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A family enters a coffee shop: dad, mom, two kids aged six and four. Just as the father is about to sit down in a comfy armchair, his young son slips behind him snatching the seat away. The father merely sighs, barely recovering his balance in time to stop the steamy drink from dropping to the floor and perches himself on a child-sized chair nearby.


The children grab drinks off the tray, tossing aside the straw wrappers.

Before settling onto her own hardback chair, their mother quickly picks up the debris discarded by her children. She attempts to initiate conversation with her husband, but is rudely interrupted, again, by her children.

The children argue. There are tears. Demands are made and accusations hurled between the children and toward the parents. The parents do all they can to keep the peace as they abandon all hope of meaningful adult interaction.

The parents’ full attention is focused on the children’s needs. They are clearly attentive and caring, selflessly serving their children. One wonders how they manage to patiently endure this level of bullying by their offspring.

We have all seen variations of this theme, and some may wonder if this is simply what parenting looks like. It may seem as though the early years must be endured before children grow into delightful, caring, independent, polite conversationalists.

And yet, is it possible to elevate expectations, even for young children? Yes!

Children are capable of taking turns and of interacting in a polite manner with both adults and peers. Here’s what you can do.

Be intentional

Determine what your goals are and what your baseline is for polite conversation. Teach your child words and phrases such as:

“Please”

“Thank you”

“You’re welcome”

“Excuse me”

“I’m sorry”

“I forgive you”

Your child will most likely not understand the meaning of the words when they are introduced. Establish the habit of participating in polite discourse and the implication of the words will develop over time.

We do the same when we begin to teach babies “hello” and “bye-bye” long before they completely understand their significance, and most babies master the skill of their appropriate use at a very early age.

Model the desired behavior

Children learn best when they are surrounded by positive role models and examples. Adults demonstrate positive behavioral patterns when they integrate polite words and phrases into their daily conversations with other family members.

Say “Thank you,” to your baby or toddler when they hand you a toy. Start a conversation with, “Excuse me…” when diverting a family member’s attention away from an engaging activity.

Offer do-overs

If a child makes a demand without asking nicely, simply say, “Could you please repeat that in a different way?” When your child uses an inappropriate tone of voice, you might ask them to try again.

By injecting a bit of humor into the situation and creating an opportunity for the child to correct his or her behavior without resorting to punitive measures, you can release the tension in the situation.

Introduce a pause button

When you overhear interactions and behaviors that are unkind or rude between siblings, take the time to “press pause.” Capitalize on the teachable moment by taking a break and pausing the play.

Give a quick summary of what you heard and observed. Briefly ask how each participant is feeling about the exchange and what could be done differently. Keep the exchange instructional as opposed to confrontational and give the children the opportunity to trade apologies and move on.

The pause button also works well at the dinner table, in the car, or anywhere families with young children interact.

Allow opportunities to practice

As children grow older, their social interactions will become increasingly complex. At times it may be helpful, particularly between siblings, to allow them to act out situations that might be potential trouble spots for them.

Pretend like you LOVE this pillow so much. Now your brother will snatch the pillow away.

How do you feel about that?

What could you have done instead? What should you say now? How about “I’m sorry”?

And what would you say after he says, “I’m sorry”?

Be consistent

As with so many aspects of being a parent, consistency is key. But don’t worry. Everyone makes mistakes. Learn to say “I’m sorry” and keep trying.

Prioritize time with family

One wise mom recently wrote to me:

We should never be too busy to have a do-over, say, or pull the van over to discuss some behavior, or move something out of the way to discuss an issue together as a family. I don’t want my kids to feel too busy for their sibling, to work something out, or just enjoy their relationship, now or in the future. And that means we may need to cancel something to focus on family issues.

Take on the role of instructor

It may seem awkward at first to require your own children to be polite to you. It’s much easier to remind them to say thank you to others. It may even feel a bit selfish to be a stickler for the rule within the family. But keep the bigger picture in mind. You are your child’s first teacher. What better place to practice useful life skills than at home within a loving environment?

If you integrate these principals into your family interactions, you will see positive results. Your children will become more polite and thoughtful. When unexpected problems and issues arise, you’ll find that you have the tools at your disposal to deal with them without drama.

This post was originally published on the author’s site, Nurturance.

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Ah, back to school time. The excitement of a new year for our kids and the impossibly busy schedule for their mamas. Anyone else get to the end of the day and think, "What did I even DOOO today, and why am I so exhausted?" 🙋

Luckily, finding a system to help you plan out your days can help reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life—which we are all for.

Here are eight planners we love that'll quickly take you from "What is happening?!" to "Look what I did!"

1. Day Designer

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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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A new school year is looming and while a lot of parents are looking forward to seeing their kids take the next steps in their education, many of us are not looking forward to getting everyone back into a weekday morning routine.

Mornings can be tough for kids and their mamas. One of our favorite celebrity mamas, Kristen Bell, does not deny that mornings with her daughters, 5-year-old Lincoln and 3-year-old Delta, aren't easy at all.

"It's miserable," Bell recently told POPSUGAR. "It's awful no matter who's doing what. And I'll tell you right now, the 3- and 5-year-old aren't doing jack."

Anyone who has ever tried to wrangle a preschooler out of their pajamas, to the breakfast table, then into their school clothes and backpack at seven o'clock in the morning knows exactly what Bell is talking about. She says some days are better than others, but it's hard to know what level of kid-induced chaos you're gonna wake up to on a weekday.

"It depends on their emotional stability, it depends on their attitude toward each other, toward life," Bell told POPSUGAR. "It depends on their developmental stage."

Luckily, Bell has got some backup. She's been open about how she and her husband, Dax Shepard, practice a tag team approach to parenting, and sometimes, Bell gets a chance to tap out of the morning routine. Unfortunately, Shepherd's later schedule means it doesn't happen as often as she would necessarily like.

"I don't want to say that I do more mornings than he does, but if you were to check the records, that's probably what you'd find," she told POPSUGAR.

If, like Bell, you're really not feeling mornings with the kids, there are a few things you can try to make things a little easier on yourself, mama.

1. Change the conversation

Instead of saying "hurry up" or "get in the car, right now,"try to mix up your vocabulary a bit.

If there's a need for speed, remind the kids that it's time for "fast feet" or that you're racing to the car.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you might consider sharing that with your kids. Let them know that mama's got a lot to do this morning and that it would be a huge help if they could make sure their water bottle is in their backpack.

2. Make breakfast ahead of time

If cereal isn't your jam or your kids need something hotter, and more substantial in the morning, cooking up breakfast can be a major hurdle on hectic mornings.

Check out these Pinterest perfect make-ahead morning meals, like breakfast enchiladas or egg muffins, and make mornings a bit easier on yourself, mama.

3. Bring some Montessori into your mornings

Help your kids take control of their AM destiny by bringing some limited choices (like clothing) into the morning routine and allowing for natural consequences (like having to settle for an apple in the van because they missed breakfast) but also allowing for fun with mom.

"Try doing something simple, with clear boundaries, such as reading two books before it's time to start the morning routine. If they're ready early, you can spend more time together, which is also a great natural incentive," writes Montessori expert Christina Clemer.

Here's to a less stressful AM routine for Kristen Bell and the rest of us mamas. Just because it feels miserable today doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. There is hope, Kristen!

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It was a year ago when I was pregnant, parenting a highly-spirited preschooler and also working a full-time job while trying to maintain a part-time side business when I got to the point of I have had enough.

I can't remember exactly what the trigger was, but like most times, it wasn't just one thing but a build-up over time that culminates in a massive meltdown.

You see, I was not getting much appreciation or validation for all of my contributions. This was a time when my partner, too, was working full-time and in graduate school two evenings a week. It was stressful for everyone, but, as the wife and mother, I carried the family through it by tending to the little details: the pick-up and drop-offs, the shopping, the cooking, all the minutiae of everyday life.

So, after perseverating on my laundry list of seen and unseen responsibilities, I decided to sit down with pen and paper and make a "day in the life" list from wake-up to bedtime that showed my partner exactly what my day entailed—a day that supported two other people in the house and one in the oven.

Even I was surprised to see all of the things listed out in 15-minute increments. On paper, it actually looked even worse than it felt. I thought to myself about how much physical, mental and emotional energy I expend in this hectic season of our lives. And I didn't regret it for a minute.

However, back to my original complaint…I still wanted to be validated for it. I needed to be seen for both the implicit and explicit tasks and expectations in my day-to-day.

So I handed my list over to my husband, expecting him to be awakened to the fact I was indeed working in overdrive and for him to be grateful for all the ways that I take so many burdens off of him so that he can be successful in school and his career.

Instead of that, his response almost put me into a state of shock. He read over the list and then said, "I know. You are Superwoman."

His words, like kryptonite, left me speechless. Part of me knew that his intent was for this to be a compliment, but it felt so invalidating. It completely missed the mark, and instead of leaving me feeling appreciated, I felt less understood.

Superheroes have innate superpowers that I imagine they use with ease. In fact, they are expected to use their powers and perhaps that is their sole purpose. No one ever looks to a superhero and asks, "Do you need a break?" And as a feminist, I sure as heck believe women are strong and powerful. But the idea of being labeled a "superwoman" did not feel empowering.

I already know I am efficient, capable, strong and fierce. But, I am also fatigued, sometimes overworked and underappreciated, and worst of all expected to be the one that keeps it together for everyone else.

What I learned about through my research of who Superwoman really is was this: her powers always wear off by the end of the story. Turns out these so-called "superpowers" really are temporary. That I can relate to.

I am only human and there are days and weeks where I feel on top of the world, days where I can manage it all with ease. I can be up all night nursing a baby, take both kids to school, and show up on time for a 9:00 am meeting with a French pastry I baked from scratch. I can push through the exhaustion and demands every day…until I can't.

And it's not just my spouse who uses this label. I have well-meaning girlfriends who have also tossed the term out there as if it was meant to be a feather in my cap.

When things get tough, I appreciate the texts of support my girlfriends send me. Even when they are far away, it's nice to know someone cares when everyone in your house has the stomach flu while your partner is out of the country. It's comforting to be able to share the ups and downs of trying to balance a career with a growing family.

But when the text comes in and says something like, "I don't know how you do all that. You are a supermom!" I feel like there should be an auto-reply that says, "Connection lost."

The thing is, I don't want to be elevated to superhero status for living my life. It is not heroic and it's probably not too far off from what every other devoted partner and mother provides their family. But, this is what I think we need, what we are starving for. We need someone to say, "How are you doing?" or, "What have you done lately to care for yourself?" or, "Thank you for all that you do and who you are."

Those are the kinds of words that let me know I am seen and make me feel validated when I am working the hardest. They let me know that the people I love the most see me, and not a cape.

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