uses. Their masks also make great self-care treatments both before and after your little one makes their arrival. Trust us, you'll have earned a little pampering!

$8.27

Amareta brightening gel cleanser

Moon Light Brightening Gel Cleanser

Wouldn't it be great if a skincare line had products for every stage of pregnancy and new mom life? Wish = granted.

This lightweight daily face wash cleanses, balances and brightens your skin throughout your hormonal cycle. Plus, you won't find chemicals, synthetic preservatives or harsh acne treatment ingredients, but you will find lots of vitamin C to brighten and hydrate even the dullest skin.

$48

Beautycounter hydrating foundation

Beautycounter hydrating foundation

Beautycounter is a mom-founded company that has been making waves by pushing the FDA to enact stricter rules about what is allowed into cosmetic products in the U.S. They hold themselves to a high standard, banning 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals from all of their products—without sacrificing on quality.

Our favorite product includes the hydrating foundation that's perfect for light to medium coverage, and it includes sodium hyaluronate, a natural moisture magnet, to promote smoother-looking skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

$42

Belli anti-blemish facial wash

Belli anti-blemish facial wash

Sometimes pregnancy can do not-so-beautiful things to your skin. Since most anti-blemish treatments contain chemicals not recommended for pregnancy, we love Belli Skincare as a safer alternative. While all their products are free of parabens, gluten, artificial dyes and fragrances, their anti-blemish spot treatment and acne wash is great for pregnant or nursing mamas battling problem skin. Plus, it feels and smells super luxurious.

$22

Erbavia stretch mark cream

Erbavia stretch mark cream

No one deserves a little spa treatment more than pregnant mamas. But in case you don't have time for an afternoon away, we recommend Erbaviva's line of organic and chemical-free beauty treatments.

For a little nightly belly pampering, we loved combining the stretch mark cream (non-greasy so you can dress right away!), stretch mark oil, and belly butter. All three products feature the same earthy, spa-like scent and pair beautifully for a deep hydration—take that, third-trimester itchiness.

$30

evanhealy sea algae serum

evanhealy sea algae serum

When searching for pregnancy-safe products, you can't go wrong by starting with nature. Evan Healy's line of skincare products are all-organic and plant-based, leaving out synthetics or other toxic ingredients. We're super into the sea algae serum that's made up of sea buckthorn oil, seaweed, algae, hyaluronic acid and CO Q-10 to tone and beautify skin your entire pregnancy.

$45.95

Naked Truth Beauty lip + cheek stick

Naked Truth Beauty Lip & Cheek stick.

Naked Truth Beauty is a beauty company firmly rooted in safe products and ingredient education. Even their packaging is made from recycled ingredients and can be recycled or composted after use.

While they carry an assortment of bath and beauty items, our favorite is the Lip + Cheek stick. It's easy to apply, the color blends perfectly and they have a fair variety of shades for different skin tones. Plus, who doesn't love a product that pulls double duty—just like you, mama.

$26

W3LL People nudist lip butter

W3LL People nudist lip butter

What happens when an elite makeup artist, a cosmetic dermatologist and a tree-hugging entrepreneur team up to create a beauty line? Safe product magic.

That's the story behind W3ll People, a company firmly rooted in non-toxic formulas and minimalist makeup looks. Every product contains premium natural ingredients and skips fillers, propylene glycol, petrochemicals, and petroleum by-products, meaning you'll look as good as they make you feel.

We loved the lip butter for natural shades that work on any skin tone (plus a slight tingly that plumps your lips). This powerful lip butter also provides SPF 15 broad-spectrum protection for mamas who love the sun.

$13.99

Ilia limitless lash mascara

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

Infused with a hint of organic shea butter and keratin to help boost and enhance lash condition, this lightweight and nourishing formula is just what the doctor ordered for a classic, black finish. You'll also find a blend of organic bee and carnauba waxes to weightlessly condition each lash, while still keeping them lifted throughout the day.

$28

Pleni Naturals cleansing oil and exfoliating mask

A little goes a long way with this face oil. While the price might seem initially steep, when you're using only a few pumps a day this bottle can last longer than you might expect. Plus, it's two products in one.

We love this certified non-toxic and vegan formula for being super gentle on your skin and pregnancy safe. You can use this in your everyday cleansing routine—leaving your face feeling clean but not tight or squeaky—or you can leave it on for up to 10 minutes as a mask to get the exfoliating benefits from the papaya enzymes to help you gently dissolve dead skin cells. It's so great, you might want to consider keeping it in your routine beyond pregnancy, too, mama.

$48

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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As a dentist and a parent, I know getting kids pumped about dental care is not always easy. Especially when quality time with the toothbrush means an inevitable tantrum, as it does for some toddlers.

While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a visit to the dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than your child's first birthday, establishing a few simple habits before your toddler's first dental appointment could be your best bet for an easier first time in the dentist chair.

Here are five easy ways parents can prepare their toddler prepare for the first dental visit.

Start brushing early

I know how important (but tough) it is to get kids into any sort of routine—let alone a dental one. We began our children's dental routine as infants by cleaning their mouths and gums regularly with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Between 12-18 months, we started a brushing routine with non-fluoridated toothpaste.

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The earlier children fit toothbrushing into their daily routine, the easier their first dental visit will be. Just like adults, children should brush their teeth twice daily for 2-3 minutes, ideally early in the morning and before going to bed.

Schedule your child's nighttime brushing before they get too tired. For example, if your child usually nods off at 8 pm, have them do their nightly brushing and flossing at 7:15 pm. We're all a bit more cooperative before the Sandman comes knocking.

Make it tasty

Finding a gently-flavored children's toothpaste your child likes to brush with can make brushing a lot more enjoyable—and may make that first dental visit go more smoothly, too. While mint flavored is a good go-to for adults, bubble gum or chocolate-flavored toothpaste may be more appealing for the little ones.

Parents can begin brushing their children's teeth with a tiny pea-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste as early as 18 months. Once your child learns how to spit (around 2 years old), switch to fluoride toothpaste to protect against dental decay.

Avoid surprises

Most kids don't particularly enjoy bad surprises—and who can blame them? Showing up to a strange, sterile place like a dentist's office, with loud, scary noises and "a big person" putting their hands in your mouth? No, thank you!

The best way to prepare a child for the dentist is to tell, show and do:

Tell: Start by spending some time telling your child about the dentist and why it's important to visit.

Show: Demonstrate for your child what the dentist does by reading a children's book (and explain why it's not scary!).

Do: Bring your child on a quick field trip to the dentist and let them see, touch and experience the office before their first visit.

Play pretend

Before the first visit, try play-acting "trip to the dentist" with a stuffed animal. Encourage your child to count and brush teeth, floss between their chompers and have fun taking turns in a pretend dentist chair.

Use praise + positive reinforcement

Visiting the dentist is a new and sometimes scary experience for children. While starting and prioritizing a brushing routine helps in the long run, no amount of prep can guarantee a perfect first time dental visit.

Praise and positive reinforcement helps kids become excited to care for their teeth. Rewarding healthy habits and your first dental visit with a trip to the park, smiley stickers and big hugs makes the process less frightening for kids—and less troublesome for parents.
Learn + Play
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