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Today I am sharing a theory that I tested on how to help your kids smile more and argue less.

smile more argue less

When I feel like the kids are starting to argue a little more and smile a little less, I have to do something.  (I’m all for a little discussion, but when it becomes more “talking back” than “discussing”, we have an issue). For one week, I tested a theory and let me tell you that the results were amazing!

I was feeling like the kids were

The theory:

 “If I make even MORE of a complete effort to BE PRESENT with the kids, and have them BE PRESENT with me, they will in turn be happier.”

Here are the rules: 

1.  No electronics (this is pretty much a cure-all for any sort of issues, I’ve found.  Seriously!

(Here is our Allie Beth on her own “pretend” electronics)
No electronics

2.  No electronics for the PARENTS, when the kids are awake!   This is hard, but try it. WAIT TO USE your electronics until quiet time or until the kids are in bed.   If you work from the home, this will be hard, so I would try to set up specific ‘work hours’ in your home.   Give the kids activities to do while you are working or see if you can wake up earlier than the kids or go to bed a little later.  I stay up way too late every night, so working from home is easier for me, but I know that most people need more sleep than I do (my husband personally thinks that I am crazy, for the record…) 

3. Do activities together, intentionally. Take a family walk, play a family game of Frisbee (our kids love this), do a craft together or tag (we love to play TV tag… when the “IT” person gets close to you, you yell out a TV show and then freeze. They can’t tag you.)

Beau could do arts & crafts ALL day, every day…
Do things with your family.

4. Get down to their level and play a game that THEY want to play:
(Here is Jack & Mickey starting their own band!) 
fun with the kids
fun w kids

5. Make meals together.   Let the kids help you prepare your meal. The goal here is just spending more time together.  Bake cookies for desert, to let them help you make these protein cookies.  Our kids LOVE making those.

5. Start bedtime 30 minutes sooner (we put our kids to bed at 7:00) and use this extra time to read to your kids and lay with them as you tuck them in.   With four kids, it gets tricky, so I send each of our kids (8, 6, 4, 2) to their rooms and tell them to get into bed and read a book. They all do this because they know that if they do not, I will not read a book to them when it is their turn.   It is a hard lesson that they each had to learn by not doing it just one night.   I wanted to give in, but I knew that if I wanted this to work, I had to stick to my plan.
I tell them “I will treat you like you treat me. If you are respectful and listen to me, I will be respectful right back and read to you.   If you disobey and are being loud and silly, that takes time away from your brothers/sister, so I have to use your time now for them.”  If they don’t listen, I say “Sorry. It makes me really sad. Maybe tomorrow.  I love you.”   (Give out your hugs & kisses and then leave the room) I do this because I need our kids to be quiet and safe while I am with their sibliings.

6. Before you go to bed, leave a note (or picture if they are too young to read) in your child’s room, so that when they wake up, it will be the first thing that they see. I leave it on the floor by the door. They have to step on it to get out, so they always see it. It says something like “Good morning Glory! I missed you while you were sleeping. I love you! Come and wake me up at 7:00!   I can’t wait to give you a giant hug! XOXO, Mom”
good morning

7). Lastly,  Each day this week spend one on one time with each of your kids.
Try our method for that- its amazing.  Use this week as a jump-start, where each child gets a turn, and then next month start with our method.

Ethan LOVES our time together! 
one on one time

I can tell you (I’d say “I can guarantee you”, but lets not go that far, just in case) that this time with your kids will be amazing for your whole family.

One on one time is just what they need.
Family time is just what they need.
YOU ARE JUST WHAT THEY NEED.  You will see that these things will bring smiles to their faces and their “love tank” will be filled once again.

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Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Extremely useful articles, for I’m also a mother of four with a tight schedule. Thank you for providing help:)