Just let your kids eat all the Halloween candy

A nutritionist explains why it's okay.

why it's okay for kids to eat candy
Twenty20

Halloween is just around the corner, and if your kids are anything like mine, they've already had exposure to a higher-than-usual influx of candy. And you know the kids are here for it.

If your child was already preoccupied with candy, holidays like Halloween may seem to make their fixation on candy even worse. Or if you have a stash of Halloween candy or treats in your home, your kids may seem obsessed with wanting to eat it.

"Can I have candy?" "I want to eat candy!" "When can I eat my candy?" "It's not fair—you never let me eat candy!"

Sound familiar? Yep, I get it, mama. You might feel like your child is Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: "I want it and I want it now!" As much as we love our kids, the non-stop demands for candy can feel tiresome.

But there's good news: You don't have to withhold candy from your kids. Believe it or not, raising healthy children involves giving them candy. Here's why.


Candy isn't inherently bad—but fear and shame are

If your kids were constantly demanding you feed them broccoli, the desire for a particular kind of food might feel like a non-issue, am I right? But because the thing that your kids may be asking for is a food demonized as less than "healthy" and blamed as the culprit for all kinds of diseases and behavioral problems, it feels unsafe.

Candy may feel like something you need to rigidly control access to, but this approach can backfire. Have you ever hidden something from your kids, only to find they seem to become more preoccupied with it? We are naturally drawn to the very things that we're told we can't have. So telling your children that candy is off-limits can actually make them feel more obsessive about having it.

Adding a layer to this is the language that is often used about candy. It's not uncommon for us to describe foods in polarizing terms, such as good vs. bad, or healthy vs. unhealthy. Even when used with good intentions, this language creates a moralistic association with food that kids can internalize at an early age.

You may tell your children that candy isn't healthy for them and therefore, they shouldn't eat it. Or your children may hear that candy is "bad" or "terrible" for their bodies. Again, language like this is often used with good intentions and with the belief that this will in fact deter kids from eating candy and sweets.

However, what this actually teaches kids is that they are bad for wanting or eating candy (not the candy itself). Kids don't view food in the same way that we do as adults, nor do they make food decisions based on arbitrary standards of "healthy vs. unhealthy."

All they know is what tastes good to them and what feels safe. Food can slowly but surely become unsafe when they begin learning that certain foods are "bad" for them.

The bottom line: Restrictive control tactics around candy, along with polarizing language about candy, can not only cause children to feel more preoccupied with candy, but it can create fear, guilt and shame for wanting and eating these foods.

Why it's okay to treat candy like any other food

Remember that your kids are born with innate programming that helps them self-regulate the foods and amounts they need to grow at a rate that is right for them. That's right—your child is born as a natural intuitive eater, and by taking a neutral approach and stance to candy, you can help preserve their innate abilities to regulate all foods, including candy.

Good health and nutrition goes far beyond the nutritive qualities of the foods themselves. It involves finding satisfaction and pleasure in food and being able to respond to and respect your body's hunger and fullness signals.

When kids are presented with restrictive feeding tactics, this will interfere with their natural ability to self-regulate and increase their obsessiveness and preoccupation with these foods. You can help your child develop a healthy relationship with food by having regular and consistent opportunities to eat sweets.

The goal is not to try to avoid giving them candy. Rather, we want to help them have a healthy, non-obsessive relationship with candy. We want them to be able to eat and enjoy candy when the opportunity arises in an amount that feels best for them... and then move on with their lives!

Raising healthy children means letting them eat candy without fear or shame

Because of the fear-mongering messages around sugar and our children's health, as well as the fat-phobic culture we live in, candy has become demonized to the point that parents are terrified about allowing their kids to have candy.

The truth is, you can restrict your child from having candy or access to candy, but this will never be a long-term solution for helping them develop a positive relationship with all foods. A child who has been restricted from candy often grows up to be an adult who has a chaotic relationship with sweets, regularly binges on desserts or overeats candy whenever they do have access to it.

Regular exposure to candy doesn't detrimentally affect your child's health or well-being. In fact, the opposite is true. Meaning, if your kids feel more obsessive and preoccupied with candy, they will likely develop adverse behaviors around food that will be harmful to both their health and mental state.

Kids who are preoccupied with candy will be more likely to:

  • Overeat or binge on candy when presented with the opportunity (which can negatively affect their overall physical health)
  • Feel anxious, guilty or shameful around candy-eating experiences (which can poorly impact their overall mental health)

Research has found that when parents restrict their children from eating palatable foods, such as candy and desserts, then their kids will be more likely to eat in the absence of hunger, or overeat those foods.

In order for your child to have a positive relationship with food and their bodies, candy needs to be part of the equation. Again, this may seem completely counterintuitive to what you've been doing, or even how you were raised and brought up, but it's so important to keep the big picture in mind in order to help support your kids in a positive, meaningful way.

What's the difference between liking candy and being obsessive about it?

Most kids get excited about candy, am I right? I have yet to meet a kid who wasn't excited about candy or sweets in some shape or form. But there are key differences between excitement and interest in candy and preoccupation or obsessiveness with candy.

Signs your child may be preoccupied/obsessed with candy may include but are not limited to:

  • Repeatedly asks you and other adults for candy
  • Displays food behaviors, such as sneaking, stealing, hiding, or hoarding candy
  • Unable to focus on other activities due to preoccupation with candy
  • Prioritizes eating candy above all other foods
  • Feels urgency, stress or anxiety about eating candy, or about when the next time candy will be available

This is in contrast to a general interest or excitement with candy, which may look like this in a child:

  • Enjoys eating candy
  • Is able to eat candy and move on with other activities
  • May leave pieces of candy behind when eating
  • May switch between eating candy and other foods
  • Doesn't have a sense of urgency about when they will be able to have candy again

Preoccupation or obsessiveness with candy is a direct symptom of restriction. Meaning, a child who is showing signs of candy obsessiveness likely has restricted access to candy, or has not had enough opportunities to eat candy to help them feel satisfied and content.

If your child is displaying signs of obsessiveness or preoccupation around candy, know that there are opportunities to help correct this. By increasing exposure and opportunities to eat candy, you can help decrease any obsessiveness that your child might be having around candy.

What to do if your child is obsessed with candy

If you have a child who is preoccupied with candy, sweets or desserts, this may be a sign that you need to give them MORE exposure and opportunities to eat candy. Remember, this may feel counterintuitive, but increasing exposure by giving more frequent opportunities to eat candy is a proven strategy for decreasing preoccupation around candy.

Your children will need to have opportunities that include both:

  • Unlimited access to candy, where they can self-regulate and figure out what amount of candy feels best for them without any direction or rules from you. It's not uncommon for parents to feel uncomfortable giving kids permission to do this, but I can't stress how important it is to help your child learn how to self-regulate around candy and sweets. Many parents may fear that their kids would go crazy and binge on a candy overload. If your child has never been allowed these opportunities, there is a possibility that your kids may in fact overeat their candy or even eat candy to a point where they feel sick. Even if this happens, your kids will be okay. They may need to have these experiences with candy to learn what amount feels right for them. Over time and with repeated opportunities to have unrestricted access to their candy, they will eat less of it and learn how to better self-regulate.
  • Recurring structured access to candy with meals and snacks. Children need recurring access to sweets within their structured meals and snacks. Especially for a child who is preoccupied or obsessed with candy, the frequency may need to be higher than you might feel comfortable with. For example, if you currently allow your kids to have a piece of candy or dessert a couple times a week after dinner, but you notice they seem to be obsessive about sweets, this frequency may not be sufficient. Similarly, if you allow your kids to have dessert after dinner every night, but they still are showing signs of obsessiveness around candy, this frequency may not be enough. Especially around holidays or seasons where there is a higher influx of candy (such as Halloween candy), you may want to consider allowing your child to have candy with more than one meal per day.

Again, keep in mind the long-term goal of helping your child have a healthy relationship with food. Recurring exposure to candy will drastically decrease your child's obsessiveness and or preoccupation with it. When kids can trust that candy is a regular part of their present and future meals, they will become significantly less preoccupied with it. Also, by allowing candy at meals and snacks, you have a designated response if (and when) your child does ask you for candy: Instead of saying "No," or "Not right now" (which can further increase their preoccupation with candy), you can say, "Yes! You can choose a candy to eat with your lunch."

How to help kids eat candy in a healthy way

1. Allow regular access to candy.

Your child actually needs to have regular access to candy with meals and snacks without any stipulations or rules attached in order to develop their own self-regulated approach to eating sweets.

Your child may eat the candy first then move on to other foods, or vice versa. You don't need to be the food police. You can decide how many pieces your child can have, but let your child pick their candies out and decide at what point during the meal to eat them and how much of the candy they want to eat.

The key here is no stipulations, meaning, your child should be allowed to eat their candy with the meal, not if the meal has been eaten, or if a certain number of bites of vegetables or food have been eaten.

2. Allow periods of unrestricted access to candy.

In addition to regular access to candy with meals or snacks, your kids may also need periods of unrestricted access to candy. This is where you can give opportunities where they have unlimited access to candy or sweets.

What might this look like? My recommendation is to allow this within a structured snack time. (I still strongly recommend having regular meal and snack times for your child.)

This does not mean candy should just be a free-for-all, or that your child can eat candy whenever they want throughout the day. Pick a snack time, such as an afternoon snack where your child can have unrestricted access to a bowl of candy or another dessert-type food.

Let them have access to their candy bag or a bowl of candy along with 1-2 other food components, such as a glass of milk and produce. Let your kids pick out how many pieces of candy they want to eat without any guidance from you. Other times you can allow your kids these times of unrestricted access to candy might include holidays such as Halloween night.

3. Have boundaries around candy.

Kids still need healthy boundaries around candy, just as they do around food in general. These boundaries might include where candy will be kept and when it can be accessed.

Candy should be in a place that your child can both see and access. If candy is out of reach or out of sight, they will likely become more preoccupied with it. In the same way, your kids may feel obsessive about their candy if they don't know when they will be allowed to have it.

This is why it's important to communicate with your kids about when they will be allowed to eat their candy. Make sure you and your kids are on the same page about when they can access their candy bag.

If they know they will be able to have some of their candy with their meals, this can help decrease their preoccupation with eating candy.

For example, if they're asking for candy between meals and snacks, you can let them know that a time to eat candy is coming up soon. Offer your kids gentle reminders for adhering to and holding boundaries established around candy.

4. Create positive experiences around candy.

More than anything, kids learn about food and eating through their environment and from their caregivers. If your kids are picking up on negative language or cues about candy being "dangerous" or "bad," they won't feel safe to enjoy their candy. Be aware of the language you're using to describe candy, and be cautious about your own attitudes and behaviors.

Try not to use phrases or words that demonize their candy intake, such as "That's too much sugar," "Too much sugar is so bad for you" or "Are you sure you want another piece?" This type of language puts fuel to the fire and can make a preoccupation with candy even worse. Instead, seek to create enjoyable and positive experiences around candy.

Create a positive (or at least neutral) environment for your child around candy—let them see you enjoying candy in a relaxed, neutral setting. Talk to your kids about their favorite candies, why they enjoy them, or even the types of candies you enjoy eating. If your child can see you enjoy some candy alongside them, this will help reassure them that they're not "bad" for liking candy.

4. Check your own issues about candy.

Do you feel anxious or nervous about your child eating candy? Where might these fears be coming from? Understanding your own history and past experiences can help create awareness around your own feelings that may be triggered when your child is eating candy.

Fear of sugar often goes hand in hand with fear about being in a larger body (or growing into a larger body). Many parents may fear the potential ramifications of their children eating too much candy or sugar, including worries about kids being in a larger body. Having a history of being in a larger body yourself or having a child that may already be in a larger body can put you on high alert about candy.

Be aware that your kids pick up cues from you about eating candy—just like everything else—and those cues might create stress or anxiety for your child around the act of eating candy.

If you have your own history of disordered eating

Some parents who have a history of disordered eating or chronic dieting—which can create a chaotic relationship with sweets—may feel particularly fearful about allowing children to have candy. But even if you've struggled with food or your body in the past, you can try to separate your own issues or fears from your children in order to help them create new and positive experiences around food, and to help yourself feel confident to build a trusting feeding relationship with your child.

Maybe you don't trust yourself to eat candy, or perhaps you don't allow yourself to have candy or other desserts in the house for fear of how you may eat it. If this is the case for you, you may want to include another caregiver in this process in order to support your children. Let another adult take over managing the candy bag if you don't feel like you're in a place where you can help your kids build a positive relationship with candy.

Again, if you've found yourself in this position, it's okay to recognize that you're not ready to do this with your kids. You will get there in time. In the meantime, please give yourself all the grace in the world.

But wait—isn't excess sugar bad for kids?

We can't talk about the topic of kids and candy without addressing the elephant in the room, right?

Most of the parents I talk to are concerned about their kids eating too much sugar. I get these questions a lot as a nutritionist:

  • Does sugar make kids hyper?
  • Is eating candy every day bad for you?
  • Can a kid get diabetes from eating too much sugar?
  • What happens to my child's blood sugar after eating candy?
  • Can a child throw up from eating too much sugar?
  • What are the long term effects of sugar on body weight?

These are all valid concerns that can fuel parents' fears about allowing their kids to eat candy. And if there is a family history of diabetes, health conditions or concerns and fears about larger bodies, this can create real stress about eating candy and sugar in general.

Again, these fears can be the trigger for rigid restrictive feeding practices that may potentially make a child more obsessive or preoccupied around eating candy. That's why I urge parents to step back to see the bigger picture.

The truth is that there is no research that supports a direct causation between candy consumption and adverse health conditions. Meaning, the fact that your child eats candy alone is not going to result in poor physical or behavioral consequences. Kids eating sugar does not cause diabetes, as this health condition is the result of many different factors.

In fact, research has found that restrictive feeding practices, especially around sweets, can be more detrimental to a child's physical and mental health over the long term. Studies have found that children who are deprived of high-fat, high-sugar foods show increasing BMI and eating in the absence of hunger over time. Research has also found that parental restriction can increase the risk for excessive eating of the restricted foods, as well as for developing eating disorders, like binge eating disorder.

If you have been strictly controlling sweets or restricting access to candy, you are likely doing these things with good intentions and because you want the best for your child. But it's also important to ask: Will restricting candy help your child to have a healthy relationship with food? While it may seem counterproductive to allow your child regular access to candy with structured meals and snacks, the consequences of restricting access to candy, and associating candy with fear and shame, can prove far more dangerous to your child's overall health.

It's also important to note that a child's body size should not be indicative of whether or not that child is allowed to eat candy. Restrictive feeding practices with children, regardless of their body size, will result in adverse effects, and can potentially cause an increase in weight gain and risk of eating disorders. Remember that a healthy weight for children goes beyond just the number on the scale or their body mass index.

What are your child's attitudes, behaviors, and feelings toward food? Addressing this question is the key to helping your child live a healthier life—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Ultimately, they need you to trust them as they work through this process.

Remember that all foods, including candy, are an important part of creating memories and enjoying life together. Don't let short-sightedness or fear-mongering tactics around candy or sugar rob you—or your children—of enjoyment.

A version of this post originally appeared on the author's blog.

Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn on how they’re ‘sneak teaching’ kids with their new show "Do, Re & Mi"

The best friends created a musical animated show that's just as educational as it is entertaining

Amazon Studios

This episode is sponsored by Tonies. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn have been best friends since they met as young singers and actors more than 15 years ago, and now they're collaborating on a new Amazon Original animated kids series called Do, Re & Mi. The show, which follows best birds Do, Re and Mi as they navigate the world around them while also belting out catchy tunes, is just as educational as it is entertaining.

On the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Bell and Tohn talk to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about how they're "sneak teaching" kids with their new show and why music is such an important focal point.

"It was basically our mission from the very beginning to 'sneak music education' into kids' lives, hands, brains, all of it," Tohn admits.

"There's so much science and data to support that [music] helps kids, their brains grow with math, with social skills. It literally can change your neuroplasticity. You can put music of their favorite genre or timeframe on, in an Alzheimer's ward, and they will come back online for a couple minutes. I mean, it's crazy," Bell, who has two daughters of her own, adds. "You know, music can bind a lot of families together. It can bind friendships together. And it's just a show that you can feel really good about. We want to get it in front of as many kids as possible, because I don't like the fact that some kids won't have exposure to music. Their brains deserve to grow just as much as everyone else's."

The first season of Do, Re & Mi premiered on September 17th and its creators recorded 52 different songs for the show that range from reggae and pop to country, blues and jazz.

"That's what's so exciting about this show," Tohn gushes. "Not only are the lessons we're teaching for everyone, but every episode has a musical genre, a musical lesson and an emotional lesson. And so there really is so much to learn."

Elsewhere in the episode, Bell tells Tenety about how she made literal toolboxes that carry different regulation tools to help her kids calm down (one is "find a song you love and sing out loud") and why having a village is crucial to surviving motherhood, especially in a pandemic, while Tohn details her special friendship not only with Bell, but with her daughters, too.

To hear more about the show, Bell's experiences in motherhood, and her enduring friendship with Tohn, listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.

Entertainment

12 baby registry essentials for family adventures

Eager to get out and go? Start here

Ashley Robertson / @ashleyrobertson

Parenthood: It's the greatest adventure of all. From those first few outings around the block to family trips at international destinations, there are new experiences to discover around every corner. As you begin the journey, an adventurous spirit can take you far—and the best baby travel gear can help you go even farther.

With car seats, strollers and travel systems designed to help you confidently get out and go on family adventures, Maxi-Cosi gives you the support you need to make the memories you want.

As a mom of two, Ashley Robertson says she appreciates how Maxi-Cosi products can grow with her growing family. "For baby gear, safety and ease are always at the top of our list, but I also love how aesthetically pleasing the Maxi Cosi products are," she says. "The Pria Car Seat was our first purchase and it's been so nice to have a car seat that 'grows' with your child. It's also easy to clean—major bonus!"

If you have big dreams for family adventures, start by exploring these 12 baby registry essentials.

Tayla™️ XP Travel System

Flexibility is key for successful family adventures. This reversible, adjustable, all-terrain travel system delivers great versatility. With the included Coral XP Infant Car Seat that fits securely in the nesting system, you can use this stroller from birth.


Add to Babylist

$849.99

Iora Bedside Bassinet

Great for use at home or for adventures that involve a night away, the collapsible Iora Bedside Bassinet gives your baby a comfortable, safe place to snooze. With five different height positions and three slide positions, this bassinet can fit right by your bedside. The travel bag also makes it easy to take on the go.


Add to Babylist

$249.99

Kori 2-in-1 Rocker

Made with high-quality, soft materials, the foldable Kori Rocker offers 2-in-1 action by being a rocker or stationary seat. It's easy to move around the home, so you can keep your baby comfortable wherever you go. With a slim folded profile, it's also easy to take along on adventures so your baby always has a seat of their own.


Add to Babylist

$119.99

Minla 6-in-1 High Chair

A high chair may not come to mind when you're planning ahead for family adventures. But, as the safest spot for your growing baby to eat meals, it's worth bringing along for the ride. With compact folding ability and multiple modes of use that will grow with your little one, it makes for easy cargo.


Add to Babylist

$219.99

Coral XP Infant Car Seat

With the inner carrier weighing in at just 5 lbs., this incredibly lightweight infant car seat means every outing isn't also an arm workout for you. Another feature you won't find with other infant car seats? In addition to the standard carry bar, the Coral XP can be carried with a flexible handle or cross-body strap.


Add to Babylist

$399.99

Pria™️ All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

From birth through 10 years, this is the one and only car seat you need. It works in rear-facing, forward-facing and, finally, booster mode. Comfortable and secure for every mile of the journey ahead, you can feel good about hitting the road for family fun.


Add to Babylist

$289.99

Pria™️ Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Want to skip the wrestling match with car seat buckles? The brilliant Out-of-the-Way harness system and magnetic chest clip make getting your child in and out of their buckles as cinch. This fully convertible car seat is suitable for babies from 4 lbs. through big kids up to 100 lbs. With washer-and-dryer safe cushions and dishwasher safe cup holders, you don't need to stress the mess either.


Add to Babylist

$329.99

Tayla Modular Lightweight Stroller

With four reclining positions, your little ones can stay content—whether they want to lay back for a little shut-eye or sit up and take in the view. Also reversible, the seat can be turned outward or inward if you want to keep an eye on your adventure buddy. Need to pop it in the trunk or take it on the plane? The stroller easily and compactly folds shut.


Add to Babylist
$499.99

Tayla Travel System

This car seat and stroller combo is the baby travel system that will help make your travel dreams possible from Day 1. The Mico XP infant seat is quick and easy to install into the stroller or car. Skipping the car seat? The reversible stroller seat is a comfortable way to take in the scenery.


Add to Babylist
$699.99

Modern Diaper Bag

When you need to change a diaper during an outing, the last thing you'll want to do is scramble to find one. The Modern Diaper Bag will help you stay organized for brief outings or week-long family vacations. In addition to the pockets and easy-carry strap, we love the wipeable diaper changing pad, insulated diaper bag and hanging toiletry bag.


Add to Babylist

$129.99

Mico XP Max Infant Car Seat

Designed for maximum safety and comfort from the very first day, this infant car seat securely locks into the car seat base or compatible strollers. With a comfy infant pillow and luxe materials, it also feels as good for your baby as it looks to you. Not to mention the cushions are all machine washable and dryable, which is a major win for you.


Add to Babylist
$299.99

Adorra™️ 5-in-1 Modular Travel System

From carriage mode for newborn through world-view seated mode for bigger kids, this 5-in-1 children's travel system truly will help make travel possible. We appreciate the adjustable handlebar, extended canopy with UV protection and locking abilities when it's folded. Your child will appreciate the plush cushions, reclining seat and smooth ride.


Add to Babylist
$599.99

Ready for some family adventures? Start by exploring Maxi-Cosi.

This article was sponsored by Maxi-Cosi. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Boost 1

This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

Woodland Snug comforter

Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

$249

Braided Pom Pom Throw

Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

$145

Lumbar pillow

sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

$65

Crystal infused sleep mask

sunday citizen sleep mask

Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

$40

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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10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


1. "You're safe here."

If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

Back to School

Yes, a shower can be self-care—here's how to level it up

Some seasons of life can make you feel like you have no time for self-care, so here's how you can make an everyday activity a luxury.

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Over the course of the last several years, "self-care" has become not only a buzzword, but also a daily requirement for personal fulfillment. And while self-care is important, it loses its appeal when it feels like a chore, or yet another item on a never-ending To Do list. I have a one-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. I work full-time, and I do not have full-time childcare. As a result, like many parents, free time is the stuff of fairy tales.

Instead of beating myself up over my inability to get to the nail salon or to schedule a monthly massage, I decided to redefine self-care—to be grateful for the little moments, to elevate them. In the seasons of life where you can't figure out how to fit "self-care" in—or when trying to fit it in causes more stress—choose to relish the small escapes. After all, the intent of self-care is to feel better, to improve your overall health, to fill your cup so you can help to fill others. When the act of scheduling self-care puts more weight on your shoulders, it defeats the purpose.

I can't tell you how many articles I've read that say a shower—basic hygiene—shouldn't qualify as self-care, and I do understand that sentiment.

However, on the days, weeks, or even months where you can't find hour-long blocks of scheduled "me time," why not embrace your shower as an act of self-care?



In all honesty, my nightly shower after my kids go to sleep is beyond. I look forward to it. I set the mood and bask in 10-15 minutes of silence and pampering. Here are some of my tried-and-true tips to boost your shower:


  • Light a candle: What is it about the simple act of lighting a candle that sets the mood? I recently received a South Candle from my MIL, and the dreamy summer scent has me reaching for it again and again.
  • Use a dry brush: I jumped on the dry brushing trend a few years ago and never looked back. Right before I shower, I use a dry brush on my body to exfoliate and improve lymphatic drainage.
  • Hang eucalyptus: Visit your local florist, and buy a bundle of fresh eucalyptus. In addition to its spa-esque scent, eucalyptus boasts multiple healing effects, like promoting stress-relief and improving mental health.
  • Cleanse: Indie Lee's Brightening Cleanser smells delicious and is a great addition to anyone's summer skincare routine. This vegan and plant-based formula leaves my skin looking bright and firm.
  • Splurge: It's not cheap, but Tata Harper's smoothing body scrub buffs and polishes your skin, leaving it smooth, glowing, and in my case — ready to hit the sheets!
  • Moisturize: Post-shower, use your favorite moisturizer. I love Alba Botanica's very emollient unscented original body lotion — it's super hydrating and gentle on sensitive skin without an overwhelming fragrance.
  • Enhance your skin while you catch some z's: Glow Recipe's Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask completes my nightly skincare routine. It smells like candy, and I wake up with soft, dewy skin.

Moral of the story? For busy parents, your nightly shower is a special occasion, so don't save the good products for another day—use them now!

Elevating the little moments and being creative carries over to all other areas of your life as well. Can't make it to a barre class? Slide into bridge pose while on the floor with the kiddos and do some hip raises. Turn a dance party into a quick HIIT workout with some squat jumps. Take the kiddos for a walk and pop in your airpods. Fresh air, movement, and a podcast fuels my soul. Having trouble finding a sitter for date night? Enhance your "Netflix and chill" with restaurant-quality cocktails, fancy popcorn, and a bougie dessert.

In certain seasons of life, recognize self-care in the little moments. It's not worth stressing about your inability to practice an idealistic—and unrealistic—self-care routine. Instead, find the moment, elevate it, and enjoy it.

Beauty Style

9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home

There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

We brought our baby home in a confused, crazy haze of new-parent life. We didn't know a lot. Actually, scratch that. We didn't even really know a little. There's so much I wish I could have told you—to give you, this patient and amazing man, a heads up. But I couldn't. I didn't know, either.

There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

Here are 9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home...

1. We are both clueless.

I know you've never done this before. But guess what? Neither have I. Just because I'm a woman or I used to babysit in college doesn't mean I know more about what we're doing. This isn't a competition of who knows more or less about babies. The playing field is level. We are both clueless. If you ask me why she's crying again, and I give you a master-level death stare—just understand it's because I. Don't. Know.

2. So help me.

Don't wait for me to ask. Please. Just do something. Change the next diaper, get me a snack, fill my water bottle while I'm nursing, cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry. Remind me to take Motrin. Literally anything will be helpful. And it is such a nice feeling when I don't have to ask you to do something. Like, a major turn-on. (And I'll remember that in six to eight weeks.)

3. Happily take over when I need a break.

When you're getting the feeling that I may need a break, or a shower, or to just sit in silence by myself for a minute—take over. With a smile. Bond with your baby. Talk to the baby. Sing to the baby. Do awesome father stuff. I'll get my very necessary break, and I'll be listening in the other room. #Swoon. ?

4. I'm going to cry a lot.

Over all sorts of things. I got poop on my hands. Tears. I am tired. Tears. My nipples hurt. Tears. I don't understand what I'm doing. Tears. Someone just stopped by unannounced. Tears. My belly is jiggly. Tears. I feel sad. Tears. I have never been happier in my life. Tears. This cookie is sooo good. Tears. ? ?

The new norm? Crying. Get used to it for now. I don't really realize I'm crying over ridiculous things, I'm just in this brand-new world with lots of crying (from me and the baby), a nursing appetite that dwarfs my pregnancy appetite and a baby bump without a baby in there. Let me cry without judgment.

For the most part, there will be zero rationale behind these tears (well, except #hormones... and dang, that cookie was really good). But also, do me a favor and pay attention to signs of postpartum depression. Because I may not be able to.

5. I've never felt so self-conscious.

My baby bump is gone, but I am still carrying extra pounds. Some people think I still look pregnant. I haven't showered yet today. My hair is greasy. My legs are so hairy they're confused as to whether they're wearing pants or have a thick fur blanket wrapped around them. The circles under my eyes are deepening by the second. My wardrobe consists of sizes I'd never thought I'd see, and my maternity clothes don't look like they're going anywhere fast.

Lift my spirits, please. I don't quite feel like myself. Be gentle with me. We can't have sex—and I definitely don'' want to!—but we can cuddle before bed, you can hold my hand and tell me what an amazing job I'm doing, and you can remind me that I'm a badass, beautiful mama.

6. I'm going to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

You may wonder what exactly I'm doing in there. I may be trying to escape you people for a little while. But I also may just be using the bathroom, which now means also using my new BFF spray bottle, very slowly sitting down on the toilet, very slowly picking myself up off the toilet, putting a new pad on, and hoisting my pants up. It's not the quickest process right this second.

Oh, and when I get a chance to shower... no, I did not get sucked down the drain. I am simply enjoying the peace and quiet while the hot water runs down my back. ? I'm giving myself some time alone to reflect on the fact that yes, this is all happening.

7. I don't want visitors.

Sure, the close family members we agreed on are fine. I know they want to check in on us and want to meet the baby. But please don't invite other people over right now. This is a lot to take in and figure out. My boobs are out 24/7, I'm wearing your sweatshirt and maternity sweatpants and—makeup? What does this word mean?

If you could, just give me a little time and space in our bubble. I'll be ready for visitors soon. Tell people no from us so I don't have to feel bad about it. When the VIPs are visiting, be the overstaying police—if they've been over for too long, make something up so they get the hint to leave. The baby needs to rest, I need to rest, I need to feed the baby, aliens are coming and we need to go into our underground bunker—whatever you need to do. Check in with me privately if you're not sure what constitutes "too long." ⏱

8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

And not just with the baby. ?

With you, too. I need you with me, near me, supporting me and letting me support you. We're in this together, and I desperately need to feel like a team. Let's try to be patient with each other.

But also, if we do have people visiting and I give you the "I-need-my-baby-back" stare—HAND ME THE BABY. Politely ask whoever is holding her if you could borrow her and like I said—HAND ME THE BABY. PLEASE. I LOVE YOU.

8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

We are awesome together. Our baby makes us even more awesome together. This is new to us. Let's try to enjoy this time in our lives. Let's laugh over that poop on my hands (after I cry... and remember—let me cry), let's stay in our bubble as long as we can and let's rocking being clueless parents together. Because let's face it—no matter how much we think we know, we'll never know it all.


Relationships