kid with feelings

5 Ways to Help Your Kid Identify Their Feelings

“Use your words, sweetie” -- sounds good, sure, but what if your kid doesn’t know the words for those big feelings they’re having? The first step to your child expressing their emotions (rather than just having a huge meltdown) is helping them figure out what their emotions are. Here’s how.

Talk about emotions.

Share your own feelings, from “I’m so happy to see you!” to “I’m really frustrated that we still haven’t found a parking space!” And talk about others’, whether it’s “Look, Morgan has a big smile on her face. I bet she’s excited that you’re letting her borrow your scooter!” or “How do you think the bears felt when they came back and saw that someone had been eating their porridge?”

Ask how their feelings feel.

Learning to associate their bodies’ reactions with emotions helps kids get in touch with their feelings. Quiz your kid on what they might be feeling if their heart is beating fast, their eyebrows are scrunched up or they’re shaking all over.

Notice and label their emotions as they happen.

Next time you see your child experiencing a strong feeling, whether sadness, love or impatience, narrate the emotion for them. (“You’re slumping in your seat -- it looks like you’re really disappointed about losing your lucky ball. Is that right?”)

Normalize feelings.

Let your child know that having big feelings is okay. For example, if your kid is really nervous about summer camp, you might say, “You know, a lot of kids get butterflies in their tummies before the first day. That happened to me when I was little too!”

Play a game.

Play feelings charades -- take turns acting out and guessing different emotions -- or put on a finger puppet show with your kid and ask them to tell you what the puppets are feeling. Q’s Race to the Top can also help your kid learn to figure out and manage their emotions.

Next: Help your child work on their emotional skills without even realizing it -- watch Q Wunder videos, play games and sing and dance along to original music in the Emotions neighborhood on the Q Wunder app!


smiling happy boy outside Q Wunder

The Secret to Raising a Happy Kid

All any parent really wants is for their kids to be happy. But how do you raise a happy child?

 

Happiness comes from within -- but you can foster it by helping your kid build their happiness pyramid. What’s a happiness pyramid? It’s the foundation for your child’s well-being.

 

The happiness pyramid is made up of four layers: who you are, who you spend time with, what you spend time on, and how you frame things. Talk to your child about each of the four layers, writing down their responses from bottom layer to top, creating their very own happiness pyramid in the process. Then hang their happiness pyramid in their room where they can see it every day.

Print out this free Happiness Pyramid chart and fill it in with your child!

Who you are

Ask your child what makes them special -- and celebrate what they like about themselves.

 

Who you spend time with

Who does your child most like being with? Spend time together as a family and support your child’s friendships.

 

What you spend time on

What are your child’s favorite things to do? Encourage your child to try out different activities to figure out what they like best -- then spend more time doing them. More fun means more joy!

 

How you frame things

How does your child react when things go wrong -- and how do they deal with problems? Help your child develop an optimistic attitude. For tips, check out how to raise a kid with grit and how to help your kid defuse their anger.

 

Finally, do more of what you and your child love doing together -- maybe watching funny movies, rough-housing, making up silly stories about each other, or playing basketball. Anything that gets you laughing and having fun together will make you both happier -- and build the bond between you.


Next: Want to show your kid how to build their own happiness pyramid? Check out the “Building Happiness” Q Wunder episode in the Emotions section on the Q Wunder app!


Q Wunder dancing with kids

Teach Your Kid to Boogie Their Way to Good Behavior

Can learning excellent dance skills lead to excellent behavioral skills? Teaching your child some sweet moves may not turn them into an instant angel or melt away every meltdown, but practicing physical control does help develop emotional regulation too. Plus, dancing with your kid is a great chance to bond with them and have fun!

 

See if you can master these moves from the Q Wunder app together:

 

Learn the “Happier You” Hand Jive with Sofia

https://youtu.be/875WzQNN1ws

 

Do the wave, the robot and the shimmy with tWitch, Allison and Q

https://youtu.be/t5BkwP_bCHg

Or make up your own dances to the Q Wunder songs featured on the Q Wunder app and available on Spotify and iTunes!

 

Next: For more physical challenges, try out some Do Cards from Q Wunder’s Race to the Top On the Go!

 


boy paying attention

6 Ways to Help Your Kid Pay Attention

 

You have to ask your kid to set the table 10 times before they actually hear you. They’re having trouble concentrating at school. No sooner do they start playing with one thing than they get distracted and move on to something else, leaving piles of toys in their wake. Hey, it’s natural for little kids’ minds to wander. But there are things you can do to help your kid learn to pay attention, no lecturing required.

 

Give them attention.

Don’t yell from the next room and expect them to listen. Get close enough that you can make eye contact before you make a request. That not only helps them hear you, it also shows them what paying attention looks like.

 

Make sure they’re getting enough sleep.

Not sure when your kid should be getting to bed? Check out our bedtime chart.

 

Make it manageable.

Little kids can get easily overwhelmed. Instead of telling them to get ready for school, remind them about one thing at a time -- to brush their teeth, for example, or make their bed. (If you need more help with this one, try making a morning routine chart.)

 

Send your kid outside to play.

Studies show that recess helps kids do better on schoolwork. To up your kid’s focus, make sure they get plenty of running-around-outside time.

 

Play a game.

Make learning to pay attention fun with Simon Says, I Spy, the memory game -- or the Build-a-Robot or Problem-Solving games on the Q Wunder app.


Next: Come up with a dance routine with your kid -- take turns making up and then trying to remember every step. Bonus points if you do it to the Q Wunder song “Focus,” available on the Q Wunder app, Spotify and iTunes. 


angry boy yelling

20 Ways to Help Your Kid Defuse Their Anger

When your kid gets angry, it’s all too easy to go from mad to worse. But there are ways to help. First, work on yourself: Next time you start to feel angry, say “I’m getting mad, so I’m going to take a break” and walk away instead of flying off the handle. That way, your kid gets to witness another way of handling those feelings. And remember, stress feeds anger. So make sure everyone’s getting enough sleep, stick to a routine, prioritize special time, allow your kids plenty of outdoor play time, and don’t overpack your kids’ schedules--or your own. Relaxed parents are more likely to have relaxed kids. And in a peaceful moment, talk to your kid about how to learn to calm down instead of blow up next time they start to feel mad. Ask them to brainstorm some ways that help them chill. You can also share some techniques of your own. Need more help? Let them know that some kids find these tips helpful:

  1. Put on music

  2. Color (consider getting a coloring book made for relaxation)

  3. Draw or write down what’s making them mad (especially when combined with the next one)

  4. Rip up paper (note: be ready to help them clean it up afterward)

  5. Take deep breaths -- they can try blowing into their hand five times or breathing out like a dragon. (Tip: Help your child self-soothe with the Q-Time Buddy, a stuffed monkey designed to help kids learn to slow down their breathing and manage their emotions.)

  6. Slowly count to 10

  7. Walk away and take a break for a few minutes

  8. Go to their special spot (a corner of their room, say, set up to be as peaceful as possible -- think battery-powered candles, a blanket, pillows or a bean-bag chair, maybe next to their bookshelf)

  9. Rock in a rocking chair or swing on a swing

  10. Take a bath

  11. Breathe in the scent of a lavender-filled pillow

  12. Talk to themselves (for example, “I can handle this,” “Stay calm” or “Take deep breaths”)

  13. Voice the anger (for example, “I’m so mad at you!” -- whether or not that’s justified, listen rather than disciplining them; recognizing and expressing emotions is healthy)

  14. Picture your favorite peaceful place (bonus: put up a photo or drawing of it in their room)

  15. Give themselves a hug (wrap their arms around themselves and squeeze)

  16. Shake a calming jar

  17. Snuggle a special stuffed animal or lovey

  18. Run around the backyard or up and down stairs five times

  19. Jump rope or play basketball

  20. Cuddle with or play with a pet

You may need to do a little trial and error -- things that help one kid may just amp up another. You can also try to help your kid learn to recognize when they’re starting to get worked up so they can walk away or ask for help before they lose it. Figuring out those patterns can also be helpful for you -- if you know transitioning to bedtime is a trigger, you can avoid making demands of your child until the next day. Once your kid settles on some helpful ways to handle their anger, write their ideas down and post them on the fridge or in their room. You can even make a book together using stick figures to help your kid remember their techniques -- and give them something to refer to next time they get mad.

Need more help? Check out our post on What to Do Next Time Your Kid Loses It.


angry child

What to Do Next Time Your Kid Loses It

Hell hath no fury like a four-year-old whose block tower just fell down. Sure, sometimes you just want to make it stop -- but try just making it through instead. Here’s how.

 

Validate their feelings.

Has “Calm down!” ever worked on you? Exactly. Whatever your kid is mad about, it’s a big deal to them, even if it seems trivial to you. If you interrupt an angry outburst with “Whoa, you’re overreacting,” your kid is just going to turn it up because you obviously aren’t getting how upset they are. Instead, try acknowledging their emotions with “Wow, you’re really mad. Tell me what’s going on.” Then show some empathy for their feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. For example, “It sounds like you’re frustrated that your brother is taking a turn with the ball. Wouldn’t it be fun if you could just have it to yourself all day? It’s hard when we can’t get what we want!”

 

Give them a time-in.

Rather than sending your child to their room alone until they calm down -- implying that their emotions are too much for you to handle, which can be scary for a kid -- say, “Let’s go to your room and you can tell me about it.” (Not at home? If possible, step away for a moment to connect with your kid one on one.) That lets your child know you care and want to help. You won’t always be able to do this -- if you’re running late, for example, or grocery shopping with multiple kids -- but when you can, it can defuse the situation quickly.

 

Normalize anger.

Let your kid know everyone gets angry sometimes, including other kids -- and you. You might say, “I used to get mad when my sister wouldn’t share her toys too,” or “You know, a lot of kids feel frustrated when it’s time to stop screen time.”

 

Set limits around behavior, not emotions.

If your child is getting physically aggressive, get down on their level and firmly but calmly tell them that it’s okay to be mad, but hitting hurts and is never okay. If the aggressive behavior continues, calmly give a consequence. Otherwise, reassure them that you’re going to keep them and everyone else safe, that you’re here for them, and that it’s okay to cry or get their feelings out.

 

Hold firm to your boundary.

When your kid is flipping out, it’s tempting to give in to their demands just to get some peace. What’s one more cookie, or 10 more minutes at the playground, even though you already said no? But that just teaches your kid that if they don’t get what they want the first time, cry, cry again. Help your child come up with other ways to deal with their anger instead. Check out our next post on helping your kid learn to deal with anger for some ideas!

 

Dealing with feelings starts with emotional awareness. Download the Q Wunder app to help your child develop emotional and behavioral skills.

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special time pillow fight Q Wunder

What Makes Special Time So Special

Can you spare five, ten, even 15 minutes today to just have fun with your kid? To really pay attention to them one on one (and not for misbehaving)? To love and laugh with them? Special time is when you set aside everything else and do whatever your kid wants for a few minutes. Say yes to special time and you’re saying yes to one of the greatest joys of parenting -- not to mention one of the greatest tools to teach your kid lifelong emotional and social skills. Here’s why special time is so special:

 

It’s just about them.

Between making dinner, answering emails, walking the dog and feeding the baby, it can feel hard to concentrate on anything else. But it’s important (for you as well as your kid) to take the time to connect one on one. Model empathy by showing you care about what your child cares about. Do they want to play-wrestle? Challenge you to Q’s Race to the Top? Make up a new dance for you to do together? Whatever they choose, show them what focus really looks like by giving them your undivided attention.

 

It puts your child in control.

Little kids get told what to do all day long. This is one chance for them to take charge. What do they want to do? Let them take the lead -- without suggesting another (better) way to catch the ball or win at tic-tac-toe or do whatever else they decide to do with you. Instead, practice just watching, following and appreciating your child. Make special time an opportunity for your kid to build self-awareness and practice independence.

 

It creates the space to share their feelings.

Prioritizing special time promotes bonding and builds your child’s trust in you. That sets the stage for them to talk about things they might not otherwise share--whether it’s while they play house with their stuffed animals during special time with you or right before bed that night.

 

It’s fun.

Spending time with your child -- really spending time with them -- is a gift for both of you. Enjoy it!

 

Try this: Sing along to Q Wunder songs together from the Q Wunder app -- you can even make up your own dance routines to them!

 


girl putting allowance in piggy bank Q Wuncer

The 5 Biggest Allowance Mistakes Parents Make

Giving your kid an allowance is a great way to teach them priceless life lessons on how to manage money. But to get the most bang for your parenting buck, avoid these five common allowance errors.


Starting too late.

The time to start an allowance is when kids start to learn the value of money and become interested in it. Typically, that’s around kindergarten or first grade. Getting started when they’re young helps kids develop responsibility and learn to form good financial habits early.


Paying them for chores.

Some parents argue that you don’t get paid unless you work, so kids shouldn't get paid unless they work either. But is anyone paying you to make dinner? How about mowing the lawn? Everyone in the family should help out around the house; doing regular chores is part of learning how to be a team player. An allowance, on the other hand, is a teaching tool. Giving kids an allowance helps them learn how to handle money, just like giving kids books encourages them to read. That said, if they want to earn more, it’s fine to pay them extra for additional tasks you’d normally handle yourself, like raking leaves or vacuuming the living room.


Keeping mum about money.

Don’t just hand them their allowance -- talk about money. Explain what it means to spend, share (give to charity), save (wait until they have enough for a big purchase), and invest (put aside money to put into an account for college, say). You can even give them a piggy bank with multiple sections or separate containers for each purpose. Whether or not you decide to dictate how much they put into each category, letting them know that money is for more than just immediate gratification is invaluable.


Advancing them money.

Please, Mommy, I really want it! Can I please have next’s week’s allowance now?” Giving your kid an allowance teaches them impulse control, but only if you stick to the program and let them learn the virtues of saving on their own.


Telling them how and when to spend their money.

No, that doesn’t mean you have to let them buy a Swiss Army knife at age five. Family rules still apply, and you still have veto power. But it does mean that if they want to blow their entire allowance five minutes after they get it on a stuffed animal that’s almost identical to the 10,000 other stuffed animals they already have at home -- remember, it’s their money, and choosing how and when to spend it is part of learning how to manage it wisely.

Teach your kids more about responsibility with the Q Wunder app

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boy brushing teeth

Shift Your Kid's Behavior with This Printable Reward Chart

Wish your kid would brush their teeth, be ready on time for school or do homework on their own without a total meltdown? One way to help them on their way is to use a printable reward chart like this one:

 

reward chart from Q Wunder

P.S. Before you stick this on your fridge, get our tips on how to use a reward chart so it actually gets results.

 

Next: Work on the behavior you'd like to encourage with the Q Wunder app, which helps your kid work on responsibility, motivation and other skills key to their long-term success. 

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girl with reward chart

How to Use a Reward Chart So It Actually Works

Virtue may be its own reward, but throwing in a few stickers doesn’t hurt. Although some parents worry that sticker charts teach kids to behave well only because they’ll get something, used wisely they can provide the framework for kids to form long-lasting good habits. Tired of battles over doing homework, cleaning up toys, going to bed? Providing positive reinforcement for things that your kid has trouble with can help make the desired behavior routine so that eventually it comes naturally. Here’s how to keep your kid’s eyes on the prize and use a reward chart to get results:

 

Keep it simple.

Start with just one to three behaviors you’d like your kid to work on. If your chart is too complicated, it’ll be too hard for you to stick with it and too easy for your kid to get overwhelmed.

 

Be specific on the behavior.

In other words, the behavior you’re targeting should be clear to you and your kid (for example, instead of “be nice,” try “share your toys”).

 

Be specific on the prize.

Make sure they’re excited about the prize, and let them know how many stickers they’ll need to get to the prize (unless your kid loves stickers, in which case the sticker itself can be the reward).

 

Choose small prizes.

Rather than having your kid save up stickers for a tablet or scooter, choose prizes they can realistically expect to earn after a week or so. Little kids aren’t good at delayed gratification, so frequent reinforcement is key. And make your prize a small toy or outing (a coveted stuffed animal or trip to the zoo, say) rather than sweets (which just makes sugary snacks seem even more desirable).

 

Be consistent.

When your child behaves the way you’re aiming for, go to the chart and put a sticker on immediately, showering them with lots of praise as you do so. If you’re out, keep a portable log, then transfer it to the chart as soon as you get home.

 

Keep it positive.

You want your chart to be for positive reinforcement, not punishment, so don’t take away stickers for bad behavior. It's also best to set up the chart so your child gets a sticker every time they engage in the behavior rather than making it a daily yes/no chart. Unless your kid earns a sticker every day (which probably isn't realistic), it can feel like a punishment and actually make them less motivated.

 

Plan to phase it out eventually.

After a month or two, once your kid has mastered the target behavior, you can shift the chart to something new you want them to work on -- or phase it out. Tell your kid how proud you are of them for all the hard work they’ve done and explain that they’re so good at it now that they don’t need the chart anymore.

 

Set your kid up for success.

A rewards chart can help you build good habits with your kids, but it’s not a magic wand. Stick to a consistent sleep and meal/snack schedule to keep kids from getting too tired and/or hungry to stick with the program.

 

Stay tuned for the Q Wunder rewards chart printable, coming later this week!