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How to Have the Family You Dream Of

How to Have the Family You Dream Of [Sponsor]

How to Have the Family You Dream Of 

by Brianna Dubbs, LMFT
Plucky Parenting

I’m often asked for advice on parenting tips and tricks to overcome challenges. People have varying struggles that depend on different factors, such as their own personalities, their child’s temperament, everyday stress, unplanned events that may occur during the day, etc. Often what I find is that people usually want a quick fix, an easy solution, a fast answer.

What if I told you that I have a special solution?

One that’s easy and quick and doesn’t take any time or practice. One that would make your children listen to you. Put away their toys. Finish their dinner. Go to sleep on time. Be happy.

All you have to do is purchase my highly-recommended, works-every-time, blue blanket; and I’ll throw in free fairy dust if you order one today.

Simply wrap your child in this blanket to stop tantrums dead in its tracks.

When placed on their heads, this magic blanket hypnotizes them so you can tell your child to do whatever you need and want them to do, and the tasks get done…immediately!

This parenting product is foolproof! It’s as reliable as the latest exercise gadget that you place on your stomach daily for 30 minutes that can burn away fat, giving you rock hard abs while you watch TV.

My technique is also just like the pill you can take with every meal or the shaker potion you add to your food that allows you to magically shed undesirable weight. You see, raising children who are happy confident, respectful and independent is as easy as being healthy and exercising.

That’s what most parents hope for, a quick fix.

It’s very easy to practice parenting in the traditional ways that most people do. There are a ton of seemingly magical solutions that take your child from terrible to wonderful overnight. However, the long-term and lasting result is not there. As soon as you’ve tackled one problem with your parenting blue blanket, a new one pops up.

Why does this happen?

Parents are firefighting the superficial issues. The underlying problem, the root cause, is not being addressed. Habits are not changing. Therefore, the child and the parent are not truly finding the help they need and continue unproductive patterns, creating constant struggles that lead to frustration for both of them.

But parenting, just like anything where a fabulous result is desired, requires time, energy, dedication and a strong commitment to the end result.

In short, it takes work and not being selfish. The prize for proper parenting practices are children who are happy, confident, respectful and independent and parents who feel confident, happy, peaceful and connected to their children.

The answers and solutions I’ll provide you are simple. The work in implementing them for our child and getting past our selfishness is what’s painful.

My simple answer to most parenting questions and advice:

1. Recognize your child is a person with his or her own needs, wants, feelings and desires.

2. Attend to their needs first in everything you do.

3. Attend to the meaning of their behavior next not just the actual behavior by itself.

4. Have consistent clear expectations with consistent clear consequences that are followed through with.

5. Repeat over and over and over all day long.

Let’s break this down into an example.

Sample Scenario:

You have a two-year-old and a seven-year-old. The two-year-old is having temper tantrums and melts down often. She does not want to share, wants to run away and be independent from her parents. Then wants to be near her parents constantly and struggles to go with sitters or family that she is familiar with. The seven-year old knows everything and constantly corrects her parents. When playing with her two-year-old sibling she has very specific ideas about how to play, what she wants to play and the role she wants her sibling to be in as they play. The two fight often.

Parents struggle with how to deal with these two different ages and find themselves in a constant battle of trying to discern who’s right, who needs the time out, who started what, and they just want the fighting to end.

They’ve lost their patience and find themselves yelling at their children out of frustration and just want their children to follow their advice and rules, which they repeat daily.

There may also be an underlying struggle from the parents where they have lost their own identity and their ability to get their own needs met due to their dramatic lifestyle change. I see that this often is also translated into the parent’s struggles as they just want the child to bend to them and follow what the parent wants. This ultimately leads to the parents missing who and what their children need and continues the cycle of frustration.

Step 1:

We are going to recognize these two very different beings and what they need and want. Let’s look at the two-year-old. Developmentally the two-year-old struggles to share and is finding out that the world exists and she wants to play in it. She still desperately needs her parents and wants to be with them often and at the same time wants to explore the world without them. She is testing out how to be a separate self and how to still need and want her parents. Because her language is still developing she often expresses her anger, fear, frustration by screaming, crying or melting down when she is so frustrated by not getting what she needs or not being understood.

Step 2:

We are going to respond to what the child needs. The tw0-year-old needs her parents to understand the developmental struggle and to be with her when she wants them and to allow her to explore when she wants to be away. She is confused by the pull she feels in herself. She is helped when her parents respond to her need to be close and then allow her to move away when she wants. She needs further help and clarification of what she is feeling and attempting to express in her behavior. This takes some detective work, at times, from the parents.

Step 3:

Understand what the behavior is saying rather than just focus on the surface of the behavior. When the seven-year-old is dictating to her two-year-old sibling that she wants to play a certain way and there is going to be no compromise and then she melts when her sibling won’t bend and lashes out by hitting, screaming or name calling her behavior is saying a lot. She is angry and frustrated and wants her way. Yes, I know she can’t always have her way and she needs to learn this lesson. But first, let’s help her with her feelings so she doesn’t act out in a manner that is unacceptable by saying “Right now, you feel angry and upset that you can’t have your way. You want your sister to do exactly what you say and she isn’t so this makes you mad.” Repeat these words to her until she is calm.

Step 4:

Provide clear and consistent expectations and consequences. In the above example we have a seven-year-old who is calling her tw0-year-old sister names because she won’t follow her directions. After, we have helped the seven-year-old with her feelings and frustration we then move to a consequence. At 7 she understands that it isn’t ok to name call and in your house this means that she gets a time-out, or she isn’t allowed to play with her sister for a little bit and needs to sit quietly to read. Once you have helped her calm down you state to her this rule. “In our house we don’t call each other names. You need to sit here quietly for 7 minutes.” Have her sit away. After this have her apologize to her sister and see if you can’t facilitate play where taking turns and sharing is a part of the game. The two-year-old gets to say what happens for a bit and then the seven–year-old gets to say what happens. They take turns back and forth. You may have to continue to help them with this until they are able to do it on their own.

Step 5:

Repeat, repeat, repeat. The above only works when it is consistently implemented and this is the hardest part of all the steps. We as parents have to put aside ourselves and what we had thought we needed or wanted to do to facilitate the process for our children in their daily lives. When we are consistent in our responses to them as a person, attending to their feelings and needs, and provide clear consistent guidance they feel safe and secure and have an understanding of their world. The tantrums and frustration naturally go away as they can rely and rest in you and the secure foundation you are providing for them.

Having help and guidance in the above process is where I come in.


The above is easy and simple just like eating well and exercising. It is hard to maintain and continue to implement.

Just like you may need a nutritionist and a physical trainer to hold you accountable for your healthy lifestyle and habit changes you want to implement. You also need a parenting coach to guide you, hold you accountable, cheer you on when you made the mark and help you get back on track when you pulled out the whole big gallon of ice cream.

It’s not easy to be alone and sometimes it’s even harder to ask for help. We need others to help us in our journey! Let me know how I can assist and I would love to help your family maintain a peace and happiness I know you desire.


How to Teach Your Kids to Tie Their Shoes

How to teach your kids to tie their shoes

This blog talks about how to teach your kids to tie their shoes.  I know there are several tried and true ways (when I was little, I learned the “bunny ears” method), but as usual for my kiddos, teaching through song has been our most successful effort.

We have taught our kids my phone number and their address through songs.

So, is everyone’s beautiful singing voice ready?  Okay, here goes.  This is to the tune of the original “Happy Birthday” song.

Sing to the tune of  ”Happy Birthday”

Take a lace and make a loop

Make a circle around the loop

Pull your lace through and under…

Tug and tighten in a bow!

Here’s a video to help you get the tune in your head!

Silly, right?  My little girl giggled through this several times…and then got frustrated with the process (especially the third step of “pulling through the lace”)….then started to get it on her own. And I was rewarded with a BIG smile.

This will take practice, as with everything new.  But my daughter seemed happy to try…and happy to have a song to sing.

Does anyone else have a cool way to teach your kids how to tie their shoes? Please share below!

Taming Playdate Disasters


Has this ever happened to you?

You pack up your kiddos, load them into the car, arrive at your scheduled playdate, and then…your toddler or preschooler has a complete and total meltdown? It’s the worst, isn’t it?! So today I want to talk about taming playdate disasters.

I don’t have a lot of great answers. What I do have is a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that work (most times) for our family.  I’m asking for your best tips, too!  Let’s start a dialogue and share about what works for our kiddos.

Tip #1 – Set yourself up for the best chance for success (maybe.)

I try to not schedule playdates after other big activities, or when my kids are likely to be cranky or hungry.

Best case scenario, my kiddo is ready for fun. BUT, if my little man is in a mood, overtired, or already throwing fits about this or that, why start the whole playdate out on a sour note?

Being a “Type A” personality, it’s difficult for me to alter plans at the last minute, but depending on where we’re going and what we’re doing (and if the timing is somewhat flexible), I will sometimes hold off until he is in a better frame of mind.

This may mean we’re a little late…and that we have a better playdate!

Tip #2 – I stay consistent with my own “house” rules.

Consistency has been key for our kids. This means that our rules at home are the same rules wherever we go. And believe me, my kids test me, especially if other families have different house rules.

I simply explain that every family has different rules, and that’s absolutely okay.  But our rules are _______ (insert applicable rule). Especially at someone else’s house. But, I’ve found in the long run, consistency has worked better for our kiddos. They know what I expect of them, and vice versa.

Tip #3 – I leave special lovies or toys in the car.

I have made the fatal mistake of letting one of my kids bring their lovey into someone else’s home for a playdate. I mean, it’s their security, right?

Ummmm, guess what happened?

My baby was easily distracted by the “new” toys their friends had, left their lovey on the floor…and minutes later, freaked OUT because another kid was wondering around with it (on the floor = fair game, with a group of kids.) Ensue major meltdown.

From that disaster on, our lovies and special toys stayed in the car. We strap them into their carseats so they are waiting and ready for us when we return to the car.  Major tantrum avoided right out of the gate.

Tip #4 – I make an effort to listen. 

I know this seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes I get so involved in talking with my other mama friends or helping with something to do with a craft or snack, I don’t always stay tuned in to the conversations going on with the kiddos.

If I hear fighting or yelling between my kiddos and their buddies for more than a few minutes, I’ll wander over, listen and observe.

If I need to intervene, I’ll ask them to use their words and explain what’s wrong. The majority of the time, it’s a quick fix. An apology, hug and change of activity usually does the trick.

And, if it’s not?  If appropriate, my kid gets a time-out for the infraction (our main form of discipline) – even though we’re at a friend’s house.

Tip #5 – I’m not afraid to abandon ship.

And, if all else fails (after several attempts to appease the situation), I’ll give my fellow mama a hug, apologize for the speedy exit, and take my kiddo home.  Hey, we all have bad days, right?! Plus, it likely makes the other mom feel grateful she is not the only one.

Sometimes we need our space…and this is true for our children, too.

What do you do when a play date turns disastrous?  Any great tips to share?
Please comment below!

New Year’s Resolutions from an Exhausted Mommy

New Year's Resolutions from an Exhausted Mommy

Here are my New Year’s resolutions…specifically, new year’s resolutions from an exhausted mommy. 

As much as I love the holidays, as much as I love all of the extra parties and extra treats and extra late nights, I am very excited to start 2014 fresh and energized and organized and (hopefully) on top of it.

Except for one small tiny little detail. I’m exhausted. Anyone else in the same boat?

That’s when I realized I needed to add more to my resolutions than the typical “finally get that unwanted weight off, exercise consistently, eat healthy, etc. etc.”

So here we go…my NEW new year’s resolutions. Would love to hear yours!

1. Streamline my calendar 

This means evaluating what I’ve committed to, and really thinking about what’s important to me, my kids, and our family. When I say “yes” to something, how does that affect me, my family, and my schedule? Same goes for when I say “no.” What’s flexible and what’s not? I am challenging myself to really think about whatever the commitment actually is before I jump in and excitedly say “yes.” This will be hard because I LOVE being involved and on-the-go and busy. Hence, being an exhausted mommy!

2. Sleep more

I stay up late to get things done. It’s my only quiet time. And I forfeit sleep. So I wake up tired. And this is a never-ending cycle. So, more sleep it is!  I need to be more disciplined and have a bedtime – hey, I make my kids have one!

3. Eat healthier – and stick with it

I actually think this is just as important, if not more, than the proverbial “lose weight.”  Because by choosing better nutrition (instead of my next fad diet), I’m convinced that I will have an overall healthier lifestyle.  And, hopefully more energy!  The added bonus – weight loss.

4. Drink more water 

I don’t drink nearly enough water.  Coffee, yes.  Iced tea, yes. Water, no. I am going to start carrying around a water bottle with me everywhere I go, and refill every time it’s empty.I think most of the time I’m probably dehydrated. I know that drinking more water is going to make a BIG difference.

5. Pick a tangible fitness goal

Last year was my year of endurance events. I completed my first half marathon. Then my second. Then my first marathon. I find that setting a tangible fitness goal works much better for me – it keeps me focused and motivated…versus just “exercise more.”  I’m not sure what’s in store for me this year (yet!)…maybe another half marathon.  Maybe committing to a favorite fitness class three times per week. Consistent exercise means more energy and a healthier lifestyle.  Boom.

6. Maintain an organized mommy “command center”

Piles are taking over desk, kitchen counters, and dresser tops.  Don’t even get me started on Post-it notes.  I commit to going through my piles once a day (okay, maybe every other day) and file the important stuff, separate the action items, and recycle the excess.  Going to bed with a clean desk – and waking up to a clean desk – will help me start each day fresh.  And maybe a little less frazzled.

7. Take a five minute breather, when needed

My schedule is pretty packed…I’m sure you can all relate!  And, I tend to “power through,” (and…ahem…keep drinking caffeine all day!) instead of taking a little breather, when needed.  I think by incorporating some deep breathing and scheduling some quiet time each day…even if for five minutes, will help bring a little more peace to my day.

8. Keep a Gratitude Journal

One of the fantastic mom’s group I’m involved with (and love!) challenged us to keep a gratitude journal during the month of November….and what an incredible experience it was.  It was a focused activity once a day (for me, usually at night once the kiddos were asleep and the house was quiet), when I could journal and think about what I was really grateful for in my life. I loved the experience so much, I am challenging myself to do this once a day on a regular basis.

9. Have more impromptu dance parties with my kids! 

And above all, I resolve to have more impromptu dance parties with my kids. Be silly. Laugh loud. Take more walks. Go to the park more. Play dress-up more. Finger paint.  Pretty much take time every day to REALLY enjoy my children.  They are only this age once.  And, I want to enjoy all of the beautiful moments (which make the crazy, pull-my-hair-out moments worth it!).

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  Feel free to share below!

A Cool Way to Teach Your Kids How to Tell Time

I stumbled upon a cool way on how to teach your child to tell time - I wish I could take credit, but one of my good mama friends, Erin, shared this fun tip I wanted to pass on to you.

Here’s the secret – a multi-colored digital clock.  

What makes this clock special is that each of the digital numbers is represented by a different color – versus all the same color.

Let me explain….I don’t know about you, but my three-year-old keeps getting up earlier and earlier. We’ve tried teaching him to stay in bed (unless he has to go to the bathroom) until 7 a.m.

Now, he’s old enough to recognize “7,” but he still struggles with the order of numbers.  So at 5:47, he just sees a “7″ and runs into our room.  Same goes for counting down minutes to finishing breakfast, minutes left for playtime, minutes left for leaving for school…you get the idea.

Then one day, my friend Erin gave me this very simple, very cool, very inexpensive way to help your little ones learn to tell time.

This fabulous multi-colored digital clock.  I got mine at Target for under $10.  I actually got one for downstairs AND upstairs.

Now I tell my little man, “Okay sweetie, you can get out of bed when the ’7′ is green.”  And you know what?  It works!!  Just tell your kids what corresponding color and number to look for (a fun bonus – this will also reinforce color and number recognition).

I use this trick for bedtime, wake up time, playtime, leaving for school…love it!

Do you have any great how to teach your child to tell time tips for kiddos?  If so, please share below!