How Doing Chores Will Help Your Kid Succeed in Life

girl loading dishwasher Q Wunder for EQtainmentIf giving your kids chores feels like a chore for you, you’re not alone. According to a 2014 study, only 28% of parents give their kids regular chores, even though 82% of them did chores themselves growing up. We get it: Maybe you don’t get to spend enough time with your kids as it is, and you don’t want the time you do have together to turn into a battle. Or your kids are so busy with soccer and piano lessons and homework that you’re not sure they can handle anything else. Besides, shouldn’t we just let kids be kids and wait to worry about dirty dishes when they're older?

Well, actually, no. Here’s why:

Chores are linked to lifetime success. In fact, a 2002 analysis of a 25-year study revealed that doing chores at age 3 or 4 was the best predictor of success for young adults.

Chores help kids develop empathy and responsibility. This same analysis found that kids who do chores grow up to be more empathetic and responsible.

Chores teach kids independence and life skills. Nobody wants to send their kid to college with no clue how to do laundry, but a 2002 UK poll showed that 50% of 18-year-olds didn’t know how to use a dryer and 35% didn’t know how to fold clothes neatly. Without chores, kids don’t learn the basic skills they need to navigate in the real world on their own.

If you're shifting in your seat right about now, take heart. Even Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford and author of  the New York Times bestseller How to Raise an Adult, was a "deer in headlights" when she discovered how important chores are. As she remembers in our latest podcast on the Q Wunder app, "My kids weren't doing any chores! And that's where I had to own my mistake and make up for lost time. It wasn't like I could snap my fingers and go from them not doing anything to automatically doing everything we wanted and perfectly -- it was gradual. But now I've got teenagers who help out around the house, and I see them feeling the satisfaction of contributing to the family. Chores are a great way to teach kids the benefits of doing kind things for others."

Now find out why your kids also need to tie their own shoes: Download the free Q Wunder app, go to the Parents’ Corner and check out the entire podcast with How to Raise an Adult author Julie Lythcott-Haims.

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Setting Your Child Up for Success Starts with This

mom and kids playing with EQtainment's Q Wunder appRaising your kid right means more than just helping them with their ABC’s. Even more important? Their EQ, or “you and me’s” — the emotional and social skills that they’ll need in order to thrive when they grow up.

As EQtainment’s founder Sofia Dickens told Red Tricycle, “Everything you want for your kids — healthy relationships, character and a fulfilling career — comes from how well you can develop abilities like impulse control, social awareness, empathy, grit and problem solving. Now is our chance to make small adjustments in their behavior that will have a huge impact in school and later in life.”

That’s why Red Tricycle recently recommended the Q Wunder app and Q’s Race to the Top as important tools to help parents work on these skills with their kids. Take a look at the rest of Red Tricycle’s review to find out more about how Q Wunder, Q’s Race to the Top and EQtainment’s other games and books can help you boost your kid’s emotional intelligence. Plus, get a link to one of the songs featured in the Q Wunder app, “Shape Up Chip In” — a fun, catchy way to inspire your little ones to help out around the house.

Or just download the Q Wunder app and check it out for yourself (and your kids)!

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The Biggest Parenting Mistake -- and Why You Might Be Guilty of It

EQtainment Q Wunder girl with hands over her mouth 900x512Growing up isn’t easy. But today’s helicopter parents are making it harder than ever for kids -- and it’s taking its toll on all of us, says Julie Lythcott-Haims, the author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. Listen in on a few of the highlights from the recent conversation between Lythcott-Haims and Q Wunder creator Sofia Dickens, then download the Q Wunder app (it’s free!) to hear the whole thing.

SD: What made you write this book?

JLH: I was dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford for a decade, and each year brought more students who still seemed quite dependent on their parents for everything from choice-making to problem-solving. They seemed to need a lot of hand-holding at a point in life when I thought, “Hey, you oughta be able to do this, or at least want to try to do this, for yourself. You’re an adult now, kid.” I became worried for their sake, but also for the sake of all of us at a societal level. What’s to become of our country if the next generation of adults doesn’t feel like #adulting?

SD: You said some things in the book that really jumped out at me, like “We’re doing childhood for our kids.” What are some ways we go overboard as parents?

JLH: We’re tying their shoes too long. We’re Velcroing their shoes too long! Look, I’m a mom. I’ve got two teenagers. I get it. I’ve overparented my own kids. But I want my kids to be self-reliant -- to be able to solve a problem and pick themselves up when something goes wrong. How do we do that? Number one: Know that our job is to teach them stuff. They’ve got to learn how to cross the street. We don’t hold their hand forever. We’d like to, because we feel safer that way, but they need to learn to look both ways. They need to learn how to keep track of their belongings, instead of us always putting the homework in the backpack and driving the forgotten backpack or sporting equipment or coat to school. Experiencing the short-term pain of “Ooh, I forgot my coat,” or “Ohh, they’re not gonna let me play because I forgot my hockey mask” is how they learn to remember it the next day.

SD: Ever since I read your book, my kids are probably wondering what happened at our house, because suddenly they’re getting tasked with chores all over the place. In the book you provide a great list of what your kids should be able to do at each age, like putting away their toys and clearing their plate as early as age 2 or 3.

JLH: I was mortified when I realized that chores were crucial to a kid’s success, because my kids weren’t doing any! A Harvard study found that professional success in life was determined by whether the person had done chores as a child -- and the sooner they started doing chores, the better. Here I’m thinking it’s all about the right schools, homework and test prep, but my kids needed to be handed a broom -- and they needed to know what to do with it. Now my kids help with the recycling, garbage, dishes and laundry, and I see them feeling the satisfaction of contributing to the family. Chores are a great way to teach kids about doing kind things for others. And the earlier you start, the less resistance you’ll get. Unlike teenagers, little ones won’t balk -- they want to be useful.

SD: Thank you for reminding us to recalibrate how we define success for our kids -- that’s a true gift.

JLH: We adults have to reevaluate too. Overparenting is bad for our kids, but it’s also bad for us. The truth is many of us don’t have active adult lives. No wonder so many of our kids are “failing to launch” -- we’ve made adulthood look incredibly unattractive. We need to get our lives back and stop acting like our kids are our sole project. We need healthy relationships, friendships, hobbies, work, activities of our own. It overwhelms kids to be the sole focus of our pointed attention. They need space and distance a little more each year in order to grow into healthy humans.

Find out why your kid needs to cut their own food -- and how to achieve more as a parent by doing less: Download the free Q Wunder app, go to the Parents’ Corner and check out the entire How to Raise an Adult podcast.  


Holiday Gift Guide: 10 EQ Books for Kids

Looking for a gift that will keep your child entertained -- and help them learn crucial social and emotional skills without even realizing it? Here are 10 engaging EQ books for kids that fit the bill. Read on!


do-unto-otters-260x340Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners
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written and illustrated by Laurie Keller

Age level: 5-8

EQ skills it addresses: manners, empathy, integrity, good attitude, feeling identification, flexibility, taking turns

When a trio of otters moves next door to Mr. Rabbit, he’s worried. Will they be good neighbors? Mr. Owl tells him to just to keep in mind the old saying: “Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you.” Kids love the hilarious examples (Otter to Mr. Rabbit: “I’m sorry I used your ear as a tissue.” Mr. Rabbit to Otter: “I’m sorry I called you ‘Snotter.’”) and the colorful, cartoonish drawings. Keller has managed to turn a book covering all the etiquette bases into a fun, entertaining romp.

 

qs-coloring-book-260x360Q's Coloring Book, written by Sofia Dickens and illustrated by Brandon Jeffords

Age level: 3-6

EQ skills it addresses: feeling identification, focus, organization, confidence, humility, self-control, persistence

As they color in his wild adventures, kids learn to help the adorable monkey Q (and themselves) navigate social situations. Kids love the “What should Q do?” scenarios, which give them the chance to tell someone else what to do for a change. Plus, the book features activities including mazes, puzzles and games that build emotional intelligence, such as matching feelings to faces. And the perforated pages make it easy to tear out pages to share with siblings or friends.

 

llama-llama-time-to-shareLlama Llama Time to Share, written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney

Age level: 3-5

EQ skills it addresses: feeling identification, sharing, flexibility, friendship, collaboration, communication

Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu get along great until Nelly starts playing with Llama’s favorite stuffed animal, Fuzzy. Llama tries to snatch Fuzzy back in a tug-of-war that ends with Fuzzy’s arm being pulled off. While Mama Llama sews him back up, Llama and Nelly learn to make peace, share and have fun together again. Featuring expressive paintings that bring the story to life, this book is part of the wonderful Llama Llama series, all of which deal with emotional and behavioral issues.

 

have-you-filled-a-bucket-today-260x200Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, written by Carol McCloud and illustrated by David Messing

Age level: 4-9

EQ skills it addresses: helping, feeling identification, initiative, good attitude, service, empathy, generosity

According to this kids’ how-to-be-kind guide, “everyone carries an invisible bucket. You feel happy and good when your bucket is full… and sad and lonely when your bucket is empty.” When you're nice to others, you fill their buckets -- and your own. The illustrations, featuring characters of various ages, races and abilities, bring home the "everyone" message.

Note: Get the 10th anniversary edition of this book, updated to explain that you can fill your own bucket too. It also includes mentions of “bucket dipping” and “bullying” instead of “bucket dippers” and “bullies,” letting kids know that these behaviors don't have to be permanent labels.

 

amos-boris-260x225Amos & Boris, written and illustrated by William Steig

Age level: 5-8

EQ skills it addresses: friendship, perseverance, grit, generosity, collaboration, flexibility, empathy

Amos the mouse sets sail in a boat he’s built himself, only to fall overboard and nearly drown before being rescued by Boris the whale. Thus begins a long journey across the sea, with Amos hitching a ride on Boris’s back to get back home. Along the way, the creatures become the best of friends, though they know they have to part ways eventually. Still, Amos is forever grateful to Boris for saving his life -- and when Boris needs him, somehow Amos finds a way to return the favor. Illustrated with delicate ink and watercolors, this touching tale of resilience and selfless love stays with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

Note: The description of Amos’s near demise can be scary for young or sensitive kids, especially at bedtime.

 

a-big-guy-took-my-ball-260x360A Big Guy Took My Ball, written and illustrated by Mo Willems

Age level: 6-8

EQ skills it addresses: listening, friendship, collaboration, conflict management, flexibility, communication, innovativeness

Piggie is distraught -- someone took her big ball! Best friend Elephant tries to get it back, only to discover a huge whale's got it. Turns out it’s his “little” ball, but no one will play with him because he’s too big. Fortunately, Elephant and Piggie make up a new game they can all play together, and everyone lives happily ever after. This book is part of the all-around excellent Elephant and Piggie series, sure to tickle kids and adults alike with their simple drawings and silly storylines, even as the books deliver serious lessons about self-awareness, kindness and friendship.

 


qs-wild-ride-260x325Q's Wild Ride Read-Along Storybook & CD
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written by Sofia Dickens and illustrated by Brandon Jeffords

Age level: 3-6

EQ skills it addresses: initiative, innovativeness, helping, humility, listening, social maturity, good attitude

Q is a cute, lovable genius monkey with a lot to learn when it comes to behavior, social skills and self-control. Join Q on a wild hoverboard ride as he races to get to the ballpark on time for the game, learning to consider others' needs along the way. This storybook/CD combo is a great way for kids to practice their reading and listening skills as Q's adventure comes to life in the car, classroom or home. The CD includes narration, page-turn signals and fun sound effects.

 

It's Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr


It's Okay to Make Mistakes
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written and illustrated by Todd Parr

Age level: 3-6

EQ skills it addresses: resilience, flexibility, optimism, self-confidence

With bright primary-colored drawings and bold handwritten text, this book is a delight for little ones who are still learning to do things for themselves, but can't stand messing up in the meantime. Parr lists common kids’ "uh-oh"s and reassurances for each one -- for example, an illustration of a penguin jumping in the water upside-down promises “It’s okay if you are clumsy”; the next page shows more penguins following suit and says, “You might invite a new move.” The book ends with this reminder: “It’s okay to make mistakes. Everyone does. That’s how we learn.”

 

horton-hears-a-who-260x360Horton Hears a Who!, written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss

Age level: 5-9

EQ skills it addresses: conscientiousness, helping, confidence, empathy, dependability, service, conflict management

This Dr. Seuss classic teaches kids to do what's right, not what's easy. When Horton the elephant hears a yelp for help coming from a speck of dust, he springs into action to save the tiny creature, since “after all, a person’s a person, no matter how small.” But Horton has to muster all his bravery and self-confidence to stand up for the speck's inhabitants to the rest of the animals, who think he’s lost his marbles and aren't afraid to tell him so.

 

frog-and-toad-are-friends-260x380Frog and Toad Are Friends, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel

Age level: 4-8

EQ skills it addresses: initiative, helping, humility, self-confidence, listening, good attitude, friendship

With its charming drawings and sincere storylines, this collection explores the enduring affection between cautious Toad and happy-go-lucky Frog. The five stories within deal with patience, determination, self-assurance, kindness and more, concluding with “The Letter,” a bittersweet tale about waiting for the mail and the power of friendship that’s guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings. This is the first of the Frog and Toad series, all of which celebrate the loyalty and kinship between these two lovable amphibians.  


5 Ways to Teach Your Child About Charity

kids volunteering for charity EQtainment Q Wunder“Mine!” “Gimme!” “I want it!” Sure, kids often act selfish and entitled. But you can teach your child to think about the needs of others, especially those less fortunate. After all, charity begins at home -- literally. And with your help, your kid can change the world.

Give your kid choices.

First, ask your child who they want to help: Animals who don’t have a home? Kids with no toys? Older folks who don’t have anyone to keep them company? If your kid’s invested in the cause, they’ll be more likely to want to pitch in.

Then research your options. To find out about kid-friendly volunteer opportunities in your area, check out Volunteer Match; just enter your zip code and apply the “Kids” filter, or narrow your choices by selecting a cause or keyword. Note: Be sure to check with each charity that looks interesting to see if there’s an age minimum; some welcome all ages, while others may not allow kids younger than a certain cutoff.

You can also explore other volunteering channels: for example, your place of worship (many run food banks, host soup kitchens, and deliver necessities to the housebound), a nearby nursing home (yours may welcome young kids to visit with or sing to residents), local animal shelters (most allow kids to help with feeding, walking and/or playing with the animals and cleaning their cages), or even your own neighborhood (could your elderly next-door neighbor use help raking their lawn?). Contact these sources directly to see how your child can help.   

Encourage your kid to share their time -- and share the wealth.

Just giving kids money and letting them choose a charity to donate it to can feel too abstract, especially for young kids. Giving kids the chance to volunteer, on the other hand, lets them see first-hand the effects their efforts have on those they’re helping, leaving a much more lasting impression.

However, it doesn’t have to be either/or. To set your kid up for a lifetime of giving, you may also want to require them to donate part of each week’s allowance -- a dollar a week is a good start -- to a charity of their choice. Once they’ve saved up enough, help them buy something with it (a toy, pet food, canned goods, etc.) that they can then donate directly if it’s a local cause. If, on the other hand, they want to save endangered elephants, make their action more significant by having them send a personal note along with a check, and write or dictate what the check is for in the memo section. Some charities will even send a personal note back to your child, which will reinforce their desire to give.

Help them give away stuff.

At least once a year (right before their birthday works well, since they'll be motivated to make room for new gifts), ask your child to go through their clothes, toys and books for things they don’t use anymore. Then take your kid along to Goodwill or another charity and have them hand over the box.

Your child can also make things to give away. For example, they can create cards for the military or bake and deliver cookies with you for the fire department (perfect for wannabe firefighters!).

Bring it home.

Learning to be grateful and put yourselves in someone else’s shoes goes a long way toward learning to be charitable. Drive these lessons home by reading books to your kids about giving (for example, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? or Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving) and boosting your child’s emotional intelligence -- including empathy and helpfulness -- with the Q Wunder app.

When your child does act charitably, reward them with praise. But instead of just saying, “Wow, that was really nice!”, say, “Wow, you’re such a great helper!” Giving kids the “helper” label tells them that that’s who they intrinsically are, and getting positive reinforcement for that makes them more likely to adopt the label (and the behavior that goes along with it).

Walk the walk -- and talk the talk.

It’s great if you plant trees at a local park while your kid’s at school and your bank account is set up to automatically donate to your favorite charities every month, but kids can’t learn from your behavior if they don’t know about it. Instead, let your child see you giving back and hear you talking about it. Take your kid along when you donate blood or visit an injured friend in the hospital. Invite them to help you make a casserole for your cousin who just had a baby. Have your kid come with you when you read to the blind at the library. Explain that giving is important in your family -- then show them that’s true.


Holiday Gift Guide: Top 10 EQ Toys and Games

This holiday season, give the gift that keeps on giving -- the gift of building your children's emotional intelligence. Check out our list of favorite EQ toys and games for your list of favorite kids.

 

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  1. Worry Eater, $22.99

Cuddly creature that “eats” your child’s worries -- just have your kid write or draw their worries on a slip of paper and feed them to their Worry Eater!

Age: 3+

EQ skills it addresses: Feeling identification, self-confidence, grit, self-control, resilience

Bonus: There are a dozen Worry Eater characters, so you can choose one that’s just right for your kid

 

 

q-wunder-app_250x400

2. Q Wunder app$7.99/month or $64.99/year to subscribe

An app designed to boost kids’ emotional intelligence and help parents encourage their progress, including an animated kids’ show, original pop songs and music videos, and educational games for kids, and podcasts, articles and a report card to track each kid’s progress for parents

Age: 3-10

EQ skills it addresses: Feeling recognition, manners, self-motivation, self-awareness, problem-solving, grit, focus, flexibility, empathy/caring, responsibility, friendship, collaboration/cooperation

Bonus: When you subscribe now, you’ll get a free Q Coloring & Activity Book with a month subscription or a free Q-Time Buddy with an annual subscription

 

goldieblox_invention-mansion-300x300

3. GoldieBlox Invention Mansion, $59.99

Dollhouse building kit, including a trap door, zipline, balconies, bridges and secret spots

Age: 6-11

EQ skills it addresses: Creative thinking, problem-solving, self-confidence, organization

Bonus: Builds STEM skills

 

 

foodstirs_movie-night-300x300

4. Foodstirs Movie Night Kit, $19.99

Baking mix and kit to make vanilla cupcakes with marshmallow “popcorn” topping

Age: 3+

EQ skills it addresses: Collaboration/cooperation, focus, organization

Bonus: Great excuse for treats and family movie night

 

 

 

q-toys-bundle-500x400

5. EQtainment Q Toys Bundle, $61.99

All our products designed to foster emotional intelligence, including Q’s Race to the Top board game, Q’s Race to the Top On the Go game, Q’s Wild Ride Read-Along Storybook & CD, Q’s Coloring & Activity Book, and the Q-Time Buddy stuffed animal

Age: 3-10

EQ skills it addresses: Feeling recognition, manners, communication, social skills, creative thinking, balance, coordination

Bonus: Save $20 when you buy the bundle rather than each product individually

 

boy_story_boy_doll_billy_300x150boy_story_boy_doll_mason_300x1506. Boy Story Action Doll, $99 each

18” action figure meets doll 

Age: 3-8

EQ skills it addresses: Empathy/caring, creative thinking, communication, friendship/camaraderie, collaboration/cooperation

Bonus: Built to be durable, so kids can play with them outside

 

Rory's Story Cubes

 

7. Rory’s Story Cubes, $11.99

Cubes with pictures on them -- kids roll the “dice” and then make up a story based on the pictures they get

Age: 8+

EQ skills it addresses: Creative thinking, collaboration/cooperation, self-confidence

Bonus: Fun for adults too

 

lunchbox2__i-am-elemental_300x300

 

8. I Am Elemental Courage Action Figures, $69.99

Female action figures, each based on a virtue, such as honesty, bravery and persistence

Age: 3+

EQ skills it addresses: Grit, honesty, resilience, persistence, motivation, self-awareness, resourcefulness, focus, creative thinking

Bonus: The figures have realistic female bodies

 

Twigtales Who Am I book

9. Twigtales: Who Am I?, $19.99 for softcover

A personalized children’s book celebrating your child's interests, relationships and more

Age: 2-8

EQ skills it addresses: Self-confidence, self-awareness, caring

Bonus: A snap to create with the Twigtale template

 

 

 

cloudhappyandsad_300x30010. Kimochi Cloud, $39.99

A plush toy with a reversible head (one side happy, the other side sad) and a pouch full of feelings, including sadness, anger and happiness

Age: 3+

EQ skills it addresses: Feeling identification, self-control, resilience, communication

Bonus: Comes with a 48-page Feeling Guide book

 


CNN Report: Study Links Behavior in Kindergarten to Adult Success

EQtainment kids in glasses with Q WunderTurns out all your kid needs to know they can learn in kindergarten: A 20-year study in the American Journal of Public Health has discovered a link between a kindergartener’s social skills and their success as an adult.

Helpful kindergarteners who were good at sharing were found more likely to get a college degree and be employed at 25. Kindergarteners who had issues with sharing, listening and solving conflicts, on the other hand, were found less likely to graduate from high school or college and more likely to have substance-abuse issues and a criminal record.

As EQtainment founder Sofia Dickens told CNN.com, "This study [is] replicating what we already know to be true, which is that [emotional intelligence] has possibly the greatest correlation to school readiness and life success, and that's why it's something that we really want to invest in when it comes to raising and growing our kids."

Parents can help kids work on their emotional and social skills -- and have fun while they’re doing it -- with the Q Wunder app, the Q’s Race to the Top board game, and the rest of EQtainment’s line of toys and books created to boost kids’ social and emotional skills.

"These skills are very simple, and it's something that any parent can work on at home, in their living room, in the car, in the grocery store line, while cooking dinner, while eating dinner,” Dickens told CNN.com.

Download the Q Wunder app to start your child on the path to success:

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Read more about this study on CNN.com.


5 Tips for Holiday Shopping with the Kids

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The holidays are getting closer. My shopping list is somehow getting longer. And I think "wouldn't it feel so good to get the holiday shopping done early for once?" But there's one thing standing in my way. One menacing, adorable roadblock .... my kids.

Let's face it, shopping with kids can be tricky, but during the holidays it can be outright daunting. The kids are already so excited about presents, fun events, and sticky treats, it's hard to get down to business walking down those store aisles without getting sidetracked by their enthusiasm (and occasional bad behavior).

So from the unique perspective of always looking for opportunities to improve emotional intelligence, here are some tips for taking your little peeps with you on those holiday shopping missions.

Set expectations.

Let the kids know in advance that you're shopping for cousin Asher and Emma and Aunt Natalie, not for them. This will help curb their expectations so it's not an "I want" free-for-all.

Task them.

My kids love to help, and I find that the more tasks I assign to them, the more cooperative they become. If they're little, ask them to find things, carry things or load your cart. If they're bigger, they can push carts, find store clerks, load the car and even save time by calling stores on the way to ask if they have what you're looking for.

Set a reward.

While I don't typically reward good behavior or helpfulness with goodies, let's call holiday shopping a perfect opportunity to practice self-control. If you let your kids know there will be a treat after errands are done, and help them to wait patiently for it by distracting themselves, you'll actually be practicing delayed gratification, a major component of their emotional intelligence! Think of it less as a bribe and more as something to look forward to.

Make it fun.

Kids are far less prone to engage in self-pity or nagging behavior when they're making fun family memories. Blare Christmas music in the car and play games to see who can spot the best outdoor lights along the way. If there's a quick stop where I only need one item in a store, I challenge the kids to do a "mad dash" and we run through the aisles like a pack of lunatics. Warning: This is not very popular with store clerks.

Arm them with a sense of purpose.

Kids have more depth and understanding than we sometimes give them credit for. Explain to them why your family gives gifts during the holidays and how you want friends and family to feel upon opening them, and shed some light on what those loved ones mean to you. Your daughter doesn't know that Uncle Freddy stayed by your side when you had an ancient virus called chicken pox or that Grandma once marched into the principal's office to fight for you to enjoy longer school recesses. There's a history of love here, kids!


5 Ways to Help Kids Learn to Be Brave

Some kids are the first to climb the top of the jungle gym. Others prefer to stay on more familiar ground -- literally. If your child is shy or reluctant to try new things (and most are, at least in certain situations), explore alongside them. After all, if you’re brave about getting on the rollercoaster, they’re more likely to get excited about it too. Here are five things to try with your child to help them venture outside their comfort zone.

Choose a new food. Try serving it with something they already like -- for example, mash avocado and serve it as a dip with carrot sticks. Or try fun finger-friendly foods from another culture, like sushi and edamame from a Japanese restaurant.

Sleep somewhere different. Does your child love seeing their cousins or Grandma and Grandpa? Arrange for a sleepover at a relative’s house. (Bonus: Free babysitting!) No family nearby? Ask your child’s best friend’s parents if they’d be open to a slumber party. Offer to host the first one to ease your kid into the idea. Or try a family campout in the backyard. 

Be a good sport. Encourage your kid to take up a sport to help them learn to interact with new kids. Being part of a team is a great way to make new friends in a fun environment.

Say hello to a creepy-crawly. Visit an animal park that offers up-close-and-personal encounters with snakes, lizards, tarantulas or other critters. Even if your child doesn’t hold one, just watching others do so can help them step outside of their creature comfort zone.

Let them be bored. Turn off the screens and watch kids’ imaginations spark. That’s when kids climb a tree, come up with their own dance or invent a game. After all, there’s nothing like boredom to inspire a kid to try something new.

Help kids stay calm and grounded -- even when they're out of their comfort zone -- with their own Q-Time Buddy.


Election Day Thoughts

img_6987We are always looking for ways to practice social and emotional skills with our kids -- like impulse control, reading the emotions of others, and putting ourselves in other people's shoes -- and this election has been a great opportunity to model those behaviors. Here are five things I am trying to grow in my own kids -- and practice myself! -- during this election season.

1. Gratitude

Let's teach our children to be grateful for the right to vote. In many countries, citizens are stuck with whatever government is already in place. Citizens are told how to live their lives, how to behave, and what they are allowed to believe. How fortunate are we!

2. Empathy

Political tension brings out the ugliness in many people, as it has for hundreds of years, and our children have likely caught glimpses of it through election coverage.

Election night is a chance to teach our children that just because we don't agree with the other party does not make them foolish or bad. They want what is best for our country but believe in a different pathway to achieve it. This is a good chance to practice empathy -- putting ourselves in other people's shoes -- and trying to see things from someone else’s point of view.

Here's a song I created for the Q Wunder app to teach empathy called "In Your Shoes":

Play Song

3. National pride

Here are two discussions to help foster national pride:

1.  Here's something cool we can tell our kids. We have a rich history of peaceful transition of power with no violence. Since 1801, the United States government is considered the first to achieve the peaceful transition of power -- that means that on January 20th, the President of the United States and thousands of government workers will leave their desks peacefully and make way for a new President and administration without any military action or violence. There are over 120 countries that have followed our lead and begun peaceful transitions of power. Take a moment to reflect with your kids on this potentially chaotic transition made seamless by our system that is based on the rule of law. Pretty cool!

2.  Discuss some things that make us proud to be Americans. Here are some suggestions:

Liberty: America offers freedom from authorities telling you how to live, what to believe, how to act.

The pursuit of happiness: America offers more opportunity and social mobility than any other country. That means no matter where you are born or who you are born to, you can be anything you want to be.

Religious freedom: This was the primary reason our forefathers fled Europe. In America, we are allowed to believe what we want, whereas in many countries, people from opposing tribes and religions engage in bloody conflict.

4. Responsibility

Election night is an opportunity to discuss taking ownership and responsibility for our words and our actions, regardless of political affiliation. Our words, whether true and virtuous or false and wicked, are a reflection of who we are deep down. Our actions have real consequences in the real world.

5. Good sportsmanship

Half the country will be disappointed tonight. No matter how frustrated our family may be about the result of tonight's election, the winner is the President of EVERYONE. We need to show good sportsmanship and do what's called "rallying around the flag." That means we control our emotions and try not to undermine the opponent. Tonight may also be the first time in history that there is no concession speech, something that has been an honored national tradition. This is a chance to discuss what it means to be a good loser vs. a sore loser and why that matters.

By practicing these important social and emotional qualities, we can help our children become the kinds of people who effect change, take ownership for their words and actions, and treat others with kindness and respect.

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