Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Structured Activities and Executive Function: A Case of the Overscheduled Child?

We have heard the stories in the news all the time—some say kids are “overscheduled” and need more time to play. On the other side, parents of the “tiger mom” variety tend to want their children in activities and lessons to encourage their growth and development. Until recently, the one voice you haven’t heard on this topic was the one of science. Child development researchers are now trying to delve into this topic and understand the relationship between structured activities and children’s development.

In one of the first studies of this kind, researchers at The University of Colorado looked at the connection between how kids spend their time (structured vs. unstructured activities) and the development of executive function. As you may know, executive function is one of the key regulatory skills that development during childhood and is crucial to children’s success and well-being later in life. Executive function includes things like planning ahead, goal-oriented behavior, suppression of unwanted thoughts or behaviors, and delaying gratification. These skills have been shown to predict children’s academic and social outcomes years down the road. Based on this, you can see why researchers (and parents) are interesting in understanding anything related to how executive function develops.

In the recent CU study, scientists asked 6-year-olds to record their daily activities for a week. They then categorized these activities as “structured” or “unstructured” according to a classification system previously developed by economists. For example, activities such as sports lessons, religious activities, and chores were classified as “structured activities.” In contrast, activities such as free play (alone or with others), sightseeing, or media use were considered “less structured.” Routine activities such as going to school, sleeping, or eating were not classified in either category.

The researchers then analyzed the relationship between children’s time activities and their level of executive function. The results showed that were was, indeed, a correlation between these factors. The more time children spent in structured activities, the lower their scores on the assessment of executive function. In contrast, the more time children spent in less structured activities, the higher their assessment of executive function.

So what does this all mean? First of all, it’s important to note that this is just one study in what I hope will be a whole line of research in this area. In social science, you cannot base recommendations on one study. Secondly, this study was small scale (70 children) and was only correlational, meaning we do not know if structured vs. unstructured activities cause a change in executive function or if there is something else going on here. What this study does show is that there is some relationship between these factors that deserves further study.

It is food for thought in terms of parenting. While we do not know for sure how these factors impact each other, it looks like there is a relationship between level of structured activities and the development of executive function. 

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Building Resiliency in Female Adolescents

by Dyan Eybergen RN, ACPI

Adolescence is a time of extreme negotiation and friendships among teenage girls is probably at the crux. Female adolescents often have a difficult time finding a self identity in which they are comfortable with and get caught up in the concerns of how they feel other people see them. While navigating the often torrential adolescent plain it is imperative parents remain a supportive influence keeping the balance of their daughter’s self esteem in check. 
Here are some sure ways to help your daughter’s reach self actualization: 

1.   Ask them important questions that will help in assessing their own feelings, ‘How do you feel when you’re in the presence of those people? Does hanging around with that group make you feel good about yourself as a person, or are you always striving to be someone else? Are you always striving to please that group?’ When children identify feelings for themselves they are more apt to make choices that render good feelings than bad.

2.   Positive self-talk is one of the skills that parents can also help foster. Parents can encourage their children to self-reflect and practice positive affirmations. Parents often will default to saying things like: ‘I am so proud of you’, or ‘You did such a fabulous job,’ so often it’s more important to say to the child, ‘How do you feel about that? You should be so pleased with yourself. How do you think you did in that situation?’ Getting them to self-reflect and self-assess provides them the opportunity to accurately measure their own efforts. 

3.    If a child is being teased or ostracized because of an activity or hobby they enjoy that is deemed “not cool” by their peers in school, a class or club outside of school can be an excellent way to find friends with the same interest. The more support they have from family and like-minded friends, the more they’re buffered against any insults. People who engage in what they are passionate about is a resiliency skill in itself. 

4.   Create a compliment jar! Ask them to remember any time anyone has ever given them a compliment, write it down, and put it in the jar. Parents can contribute as well adding any compliments they’ve received about their daughter. When they are really feeling bad about themselves and labeling themselves, ‘I’m a loser, nobody wants to hang out with me’, or whatever, – get them to go to their compliment jar. Sometimes just seeing it in black and white and reflecting on when someone has said something kind or nice about them can be really helpful to boost that self-esteem.



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Children's Questions - What's In It For Parents?

Don’t you just love the type of questions kids ask: Why does Johnny have a cold? Why is there bark in the playground? Who looks after grandma when grandpa is at work? Why can’t we watch one more show? And on it goes. As soon as they learn to say the word Why? they fire it at their parents with innocent vigor. No topic is off limits.


Although you might feel under siege by your three or six-year-old, whose Why? sounds like an automatic weapon, this  is a very natural phenomenon. So natural, in fact, that  you could easily overlook what is in it for parents. For instance, when a  child asks: Why  do I have germs? there are quite a few options available to you to respond. E.g., I have no idea; That is just the way it is; Let’s ask auntie Beth, she is  a doctor; They are part of life,  just like spiders and flies. And, of course, any reply you make will, again, meet with Why?

     You might not always have the time and inclination to give an answer that is well-thought through. There is no need to feel guilty if you do not find the time or energy to fully engage in a conversation at all times. There are times for doing and times for talking and you do not shortcut your children when you postpone your involvement in the matter they bring up. The word involvement is actually a key word here, and it points to that which can be of value to parents concerning their children’s questions.

Be a companion

When you involve yourself with a curious child, you step out of your own limited little circle of assumptions and perspectives and enter the child’s world of experience. Immediately it is clear that any brush-off  kind of answer is totally insufficient. The child needs a companion on the road to discovery, not a non-committal bystander. Even if you do not know the full answer to all questions, an honest reply is always in order.

     In the  example of the question about germs, the next question could be: Why do germs make people sick? Again, you could answer in a quick remark aimed at silencing the child, or you could stop and get involved.  Why do germs make some people sick?  Or more general: Why do people get sick at all?  And with this question you open the door to new ways of looking  at life’s situations. You do not have to go out and explore medical data, but rather search for an answer that feels right from within.

A Child's Refresing Perspective

When you commit yourself to giving an honest answer, a simple question like the one about germs can be an invitation to look beyond the commonly accepted assumptions and opinions. Even if you are totally confused, as in many instances you surely will be, it is better to honestly admit that you do not know any more than the child does, than to give an answer you know does not even satisfy yourself.

     In this respect it is interesting to consider the oft quoted words by Jesus: "Unless you become as children you will not enter the Kingdom of God.” This statement encourages respect for a child’s point of view. What a child’s point of view has to offer parents is a natural, unspoiled, unprogrammed look at life. Children look at life without preconceptions, prejudices and unquestioned beliefs. Entering into their world is rejuvenating. What you can gain from being involved with your children during their quest for the answer to the final Why?, is a thirst for clarity and an intolerance for ambiguous answers. You can learn from them not to be satisfied with half answers and not to compromise on sincerity.

     We'd love to hear what type of questions your kids ask you. Please share if you feel so moved.

Images courtesy of

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Dealing With Gestational Diabetes

For the second time, I have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.  This time has been especially frustrating because I failed my glucose test by 3 points for one reading and they have changed the criteria since I had it 6 years ago.  I had also been severely limiting my sugar intake and hoped I would dodge the bullet this time.  It's frustrating and expensive, but this time I have managed to control it with diet.

With my first daughter, typically only my fasting levels were higher than they should be.  They wanted it to be 95 or lower.  Now they want 89 or lower.  What I wasn't told last time was that exercising before bed could help.  I was just barely at 95 and they decided I needed a low dose of medication after a few weeks.  I also learned that if I were Canadian, I wouldn't be considered diabetic.  Also, if I weren't pregnant, I wouldn't be considered diabetic.  It's all about statistics and which glucose levels produce the best outcome as far as large babies go.  I assured my family that I'm not diabetic in the sense that I could go into a coma. 

This time I opted to see a group of midwives, which has been a huge source of stress because I was told if I have to be medicated at all, I have to switch to a doctor.  I really didn't want to switch this late in the game.  That wouldn't give me time to get to know any doctors.  My old doctor doesn't deliver babies anymore because the birth center closed.  I really loved her.  Unfortunately, stress can raise your blood sugar. 

I wanted to share what I've been doing to keep my fasting levels at a good level, but it's desperate.  It depends on how desperate you are and your body, of course.  It's interesting how one diabetic might react to one food and another won't.  For example, I can get away with having a couple of corn tortillas, but not flour tortillas.  I was given sample diets I could eat with my last pregnancy, but I can't handle french fries period.  I can eat a baked potato. 

Lots of water helps control blood sugar.  I drink two huge glasses before I go to bed, I bring another huge glass to bed with me, and I might sip it in the middle of the night.  Half an hour before I test in the morning, I drink the rest.  Of course, this results in very little sleep, but that's how desperate I am.  Lately my fasting blood sugar is in the 70's, which is great.  I'm determined to stay with the midwives because I want someone who is very supportive of me going without an epidural and will stay with me the whole time.  I don't like the stress of waiting for the doctor to come in and check me again once things are getting intense.

I also eat one bite of cottage cheese and have maybe 5 almonds at 10pm and then I test at 6am.  I try to make it exactly 8 hours later.  I also found that late dinners kind of sabotaged me.  I need to be done eating dinner by 6pm in order to have good levels in the morning.  It could be because I end up with heartburn if I eat too late and not feeling well can impact your glucose.  So can lack of sleep, which is what happened to me the night before my test. 

I was really nervous for my first dietitian appointment after my first week of monitoring because it went higher than it should a couple times, but she was awesome and explained that even non-diabetics have spikes.  My spikes had reasons like a sick child waking me up in the middle of the night. feeling sick myself, a friend dying, etc.  There was no need to medicate me so far.

A friend of mine is a diabetic and was shocked to hear how often I had to test - 5 times a day.  She said, "Your blood sugar must be really bad!"  No, pregnant women just get to monitor it extra closely - first thing in the morning, after each meal, and right before bed.  I was doing so well, I was told I could test 3 times a day.  I don't enjoy poking my finger, but the most frustrating part for me has been writing down everything I eat and constantly keeping track of when I ate and when I need to eat again.  I also worry so much about the carbs, I'm often still hungry when I stop eating and sometimes I don't have that many foods around that I can supposedly eat in unlimited amounts. 

Here are some other things that have helped me cope with this:

1.  Writing down some of my favorite low carb foods that are like a treat to me like caprese salad, summer sausage with cheese (plus a little bit of apple too), and my homemade salad dressing that has no carbs, which is delicious on many salads.  Make your food a little more special than usual.  More garnishes.  Splurge on some fancy cheeses!  Make yourself an omelet instead of scrambled eggs.  Be wild.  Use some pepperjack cheese or something. 
2.  Carrying nuts with me everywhere I go.  Sometimes my days get more hectic than expected and it's good to have that with me.  I prefer raw almonds with no salt.
3.  I enjoy produce that is in season.  It's much easier to deal with this before the holidays, that's for sure!  I've enjoyed lots of fresh berries this season, which I always have with some kind of protein
4.  I always have those thin buns around for sandwiches, hamburgers, etc.  Sometimes I'll put two hamburger patties on one bun.  For breakfast I really like the Tyson reduced fat sausage patties from Costco.  Its a large amount and you just zap it in the microwave.  Friends recommended Greek yogurt with fruit, but I'm just not a fan of yogurt.  Sometimes it's better to make your breakfast carb fruit though, so I'll have bacon and eggs with some grapes.  I like to keep things around that last a long time in the fridge.
5.  If you have lots of contractions like me and find walking difficult, you can exercise your arms at night with one of those stretchy bands.  I've been doing about 40 wall push-ups before I go to bed.
6.  I've also noticed my levels are lower in the morning when someone in my family gives me a foot rub at night.  It helps me feel less stressed and I fall asleep easier.  It has been an extremely stressful time for me because we just moved and then the kids started their new school a month later.  We moved far enough to have to change doctors, dentist, etc. too. 
7.  It's recommended that you just drink water and a little bit of milk.  You can drink diet soda, which I personally can't stand.  Lucky for me, I gave up soda four years ago, so it hasn't been that big of an issue for me.  I might alternate adding lemon or lime to my water.  Also, get a water filter so it tastes as good as possible.  It's hard to force yourself to drink large amounts when it tastes like chlorine.
8.  I had a dietitian tell me I could eat some ice cream and nuts for a snack, so I wasn't completely deprived.  It just needed to be full fat because they tend to add more sugar to "light" ice cream.
9.  I remind myself a lot how unpleasant it would be to deliver a giant baby, so giving up certain treats for a few months isn't the end of the world.  The treats aren't going anywhere.  There will still be plenty of them when I'm done being pregnant.  It is important to be committed to having a much better diet though because you are more likely to develop actual diabetes within 5 years of having your baby.  Also, eating too much sugar makes your baby's pancreas have to work too hard and often they are born with low blood sugar.  I have a friend who is grateful for her Gestational Diabetes because it made her lose her sweet tooth.
10.  Have some kind of timer or app to remind you when it's time to test.  Watching the clock constantly can drive a person nuts! 

Have you ever been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes?  What helped you cope with it? 

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

School Start Times and Zero Tolerance Policies.

AAP Policy Statements

School Start Times
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the professional organization of Pediatricians, has the reputation of distributing periodic policy statements. These statements are used to clarify the stance that this collection of Pediatricians thinks parents, pediatricians, school officials, and any other person who associates with children need to know. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, a researcher, and a parent, I pay attention to these policy statements, and read through them to understand the justification of why the AAP thinks that a particular topic would require a policy statement. At the beginning of this month, the AAP distributed yet another important policy statement. Building on the already solid foundation of how teenage bodies develop and the amount of sleep teenagers need, the AAP advocates and recommends middle and high schools delay their start times to no earlier than 8:30 am, and sometimes later due to local circumstances. In addition to advocating schools change their schedules, the AAP policy statement recommends parents take more responsibility and accountability in, "setting bedtimes and in supervising sleep practices, such as social networking and electronic media use in the bedroom (CITE)." This is an important first step toward greater physical and mental health for adolescents.

Zero Tolerance Policies
Just over a year ago, the AAP distributed a policy statement that could have just as much impact on adolescent physical and mental health as the school start times policy. Compiling and sifting through the research on the effectiveness of "Zero Tolerance" policies, the AAP recommends a preventative approach over a "reactive/punitive" approach. When expulsion or suspension are used, the AAP recommends it should only be after all other approaches have failed to work. Recognizing the quickly rising tide of news stories where kids are suspended for drawing a gun, or pretending to play war during recess, I thought this policy statement was timely. Amazingly, it seems that some school districts are listening, either to the AAP or to the research evidence, and are starting to shift their policies to reflect a more proactive approach.

What Does This Mean for Home

School Start Times
Since it is unlikely your school district is going to make changes this year (if they already haven't), the only line of defense to protect your child's sleep is you. The AAP recommends between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of continuous sleep per day (naps, and sleeping in on the weekends don't count). If you child's school starts at the same time as the high schools in my area (7:30 am), meaning a 6:45 am rise at the latest (taking into account average commute times and morning routines), putting bedtime right around 9 pm or 9:30 pm, if they fall asleep within 5 minutes. Accounting for some wind-down time, and night time routines, a 8 pm or 8:30 pm bedtime is safer. Let that sink in for a minute. What teenager do you know likes to or is ready to fall asleep at 9:30 pm? How about being told to get ready for bed at 8 pm? With that in mind, think of ways you can change your schedule to allow for more consistent sleep for your child. Consider reducing the amount of electronics in the child's room to eliminate chances for distraction from sleep.

Zero Tolerance Policies
While most parents do not generally have 'zero tolerance' rules in their home, there is one thing that parents do do that can contribute to the problems created by these policies. Most often when a child is harshly punished in the home (grounding for a week, or a month), the punishment not only affects the child, but the whole family. Harsh punishments have been proven to be the least effective at reducing problem behaviors in children. Sure they might work in the short term, telling a child their grounded for a week will elicit immediate compliance, especially if it is grounding from something they really enjoy doing. Typically, however, three days into the grounding the parent often find themselves wanting to give their child a break for "good behavior". This leaves you and the child on a roller coaster of punishment and reward, with ever increasing climbs and valleys, until one of you (usually the parent) can't stand the ride any longer, ending in complicity to child non-compliance. Just like zero tolerance policies, harsh parenting causes more long term damage, at the expense of short term peace. Parents can check out the following blog posts for more guidance on appropriate parenting techniques:
Tells me what you think: 
  1. What do you think you can do to help increase your child's positive sleep patterns?
  2. What techniques have you used that have decreased problem behaviors, without harsh discipline? 

Au, R., Carskadon, M., Millman, R., Wolfson, A., Braverman, P. K., Adelman, W. P., Young, T. (2014). School Start Times for Adolescents. Pediatrics, 134(3), 642–649. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-1697

Board, T. T. E. (2014, August 20). Moving past zero tolerance in L.A. schools. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from

Lamont, J. H., Devore, C. D., Allison, M., Ancona, R., Barnett, S. E., Gunther, R., Young, T. (2013). Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion. Pediatrics, peds.2012–3932. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-3932

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Infant Babbling...It's Not Just Baby Talk

Is trying to understand your infant’s babbling an effort in futility? Turns out, the answer might be, “no.” A new study published in the journal Infancy puts into question the notion that children’s language development is innate and we cannot do much to alter its path. 

The researchers closely observed interactions between mothers and their 8-month old infants over the course of six months. What they found was that among children whose mothers responded to them by trying to understand what they were saying, they developed more advanced language sounds sooner. Children whose mothers responding by directing the child’s attention to something else, developed language sounds more slowly.

It’s important to note in this study that all the mothers responded to their infants’ babbling, but it’s a difference in how they responded that seems to make the difference. The mothers who actively engaged with their child’s babbling and responded to what they thought they were saying seem to promote the child’s learning to communicate. For these children, by 15 months of age, they had more words and gestures compared to the other babies.

What the researchers believe is happening is that, by responding to the infant’s communication, the mothers are reinforcing within the child that he or she can communicate. Over time, they learn more and more how to refine that communication with constant-vowel sounds which are the beginnings of word formation.

Once again this reiterates the importance of parent-child interactions at the most in-depth level. All that babbling your infant does really is the beginning stages of learning to speak. By responding to your child as if you know what they are saying is just one step along path of them learning language.
Julie Gros-Louis, Meredith J. West, Andrew P. King. (2014). Maternal Responsiveness and the Development of Directed Vocalizing in Social Interactions Infancy, 19 (4)

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tips for Cultivating a Working Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

by: Dyan Eybergen BA, RN, ACPI

Working With the Teacher to Promote Positive Learning Experiences
When parents and their child’s teacher cultivate a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation, it is the child who benefits.

With the first month of school underway, now is an ideal time for parents to assess just how well their children are adjusting to the school routine and its curriculum. Should any problems be detected there is still a sufficient amount of time left in the term to address a child’s specific needs and get him/her the help he/she needs.

In today’s school environment, with a demanding curriculum, restricted budgets and limited teacher resources and assistance, teachers are often overwhelmed by the prospect of talking with a parent who is less than happy with regards to the child’s progress. Teachers feel powerless in their efforts to assist every child. Raising issues with teachers in the spirit of cooperation can go a long way in helping to set a child up for success.

How to Communicate With a Child’s Teacher
If it hasn’t been done already, parents should make arrangements to meet with their child’s teacher. Introductions are important to open communication. The parents should indicate their desire to be involved in their child’s education. Asking for suggestions for how they can best support the school’s learning environment at home is a cooperative approach that will open the door to a respectful relationship between the parent and the teacher. A teacher will be most grateful to parents who reinforce their efforts to sustain learning for their students.

How to Address Problems
Ask the child’s teacher how he/she would prefer to be contacted: by phone, email or in writing should problems arise. Parents should also inform the teacher how they can be reached, and convey the fact that they want to be advised if their child is struggling academically or socially at school. Inviting open communication about their child will help a teacher feel a sense of cohesiveness. The teacher will get the message that the parents are willing to work together as a team to ensure the success of their child’s school experience. If a problem does exist, parents should approach the teacher as a team player by asking how parents and teacher can work together to solve it. Blaming the teacher for a child’s difficulties will only provoke a defensive reaction and does not lend itself to finding a solution to helping a child.

How Parents can Help Teachers Know Their Children
Parents know their children best. Parents have specific information that will benefit their child’s teacher in terms of how that teacher will relate to their child. What is the child’s learning style? Is the child more of a visual learner than an auditory one? Does the child get anxious before having to write a test? Does the child appear overwhelmed if there are too many questions written on one page?
Are there strategies the parents have implemented at home that will give the child’s teacher insight into managing the child’s classroom needs? Anything a parent can tell a child’s teacher about how their child learns will promote positive interactions between the teacher and the child.

How Parents can Help Their Children in the Classroom
Parents should let a child’s teacher know of anything that may be going on that would cause the child’s behaviour or academic performance to suddenly change. Is there a pending divorce? Has mom or dad just lost a job? Is mom away on an extended business trip? Did the family pet just pass away? Is the child being bullied? A teacher’s compassion and understanding through such circumstances can prevent an emotionally struggling child from feeling alienated by school, especially when school may be the child’s only refuge if things at home are not going so well.

Parents need to inform the teacher of their child’s strengths and weaknesses. Parents should develop goals with their child based on the child’s strengths and inform the teacher of what those strong suits are. Notifying the teacher of areas of improvement they are working on with their child at home can also be helpful. A teacher who can easily recognize the strengths and needs of a child can more readily set realistic expectations for that child’s academic development.

The Benefits of a Working Parent-Teacher Relationship
Disagreements between parents and their child’s teacher may be unavoidable at times. If parents can approach these situations believing that the teacher wants their child to succeed in school just as much as they do, it will help them to find ways to amicably work together to ensure the child’s academic achievement. Letting the disagreement become bigger than the objective of ensuring school success for a child will only serve injustice to the child. A child can only thrive in an environment that is conducive to his/her learning style and strengths. Parents have that information and teachers know how to use it to the child’s learning advantage. It’s imperative then that parents and teachers develop working relationships that benefit the children whom they are all helping to prepare for the future.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Art of Grocery Shopping with Kids

If you're like most parents you prefer to do your weekly shopping alone, as in: without kids. It's easier and faster and sidesteps potential irritations, such as: Don't touch! - Stay close! - Don't yell!
     But then again, sometimes we don't have the luxury of going solo and we find ourselves navigating the isles with one or more kids in tow.

     Here's how you can make that experience a positive one, so much so that in the future you may decide to bring your kids along just for the fun of it. When you bring positive energy to the experience and share that with your kids, all of you will benefit.

The Art Explained

     Just as there is a recipe for preparing lasagna, there is a method to this miracle of shopping with kids. 
     First and foremost: remember the three key features that make up an inspiring environment: relationship, autonomy, and competency or skill, and put them to use. Effective teachers use this triad daily in their classes and it is just as helpful in family settings. These three features influence and affect each other positively when consciously engaged, as you shall see.

Change your frame of reference from 'shopping' to 'family-together-time'. Throughout your expidition your focus is first and foremost on your kids' well-being. Talk with your children, listen to what they have to say and respond adequately and appropriately throughout the time you are together. Mentally switch from 'I have to get this done in time' to being 'allies' in this trip - you and your kids are on the same side: their side.

     Approach and view everything from a child's perspective as much as you can. That way you are on the same wave-length and in a much better position to anticipate a possible mishap and deal with it adequately.

     Make sure you have plenty of time and are not in a hurry. Calculate about double or triple the time you would need when shopping alone.

Ask your child or children to help you and allot age appropriate little jobs to them. There are tasks they can fulfill, such as pushing the cart (or a kid's cart), selecting products and putting them in the cart, putting items on the check-out counter, etc. Involve them in the various processes of shopping, allowing them as much autonomy and responsibility as possible. Allow choices whenever possible and walk/talk those choices through together (this ties in with relationship).

Kids love to become 'good' at something, even if it is pushing a cart straight along the floortiles in the cereals isle. Notice and compliment your kids on every little contribution, reinforcing their positive involvement in the shopping expidition (this ties in with relationship and autonomy).

     In addition to mastering shopping skills kids will want to 'do' much more. If you channel their creativity, rather than wait for them to explore in ways that are not supermarket-friendly, you can make the shopping experience a fun time for all. Consider the following two activities to get your creativity flowing:

  • Feel the wonder of a long empty isle with a shiny floor and create a game to go with it, such as counting steps to go from left to right, skipping squares, letting the cart roll as gently and smoothly as possible, etc. Participate and be available to them.
  • Notice the stack of plastic bags for produce? Take one and inflate it to create a balloon, tying it securely at the opening with one or two tight knots. Invent games to go with this, such as keeping it afloat with only two index fingers, heading it as high as you can, etc.

     I'm not saying this approach is easy - at first it certainly isn't. You'll need to develop a two-track mind, doing your shopping adequately and being available to your kids. Practice makes perfect, and this art of grocery shopping with kids is no exception. Make sure the order of items on your list matches the layout of the store; that way you only have to go through each isle once, saving you unnecessary trips back and forth.

Positive Energy Field

Next time you're scheduling a trip to the store, consider lifting the experience from a chore to 'together-time' with your kids. This is a chance for you to get to know them better and for them to get to know you better: a person who is able to transmogrify an ordinary trip to the store into a rich experience in which you seize the opportunity to invest in your relationship.

     To be even more specific: this approach allows you to augment the quality of the energy field that exists in and around you and in which your kids participate, for the benefit of all - not least of all: you yourself. It puts you in the position of creator of your own experience, an experience that greatly affects the quality of life of both you and your kids. 
     Eventually, your role-modelling will inspire your children in turn. They will have learned how to consciously focus on the quality of their own energy field and enlist it in order to create more mutually satisfying and inspiring relationships.

     If you'd like to share about how you view the process of enhancing your own energy for the benefit of both your kids and yourself while going about your daily business, let us know and use the comment box. If you have any questions, that's the place to ask them. Thanks!

Adapted from a blog post previously posted on the author's blog
Image (adapted for this article) courtesy of
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