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4 Things Parents Should Keep in Mind When Setting Rules

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that parenting without rules is a next-to-impossible undertaking. Rules and limits provide a framework that helps guide kids’ behavior. The rules set in childhood play a part in determining the kind of adults your kids become. Rules teach kids that they might not always control what happens to them or have what they want, but that they are always responsible for how they react.


Rules rule, but only if they are set out right. We do more harm than good when we fail to enforce rules and limits with love and affection. Here are a few things to keep in mind to set rules and limits while ensuring that your relationship with your kid remains intact.

1 | You catch more with honey than with vinegar

You’ve probably noticed that you’re always better around people who appreciate you. You strive to do more for those you feel go out of their way for you. You’re happier when you meet a friendly face. Why would it be different with kids?

There is increasing evidence that kids are naturally inclined to do well and to please us. Misbehavior is often a “superficial” problem. It is often a sign of deeply concealed issues, although these issues can also be driven by simple basic needs such as hunger or even fatigue. For instance, a highly anxious or scared kid may cover up this anxiety by turning to aggressive behavior. A kid who gets teased at school may suddenly start experiencing regular meltdowns every time she has to go to school.

Evidence suggests that people behave according to what is expected of them. Our actions and words shape how kids view themselves. When we show kids they mean the world to us, they are likely to behave in line with our expectations. Kids from whom the best is expected are more likely to give their best. Similarly, when we constantly expect our kids to be “bad” and to misbehave, they are likely to be the worst versions of themselves.

Remember that how you treat your kids and how you show them their worth undoubtedly impacts their behavior, their ability and their desire to respect rules and limits. It also affects the type of relationship you build.

2 | Know how and when to negotiate

Kids would negotiate everything if we let them, which would eventually drive us up the wall. You cannot and should not negotiate everything. That said, regularly negotiating with kids helps set rules and limits that are fair for everyone.

Encouraging kids to participate in decision-making processes has multiple benefits. It teaches kids about problem-solving, helps foster independence, makes it more likely for kids to respect decisions made and is also one of the most effective ways to reduce kids’ procrastination.

Although younger kids also benefit from participating in decision-making, structured decision-making is likely to be more appropriate. For instance, your kid will find it easier to choose something to wear if she has only two or three outfits to choose from.

Much evidence suggests that negotiation is a powerful tool to help families deal with conflict and power struggles. As one study suggests, kids who participate in negotiation are more likely to enjoy a positive relationship with their parents and to be better behaved than kids raised in permissive or authoritarian families.

3 | Be firm but fair

Diane Baumrind’s studies have repeatedly shown that kids raised using a democratic parenting style have better social, academic and psychological outcomes. Democratic parenting means being firm but responsive. It means having clear expectations but being willing to listen to your kids’ points of view. Democratic parents are flexible, especially with regard to their negotiable values.

4 | Remember the golden rule

Would you still be friends if someone spoke to you how you speak to your kids? Would you accept your kid, or anyone else for that matter, to “do unto you as you do to him or her?”

Much of what kids learn, they learn from us. If you want your kids to treat you with respect, treat them with respect first. If you want them to listen to you, don’t just talk at them, connect with them first. Just like our feelings matter, kids’ feelings matter too.

Rules rule, but what remains when the kids are no longer kids? All strong relationships have to be nurtured to thrive and creating bonds is a long process that often requires work. The strongest bonds are built in childhood. More than one person will tell you that mending the bridges with estranged kids in adulthood requires a Herculean effort.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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