5 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Be Grateful

Every day's Thanksgiving when your family adopts an attitude of gratitude. We asked real parents like you to share how they teach their children the art of appreciation. Try their tips to help your kids become more grateful all year long. 

Count your blessings. Whenever things start to get whiny, we do Stop, Drop and Gratefuls: Everyone says three things they feel thankful for in the moment. Adults first!
-Kim, mom to 3- and 6-year-old girls

Make a gratitude tree. Draw a tree on a big piece of kraft paper, cut one out of cardboard, or make a 3-D version with crumpled tissue paper. Then write whatever your kids are thankful for on construction paper leaves and glue them to the tree. You can do one leaf a day or see how many they can think of all at once.
-Anne-Marie, mom to 6- and 7-year-old boys

Write thank-you cards. Even before they can write, they can make their own cards with crayons and dictate to you what they want the card to say. Our rule is that you don’t get to play with a gift until you write the thank-you card, which gets them written pretty fast!
-Kent, dad to a 7-year-old boy

Get them involved in community and religious life. Gratitude is part of what kids engage in for Shabbat and learn at religious school at our synagogue. 
-Kerith, mom to an 11-year-old girl

Volunteer with your kids. When my oldest was little, we volunteered at a nursing home once a week. Oh, how the seniors loved to hear the kids sing! We’ve also all helped prepare and serve food with a charity that benefits the homeless. Giving back teaches kids to be thankful for what they have. 
-Melissa, mom to 3-, 8- and 10-year-old girls

Want more tips? Try these:

Thank them! When they make their bed without anyone asking or say "please" when they want more popcorn, praise them and say thank you. And make sure to say thanks to everyone from your spouse for making dinner to the supermarket cashier for giving you change. After all, your behavior goes a long way toward shaping your kids'.

Create gifts for others. Even before your child understands money, they get the idea of gifts. Encourage them to make something -- even if it's just a simple drawing -- for other members of the family for their birthdays and the holidays to help them appreciate the effort involved in giving gifts to others.

Make thank-you videos. In addition to asking your kid to say thank you in person, after they go to a party or special play date, have them make a thank-you video saying how much fun they had and text it to the hosts.

Give toys to charity. Talk to your kids about families who are less fortunate than yours. Shop with your child for a new toy to give to Toys for Tots -- donation boxes are available at Toys"R"Us stores and many other locations nationwide through December 7. And before birthdays and the holidays, ask your kid to go through their toy box to make room for new toys -- and have them give the gently used ones they don't play with anymore to a charity such as Goodwill or a homeless shelter near you. Although some charities don't accept used stuffed animals, you can donate those to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies.

 

Help your child shop for another child in need -- an EQtainment gift promises kids an emotional intelligence boost as well as tons of fun.


How to Help Your Kids Quit Hitting

angry girl with crossed arms EQtainment
Also, kicking, biting and throwing. Sigh.

Hey, it’s not easy being little. When kids are toddlers, it’s normal for them to test boundaries -- including “What will happen if I bite his arm?” It’s more curious than vindictive. As kids enter the preschool and elementary school years, aggressive behavior can become a way to express frustration. Sure, you can (and should) take steps to minimize negative behavior, but chances are good that your kid is still going to act out sometimes. Here’s what to do when it happens (and how to help keep it from happening again):

  1. Keep your cool. When your child loses it, you want to stay calm, not escalate the situation with your own anger. Remember, your child is looking to you to learn how to handle difficult emotions, so don’t let yours get the best of you.
  2. Console the other child. Give your attention to the kid who got hit: Ask if they’re okay and if they need anything. Say, “I'm sorry Morgan hurt you” to model the behavior you want your child to show. P.S. Don’t force your kid to say sorry while they’re still upset or you’re likely to get an insincere, yelled apology -- which does nothing to teach your kid to put themselves in the other child’s shoes or make the other child feel better.
  3. Remove your child from the situation. Get down on your child’s level and say something like “I know it was tough for you to stay calm when Charlie took your toy, but hitting hurts! Let’s take a break until we’re feeling calm again.” Don’t lecture or actually say much at all -- your child can’t really hear you when they’re in the middle of a meltdown anyway. And if your child is crying, don’t tell them to stop. Remember, your job isn’t to get them to stop feeling upset; it’s to help them figure out how to deal with those intense emotions.
  4. Talk about what you do when you’re mad. Once your child has cooled off, remind them that everyone gets mad sometimes, and the important thing is to figure out how to handle it. Share what you do to deal with anger -- maybe walking away and counting to 10 slowly, for example. Then ask your kid for ideas on what they think could help them calm down next time -- before they hit, kick, bite or throw. If they can’t come up with anything, try a few suggestions, like taking deep breaths (practicing with the Q-Time Buddy every night helps!), punching their pillow or stamping their feet.
  5. Give fair warning. Let your child know that if the behavior happens again, you’ll have to end the play date and try playing again another day. Then follow through if necessary.
  6. Address the other kid’s feelings. Before your child returns to playing, ask “How do you think Charlie felt when you hit him? What could you do now to make it better?” These questions open the door for empathy and a true apology. 

 

Help your little buddy practice slowing down with deep, calming breaths with the Q-Time Buddy.


5 Ways to Encourage Good Behavior

kids in a circle smilingIf you’d like your child to build their emotional and social skills, but they seem to be too busy getting into trouble, take heart: Here are five things you can do to set kids up for good behavior -- and help boost their emotional intelligence in the process.

Catch them being good. See your child sharing, taking turns, helping a friend pick up their toys or walking away when another kid gets aggressive? Get down on your kid’s level, give them a big smile and tell them you’re proud of them for [insert positive behavior here]. Your praise goes a long way to reinforcing the good stuff your kid’s already doing.

Stick to a routine. Kids feel happiest and safest when they know what to expect. So do yourself and them a favor and stick to a regular bedtime and regular meal and snack times. Bonus: A fed, rested kid is much less likely to lose it than a hungry, tired one.

Pay attention to triggers and minimize them when you can. Does your kid freak anytime another kid tries to play with their soccer ball? Then quit bringing it (and other prized possessions) to the park.

Limit screen time. More than two hours of electronic media a day has been linked to increased aggression. When kids do have screen time, make sure it’s age appropriate -- check commonsensemedia.org, which rates shows, games and more on Violence & Scariness as well as Educational Value and Positive Messages.

Schedule special time every day. Just as kids need daily play time (preferably outside), they also need daily quiet time with you. Even a few minutes at the end of the day where you give your kid your undivided attention, cuddle and talk about whatever your kid wants is precious for a small child. Make a big deal of it (even if it’s only five minutes): Announce it’s Hayden’s Special Time and make a point of doing it every evening. Even better if you can spare a few more minutes: Let them decide on an activity to do together -- a game of Q’s Race to the Top, maybe, or making up a story together and having their stuffed animals act it out. Have fun -- and enjoy building positive behavior with your kid!                  


5 Ways to Practice More Positive Parenting

EQtainment mom reading to kidsRemember as a kid your parents doing something you swore you’d never do if you ever had children someday? Only you just did that exact thing 20 minutes ago? Good times, those naive pre-parenting days, weren’t they?

Your default reactions -- which are probably to parent how your parents did -- are not necessarily your pinnacle of parenting. But how can you do it differently and be the parent you want to be?

Set positive goals. 

You have to know what your goals are to reach them. What do you want to work on? Whatever’s on your agenda, keep it positive. In other words, translate “yell at my kids less” to “be more calm and collected.” Tip: Think about qualities you’d like to foster in your kids (kinder? more patient?) and work on those qualities in yourself. After all, you’re their biggest influence.

Look for role models. 

Think about parents you admire. Watch what they do; ask them for advice. That said: Keep in mind that your child is an individual, and parenting is part trial and error. With time, you’ll figure out what works for your kid, yourself and your family, and adjust your approach accordingly.

Put your own oxygen mask on first. 

Take care of yourself, including taking time for yourself (go running in the morning before school, plan a weekly date night, have an evening out with friends a couple of times a month). Not only does honoring your own needs give you the strength to be there for your kids, but it also shows your kids that taking care of yourself is important.

Practice taking a break -- and narrate what you’re doing. 

Kids pushing your buttons? Take a breather, literally: Stop and take some deep breaths; walk away for a few minutes if you need to. Either way, talk about what you’re doing so your child notices and can learn some healthy coping mechanisms for the next time they flip their wig.

Be gentle with yourself. 

Forgive yourself when you don’t do it perfectly every time. And don’t be afraid to apologize when you mess up. Really apologize (as opposed to the yelled or sing-songy “SOR-RY!” kids tend to trot out when their parents make them say it) and your kid gets to see a positive way to respect others and deal with mistakes.


How to Help Your Kid Cope with Nightmares

boy and Q-Time Buddy Good night, sweet dreams! That’s what we all wish for our kids, but sadly some nights their dreams aren’t so sweet. How do you help your child calm down after a bad dream -- or before bed if they're too scared to go to sleep? Here, real parents like you share how they help their kids cope with nightmares.

We come up with ideas for other things he can dream about before bed: his favorite things to do, favorite memories, awesome play date ideas or places we could visit, like “You could dream about being on a spaceship and visiting a new galaxy!”
-Susan, mom to a 7-year-old boy

Monster spray works like a charm. Take an empty spray bottle, print out a label and add water with glitter. Anytime our son has a bad dream, we spray it around the room, sing a silly song, and he quickly calms down and falls back to sleep!
-Angel, mom to a 6-year-old boy

We are middle-of-the-night cuddlers. I walk my daughter back to bed, play a sleep CD, snuggle up for a few minutes to calm away her bad dreams, then sneak out.
-Jessica, mom to a 4-year-old girl

I stay especially close and connected during the day with a lot of physical play and one-on-one time with my kids when they're having challenging dreams. I suspect that when kids don’t work through fears during the day, they end up processing those fears through dreams. 
-Elizabeth, mom to an 8-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl

I always tell my boys to say their prayers and ask God to watch over them while they sleep. It really helps.
-Colleen, mom to 6-year-old and 10-year-old boys

We make up a new dream. We start with location. Are we on the beach? In the woods? Then we add a favorite stuffed animal to come with us. Sometimes we take a hot air balloon ride and she puts all her favorite people in the basket. Then we imagine everything we can see from wherever we are. Combined with a sleepy-soft voice, this usually mellows her out enough to go back to sleep.
-Jen, mom to a 10-year-old girl

Want more tips? Try these to help your little one sleep tight all night long:

Establish a regular bedtime and routine with calming activities such as a bath, bedtime stories and cuddling with a favorite stuffed animal.

Avoid screen time before bed -- even if it’s not scary, electronic media can amp up your child just when you want them to calm down.

Turn on a nightlight if your child’s afraid of the dark and open their bedroom door a crack.

Let your family pet sleep in your kid's room if possible; having someone else nearby through the night can be a big comfort, whether it's a German Shepherd or a goldfish.

Turn on your flight attendant voice, acknowledging your child's fears but modeling calm. 

Place Q-Time Buddy or another stuffed animal on your child’s belly and watch it rise and fall as you take some deep breaths together at bedtime.

Say good night to each body part, from feet to head, relaxing the body as you go just before lights out.

Let your child know that everyone has bad dreams sometimes -- and share what you do to feel better when you have one.


5 Tips to Help Your Kids Be Better Listeners

If you find yourself asking your child the same question over and over (and over), this should be music to your ears: You can actually get your kids to listen the first time. For starters, show that listening matters by turning off or pausing electronic media; kids can’t focus on you when they’re in front of a screen. Here, EQtainment founder Sofia Dickens offers five more ways to help your kids learn to listen up.

Show your child what it looks like to listen. 

Okay, so your kid’s not listening--but they are watching. So watch yourself next time your child says something. Stop what you’re doing, get down on their level and look them in the eyes. That shows them you care about what they’re saying -- and models for them what good listening looks like.

 

Vary the tone in your voice. 

Be playful when you talk to your kids, especially when you’re asking them to do something. Switch up your pitch or mix in a whisper to capture their interest.

 

Read together. 

Reading stories to your child lets them practice paying attention. Encourage them to show off their active listening skills by asking what they think will happen next in the story.

 

Throw a Dance Party USA. 

Put on some music. When it’s soft, dance on tip-toe. When it’s loud, march around. You can even let your child play choreographer, copying their movements as they do their own interpretive dance as the music changes. Concentrating on the sound helps kids learn to focus when people talk too.

 

Thank them for being good listeners. 

Offer positive reinforcement when they do listen well. You’ll leave them smiling ear to ear -- and ready to pay attention next time too. Hear, hear!


5 Tips for Minimizing Meltdowns

Want to help your kid keep calm and carry on? Give them a few tools to build impulse control and self-awareness and you’ll be well on your way to keeping tantrums at bay. Here, EQtainment’s founder Sofia Dickens shares her top five tips for meltdown management.

Teach your child to pay attention to their breathing. 

Taking a deep breath really does help kids (and adults) chill out. Another technique to try with your kid? Tell them to blow into their hand five times. Concentrating on the breath is an instant way to destress.

Keep consequences consistent. 

Sure, sometimes you’re tired, and it’s hard to enforce the rules all the time. But if you only do it intermittently, your kid will wonder where the boundaries actually are and keep misbehaving until they find them. And next time you give them the consequence? On your mark, get set...massive meltdown!

Give them an alternate way to express their frustration. 

If you suddenly get the feeling you’re on a one-way bus to Tantrum City, quick, take a detour: Offer your child another outlet to get those big feelings out, like a pillow to punch, or a song to sing along to at top volume (think rock ‘n’ roll, not Raffi).

Have them talk it out before acting impulsively. 

Being a kid means having to listen to other people a lot. Give them the chance to call the shots occasionally (“Should we set the table first or walk the dog first?”) and watch the meltdowns melt away.

Show them just how silly a meltdown can be. 

Channel your eighth-grade drama club skills and pour on the kicking and screaming. Before long, your over-the-top stomping and sobbing may have them in stitches.


5 New Tips for Traveling with Kids

Wunder Car Shot

Hey Parents!

Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be scary! Q Wunder's creator Sofia Dickens reveals 5 new tips for traveling with kids:

1. Teach your kids to enjoy the journey.
The morning of your travel day, talk about how new and interesting each portion of the trip will be, whether it's the gas station snack stop on a road trip or the rental car shuttle to the airport. Talk about how your kids can play an important role each step of the way. Focusing on the journey itself seems to quench my kids' "are we there yet" mentality.

2.Sing along with Q Wunder songs!
The Q Wunder app features the Q Wunder playlist, games, the Q Wunder show, music videos and lots of interactive exercises for kids. Parents will love the Q Wunder podcast with high-profile celeb guests.

3. Make travel time family time.
Whether in a car, plane, bus or train, play a game together, like Q's On-The-Go Pack, asking questions and doing funny challenges to grow closer as a family. Some of your best memories may happen in transit this year!

4. Harness the power of the high-five.
Studies show that children who are rewarded with high-fives do better than kids who receive verbal praise. High-five them for helping push the luggage through the security line, for sharing with a sibling and for jumping into the car promptly when asked.

5. Run them!
We all know kids can both focus and rest better when they've expended some physical energy. I like to take my kids to the playground or challenge them to time themselves running laps in the backyard before a long road trip.


Poo-Poo Parents Say has gone viral!

Tiny high fives and squeals are happening in my kitchen right now. Our video with YouTube stars Tripp and Tyler has gone viral with over 545,000 views and counting!

Tripp and Tyler, known for YouTube sensations like Conference Calls in Real Life, Email in Real Life, and Christian Tingle shared their Midas touch with us when making this video "Poo-Poo Parents Say" and allowing EQtainment to be a part of it.

It all started when I stumbled upon Tyler Stanton at the Orange Conference in Atlanta, and proceeded to corner him with questions about why his face looked so familiar. He left me hanging for a few awkward minutes as I gave him the Spanish Inquisition on where he went to high school and whether we might frequent the same Trader Joe's in LA. Then it hit me -- I had seen his noteworthy mug in my favorite YouTube videos! Tyler and Tripp agreed to produce a video with us that day and the so the ballyhoo began.

The video was shot in Brooklyn NY a few weeks later and let me tell you, these guys are serious about their comedy. There's a method to their funny antics and a real professionalism to their craft. The day was coordinated with precision to leave lots of rooms for laughs. We had a blast filming and I had a great time delivering some cameo lines (acting advice would be greatly appreciated!).

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If you're interested in some more behind the scenes, here's a business feature on the partnership from Stream Daily:

 

Sofia Dickens spent the early part of her career in front of the camera as a Hollywood red-carpet TV correspondent, roving ambassador for the game show Jeopardyand news anchor for the kid-friendly Channel One News, delivering daily news hits, MTV-style, into classrooms across the country.

In fact, it was in that last job where she learned an important business lesson, one that would guide her when, years later, she was looking for an effective way to promote EQtainment, an educational toy and game company she launched earlier this year.

“I just saw how, if you make (content) fun, you can really teach people anything,” said Dickens (pictured) in an interview with StreamDaily.

It’s no wonder, then, she ended up working with YouTubers Tripp Crosby and Tyler Stanton when it came time to produce the toy company’s first branded-content video.

“Poo-Poo Only Parents Say” has so far garnered 128,000 views since it landed on the Tripp and Tyler channel a week ago, with thousands more impressions notched across the duo’s social-media channels and shares across channels such as Popsugar Moms. By comparison, the same video has less than 100 views on EQtainment’s own channel.

As the title indicates, the sketch pokes fun at all the silly phrases adults somehow absorb and adopt when they become parents.

Tripp and Tyler have done several collaborations with various brands since launching their channel in 2006. But it’s the first time Dickens has worked with a YouTube influencer, whose power in reaching an increasingly influential and media-savvy millennial audience is a big — and getting bigger — draw to brands around the world looking for that kind of direct connection.

She selected the pair in part because their family-friendly comedy fits with her company’s overall messaging.

“They are very self-aware, and also very aware of comedic opportunities around them. I think they’ve really got their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in culture today and what areas we can laugh about ourselves,” she said of the duo.

But Dickens also liked what she saw when she looked at the size of their YouTube audience (more than 166,000 subscribers and 52.6 million views). They also have a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The duo didn’t just have an established fanbase, but one that is largely made up of young, working-age parents — the very demographic her company wanted to attract with its branded messaging.

That kind of direct targeting was key to her decision.

“That’s what I like about working with YouTube stars, you are able to target the demographic a bit better, and, if you do end up with a hit on your hands, the upside can be much bigger,” she said.

There is a potential downside, too. The video could end up making no impact what so ever.

“There is no perfect formula for a video to go viral,” said Dickens.

But even with that uncertainty, she said the money spent on a project like this is “less expensive than marketing dollars that you spend just spraying out information to a vast, unknown audience.”

For anyone considering a similar partnership, Dickens believes trust is essential when working with YouTube creators on branded content. While it’s critical brands go into a project with a strong vision, and sense of tone and style they want to see represented, she said licence should be given to creators to work their magic in ways that made sense to them.

Of Tripp and Tyler, she said, “We knew they had a formula for success. They have this audience that loves them and they really know what is funny.”

The “Poo-Poo” video was shot mainly outdoors and produced by the duo and their in-house team. Viewers might spot Dickens among the parents. The mom of three stepped back in front of the camera for a cameo role.


Poo-Poo Parents Say

"Where are you going to put that booger?” “Use your words.” “Because I said so!”

Sound familiar? Congrats. You must be a parent. And as a citizen of Parenthood you are now officially bilingual. You have access to an entire language that only parents are qualified to speak. (In fact, any other adult would be crazy to try.) There are no language classes, there’s no handbook. You just pick up these phrases, as ridiculous as they are, and learn to use them. For some strange reason they work!

I’m really excited to tell you that EQtainment just partnered with my favorite comedic duo, Tripp and Tyler, to bring you a new video, “Poo-Poo Parents Say.”

We shot it in Brooklyn, NY two weeks ago and laughed the whole shoot, while coming up with ways that we torment and are tormented by our little loved ones on a daily basis.

If you can relate to these funny phrases, share the video on your social channels and tag as many people as you can!