Categories
Parenting

Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy?

The idea that a child’s brain is irrevocably shaped in the first three years increasingly drives government policy on adoption and early childhood intervention. But does the science stand up to scrutiny?

“Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial,” wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. “The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop.” 

Neuroscience is huge in early years policy. This week, in what’s been characterised as the largest shake-up of family law in a generation, the 26-week time limit for adoption proceedings has come into force, much of it justified by the now-or-never urgency of this set of beliefs, that the first three years (or sometimes first 18 months) hardwire a baby’s brain, either give it or deny it the capacity for a full life. This is the engine of what is known as the First Three Years movement, which has transfixed politicians from across the spectrum. Allen and Duncan Smith’s report opened with an illustration of the “normal child’s” large brain and the shrivelled, walnut brain of the neglected child. With conferences such as Two Is Too Late (organised by Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom) and papers such as The 1,001 Critical Days, a set of claims are made that echo and reinforce those bold claims made by Allen: first, that we now have a set of scientific findings about the infant brain that can teach us new things about parenting. Second, that concrete events occur – from the production of synapses to the lighting up of areas of the brain on an MRI scanner – that can be interpreted in a straightforward way upon which all science is agreed. Third, with terms such as “critical periods” and “hardwiring”, the thesis is put forward that brains have a finite time window for learning certain things. Fourth, that we can distil the treatment of infants into a set of behaviours that will determine the networks in their brains, either equipping them to empathise, learn, engage and produce, or irreparably failing to equip them. The connections made are endless: babies who fail to make the right neural connections will do badly at school, lack empathy, succumb to criminality, have mental health problems, and end up in a cycle of deprivation themselves.  

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Read more: theguardian.com

Categories
Parenting

Forward prize winner Fiona Benson: ‘It’s still taboo to talk about rape and women’s bodies’

The poet, who wrote her winning collection in almost a single sitting, talks about motherhood, sexual violence and using poetry to process trauma

Fiona Benson’s second volume of poems, Vertigo & Ghost, which this week won the Forward prize for best collection, is so full of small, blindingly bright explosions that sometimes you almost drop the book. On the morning after winning the £10,000 prize, the author is suffering from a headache – brought on by adrenaline rather than alcohol – and is full of praise for her fellow shortlisted writers (there are Forward prizes for first collection and best poem, as well for best collection). These include Jay Bernard, Ilya Kaminsky, Raymond Antrobus and Holly Pester, “who read an amazing poem at the award ceremony, about an abortion – it was ragged and raw and beautiful”, she says. “Poetry is so rich and healthy and diverse at the moment.”

In person Benson is quietly spoken, often ending an answer to a question with an apology – “sorry for the feminist rant” – or by checking to make sure she’s been clear. She describes herself as a “private person” living in Devon with her husband and two daughters, but her poems, written “as if nobody is listening”, are exposing. They peel away at the layers of the female body and examine, tenderly yet unflinchingly, its murky chambers. There’s a poem about the “ridged outer labyrinth”, the “intimate, violet latch” of the narrator’s placenta; another called “Ruins”, which describes the worn landscape of a post-partum body, its “inflamed trenches / and lost dominions”.

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Read more: theguardian.com

Categories
Parenting

E-A-T and the Quality Raters’ Guidelines – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by MarieHaynes

EAT — also known as Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness — is a big deal when it comes to Google’s algorithms. But what exactly does this acronym entail, and why does it matter to your everyday work? In this bite-sized version of her full MozCon 2019 presentation, Marie Haynes describes exactly what E-A-T means and how it could have a make-or-break effect on your site.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. My name is Marie Haynes, from Marie Haynes Consulting, and I’m going to talk to you today about EAT and the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. By now, you’ve probably heard of EAT. It’s a bit of a buzzword in SEO. I’m going to share with you why EAT is a big part of Google’s algorithms, how we can take advantage of this news, and also why it’s really, really important to all of us.

The Quality Raters’ Guidelines

Let’s talk about the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. These guidelines are a document that Google has provided to this whole army of quality raters. There are apparently 16,000 quality raters, and what they do is they use this document, the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, to determine whether websites are high quality or not.

Now the quality raters do not have the power to put a penalty on your website. They actually have no direct bearing on rankings. But instead, what happens is they feed information back to Google’s engineers, and Google’s engineers can take that information and determine whether their algorithms are doing what they want them to do. Ben Gomes, the Vice President of Search at Google, he had a quote recently in an interview with CNBC, and he said that the quality raters, the information that’s in there is fundamentally what Google wants the algorithm to do.

“They fundamentally show us what the algorithm should do.”- Ben Gomes, VP Search, Google

So we believe that if something is in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, either Google is already measuring this algorithmically, or they want to be measuring it, and so we should be paying close attention to everything that is in there. 

How Google fights disinformation

There was a guide that was produced by Google earlier, in February of 2019, and it was a whole guide on how they fight disinformation, how they fight fake news, how they make it so that high-quality results are appearing in the search results.

There were a couple of things in here that were really interesting. 

1. Information from the quality raters allows them to build algorithms

The guide talked about the fact that they take the information from the quality raters and that allows them to build algorithms. So we know that it’s really important that the things that the quality raters are assessing are things that we probably should be paying attention to as well. 

2. Ranking systems are designed to ID sites with high expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness

The thing that was the most important to me or the most interesting, at least, is this line that said our ranking systems are designed to identify sites with a high indicia of EAT, of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

So whether or not we want to argue whether EAT is a ranking factor, I think that’s semantics. What the word “ranking factor” means, what we really need to know is that EAT is really important in Google’s algorithms. We believe that if you’re trying to rank for any term that really matters to people, “your money or your life” really means if it’s a page that is helping people make a decision in their lives or helping people part with money, then you need to pay attention to EAT, because Google doesn’t want to rank websites that are for important queries if they’re lacking EAT.

The three parts of E-A-T

So it’s important to know that EAT has three parts, and a lot of people get hung up on just expertise. I see a lot of people come to me and say, “But I’m a doctor, and I don’t rank well.” Well, there are more parts to EAT than just expertise, and so we’re going to talk about that. 

1. Expertise

But expertise is very important. In the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, which each of you, if you have not read it yet, you really, really should read this document.

It’s a little bit long, but it’s full of so much good information. The raters are given examples of websites, and they’re told, “This is a high-quality website. This is a low-quality website because of this.” One of the things that they say for one of the posts is this particular page is to be considered low quality because the expertise of the author is not clearly communicated.

Add author bios

So the first clue we can gather from this is that for all of our authors we should have an author bio. Perhaps if you are a nationally recognized brand, then you may not need author bios. But for the rest of us, we really should be putting an author bio that says here’s who wrote this post, and here’s why they’re qualified to do so.

Another example in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines talks about was a post about the flu. What the quality raters were told is that there’s no evidence that this author has medical expertise. So this tells us, and there are other examples where there’s no evidence of financial expertise, and legal expertise is another one. Think about it.

If you were diagnosed with a medical condition, would you want to be reading an article that’s written by a content writer who’s done good research? It might be very well written. Or would you rather see an article that is written by somebody who has been practicing in this area for decades and has seen every type of side effect that you can have from medications and things like that?

Hire experts to fact-check your content

Obviously, the doctor is who you want to read. Now I don’t expect us all to go and hire doctors to write all of our content, because there are very few doctors that have time to do that and also the other experts in any other YMYL profession. But what you can do is hire these people to fact check your posts. We’ve had some clients that have seen really nice results from having content writers write the posts in a very well researched and referenced way, and then they’ve hired physicians to say this post was medically fact checked by Dr. So-and-so. So this is really, really important for any type of site that wants to rank for a YMYL query. 

One of the things that we started noticing, in February of 2017, we had a number of sites that came to us with traffic drops. That’s mostly what we do. We deal with sites that were hit by Google algorithm updates. What we were noticing is a weird thing was happening.

Prior to that, sites that were hit, they tended to have all sorts of technical issues, and we could say, “Yes, there’s a really strong reason why this site is not ranking well.” These sites were all ones that were technically, for the most part, sound. But what we noticed is that, in every instance, the posts that were now stealing the rankings they used to have were ones that were written by people with real-life expertise.

This is not something that you want to ignore. 

2. Authoritativeness

We’ll move on to authoritativeness. Authoritativeness is really very, very important, and in my opinion this is the most important part of EAT. Authoritativeness, there’s another reference in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines about a good post, and it says, “The author of this blog post has been known as an expert on parenting issues.”

So it’s one thing to actually be an expert. It’s another thing to be recognized online as an expert, and this should be what we’re all working on is to have other people online recognize us or our clients as experts in their subject matter. That sounds a lot like link building, right? We want to get links from authoritative sites.

The guide to this information actually tells us that PageRank and EAT are closely connected. So this is very, very important. I personally believe — I can’t prove this just yet — but I believe that Google does not want to pass PageRank through sites that do not have EAT, at least for YMYL queries. This could explain why Google feels really comfortable that they can ignore spam links from negative SEO attacks, because those links would come from sites that don’t have EAT.

Get recommendations from experts

So how do we do this? It’s all about getting recommendations from experts. The Quality Raters’ Guidelines say in several places the raters are instructed to determine what do other experts say about this website, about this author, about this brand. It’s very, very important that we can get recommendations from experts. I want to challenge you right now to look at the last few links that you have gotten for your website and look at them and say, “Are these truly recommendations from other people in the industry that I’m working in? Or are they ones that we made?”

In the past, pretty much every link that we could make would have the potential to help boost our rankings. Now, the links that Google wants to count are ones that truly are people recommending your content, your business, your author. So I did a Whiteboard Friday a couple of years ago that talked about the types of links that Google might want to value, and that’s probably a good reference to find how can we find these recommendations from experts.

How can we do link building in a way that boosts our authoritativeness in the eyes of Google? 

3. Trustworthiness

The last part, which a lot of people ignore, is trustworthiness. People would say, “Well, how could Google ever measure whether a website is trustworthy?” I think it’s definitely possible. Google has a patent. Now we know if there’s a patent, that they’re not necessarily doing this.

Reputation via reviews, blog posts, & other online content

But they do have a patent that talks about how they can gather information about a brand, about an individual, about a website from looking at a corpus of reviews, blog posts, and other things that are online. What this patent talks about is looking at the sentiment of these blog posts. Now some people would argue that maybe sentiment is not a part of Google’s algorithms.

I do think it’s a part of how they determine trustworthiness. So what we’re looking for here is if a business really has a bad reputation, if you have a reputation where people online are saying, “Look, I got scammed by this company.” Or, “I couldn’t get a refund.” Or, “I was treated really poorly in terms of customer service.” If there is a general sentiment about this online, that can affect your ability to rank well, and that’s very important. So all of these things are important in terms of trustworthiness.

Credible, clear contact info on website

You really should have very credible and clear contact information on your website. That’s outlined in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. 

Indexable, easy-to-find info on refund policies

You should have information on your refund policy, assuming that you sell products, and it should be easy for people to find. All of this information I believe should be visible in Google’s index.

We shouldn’t be no indexing these posts. Don’t worry about the fact that they might be kind of thin or irrelevant or perhaps even duplicate content. Google wants to see this, and so we want that to be in their algorithms. 

Scientific references & scientific consensus

Other things too, if you have a medical site or any type of site that can be supported with scientific references, it’s very important that you do that.

One of the things that we’ve been seeing with recent updates is a lot of medical sites are dropping when they’re not really in line with scientific consensus. This is a big one. If you run a site that has to do with natural medicine, this is probably a rough time for you, because Google has been demoting sites that talk about a lot of natural medicine treatments, and the reason for this, I think, is because a lot of these are not in line with the general scientific consensus.

Now, I know a lot of people would say, “Well, who is Google to determine whether essential oils are helpful or not, because I believe a lot of these natural treatments really do help people?” The problem though is that there are a lot of websites that are scamming people. So Google may even err on the side of caution in saying, “Look, we think this website could potentially impact the safety of users.”

You may have trouble ranking well. So if you have posts on natural medicine, on any type of thing that’s outside of the generally accepted scientific consensus, then one thing you can do is try to show both sides of the story, try to talk about how actually traditional physicians would treat this condition.

That can be tricky. 

Ad experience

The other thing that can speak to trust is your ad experience. I think this is something that’s not actually in the algorithms just yet. I think it’s going to come. Perhaps it is. But the Quality Raters’ Guidelines talk a lot about if you have ads that are distracting, that are disruptive, that block the readers from seeing content, then that can be a sign of low trustworthiness.

“If any of Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness is lacking, use the ‘low’ rating.”

I want to leave you with this last quote, again from the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, and this is significant. The raters are instructed that if any one of expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness is lacking, then they are to rate a website as low quality. Again, that’s not going to penalize that website. But it’s going to tell the Google engineers, “Wait a second. We have these low-quality websites that are ranking for these terms.How can we tweak the algorithm so that that doesn’t happen?”



But the important thing here is that if any one of these three things, the E, the A, or the T are lacking, it can impact your ability to rank well. So hopefully this has been helpful. I really hope that this helps you improve the quality of your websites. I would encourage you to leave a comment or a question below. I’m going to be hanging out in the comments section and answering all of your questions.

I have more information on these subjects at mariehaynes.com/eat and also /trust if you’re interested in these trust issues. So with that, I want to thank you. I really wish you the best of luck with your rankings, and please do leave a question for me below.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Feeling like you need a better understanding of E-A-T and the Quality Raters’ Guidelines? You can get even more info from Marie’s full MozCon 2019 talk in our newly released video bundle. Go even more in-depth on what drives rankings, plus access 26 additional future-focused SEO topics from our top-notch speakers:

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Parenting

Is screen time damaging for your kids? No study can tell you that | Oliver Burkeman

Adjusting your behaviour to each new wrinkle in the science is a mug’s game

Is too much screen time bad for your kids? Don’t look to this column for an answer. The truth is, nobody knows. The unceasing pendulum of lifestyle advice is currently swinging through a “debunking” phase, with numerous articles insisting it’s all been a big panic over nothing. But that’s partly because a report published earlier this year, by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said there wasn’t enough evidence to give firm guidelines to parents. As the paediatricians explained, though, the key problem is that sufficient high-quality research has yet to be conducted – a conclusion that somehow got turned into this headline, on the parenting website Motherly: “How harmful is screen time for kids? Not as bad as we may think”. The article was sponsored by the US mobile company Verizon – though science has yet to inform us if this was a matter of causation or merely correlation.

Of course, there are valid research findings in this area: there’s evidence that excessive childhood TV time is correlated with obesity and poorer mental health, while social media use probably isn’t often a direct cause of teenage depression. And some studies are better designed than others. But neither opponents nor proponents of screen time have much incentive to mention a more unsettling fact – that it’s almost certainly impossible to know whether too much screen time would clearly damage your kids. The reasons aren’t surprising: human lives are extraordinarily complex things, and no study that aims to say anything meaningful about the population at large can do justice to the innumerable variables at work in your particular family.

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Read more: theguardian.com

Categories
Parenting

Child-Led Learning // How to Make Harry Potter a Homeschool Curriculum


Child-Led Learning // How to Make Harry Potter a Homeschool Curriculum

The Parenting Junkie takes us on a journey through child-led learning. Child led learning is when you follow the child’s interest and allow them to learn through that interest they have. As opposed to parent led learning, childled learning still involves parents but more as a support system than the leader of the learning. In this video you’ll see how to apply Harry Potter to homeschooling. In Harry Potter homeschool you can learn literacy, math, the arts, even entrepreneurship all through the lens of Harry Potter. This approach is not radical unschool it’s more of a child led homeschool. In child-led homeschool you teach through the child’s interest (in this case Harry Potter) as opposed to following a set curriculum. This Harry Potter curriculum culminated with a Harry Potter Birthday Party. In this Harry Potter homeschool curriculum video you’ll see how you can expand on your child’s topic of interest to learn everything.

3:40 – do you follow their interests
5:09 – middle of the road approach
7:10 – You can learn everything through anything
8:32 – Example of the Homeschool Cloud using Harry Potter
8:56 – Learning English through Harry Potter
10:15 – Learning Writing through Harry Potter
10:58 – All the interesting discussions you can have about the books!
12:03 – Learning Math through Harry Potter
12:49 – Learning Entrepreneurship through Harry Potter
13:45 – Artistic Exploration through Harry Potter
15:04 – Tie it all together with a Harry Potter Birthday Party!
17:38 – Learning Science through Harry Potter

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RECOMMEND TO WATCH / LISTEN TO NEXT:
► A Day in My Life (homeschooling 3 littles) (https://youtu.be/x2NBxw5cXkc)
► 7 Types of Play Kids Need (Learning through Play) (https://youtu.be/um2sT2yAq40)
► Minimalist Birthday Party Ideas for Parents (10 Tips for a Meaningful Celebration) (https://youtu.be/m9sNEcEizg0)
► How to Improve Your Child’s Focus Naturally Without Medication (https://youtu.be/sEojEDpCofA)
► Listen to the corresponding podcast to find out how this could work with lego and princesses! (https://www.theparentingjunkie.com/27)

RESOURCES SHOWN IN THE VIDEO
Spielgaben (https://spielgaben.com/)
The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart (https://amzn.to/2JX24po)
Etsy Shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/KingShlomosMagicShop)
For a full list of resources we used for this Harry Potter Study Unit head on over to the blog (https://www.theparentingjunkie.com/how-to-make-a-harry-potter-homeschool-curriculum)

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Parenting

Adult Tantrums: Is Yelling at Our Kids Effective?


Adult Tantrums: Is Yelling at Our Kids Effective?

The Parenting Junkie takes on the topic of adult tantrums. Have you ever had a full blown temper tantrum? Maybe it didn’t look quite like your child’s temper tantrums in which they throw themselves on the floor and hit, kicked and screamed but you yourself have also yelled when your emotions got the best of you. Adult temper tantrums happen, I am not immune to them either. In one of my tantrums I find myself yelling at my kids. Do you find yourself yelling at your child. Yelling at kids can do serious damage. If we are unable to calm down how can we expect our children to calm down? If you find yourself screaming at your kids this video will help. Also, stayed tuned for the next video where I will share the practical steps to use in the heat of the moment to stop yelling at kids.

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► Permission to NOT Smack Your Child (https://youtu.be/WliQd7OfJWg)
► How to Teach Kids Respect (https://youtu.be/QgftkxhcMnA)
► Handling Tantrums with Dr. Laura Markham (https://youtu.be/mQrqRaNIA5g)
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Parenting

How to Answer Difficult Questions Kids Ask // No Topic is Off-Limits!


How to Answer Difficult Questions Kids Ask // No Topic is Off-Limits!

The Parenting Junkie went LIVE to help you learn how to answer difficult questions kids ask. Kids ask a lot of questions as they try to figure out how the world works. There are awkward questions children ask that can seem like a curve ball was thrown your way. You’ll learn how to talk to your kids and how to answer kids with any question they throw your way. In this live the Parenting Junkie will be answering kids toughest questions. You’ll learn how to handle difficult questions (such as the ones listed below) and feel confident that you can handle any question kids ask.

Topics covered:
• Babies (watch more on the “where do babies come from” question: https://youtu.be/hblXF_SHT4s)
• Family Members/Marriage
• Society (including war, murder, homelessness, etc)
• Self Identity / Gender Awareness
• Privacy / Menstruation
• Death (watch a role play video on talking to kids about death with Dr. Laura Markham: https://youtu.be/_bAO4Q3d6F4)

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► Questions to Ask Your Child (https://youtu.be/kbCplVZj3tI)
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Parenting

Playful Parenting // Watch This if You Want to Help Your Kids with Big Feelings!


Playful Parenting // Watch This if You Want to Help Your Kids with Big Feelings!

The Parenting Junkie discusses playful parenting. Dr. Lawrence Cohen, author of playful parenting, teaches us that we can use play to help our children calm their nervous systems. So what is playful parenting? Playful parenting is using play to process big emotions and to connect with our children. You can learn to be a playful parent and find great playful parenting ideas. When we become playful parents we are more able to love parenting and parent from love.

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► Anger Management Tips for Parents (https://youtu.be/BUjCr8WQ3UQ)
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► How to Teach Kids Respect in 3 Simple Steps (https://youtu.be/QgftkxhcMnA)

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Categories
Parenting

Anger Management Tips for Parents: How to Handle Anger in Parenting


Anger Management Tips for Parents: How to Handle Anger in Parenting

The Parenting Junkie discusses anger in parenting. Do you ever get angry with your kids? If so, this video has some anger management tips for parents. If you are trying to parent without yelling and to learn how to stay calm you’ll learn 3 calm parenting strategies to get you through without yelling the next time you feel angry with your child. Parenting without yelling is a goal we all have, we want to practice calm parenting but sometimes our anger can get the best of us. That’s why these calm parenting strategies will help you with how to handle your anger towards a child. Using the anger management for moms you’ll learn in this video you’ll learn how to manage anger towards a child. As you implement these strategies you’ll notice yourself handling your anger in a more productive and peaceful way.

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RECOMMEND TO WATCH / LISTEN TO NEXT:
► How to Teach Kids Respect in 3 Simple Steps (https://youtu.be/QgftkxhcMnA)
► Adult Tantrums: Is Yelling at Our Kids Effective (https://youtu.be/JdHsiWeZq6s)
► Handling Tantrums with Dr. Laura Markham (https://youtu.be/mQrqRaNIA5g)
► Your Child HIT You? (https://youtu.be/OYwIG3nmYGQ)

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