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Dealing with pregnancy and postpartum care is a uniquely female topic that happens to intersect with the co-ed world of work, and this creates some tricky scenarios for women.


Over the last few years, I’ve fielded questions from friends that go beyond, “How much maternity leave can I take?” and reveal the challenge women face to demonstrate commitment to their careers while prioritizing the new demands of motherhood.

They’ve confided in me, in part, because I used to work in Human Resources, so my advice is spiked with eight years of behind the scenes experience, a dose of U.S. employment law, and a dash of common sense. Now, I’m sharing that guidance with you.

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This is not official legal counsel (I’m not an attorney) or even official HR guidance, for that matter, since I don’t know the nuances of your situation. So, be sure to seek out advice from your personal network and company resources. In general, though, if you were to come to me with any of these questions, here’s what I’d say to you.

I’m interviewing for a new job. Should I tell them I’m pregnant?

Nope. You’re not required to do this, but I understand that it’s tempting. We all want to start off on the right foot, and it can feel dishonest to not disclose such a big impending life change.

I like to give hiring managers the benefit of the doubt that they would not use this bit of information against you during the hiring process (and I would never let them, if I was their HR person), but human beings are fallible. While they want to fill this position with the best candidate, which could be you, they also want to fill it quickly, and the thought of covering a looming maternity leave may consciously or subconsciously dissuade them from choosing you.

Of course, if you were the most qualified person for the job and your pregnancy was the real reason you didn’t get it, they’d be breaking discrimination laws, but this might be hard to prove, so it’s best not to offer up the information in the first place.

I got the job! Now do I tell them I’m pregnant?

Maybe. I’d prefer you wait to tell them until you’re clear on the job’s pay and benefits and have the offer in writing. I’d be very surprised (and angry) if they backed out of the offer or tried to change its terms after learning you’re pregnant. But in case of any fishy business, it’s safer to have a written offer in hand.

When you do let your new manager know that you’re pregnant (see the next question for considerations on timing), present it as a statement of fact rather than an apology. You haven’t done anything wrong by keeping your personal business private until you knew that you’d have an ongoing relationship with this company, so an apology isn’t necessary.

Say something like, “I’m very excited about this opportunity. I can’t wait to start contributing to the team and to learn from them, as well. I do want to make you aware of a few important dates, so that we plan my work appropriately. I’m pregnant and will need to take maternity leave beginning on [date] and expect to be out for [specify time]. Between now and then, I’m committed to this role and want to make sure that my temporary absence is covered as seamlessly as possible.”

When should I tell my boss that I’m pregnant?

It depends. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it’ll likely come down to what you’re comfortable doing. I told my manager as soon as I was past twelve weeks because I wanted to wait until the risk of miscarriage was significantly reduced but also give him plenty of time to plan for my absence (and I hate keeping secrets).

I have a girlfriend who waited much longer, until after her managers had finalized performance reviews and promotions, so that she was sure her pregnancy wasn’t factored into any of these things. If you work in a job that requires very heavy lifting or other duties that may be unsafe during pregnancy, then you’ll want to notify your boss right away, so they can work out temporary accommodations for you.

People from work keep calling me with questions while I’m on maternity leave. Are they supposed to do this?

Probably not. At some companies, email access for employees on any leave of absence is cut off to prevent them from working while they’re out. If, as an HR person, I got wind of this, I’d put an end to it to protect you – the employee – who is not supposed to be working. As well as to avoid any complications for the company.

In the real world, though, this may happen, and you’re going to have to set your own boundaries. You may like the feeling of staying connected and knowing you’re missed at work and won’t mind answering a quick question here or there. Or, you will mind, but you pick up the phone anyway to demonstrate your commitment to your job. You don’t owe them your time right now, and they’ll keep calling, if you keep answering, so make sure you feel comfortable being accessible.

Also keep in mind that because you’re not immersed in day-to-day work while you’re out, you may not have all of the information you need to make appropriate decisions or to provide the guidance for which your boss or co-workers are asking. Use your judgment on how to contribute in an appropriate way and don’t feel guilty for ignoring their calls or messages.

My manager asked me to come back from maternity leave early. What should I do?

As if maternity leave wasn’t short enough in the United States, now they want you to come back early. Chances are they can’t legally make you return before the official end of your leave, especially if your time away is protected under the Family Medical Leave Act, a similar state-level protected leave law or a union contract. 

Of course, you want to keep a good relationship with your manager and you may feel like you need to prove you’ll still be reliable and loyal, so it’s tempting to agree to a shortened leave. Consider this as you make your decision: You can never get these early days with your baby back.

Do what is in your best interest while you’re on leave because if the company is asking this of you, they’re only looking out for their best interest. If you do decide to start sooner than you anticipated, negotiate something for yourself, even if, in reality, you can’t wait to jump back into work and get a break from baby land. Maybe you agree to come back part-time for a few months or maybe you get extra time off down the road around the holidays or for a vacation you’ve been planning.

If they want you back, then you have leverage. Use it.

I don’t want to come back to work yet, but I’ve used up all of my time off. Can I still ask for an extension?

You can ask, but it may not be granted. The company may really need you back, or they may be concerned with what type of precedent this will set for future maternity leaves if they give you more time off.

For the best response from your manager, make this request as early as possible, so that he or she has time to plan for your longer absence. If there are any benefits to the business by extending your leave, remind them of this. For example, they may be over budget on salary costs and having you out for a little longer will help balance the books.

Keep in mind that if they do agree to an extended leave, it will likely be unprotected, meaning they no longer have an obligation to hold your job open for you. If you’re only asking for a few days or one more week away, chances are good that your job will still be there when you’re ready to come back. If you’re asking for several more months off, then you’re running the risk that the company fills your job and doesn’t have one for you when you want to return.

Make sure you’re clear on the terms of the extension, so there are no surprises when you’re ready to come back.

Final Thoughts

I’ve worked for two very different Fortune 500 companies and, in my experience, both have invested significant time and money to create a culture of respect and support for all employees and especially for working parents. I don’t want to leave you with a cynical view that companies will take advantage of women who are pregnant, or on maternity leave. That’s truly not what I’ve seen. I’ve been in several meetings where promotions for women out on maternity leave were planned, and where concern for employee well-being was as important as the bottom line.

But not all workplaces are created equal, and some won’t value employees this much. Even the good ones that do, at their core, are just a group of people. And sometimes people make mistakes.

So, when it comes to navigating pregnancy, maternity leave, and careers, women are smart to consider their approach carefully. It’s a balancing act – the first of many for working mothers – to maintain your professional presence, reaffirm your commitment to your careers, and also take the personal time you need (and deserve) to adjust to life with a new baby. It can be done, and if, throughout the process, you show respect both for yourself and for your company, you’ll do it well.

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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

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If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama. From reality TV stars to bloggers and A-list actresses, there is a baby boom happening in celebrity circles right now.

Amy Schumer, Snooki and Christina Anstead are just a few of the celebrity moms who recently welcomed little ones and there are a ton more who are still waiting to meet their kiddos.

Here are some fellow parents-to-be expecting in 2019 + 2020:

Hilaria  Baldwin is pregnant after April miscarriage 

Good news for Hilaria and Bec Baldwin. Five months after publicly sharing her miscarriage story, Hilaria Baldwin just announced she is expecting the couple's fifth child.

The newest member of the family will join 6-year-old Carmen, 4-year-old Rafael, 3-year-old Leonardo and 16-month-old Romeo.

Baldwin made the announcement on Instagram.

"When you've had so many babies, 6 minutes pregnant = looking like 6 months pregnant," she captioned a bump selfie.

Congratulations Hilaria! 🎉

[A version of this post was originally published October 21, 2018. It has been updated. ]

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Raising kids is such hard work, but the parents of the internet are inspiring us this week. The viral stories taking over our feeds this week remind us that whether a mama is working hard to deliver her baby, or working hard to teach her child a great work ethic, it all comes down to showing up for the ones you care about...and sometimes that means taking a bit of a creative approach.

These are the stories that made us smile this week:

This emotional viral video has us crying at this dad's commitment to supporting his wife during birth

Earlier this month, Kendall Caver became a new dad and he earned that title by supporting his wife through her a long labor.

In the now viral video which has been watched millions of times. Caver holds up a series of cards while his wife, Jasmine, looks on from her hospital bed. As his wife prepares to have their baby, Carver is flipping through the story of his life with Jasmine and offering words of encouragement.

In his original post to his Facebook page, Caver captioned the video with the sweetest statement. He wrote: "Encouraging my Wife through 2 days of labor 😙☺️ Last night my Warrior Wife gave birth to a beautiful Baby Girl!"

"Breathe, just like we've been practicing," the first card reads.

His cards tell the story of a couple on a 10-year journey, who are best friends who love each other deeply and supported each other through a previous pregnancy loss.

"I would do it all over again to know the indescribable happiness I know today," Carver wrote on one of the cards.

(Are you crying yet?)

"You are my best friend...soulmate...and in just a few pushes...you'll be the most amazing mother our daughter could ever ask for."

Jasmine pushed through, and the couple welcomed their daughter, Sofia, earlier this month.

And this family's beautiful love story continues.

This mom created a household hiring event to teach her kids about earning money

As parents, we're constantly trying to find that balance between caring for our children and teaching them to be independent. We want them to enjoy childhood, of course, but we also want to prepare them for adulthood. And one mother found an incredibly smart, creative way to teach her children about the realities of earning money.

Shaketha Marion McGregor is going viral after sharing a post showcasing her system. We can't say we're surprised: This mama went all out to create a "hiring event" to allow her children to earn allowance money.

"So, my children continue to ask for a new cell phone, an allowance, and to go places," the mom writes in the now-viral Facebook post. "Yesterday I told them that I've heard their requests and that I'll have a surprise for them today when they get home from school. SURPRISE!!! It's a whole hiring event! 😂 If you want it, work for it, earn it!"

Shaketha's photos show the incredible detail involved in her hiring event. She created three positions (kitchen manager, lead housekeeper and laundry supervisor) complete with job descriptor for each one, and scheduled a time for interviews for each position. Her children were asked to fill out applications for each job—and she even set up a credit union!

Let's just say the mama didn't take the job application process lightly. "Well you guys, the interviews are done and I'm still laughing!!!" she writes in a follow-up Facebook post. "I'm going to make my son reapply and interview again because he laughed 90% of the time.My 10yr old would sometimes start speaking in an English accent like that would help her. And my 6yr old surprised me the most. She was super professional."

Shaketha even sent her son a rejection letter to inform him the position he applied to had been filled.

We love this mama's system so much! We know there are huge benefits that come when children do chores, and we can say from firsthand experience that adjusting to the world of job applications and bill paying can be really tough if you've never learned about it.

This mom has found a way to teach her kids some really important lessons while having a little bit of fun in the process...and they'll undoubtedly be prepared to navigate adulthood when the time comes.

This little girl's viral video proves football talent isn't gender-specific

As News 5 Cleveland reports, a third grade student in Ohio is gaining viral fame for the impressive football skills she displayed in a recent gym class. Physical Education teacher Kent Hamilton posted the clip on Twitter. His student, Emma, is a soccer player and the teacher came up with a super cool way for her to practice kicking.

He projected an image of a field goal on the gym wall, and Emma proved it was almost too easy.

Emma's impressive kick has been seen millions of times, and Carli Lloyd, a member of the Woman's U.S. Soccer team who trained with NFL teams, retweeted it.

Emma's gym teacher thinks Lloyd (and Emma) prove professional football may soon include women. "I don't think a female player in the NFL is that far off. This is proof our future is bright for girls," Hamilton said.

It takes a lot of grit for girls to get into the sport as there are few leagues for them, but in recent years more and more goals have been making names for themselves in the boy's leagues.

From the 11-year-old quarterback leading her team in the North Dakota Youth Football League to the Michigan linebacker doing double duty as Homecoming Queen, these girls should be proof to everyone that they have a place in traditionally male-dominated sports.

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Parenting strong-willed children can be difficult when they're young, but if properly directed and parented, they can become awesome world changers. Although mothering a headstrong little one seems like a huge task (that doesn't seem to get easier as they get smarter), it's doable mama. Just remember—they respond warmly when they're heard and understood.

Here are 35 phrases to help your strong-willed child to learn to get along with others (and even you, mama):

Communication

1. "I can see you didn't hear me the first time. How about when I say it to you, you whisper it back to me?"

Having your child repeat back what he hears solidifies your message. Varying the volume adds an element of fun to the request.

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2. "I hear you. Can you come up with a solution?"

Asking your strong-willed child to come up with a solution places the responsibility back on them. Next time they're complaining, ask them to brainstorm solutions. Remind them there are no wrong answers, and the sillier they are, the better.

3. "This is a tough one, huh? We're going to figure this out together."

When children are digging in their heels, it is important to understand why. This phrase reinforces the idea that you are on the same team, working toward the same goal.


Hitting and throwing

4. "When you throw your toys, I think you don't like playing with them. Is that what's going on?"

This speaker/listener technique is designed to help communicate feelings in a non-confrontational manner. Not only does this keep the lines of communication open, you are modeling how to phrase a situation from your perspective, which in turn gives your child a chance to rephrase events in their perspective.

5. "It's okay to be angry, but I won't let you hit. We need to keep everyone safe."

This gets the message firmly across that the emotion is okay, but the action is not. Separating the two will help your strong-willed child learn what they can and can't do.

Calming down

6. "Let's go to our calm down space together."

This flips the script of "time out" to "time in," allowing for reconnection instead of isolation.

7. "I'm starting to get frustrated, and I'm going to be right here calming down."

Teach children how to label and govern their emotions by modeling this in real time.

Transitioning moments

8. "What do you need to do to be ready to leave?"

Allow children to think through processes for the transitions in their lives. This helps avoid a power struggle and it gives them a chance to signal to their minds that they are making a transition to a new activity. This is also an excellent routine to role-play when you are not actually going anywhere.

Frustration

9. "If green is calm, yellow is frustrated, and red is angry, I'm in the yellow zone headed toward red. What color are you? What can we do to get back to green?"

Give strong-willed children a visual to express how they are feeling. It may surprise you what they say, and what kind of solutions they come up with to change their direction.

Love and affection

10. "I'm here for you. I love you. You're safe." (Then, sit in stillness with your child and allow the emotion to rise up and pass.)

When children are in the throes of anger or panic, often their bodies are experiencing a stress response whereby they literally feel unsafe. Letting them know they are safe supports them until the discomfort passes. This is a vital skill of resilience.

A version of these phrases were originally published on Positive Parents.

Giving explanations

11. "That isn't a toy, so we will leave it on the shelf. It's delicate and it could break if we touch or play with it."

Kids value reasoning just as much as adults do. Explaining why helps kids learn to make better choices in the future.

Being specific

12. "We'll have carrots now and a cookie after dinner so your tummy has room."

Strong-willed kids tend to ignore "no" when they hear it repeatedly. It becomes like background noise. They also start to say "no" to parents, siblings and friends when they hear it all the time. But, if you're specific about your requests, they begin to understand why they can't do certain tasks.

Being non-judgemental

13. "My glasses look interesting to you, don't they? But my glasses are not a toy. They're for daddy only" or "Seems fun to throw the ball in here, huh? I get it. We can only roll balls in the house so we don't break anything."

If we are harsh or reprimanding, over time kids get repeated messages that they've done something bad, or even that they themselves are bad. Instead, we can give them the message that we understand them, believe they have good intentions and are trying to figure out the world.

Replacing "No" with an action word

14. "Stop!" or "Freeze!"

For many parents, the word "no!" is a reflex. You heard it growing up, or absorbed it as the standard way to get kids to know right from wrong. It takes conscious practice to change. When you feel a "no" coming on, replace it with information. You may still need to hold a limit repeatedly, remove the glasses yourself, or take the ball and put it up high. But the underlying message is, "I understand you and I'm here to support and guide."

Heather Turgeon, MFT is a psychotherapist.

Building their confidence

15. "You are capable."

As a parent, our words become the internal language in the minds of our children. We know that our strong-willed kids are capable of so much, so let your words match this belief. Our tone and language should communicate confidence.

16. "That was brave."

Sometimes we need to notice things aloud. That means to let them know when we see them being brave. When we notice our kids being brave, they start to notice too.

17. "You've got this."

You know that they have the skills and means necessary and your vote of confidence will give them that extra boost they need to succeed.

18. "I believe in you."

As the mama, you have faith in your strong-willed child's ability. When you openly communicate that faith in them it will inspire it within themselves.

19. "You can do hard things."

When the going gets tough the obstacles can seem insurmountable. So this direct phrase will tell them exactly what they need to hear—acknowledgment that this is hard work and that they are capable.

20. "How'd you do that?"

Ask questions. When you see them do something hard, say, "How did you manage that? How can you do it again?"

21. "Give it your best."

We will never win it all, do it all, or be it all. But we can give it our best. Let's teach our kids this lesson.

22. "I know it's hard, but I have seen you do it before."

It can seem overwhelming, but let's give them evidence of when they have been successful before. This will instill the confidence that they can do it again.

23. "You are enough."

It doesn't matter what the outcome—they need to know they are enough just the way they are.

24. "You make me proud."

Straight and to the point—you can never tell your child this enough.

25. "I wonder what would happen if…"

Try to evoke curiosity and a new way of thinking by wondering about the possibilities.

26. "Do you know what grit means?"

Kids love learning new words. Teach them about grit, resilience and perseverance to help them reach towards these goals.

27. "Want to hear a story?"

Share stories with your kids. Tell them about times when you overcame obstacles, met your goals, and reached for the stars.

28. "Do you want to try something crazy?"

Challenge your strong-willed children with things they think are beyond reach (even if it sounds a little crazy). They might surprise you and themselves.

29. "Sometimes new things can seem scary, but they can be exciting."

Young children tend to cling toward people and environments that are familiar. But if we emphasize how exciting and joyful that new experiences can be, we can encourage the confidence to venture out of the comfort zone.

30. "Sometimes we make mistakes, and that is how we learn."

It's important that strong-willed kids know that making mistakes isn't a bad thing, in fact, it's now they become smarter, more intelligent adults.

31. "How did you challenge yourself today?"

Start the conversation about growing, changing and taking risks. With each challenge and accomplishment, the sense of self-esteem will grow.

32. "Repeat after me, 'I can do it.'"

Positive affirmations are powerful—they can rewire the brain. When we teach our strong-willed children to use positive affirmations from an early age they will reap the benefits as they grow.

Denaye Barahona has a Ph.D. in Child Development and is the voice behind Simple Families.

Giving them praise

33. "I love the animals on your t-shirt, which one is your favorite? Why is that?"

Praising children, especially girls, for their looks can decrease their self-esteem. If you want to comment on appearance, focus the praise on what the child can change, for instance, their clothes, and use them to start up a conversation that shows the child you're really interested in what they think and feel.

34. "Wow, I love the color you have chosen for the flowers, why did you choose to paint them in that color?"

You may have been shown a hundred pieces of artwork this year, but to your kid, each one is special and new. While it feels easier to say, "That's a great drawing," without really looking properly, the looking properly is what children really want. Picking out parts of the picture and asking the child about their choices shows that you're really looking at, and appreciating, their work. Which, in kid speak translates into you looking at and appreciating them.

35. "You worked really hard on that math problem. I knew that you could solve it if you really focused!"

Praising kids for fixed attributes—such as intelligence, or aptitude at certain subjects—can really backfire. If children think they are naturally good at something, not only will they tend to not try so hard next time, but they can get quickly disillusioned if they struggle, questioning if they are clever after all.

Sarah Ockwell-Smith is the author of Gentle Discipline: Using Emotional Connection–Not Punishment–to Raise Confident, Capable Kids.

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