bullied girl on bench

What to Do If Your Kid Is Being Bullied

It’s heartbreaking to hear your kid tell you they’re being bullied. Or maybe they don’t even tell you; instead, you start to notice they’re avoiding school, complaining of headaches or stomachaches, losing their appetite, not sleeping well, wetting the bed, having more frequent meltdowns and/or otherwise acting odd -- and you finally figure out why. As upset as you probably feel, try to stay calm for your kid so you can help them. Here’s how.

 

Ask what happened.

And listen without judgment. Don’t say “What did you do to make them act that way?” That signals to your child that the bullying is their fault, even if (as is often the case) they’ve done nothing to provoke it. And instead of telling them to ignore the bully -- which signals to your child that that’s what you’re going to do -- be empathetic. Let them know they can always talk to you and that you’ll always be there to help them.

 

Talk to the teacher.

If this is a recurring issue, make an appointment to talk to your child’s teacher about it. Bullies typically operate under the radar, so teachers may not realize what’s going on until you tell them. Once they’re in the loop, they can look out for your kid, share any relevant school policies with you, and keep you posted on what’s going on with your child when you’re not around.

 

Brainstorm with your child about how to respond.

Involving your kid in coming up with a solution may help them feel empowered rather than helpless.  

 

Role-play with them.

Teach them to look the bully in the eye and loudly say “I don’t like that, stop doing that now!”, then walk away to tell an adult. Practice this at home so they’re ready next time it happens elsewhere.

 

Tell them to stick with friends.

There’s safety in numbers, so teach them to buddy up when they’re in settings where they often get bullied. Bullies aren’t likely to target someone unless they’re alone.

 

Encourage friendships and hobbies.

Help your kid feel good about themselves, despite being bullied, by giving them opportunities to feel validated. Invite other kids over for play dates and help your child pursue their talents and interests.

 

Help your kids develop grit with the Q Wunder app

 

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kids working on kitchen skills

Which Kitchen Skills Can Your Kid Handle?

Want your kids to help out in the kitchen, but not sure what’s realistic for them to take on? Click on this chart, print it and bust out the kid-sized apron, it’s time to get cookin’!

A few things to keep in mind:

These are guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.

You know best what your kids can handle; adjust the tasks you give them to do accordingly.

Supervise when necessary.

Safety requires that you do some tasks, such as chopping veggies or using the stove, alongside your kid until they can confidently do them on their own. In other cases, such as measuring ingredients, you might just want to actually eat what you make (yes, Virginia, there is a difference between a teaspoon and cup of salt).

Cook together when you’re not rushed.

The reality is, as with any other chore, cooking with kids is harder and takes longer than just doing it yourself at first. But you’re playing the long game here. Minimize meltdowns (theirs and yours!) by starting with a batch of cookies or a weekend breakfast. Save the weeknight dinner for when they’ve got this stuff down.

Want your kids to build more life skills? Find out what they're ready for with our helpful printable chore chart!

 

 


writing family mission

Mission Possible

What’s important to your family? What does your family stand for? Maybe you’ve never thought about it much, other than what your family isn’t (“In our family, we don’t hit!”) But talking about who your family is and what you care about is an amazing opportunity to bond with your kids and give them a sense of belonging and identity. Plus, coming up with a family mission is fun!

 

Just talking about this stuff will empower your kids and encourage them to think about your family’s morals and goals as a meaningful part of their lives. Knowing what your family really cares about will help guide their behavior. It can even help you make parenting decisions and choose your battles: What really matters in your family, and what can you let slide?

 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is -- well, to come up with your family mission. Here's how. 

 

Make it special

Call a special family meeting to celebrate your family. Do it at your family’s favorite restaurant, over a favorite family meal at home, on a trip to your family’s favorite vacation spot, or on a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s or Father’s Day, or New Year’s. Just keep it short: For little kids with limited attention spans, it’s best to keep your meeting to about 20 minutes. The last thing you want this to feel like is a chore. After all, you can always meet again another day.

 

Q & A

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What do you love about our family?
  2. What are your favorite things we do together? 
  3. How would other people describe our family?
  4. What makes you look forward to coming home at the end of the day?
  5. What does our family care about the most?

Make sure each child and parent gets to contribute. Write everything down, even if the answer seems silly. Remember, the idea is not to come up with some ideal family mission for some imaginary ideal family; it’s to figure out what the answers really are for your family. Bonus: Borrow your kid’s chalkboard or easel so everyone can see all the answers.

 

Dig in and narrow it down

In some cases, you may need to dig a little to get at what’s really important. For example, if your kids say they love going to the park together, ask why. Is it because they love playing together as a family? Because they love being outside? Or some other reason?

 

Look for themes

Which core values keep coming up? A few examples:

  • Adventure
  • Creativity
  • Faith
  • Fun
  • Helping
  • Honesty
  • Kindness

What else keeps getting mentioned? It might be something your family loves to do together, like traveling, or what you value most, like plenty of quiet time or surrounding yourselves with friends and family. Just make sure you include something from each family member in your final family mission.

 

Polish and print

Together, choose the five to ten things that feel most authentically your family, then rewrite them as bullet points or sentences. Finally, type everything into a nice-looking document, print it, and frame it or put it up on the fridge as a daily family reminder of what’s really important. Mission accomplished!

 

For more parenting tips, download the free Q Wunder app and listen to our parent podcasts!

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mom addicted to cell phone

Your Kids’ Obsession with Your Phone May Be the Least of Your Worries

The other morning my kids all piled in our bed. They’re in rare form in the morning, like their batteries got overcharged overnight and they’re shaking off the excess energy. They started doing imitations of everyone we know, parodying people’s quirks, including their own, and they had me and my husband in stitches as they jumped about and paraded around theatrically. Then they did us. Thumb-tapping on invisible smart phones. Taking calls. Thumb-tapping again. I felt like I had been cast as Mr. Business in The Lego Movie. We gave courtesy laughs but glanced at each other sheepishly.

Okay, so we all need to cut down on the phone use in front of our kids. We KNOW that. We are the first generation of parents to have our emails, watches, messages, phones, calendars and internet all packed into our pocket.

Occasionally I find myself giving my kids a defensive “perspective talk” on the benefits of my smart phone: “If I didn’t have my phone, I wouldn’t BE here at the playground with you right now. I’d be at home in the kitchen, filling out registration forms for soccer, at the grocery store buying all the stuff I just clicked on Instacart, or at the office, writing this blog post. The phone gives me the freedom to be with YOU!” And of course, I love the fact that we can summon the new song from The Greatest Showman with one click and have it blasting in the car a moment later. Or that we can huddle around the kitchen counter and laugh at Rhett and Link eating the world’s hottest chili pepper on Good Mythical Morning while waiting on dinner to cook.

But that ridiculous imitation of me did prompt me to tweak my thumb-tapping ways -- and I’m so glad it did!

Here are three simple changes I made that have already made a huge difference in our family:

Charging my phone in a remote room

When I charge somewhere other than the kitchen or living room, I find myself forgetting about my phone for hours on end. When I finally pick it up, I’ve never missed anything pressing, and my world usually hasn’t collapsed due to my absence or lack of availability.

No phones during mealtimes

Studies show that even the presence of a smart phone shortens our attention span and ability to connect with those around us. Picture everything the phone contains swirling around your head at the dinner table -- political gaffes in the news, cookbook recipes, school notifications, small talk from friends, photos of your aunt’s new haircut and your hairdresser’s new puppy. How could you possibly focus on your family with this motley crew all talking to you at once?

No phones on date night

Aside from the occasional check-in with the babysitter, my husband and I have started banishing our devices from our date nights- and we LOVE it. This goes for dates with my kids too! Now they’ll have to come up with something else to parody besides my phone use. I’m sure that won’t be hard.


awkward girl in classroom

The Awkward Advantage

Social graces come easily to some -- and not so easily to others. The good news? There’s an upside to being awkward. In our latest podcast, Ty Tashiro, Ph.D., social scientist, TED speaker, and author of Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome, tells Q Wunder creator Sofia Dickens why awkwardness can be an asset -- and how to help an awkward child develop the social skills they may lack.

 

SD: What distinguishes those with the occasional awkward behavior from somebody who’s chronically awkward?

TT: If you think about what makes you feel awkward, they’re often really small moments, like saying the wrong thing. But some people have more awkward moments than others. We’ve found through studies that the brains of socially awkward people are organized a little differently. They have trouble processing some social cues that come naturally to others, like facial expressions or what’s expected in routine social situations like parties. This can make day-to-day life pretty stressful sometimes.

 

Yet there’s a silver lining to being awkward -- it’s linked to extraordinary achievement, being gifted, and entrepreneurship. Why?

The awkward person really commits to whatever they’re doing. That overenthusiasm can make some people think you’re a little weird or nerdy, but there’s a bit of envy there too. Here’s this person who’s unapologetically passionate about the things they love. Awkward people channel that energy through the sharp focus that they tend to have, which allows them to engage in what psychologists call deliberate practice. Heard how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get good at something? Persisting at a task is the best predictor of achieving extraordinary things.

 

You mention in the book that awkward people tend to focus more on the mouth and chin and miss out on important social cues that they would be getting if they were looking at the whole face.

Most people, when talking to somebody or trying to read their emotional state, reflexively look to the eye region, because the eyes are the most information rich part of the face. But awkward people tend to look at the chin or the corner of the ear, which are far less rich in social information. The reason they do that is that it dampens the emotional intensity of the situation. When they look someone in the eye, it’s almost like looking into the sun. It’s just too intense an experience, so they learn to avert their gaze from the eye region. That tempers the emotional intensity of the situation and can actually help them attend better to what the person is saying. Now, other people might think the awkward person is being disrespectful or is disinterested in what they’re saying, and that’s understandable, but in fact what the awkward person is trying to do is to create a situation where they can listen and be attentive.

 

You say you were awkward growing up. I was inspired by how your parents coached you when you arrived at a library or a birthday party and let you know what was expected of you. Tell us more about what they did.

Awkward kids are really responsive when you meet them first with, “Hey, I get your passion, and I’m going to support that, but let’s work on these other things too.” I was lucky that my parents allowed me to dive deep on the things I was really interested in, but also worked with me on developing my social skills. When I was 10 or 12, my parents would park the car at Wendy’s, for example, and say, “All right, Ty, it’s time to mentally prepare.” They’d say things like “When you walk in the door, what’s the first thing you need to look for?” It would take me awhile and then I’d say, “Oh, I need to see if there’s a line.” Sometimes I would cut the line, not because I was trying to cheat or get ahead -- and this sounds wild to people who aren’t awkward -- but because it didn’t register in my mind that the line was there. Having this mental preparation to recognize the line and get in the back, to get my order in mind and my money ready, to think about what I needed to say to the cashier to be polite -- all of these things we had to review dozens of times for me to get the hang of them. I’m sure I wasn’t the most patient in these situations as a kid, but boy, as an adult, I am sure grateful that they were persistent in making sure I had these social skills going into adulthood.

 

For more on how to help awkward kids build social skills, including harnessing the power of the threes, download the Q Wunder app and listen to our latest podcast!

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5 Resolutions for a Happier Family This Year

Want to make some New Year’s resolutions you’ll actually want to keep for a change? Guarantee a happier new year with these five tips for a happier family over the next 365 days -- and beyond.

 

Plan special time with each kid every day.

Let your kid decide what to do and then do it, even if it’s literally five minutes per day per kid. Your kids so rarely get to spend focused one-on-one time with you, especially time when they get to be the boss. The key to making it work: Schedule it at the same time every day, whether it’s as soon as you get home, right after dinner or the first part of their bedtime routine.

 

Plan special time every week as a family.

You might decide to do something you know you all enjoy, whether it’s going out for breakfast at the same diner every Saturday morning, drawing or reading together before dinner once a week, or game night every Friday evening (bonus: get to know each other better with Q’s Race to the Top!). Or you could let each family member take turns being responsible for what you do. For example, set aside Sunday afternoons for family time and let parents and kids take turns surprising everyone else on where you go -- whether it’s the neighborhood playground, the science museum downtown or a road trip to the mountains nearby.

 

Go outside.

A regular dose of nature recharges kids and adults alike, and the best childhood memories happen outdoors. Make snow angels, go camping, swim, ride bikes, play freeze tag together! And make sure your kids get a little outside time every day.

 

Speak softly.

Angry? Stressed? Instead of opening your mouth, pause and listen instead. Take a break. Breathe deeply and count to ten. Find yourself losing it anyway? Be gentle with yourself and embrace the do-over: Just say “Wait, can we start over?” Yelling is a habit -- and one your kids will pick up on -- but so is choosing calm and patience.

 

Prioritize yourself and your partner.

It’s easy to let your job, housework, social media, even your kids take up all your time when you put yourself and your relationship at the back of the line. Show your kids what it’s like to show up for yourself and your partner by taking up a hobby just for you and going on regular date nights with your significant other. After all, a happy you and happy relationship is the foundation for a happy family.


boys picking tree at holidays

Parents’ Survival Guide to Visiting Family for the Holidays

There may be no place like home for the holidays, but seeing relatives during one of the busiest times of the year can also be a smidgen stressful. Here’s how to ensure family holiday visits are as smooth as a freshly fallen field of snow.

 

Prep the kids to see family.

Make the visit an opportunity for your kids to work on empathy: Start by showing kids photos and tell them stories about family members you'll be seeing, including what they were like when they were your kids' ages and what they like doing now. If you’re traveling, ask about your host’s house rules for kids. Is everyone expected to say grace at Grandma’s house? Are children allowed to make a couch fort in the living room? Then go over them a few times with your kids before your trip. 

 

Share your own expectations -- including sensitivities -- with relatives.

Speaking of expectations, let relatives know which parenting rules are most important to you -- for example, you’d like to get your child to bed by 8 or set limits on video game time. At the same time, you can also let relatives know about any sensitivities for your family. In addition to avoiding discussions of sex, religion and politics, you may want to steer clear of topics like parenting philosophies, if/when you’re having more kids, and/or the fact that your preschooler isn’t potty-trained yet.

 

Keep life predictable.

Kids do better with routine. Don’t get them to bed late or skip snacks and expect them to keep it together. Bring a few books, their lovey and a pillowcase from home to keep things feeling as familiar as possible. And give plenty of warning before transitions. They can feel especially jarring for kids in a strange environment or when a lot is going on.

 

Take a deep breath before you discipline. 

You may feel pressure from relatives to be extra strict with your kids, especially when you're in front of an audience. If a kid starts melting down, step into another room or outside, away from the view and earshot of others, and take a minute or two for you and your kid to calm down before you deal with the situation. Before the visit, you might also thank your parents or other family members for supporting you even when you don’t always do things the same way. If relatives still end up offering unsolicited parenting advice, acknowledge their concern and say something like “Hmm, you might be right.” That lets you defuse the criticism without engaging in an argument; that said, it doesn’t mean you have to agree or change your behavior.

 

Do something together.

Planning all-ages activities such as going sledding, watching a holiday movie or decorating a gingerbread house gives everyone something to focus on and takes the pressure off, especially if your relationship with family members can be shaky. You might also want to set aside some time for your kids to hang out with others. If your dad loves spending time with your kids, for example, see if he’s up for a play date just for them. That gives you a break -- and your kids a chance to bond with him.

 

Plan downtime.

That said, trying to do too much can lead to tantrums (and not always from the kids). One group activity per day is a good rule. To keep kids relaxed and calm, try baths, doing artwork together, cuddling up to watch an episode of Q Wunder, and/or special time with you. And don’t forget yourself: Turn in an hour before you go to sleep to read, or take advantage of the additional adults around and go for a solo walk before breakfast every morning.

 


boy making snow angel happy holidays

This Holiday Season, Help Your Kids Learn to Be Grateful Instead of Greedy

’Tis the season when children everywhere rejoice with the refrain: “I want, I want, gimme, gimme!” Are yours begging for something new every time you come within a five-mile radius of a toy store? Time to rein it in, Rudolph. If your kids are more about holiday greed than peace and goodwill, here are ten ways to help them start celebrating a happier, more mindful holiday.  

 

Minimize the temptation.

Kids are only human. Instead of spending every weekend between Thanksgiving and New Year’s at the mall, do most of your holiday shopping online after little ones are in bed. That way, they won’t be confronted at every shopping cart turn with yet another item they can’t live without. If you do take the kids along to get gifts, read our tips first.

 

Say “Is that what you really want?” or “Let’s add it to your list!”

When something sparkly catches your child’s eye, say, “Wow, that is awesome. Is that what you really want this year, or do you want [thing they’ve already asked for] more?” In the process, you’re teaching them delayed gratification (even though you’re not getting it for them today, they might get it later) and setting their expectations. It doesn’t mean you can’t get them more than one thing they’ve asked for or let relatives and friends who ask know what else they might like, but it does help kids learn to prioritize and manage their own desires. Another approach: Keep a wish list for them, adding to it when they ask for something, then sit down with them to prioritize it once you’re ready to get their gifts.

 

Keep it simple.

If kids are used to an avalanche of gifts, they’ll come to expect it. Instead of presenting them with endless packages, try limiting gifts for each child to just one they need, one they want, one to wear and one to read. If you’re scaling back from holidays past, do it gradually to ease kids into it rather than putting the brakes on all at once this year.

 

Give the gift of experiences instead of things.

Gift season tickets for your child’s favorite sports team, season passes to a local attraction, family passes to a bowling alley or skating rink, a year’s subscription to the Q Wunder app, or a membership to a museum, zoo or rock-climbing gym. You don’t have to spend a lot -- even movie tickets can make a popular gift for kids.

 

Talk about “in our family.”

When kids start asking for everything in their field of vision, take it as an opportunity to talk about your family’s values. “Hey, I understand that you really want that [and that, and that], but in our family, instead of spending all our money on toys, we like to save up to travel and see Grandma and Grandpa and cousins.”  

 

Make a Christmas list of gifts to give instead of get.

Instead of asking kids what they want and/or sitting them down to dogear every toy catalog that lands in your mailbox (which communicates to kids that the season is all about the presents they get), pay attention to what they ask for on their own and keep a running list on your phone. You can also help them make a Christmas list of people to give presents to and ask what they want to give them. Helping kids make gifts like cookies, granola, ornaments, paintings or homemade modeling clay lets them experience the joy of giving as well as receiving. You can also let them help you pick out presents for others (“Which color do you think Aunt Maria would like?”).

 

Slow down.

The holidays can feel like a season of more, more, more. Make sure you get some downtime with your kids by watching a favorite holiday special from your childhood or playing a board game like Q’s Race to the Top. And remember the “present” part when it comes time for presents: Instead of a frenzy of ribbons flying everywhere at once, have kids pass out one gift at a time and watch each person opens theirs.

 

Start family holiday traditions.

You could make an annual trip to the ice rink followed by hot chocolate, have a dance party on the first night of Hanukkah (try the fun family-friendly songs on the Q Wunder playlist) or just take an evening walk around your neighborhood to check out holiday lights. In Iceland, families celebrate the tradition of Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas book flood: After exchanging books on Christmas Eve, everyone spends the evening reading. (Kids can’t read on their own yet? Try Q’s Wild Ride, which comes with a read-along CD, or Q’s Coloring Book.)

 

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Don’t complain about the ugly scarf your cousin sent you or grumble about all the things you wish you could afford in front of your kids. Instead, model gracious appreciation and teach your kids to say “Thank you!” (bonus points for “That was so nice of you!”), even when they receive a gift they don’t like. You can also give to others: Take your kids to visit and sing carols to seniors at a nursing home. Have your children pick out a toy to donate to Toys for Tots. There are lots of opportunities for even young kids to volunteer and give to others. You can even cut out the shape of a tree and add cut-out leaves or ornaments every day with what each person in the family is grateful for.

 

Talk about what the season means in your family.

What do you celebrate and why? Sharing the meaning behind the holiday helps kids appreciate more than just the presents they’ll get.

 


Patience What's Up Moms and Q Wunder video

How to Teach Kids Patience

Nothing like losing your patience because your kids are having trouble waiting. If you’re tired of hearing your kids complain it’s taking sooooo looooong for the waiter to bring their fries or for you to finish a phone call so you can take them to the park, we get it. Here, Q Wunder creator Sofia Dickens talks to Elle at What’s Up Moms about how to teach kids a little patience.

Practice waiting.

Let kids know early on that waiting is just a part of life. When they ask for something, set a timer to help kids learn what a minute (or five or ten minutes) feels like. You can also play board games like Q’s Race to the Top for a fun way to teach kids about taking turns and learning to wait.

 

Reward patience.

Sure, patience is a virtue, and virtue is its own reward -- but a little something extra for good behavior never hurt. When kids are able to tap into their zen zone instead of losing it while you take them along on an errand, for example, surprise them by picking out  a little treat you think they’d like.

 

Teach distraction.

Impulse control is all about knowing how to redirect your attention. Help your kids learn to distract themselves by playing games like I Spy and Two Truths and a Lie. Waiting just went from frustrating to fun!

 

Get more tips on teaching your kids to be patient with this video from the Q Wunder app.

Then download the app for more fun ways to build patience, including singing and dancing along to the Q Wunder “Slow Down” music video!

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Q Wunder bond with your kids sledding holidays

40 Ways to Bond with Your Kids Between Now and New Year’s

The holidays are about more than just gifts. Take some time every day to connect with y0ur kids and build family traditions to treasure this year (and for years to come!), starting with these 40 ways to bond with your kids. 

 

  1. Make paper snowflakes together
  2. Play Q’s Race to the Top
  3. Deck the halls: Have your kids help hang holiday decorations
  4. Teach your kids to ice-skate
  5. Bake cookies together
  6. Go out for family dinner 
  7. Spend a lazy morning reading to your kids (or have them read to you if they can)
  8. Volunteer at an animal shelter (find kid-friendly options via VolunteerMatch)
  9. Sing to residents at a nursing home
  10. See a holiday-themed show
  11. Make up a story starring your kids
  12. Watch a Q Wunder episode together
  13. Let your kids make the family breakfast
  14. Help your kids wrap a gift
  15. Let your children pick out a gift for Toys for Tots
  16. Check out a holiday light show
  17. Help your children make holiday gifts
  18. Watch a favorite old holiday movie together
  19. Have a dance party to Q Wunder songs
  20. Make holiday cards
  21. Take turns listening to each other’s favorite holiday songs
  22. Visit long-lost friends or relatives
  23. Make up a family skit or puppet show
  24. Help your kids make the holiday table centerpiece, gathering pine cones from the backyard, apples from the fridge, etc.
  25. Pay it forward at a toll booth, parking meter or grocery store line while your kids are watching
  26. Play Mirror, Mirror
  27. Work on a jigsaw puzzle
  28. See how many animals you can spot on a family nature hike
  29. Do a fun run
  30. Make hot chocolate (bonus points for roasting marshmallows in the fireplace)
  31. Sing along to your kids’ favorite Q Wunder song
  32. Go sledding or skiing
  33. Have your kids go through their toys to make room for new and give old ones to charity
  34. Decorate a gingerbread house
  35. Listen to Q’s Wild Ride CD or color in Q’s Coloring Book during holiday travel
  36. Create a time capsule to open in five or ten years
  37. Make music using pots and pans, wooden spoons, shoeboxes and rubber bands
  38. Treat your kids to a day trip to the destination of their choice
  39. Help your kids build a fort
  40. Celebrate a kid-friendly Happy Noon Year with a sparkling cider toast at the stroke of noon on New Year’s Eve


Help your kids with social and emotional skills all year long: Download the Q Wunder app to get original episodes, games, music videos and more!