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Category Archives: Parents-Tips & Strategies

Kid Clutter

by BOY TALK Guest Karen Raymond

“Our studies show that giving children too many toys or toys of the wrong types can actually be doing them harm. They get overwhelmed and cannot concentrate on any one thing long enough to learn from it,” ~Claire Lerner, L.C.S.W-C, Zero to Three

Kid STUFF has been a pretty popular topic swirling around me lately.

Here are a few things I have heard or read:

“Their room is a disaster!”

“My kid’s STUFF is everywhere! They never put away their toys when they are done playing with them.”

“They don’t respect nor do they take care of their belongings.”

Here are a few statistics:

The average size of an American home went up from 1,725 sq ft in 1983 to 2,598 sq ft in 2013.

However, the average size of an American family went down from 3.26 persons/family in 1983 to 3.12 persons/family in 2013.

Therefore, the average square footage per person in a home has increased from 529 sq ft to 832 sq ft. That is over 300 square feet of space more per person to put more STUFF in.

For kids, that means MORE STUFF!!!

  • More dress up clothes
  • More building toys
  • More action figures and dolls
  • More “learning” toys
  • More instruments
  • More books
  • More puzzles
  • More pretend play toys (kitchens, workshops, etc.)
  • More outdoor play toys for inside (trampolines, jumpy houses, little tikes cars, slides, tunnels, etc.)

All given with the intention of providing variety and choices for our little ones and to encourage independence.

Yet, according to a British study published in The Telegraph, children probably play with just 5% or their toys!

And then we go back to the quote at the beginning of this post.

For children under the age of 5, they play less when they have more toys due to overwhelm, distraction, and inability to concentrate on one thing for the amount of time that it takes for them to learn from that toy. Let that marinate for a few minutes.

Let’s examine the complaints again:

Their room is a disaster! – It’s huge and they have a ton of STUFF. They probably have a hard time finding anything and it’s probably completely overwhelming for them. Then they are told to “clean your room!” Where on earth should they start? We can’t even compare to when we were kids because I bet that most of you reading this did not have as much STUFF as your kids now have. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Cleaning up for kids these days looks a whole lot different than it did for us when we were kids.

My kids never put away their toys when they are done playing with them! – Tons of toys = overwhelm and distraction. Especially if they are young, they probably go from one toy to the next as their senses are so overwhelmed they are unable to concentrate on any one toy for a long period of time. Therefore, a trail of toys are littering the living room. It’s a lot easier to put away their favorite doll, a book, and a toy car on the shelf than having to clean up all the toy food items that have been vomited all over the floor.

They don’t respect nor do they take care of their belongings – If there is a constant flow of STUFF coming in, it brings down the value of the STUFF. Basic economics, I guess. A simple case of supply and demand. Demand is high; supply is low; high value. Supply is high; the demand is low; the value is low. It’s as simple as that.

So, next time you start to feel your blood pressure rising in regards to the kid clutter, I invite you to take a pause and imagine yourself at their age but in their current situation.

And then imagine the possibilities of life if this particular issue were just eliminated from your lives.

You don’t feel the need to nag, the child doesn’t feel nagged.

What does life look like to you without you or your child having to deal with all that STUFF?

How does that feel in your body and your heart?

Perhaps you can do yourself and your child a favor by taking the steps to simplify their environment with them!

Learn more at: KEEP IT SIMPLE

You’re invited to join the conversation at our Boys Alive! Facebook group:

‘Tis the Season…of STUFF

Oh, the mountains of STUFF!

Pictures of kid’s messy rooms recently began appearing on my Facebook feed, no doubt in anticipation of the more toys to come.  Living rooms, play rooms, bed rooms – all filled with heaps and heaps of STUFF.

Moms lamented, “I’ve given up on picking up toys.” “It drives me nuts!” “I’m constantly picking up his toys…” “My son’s room looks like a bomb went off!” “I’ve given up cleaning – it’s just going to get messy 5 minutes later.”

Having so much STUFF stresses us out…


Imagine how stressful it is for our kids when they have to choose what to play with OR are being told to pick it up!

How would you feel to be told (over and over) to pick up your 20, or 50, or 70 things every day? (Add in some nagging and/or yelling for emphasis.)

No exaggeration! In Born to Buy, sociologist Juliet Schor reports that the average American child is given 70 toys per year. ….SEVENTY!

What to do?

You’ve probably fantasized about gathering everything into black plastic garbage bags and sneaking them out to the curb in the middle of the night.  But then…a picture of your sobbing child enters your head as he cries, “But that was special to me!”

After hearing me talk on this subject, a single dad decided to pack up and dispose of over half of his daughter’s toys. He anticipated her tantrum – but it never came. He saw a more relaxed child who was more deeply involved in her imaginative play.


Take one step toward sanity!

“We downsized our whole lives and I couldn’t be happier!” said one Facebook Mom.

As a new influx of STUFF looms on the horizon at this gift-giving season, I turn to Kim John Payne of Simplicity Parenting, the voice of reason for de-cluttering and simplifying family life.

He describes the many occasions for which toys are now given – and it is easy to see how the total quickly reaches seventy!

Toys are no longer given for just one special occasion. Now, it is an avalanche – toys for grades, toys for behavior, toys just because, toys in fast-food restaurants, toys from grandparents, toys because “all my friends have one,” and toys for attending a birthday party (seriously? that trend needs to stop!).

Payne: “Too much stuff leads to too many choices, which leads to overwhelm and stress.”

Too much STUFF leads to overwhelm AND greed, entitlement, and unfocused, surface play.

The billion-dollar toy industry is MORE than HAPPY to be invited into your home!

Test it.

Ask your child (whether 4 or 14) to name some toy brands. According to Juliet Schor, in Born to Buy, “Children recognize logos by 18 months, ask for products by brand name by 2 years, and by 3 1/2 years they believe that certain brands will reflect well on them as cool, strong, smart, etc. By first grade, they can come up with over 200 name brands.”

Reverse the trend – thumb your nose at the toy industry!

Back to Payne’s wisdom: “As you decrease the quantity of your child’s toys, you increase their attention and their capacity for deep, creative play.”

Children with too many choices, don’t know what to choose, so they tend to wander from thing to thing to thing without learning and practicing the art of becoming deeply involved with only one thing at a time.

Even as you decrease the quantity of toys, pay attention to the quality of the toy.



If you give a child a fire engine – bright, shiny red, with ladders and hoses – that toy can ONLY be a fire engine. Give him a block of wood – polished and sleek, with wheels or without – that block of wood can be ANYTHING – a space ship, a bulldozer, a train. You’ll see the fire engine quickly be relegated to “the pile” while the block of wood is played with again and again.

(photo courtesy of Bella Luna Toys)

But HOW?

The pile is massive and messy, your child pleads the case for every toy – “It’s special to me.”

Or, worse yet, you’re thinking, “Oh, I remember when he carried this around…when so-and-so gave it to him…or you love the item, too.”  Be strong!

Set aside two or three hours when your child is out of the house. Yep, give them a heads-up about it but they don’t get to help. They can choose 2 or 3 special items but YOU decide the rest.

There is a list below to guide you.

Make a Keep Pile, a Goodwill Pile, and a Maybe Pile. Then halve the Keep and the Maybe Piles and halve them again. BE STRONG!

Payne suggests these criteria for saying good-bye to the STUFF and welcoming a simpler, less-cluttered, confusing, overwhelming, and stress-filled home.

Checklist for saying good-bye…to STUFF!


Whether it is old or new, if it’s broken – it goes out. (No, you won’t ever getting around to fixing it.)


If he doesn’t play with anymore, he’s likely outgrown it – so Goodwill or gift it forward. If you’re waiting for him to ‘grow into it’ – pack it away until he does.


These are the toys that can only be one thing – like the fire engine mentioned above – and they’ve likely quickly gotten bored with it and moved onto other toys.


Those toys with a million pieces (many of which are lost), and that has broken yet again – out with it!


Seriously, how many stuffed animals does one child need?


Anything with flashing lights, annoying music, mechanical voices, and speed – they may give you a headache, but they give your child an adrenaline rush, which means you may be peeling him off the ceiling later.


Now is your chance to get rid of that toy Great-Aunt Martha gave him 2 years ago – it was weird then and it is still weird – say bye-bye.


As noted above, your child knows logos at a very early age. Advertisers know this too! They begin early, telling us how to have smarter, and even more beautiful children – don’t buy it!


Your son just had to have that latest somethin-somethin last year, “Everyone has one, Mom!” he pleaded until you caved. He’s probably already moved on from this toy and you won’t fall for the pleading again this year, right?


If you have to manage how it is played with, do yourself a favor and let it go!

Still More Stuff:

After seeing this post, a mom posted this photo:


How many beach toys do 2 children & 2 adults need to go to the beach?  Twenty-eight. There are 23 pictured here. We counted them after dumping them out, so we wouldn’t allow any to be washed away. This pic doesn’t even show the mountain of towels, swim floaters and snacks that we brought!”

You’ve said good-bye, and now what?


Boys are very visual, so hide the visual clutter in baskets and bins, or behind a curtain. He’ll be less likely to ‘tear into things’ and more able to focus on one thing at a time. Teach them the habit of putting one thing back before getting the next one out – yes, it is possible!


Tell friends and family exactly what you’d like your child to be gifted. Stop the birthday party favor madness! Guide grandparents and others to gift simple experiences rather than STUFF. For example, Grandma can gift ingredients for a favorite recipe to cook together.


YOU could be that mom who said she downsized and couldn’t be happier!  It takes will-power and rolling up your sleeves. You’ll be calmer and your kids will be happier…that’s a promise!

THEN JOIN US in our private Facebook group…

There are 1500+ Moms plus ME waiting for YOU to join us in the Boys Alive! private Facebook group. We’re laughing, sharing, celebrating, and supporting each other through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We need you there!

CLICK HERE to join this amazing group of parents and teachers!

Is He Addicted to Screens?

“He cried uncontrollably when I took it away…”

“I think he’s addicted…”




“We’re as bad as they are…”

“It takes my attention away for them…”

“I’m the only one that can change this…”


A mom and dad recently expressed concern for their 12 yo son in a Family Coaching session with me.

Don’t take my screens away!

After a summer of not much to do, he seemed increasingly attached to his screen time. When dad threatened to take his ipad and ipod away, he had a monumental melt-down.

As we sifted through the behavior challenges, the developmental milestones, and the family and friends interactions of “Sam” – it became increasingly clear that yet another boy has been captivated by the allure of screens.

Girls love screens, too.

Sure, girls certainly spend a lot of time on screens, but true to their nature, they are more relational with their screen use – posting on instagram, snapchatting with friends, connecting and relating to others. Video games are not as much of a draw for girls because they don’t offer the relational benefits for girls.  Most girls do not seek the constant action and competition that video games offer to boys.

Is he addicted?

2Boys, on the other hand, are quite entranced with screens – and most often with gaming. They relate to their friends via games. They google and figure out all sorts of things – including how to uninstall your monitoring software (they love the challenge!). You do have monitoring software, right?


We interviewed Dr. Victoria Dunckley, an expert on interactive screen usage and the effects they are having on our kids on BOY TALK #12, part of a bundle of interviews all focusing on this theme.

Electronic Screen Syndrome

She has identified and categorized the many effects of screen time in the patients coming to her as Electronic Screen Syndrome or ESS. It is, “a disorder of dysregulation. Because it is so stimulating, interactive screen-time shifts the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode.”

Signs and symptoms of ESS:

Typical signs and symptoms mimic chronic stress and sleep deprivation and can include:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Rapidly changing moods
  • Excessive or age-inappropriate tantrums
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Poor sportsmanship
  • Social immaturity
  • Opposition-defiant behavior
  • Disorganized behavior
  • Poor self-regulation (impulse control)
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Learning difficulties
  • Poor short-term memory
  • Poor executive functioning (includes reasoning, planning, judgment, task completion, problem solving and critical thinking)

That is a LONG – and very concerning – LIST… but there is more:

CERTAIN FACTORS increase the risk for ESS:

  • Preexisting learning or behavioral disorders
  • Family history of addiction
  • Younger age when first exposed to screen-time
  • Boys with ADHD and/or autism spectrum are at particularly high risk.

You may be thinking — well, he has a little of this and a little of that.

And aren’t all kids defiant at times?

Don’t all kids have melt-downs?

Sure, they do. But if you have a gut feeling that his behavior has changed or is extreme – its time to look at the amount of screen time he is consuming. Even small amounts of screen time can be too much.

In an interview with Boys Alive!, Dr. Dunckley explains how to implement a 4-week “screen-fast” with your family. The most heartening thing she said was that, for boys, a change in behavior and engagement shows up in the first week!

You may already be thinking that THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!

You’ve already thought of all the reasons why a screen-fast can’t happen in your family:

  • He needs it for homework
  • That’s what he does with his friends
  • Does it mean I’ll have to give up my screens, too?!

All of those excuses (and more) are familiar to Carolyn, mom of 2 boys. She thought it would be impossible for them to give up screen time…until her son’s teacher reported that he was unable to focus and his behavior in kindergarten was becoming a problem.

Enter Dr. Dunckley and Carolyn was ready to try anything – including a 4-week screen-fast. She thought her boys would protest…and was surprised that they didn’t.

Bottom line:

I urge you to consider YOUR screen usage first.

The mom and dad in my Family Coaching session quickly realized that THEY have to change their behavior first…

That THEY have to take a stand for family time from work-overlap and friends and family in the habit of texting at all hours.

That THEY have to model different behavior for their kids.

You can get your family back – Mom Carolyn is proof of that!

BOY TALK Podcasts have been called, “fantastic – experienced, thoughtful, relevant, progressive.” You’ve got support! Download these experts to your personal library:

Make it a Boy-friendly year

You’re invited to join us in the Boys Alive! Private Facebook Group – ask a question, offer support, enjoy an article, laugh and cry with us. We are stronger together!

If you’d like to chat with Janet Allison one-on-one, use this link to schedule a 20-minute complementary phone call or email me at I’m here for you!

Summer to School Transition: Sleep Schedules

Back-to-School sales….School supplies filling the shelves…

And, perhaps you, too, itch to buy new notebooks and pencils.  Have you seen how many new composition book covers there are?  No more plain old black and white!

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 7.38.59 AM

The real reality though, is GETTING KIDS BACK IN A ROUTINE.  You may be fighting it as much as they do but you’ll thank yourself for starting early on the bedtime routine, especially.

Use the “10” Method:

  • Start 10 days before school begins
  • 10 minute earlier bedtime
  • 10 minute earlier wake-up time

Your challenge is to be consistent!

Use the following sleep recommendations and plug them into your schedule and you’ll know what time they need to be asleep so that they get the recommended amount.

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The National Sleep Foundation updated their recommendations in 2015:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours (a new age category)

The National Sleep Foundation also notes, “One of the reasons it’s so hard to know when our kids are getting insufficient sleep is that drowsy children don’t necessarily slow down the way we do—they wind up. In fact, sleepiness can look like symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children often act as if they’re not tired, resisting bedtime and becoming hyper as the evening goes on. All this can happen because the child is overtired.”

My teenager stays awake late and then can’t get up in the morning!

Teen’s body clocks change and they do become night owls.

Enlist their help in planning a structured evening/morning routine so they get optimal sleep (catching up on the weekend doesn’t count…)

Some things to watch:

  • No caffeine 6 hours before sleep.
  • No media 2 hours before sleep
  • NO MEDIA in the bedroom (including phones) – some parents require phones parked in their room overnight.

And of course…by now, they should be setting an alarm and getting themselves up without your help!  (You won’t be at college to wake them up…)

Lack of sleep is harmful!

Studies show that lack of sleep affects our ability to focus and learn efficiently PLUS sleep is needed to make learning stick so it can be recalled in the future.

Help your kids be their best by helping them get enough sleep this school year!

A Year of Boy Talk

BOY TALK Nuggets of Wisdom…

Enjoy these words gleaned from our many parenting experts…

Each Boy Talk is on sale this month and includes a Tool Kit, summarizing our conversation and with additional resources and recommendations.  All Boy Talks are here.
BOY TALK #1: How to Get Him Reading and Keep Him Reading
Many boys read later than girls – and don’t consider themselves to be readers. Remind him that reading sports statistics, Minecraft handbooks, lego instructions, encyclopedias, and magic cards is also reading! Many boys ‘read for a purpose’ rather than simply for pleasure.

BOY TALK #2: Boy-Friendly Schools
When you’re looking for a school that “gets” boys, look for: water available at all times, alternative seating options, active lessons, and plenty of outside time.  ‘Alternative reading materials’ – magazines and instruction manuals are a good clue that “boy talk” is spoken here. More practical strategies for home and school are included.

BOY TALK #3: Coping with Disappointment, Loss, and Grief 
Our kids will definitely experience disappointment, loss and grief in their lives – how to you help them with those big emotions? Tune into your own first (name it to tame it) and then tune into your child: Identify his feelings (even if you get it wrong); Give him something physical to do to move back into his body (squeeze a ball, drink water, etc.); Continue to identify his feelings – often what is at the surface isn’t what is really going on. Be patient and go deeper.  This may feel like it takes a lot of time but when a child feels heard and acknowledge, they can more quickly return to cooperation.  Do you ever wonder if it is okay to cry in front of your child? Carole has answers to this question and more.

Boy Talk #4: The Birds and The Bees
A delicate topic – which needs to be talked about early and often, is the topic of sex and healthy relationships. Where do you start?  Amy’s advice: from birth, use correct names for body parts both female and male. (If you haven’t been, start using them now). By about age 5, let children know how babies are made, pregnancy and birth, about different kinds of families, and that sex feels good to grown-up bodies. By third & fourth grade, let them know people have sex for pleasure 99.9% of the time. Always telling them that, “Sex is not for children, it is for later in life, sex is for grown-ups. Your hearts, minds and bodies are not ready for sex.” Find out what your child needs to know in middle school and beyond in this interview.

Boy Talk #5: Peace with Your Preschooler 

Many a parent gets frustrated because their preschooler doesn’t listen to them! Christina offers these reasons:

  1. They need more information. They need some connection and understanding of what is going on.
  2. They need to release some stress. Their bodies are changing and developing rapidly. They are learning so much and there are so many expectations that sometimes they need to have a big release of energy.
  3. They have a basic need that is not being met. You’ve probably checked in on whether they’re hungry or tired, but they may be needing connection, attention, or autonomy.

Try this: Go to him. Take a moment to observe what he is doing. Is he just about to guide his horse over the bridge? Sit with him for a moment and acknowledge where he is, “Your horse is just about to get to the bridge. When he crosses the bridge then it will be time to tie him up and come to dinner.” Tom feels a connection with you. He feels seen by you. He will be much more likely to respond to your request now.

More wisdom from Christina on how to handle big emotions to how to create a ‘sanity saving’ sleep and meal routine.

Boy Talk #6: Jump Into a Book: Reading Tips & Recommendations

Our Holiday edition, this interview and Tool Kit is PACKED with great reading recommendations especially chosen for boys – by a mom/editor who KNOWS boys!  In addition to great titles, she includes these wise tips on how boys prefer to read:

Boys tend to stay in the “Listening” Stage of reading longer. They enjoy hearing the story and don’t necessarily want to be able to read it themselves.

Boys must relate to the central character and the story line in order to stay active and engaged with a book.

Boys tend to prefer short bits of text along with a picture, cartoon, or sketch.

Boys will tend to want to listen while he is doing something with his hands.


Boy Talk #7: Being HAPPY So You Can Raise HAPPY! 

Ever wonder how to balance it all?! We all do and Michelle has shared some practical wisdom in this interview including:

What to do AFTER we mess up…because we will!  We mess up. We judge ourselves – that we aren’t doing something right. We may just be focusing too much on the “Facebook world”… it looks so perfect but in reality, life is messy. At the end of the day, in the middle of that mess, the true testament is that commitment we make to return each and every moment.  We can do that by asking ourselves, “What is the next best choice I can make?”


Boy Talk #8: Tame the Screen Dragon!

Carolyn was worried – her boys were ‘checked out,’ not interacting with each other or with her, choosing screens over outside play – when she realized screens had become the default for everything in her son’s life, she committed to an “Electronics Fast.”  Wondering what electronic obsession looks like? Carolyn said:

• Screen-time trumped everything.

• No outside time.

• Reward for everything. “Let’s go to the park and then you can play with the i-pad.”

• Didn’t want to hang out with friends.

• Didn’t interact with each other.

• Meltdowns if they didn’t have them.

• Revved up but exhausted at the same time.

• Irritable moods.

Any of those sound familiar? Find out how this mom managed to reclaim her sons from the Screen Dragon.


Boy Talk #9: Australia’s Boy-Champion Maggie Dent Shares

Worlds apart but not so different after all. Maggie Dent raised 4 boys and shares her wisdom – both science based and ancient wisdom from Australia’s Aborigines, whom she grew up with. She discusses Resilience and gives the 10 BUILDING BLOCKS for resilient children, the foundational four shared here:

  1. Healthy pregnancy
  2. Quality nutrition – with lots of healthy fats and protein for your growing boy
  3. Nurturing care within the circle of the family especially in the first 5 years
  4. Plenty of play with things that have a heartbeat (yep, no technology)…

For the rest of these building blocks and the bedtime ritual that will have him expressing his love, check out Maggie’s lively conversation!


Boy Talk #10: How Do You Want to Feel Everyday?

LIFE advice from Heather, who DOES NOT mince words! She encourages us to WAKE UP to how we are parenting and create each and every day with that HOW informing our actions, which includes changing our Do-Do-Do list to our Be-Be-Be list.  With her Action and Clarity Challenge, she shows us how to get started by asking, “How do I want to feel every day?” “Are my actions in alignment with how I want to feel?”  Yes, as Heather says: “Parenting is personal growth on steroids!”  Let Heather show you the steps to get going in a positive direction in this conversation.


Boy Talk #11: Tweens and Teens

Tweens and teens present their own special stage of development, challenges, benefits, and stress… Howard tells us being a tween/teen is stressful for the child but also for the parent and the family! How will you handle all the changes coming at you so fast? Understanding the stage of development is the first step, teens are:

  • More reclusive, wanting more alone time
  • Challenging parenting and school authority
  • Choosing peer group over family
  • Developing their own identity
  • Experimenting with new thinking, ideas, and beliefs
  • Experimenting with drugs, risky behavior, and sexuality

How will you approach all these new dynamics? Howard offers reassurance along with practical strategies in this conversation.


Boy Talk #12: Reset Your Child’s Brain by Reversing the Effects of Screen-Time

Dr. Victoria Dunckley explains the symptoms of Electronic Screen Syndrome and gives the Four-Week Plan to remedy it. Do you or your child experience:

  • Melt-downs over minor frustrations?
  • Irritability when asked to get off of screens?
  • Increasing defiance or opposition?
  • Decrease in enjoyment of activities she/he used to enjoy?
  • A diagnosis (ADHD, anxiety) that doesn’t run in your family and doesn’t quite seem to fit?

Find out more about the effects of interactive screen-time on the brain, it’s addictive tendencies, and how to re-set your child’s brain – and re-claim your family, too!

It’s Okay If He Doesn’t Like You

FINALLY! You can stop feeling guilty for not giving into your son…

As you look toward the school year ending (it’ll be here before you know it!), you may be just frazzled enough to begin relaxing the homework routine or allowing just those few extra minutes of screen time – because you’re tired, and school’s almost out, and, hey, summer is coming.



Summer is coming?

What then?

If you’re like many parents that I’ve coached over the years – one of your highest priorities is to stay connected to your boy and build a close relationship that will last into his adulthood.

Seems pretty easy to do when your son is little and relies on you for everything.

But as he grows and expresses his own mind, he may have other priorities than just keeping you happy.  Ouch.

We want our kids to like us, right?

At the same time that we are doing so much to make sure they like us, I also hear parents complaining about how entitled their kids are, how it’s impossible to get them to help around the house, and, well, don’t even get started on the negotiation that happens every single minute over screen time!

And still… We want our kids to like us!

So, we settle.

We negotiate with ourselves (even more than with them).  We tell ourselves, “It’s just this one time.”  “It’s just because he’s been sick.”  “His friends have been mean to him, so just this once…”

And soon, we feel out of control and uncomfortable…and angry…at them.  

But, more honestly, we’re angry with ourselves because we didn’t hold the line when we could have and probably should have.

In order for us to hold the line – WE have to be okay with spending some time on the other side of it – the side of being disliked, hated, reviled, ridiculed, and embarrassed by our kids. Ouch.

When we put the emphasis on wanting our kids to like us – we lose out on opportunities.

First and foremost, we miss the opportunity to swim in our own discomfort.  

Who knew that would be a thing that could be good for us?!  

But when we can be uncomfortable within our own skin, we are more likely to find the strength to show up for them when they face their own uncertainties.

When we can be okay with discomfort, it means we don’t NEED to have to have our kids like us all the time!

Hallelujah – and that means FREEDOM!

Now we can be free when he says, “I’m bored!”

Free to respond — or not.

Free to let HIM figure out what he wants to do, build, read, or bake.

Now we can be free when he says, “I don’t want to play with my baby brother any more!”

Free to respond or not.

Free to let them work it out or free to split them up and see how long it takes before they are begging to play together again.

Now we can be free when he says, “Pllllllease just let me finish this level or I’ll lose all of my game!” Free to respond or not.

Free to let him “hate” you when the timer goes off because that’s what you’ve decided on ahead of time and your Negotiation Department is closed.

Sure, we want our kids to like us!

More importantly, we want our kids to LOVE us.

And that means we’ve given them firm boundaries, kind guidance, and a good strong NO when they need it – all along the way.

Now that you know, you can be like so many parents who’ve gone before you…

When he says, “I’m bored!” or “I’m sick of playing with my brother,” you can say:  GO OUTSIDE!  

And even though our own parents didn’t have to wrestle with the screen-monster, you’ve got the answer to all of his whining and pleading for more screen time: GO OUTSIDE!

And, maybe, just maybe, you might gently and lovingly lock the door behind you, knowing he’ll be out for hours digging, creating, and doing, or just staring at a tiny bug or the big wide blue sky.

And when he is an adult and looks back on his unhurried days, he’ll like you (and love you) all the more.

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Eulogy for Mom 2

Kansas, May 7, 2016 – Another step in the journey, as we inter my Mom’s ashes. If these words give you a measure of comfort, I’m grateful for that.


“Here we are, Mom, letting go again.

Its familiar somehow.

Each letting go has had its own measure of difficulty.

Each letting go challenged us to stay steady, dig deep, and carry on.

Each letting go allowed me to be with you in a whole new way.

From letting go of you, Mom, and our sewing, cooking and many conversations…I gained you, Mom, in a whole new way of being together.

We laughed, we sang silly songs, we sat and watched the evening sky – holding hands and saying all that needed to be said –

From my heart to yours,

And back again.

Letting go of those precious days has led to THIS day – letting go of your physical body now.

It feels so right that you are here in Kansas, in the middle of the country, which now becomes the center pole of our world. As each of us travels our own journey, the constant is  – our hearts filled with your pure love and each with a heart string tied to this place.


I love you, Mom, so much.

Rest now.”


Children and Anxiety

Our guest on BOY TALK this month is  Howard Hiton, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and passionate advocate for boys.

Howard shares this with us:

Supporting Children in an Age of Increasing Anxiety

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Remember the three C’s of managing anxiety:

Calm your body–Help your child notice the connection between anxiety and shallow, rapid breathing. Practice breath suspension and other breathing techniques. Spend time in nature. Explore mindfulness practices. Take a bath. Give your kids a massage. Exercise!

Correct your thinking-Consider the beliefs under your anxiety. We can help adolescents by helping them shift their negative thoughts (from: “this is going to be awful!” to: ”this will suck but I’ll be ok.”).

Confront your fears–Help your child face fears in a gradual, systematic way. Ultimately, they need to learn that they can handle and get through the uncomfortable feelings instead of avoiding them.

Control What You Can

  • Improve interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Create demand delays. It is not necessary to respond to every E-message right away.
  • Lower stimulation.
  • Take care of responsibilities and practice good self-care.

Accept What You Cannot Change

Sometimes it is best to accept your anxiety. Working to vanquish your anxious feelings may exacerbate them. Consider the spheres of influence and determine if you are spending too much time in the concern sphere. Help your children to do the same.

Consider Your Schedule

Is the busyness of your family life working?

How can you pace things to be more supportive?

Help your child to look ahead and break down assignments and prioritize them.

Keep perspective, stay objective and maintain connection.

Tease out the parts of the anxiety that are generic and those that are specific to your child.

Consider the world through your children’s eyes. Let your child have their feelings and take care of yours while still sympathizing and showing your children that they can handle their feelings.


Recommended Resources:

Faber, Adele and Mazlish, Elaine. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Greene, Ross W. The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

Kellner, Millicent. Staying in Control: Anger Management Skills for Parents of Young Adolescents

Payne, Kim John. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

Sapolsky, Robert. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Wehrenberg, Margaret. The 10 Best -Ever Anxiety Management Techniques. The Insight Timer App from the App store

Copyright: Howard Hiton MS, LPC •

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6 Months IN

6 months.

In 6 months: 3 siblings and 1 spouse leave us. One sister left before. Now there are none.


6 months IN.

6 months since I held my mom as she took her final shuddering sigh and my world shifted on it’s axis.

Now it’s 6 months IN.  Not 6 months “later” or 6 months “ago.”  It’s 6 months IN.

Because there is no OUT of this place.

What have I learned that might help you?  Because even if you can’t imagine it in your wildest nightmares, chances are you’ll be in this place one day, too.  (I don’t need to go into all the reminders of what to do if you have your mom here still…but if you need them, go here.)


MONTH 1 and 2:

There were lots of baths, tears, naps and Netflix.  Sure, I knew I was intentionally numbing out here. I mean, 66 episodes of Grand Hotel – that’s a lot of numb.  I got really good at eating, watching, and bathing all at the same time. (And being totally okay with it.)

And, oh yes, her birthday, which happened to be exactly 1 month IN.

Then Thanksgiving.

Then Christmas.

And New Year’s, when somehow I just knew I’d be ready to get going with my life again. Because I’d gone so deeply into grieving, I figured I’d done it “right” and I could move on.

MONTH 3 and 4:

Okay, a slightly renewed zest for life. I missed her but continued to feel like… “I did that – I grieved well and now I’m good to go.” Slight enthusiasm for work projects that I was proud of.

Traveled with my dad, for the first time ever: JUST HIM and ME – a new experience for both of us!

Her sister-in-law passes.

MONTH 5 and 6:

Oops. Maybe I’m not done. Surprise!

I smelled a lilac bush and every cell of my being missed my mom. I don’t even associate her with lilacs! But there it was on a bright, sunny spring day.

My daughter visits and I feel inclined to apologize, “I’m sorry that it’s going to hurt like this for you when I die. I wish I could tell you that its okay – no need to hurt so much…” Yeah, right.

Their house is sold. Packing 175 boxes + furniture into storage because we couldn’t bear to see my Dad lose one more thing.

We prepare to take her ashes to their final rest at the grave of her parents in a tiny cemetery in Alma, Kansas. And suddenly everything is up for me again. I cry for no reason – or for every reason.

Her brother passes.

Five days later, her other brother passes. And now there are none.

My heart is still tender. I feel like I’m in an eddy – alive, breathing, head above water, looking around…not moving, not ready, not yet.

6 months IN.

And no relief in sight.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom – add this to month 7 – it hurts like hell.


What have I learned that can help you?  DO your journey.  Face it and know it will be familiar to others and unfamiliar, too. Be gracious with yourself. Gather your people – not to fix anything — just to make you laugh and make you cry.  Singing helps, too.



Do you give him too much information?

Many parents tell me they had “NO IDEA!” how exciting, puzzling, and exhausting parenting a boy would be!

Here are some proven ways to COPE and CONNECT with him.

First, it is essential to understand what is hard-wired and therefore, unchangeable (this is usually the place where you tend to butt heads.)  Then, understanding and adapting to these hard-wired parts of who he is and knowing how to adapt your responses to meet him – HIS WAY – is the KEY to coping and connecting!


Many boys and men often complain when they’re given too many details.
He just wants the facts that will let him get the job done.

Here’s how to “Cope and Connect”:

He may have tuned you out after the first detail because he just doesn’t need – and can’t process – all the information that you want to give him.

When you use fewer words, you enable him to “hear” what you are saying.

This may feel odd to you at first but ask any adult male and he will likely say, “Yes, please, I don’t need all the details – just tell me what you need me to know.”

Say exactly what you need – “backpack” “boots” “lunchbox”.

Say one thing, let him respond and then ask the next thing.

Too many words overwhelm his brain, so give him a break – say less!

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Do you say things a thousand times?

“HOW do I get him to listen?”

“I’m so sick of saying things over and over and still he doesn’t do what I ask!”

“WHY do I have to say things a thousand times?!”

Parents – did you have any idea how exciting, puzzling, and exhausting parenting a boy would be??

Take heart! There are some proven ways to COPE and CONNECT with him

First, it is essential to understand what is hard-wired and therefore, unchangeable (this is usually the place where you tend to butt heads.)  Then, understanding and adapting to these hard-wired parts of who he is and knowing how to adapt your responses to meet him – HIS WAY – is the KEY to coping and connecting!



When we ask and our kids don’t respond, we ask again.
Then we ask again – this time louder.
Then we ask again, and our anger starts to take over!

Here’s How to Cope and Connect:

What parent hasn’t experienced the frustration and anger that comes from having a request completely ignored?!

By the time you’ve repeated your request once or twice, he has likely tuned you out completely – and you are angry, frustrated, and feeling personally hurt.

When you change your approach – you’ll actually enable him to “hear” you.

Where are you when you make your request?

Are you calling to him from the kitchen?

Is your back to him when you’re speaking?

Are you yelling up the stairs?

NO WONDER he doesn’t hear you!

Boys easily become enveloped in a single activity and you become ‘white-noise’ or an interruption for him. Most males hear a different range of sounds, so if you are a soft-spoken female there is a good chance that he isn’t even registering the sound of your voice.

Take a few moments to stop what you’re doing and go to him to ensure that he hears you and responds.

Get into his zone first – and just be with him there for a moment.

After you’ve been in his physical space – his zone – you’ll catch his attention. Touch his shoulder or leg, give him a high five, and THEN help him transition or comply with your request.

It takes time to learn (and remember) to do this technique but you’ll soon find that it is highly effective!

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Are you doing too much for him?

Many parents tell me they had “NO IDEA!” how exciting, puzzling, and exhausting parenting a boy would be!

Here are some proven ways to COPE and CONNECT with him.

First, it is essential to understand what is hard-wired and therefore, unchangeable (this is usually the place where you tend to butt heads.)  Then, understanding and adapting to these hard-wired parts of who he is and knowing how to adapt your responses to meet him – HIS WAY – is the KEY to coping and connecting!



“Let me do that for you…”
Do you carry his backpack into school for him?
Do you rush to school when he calls to say he’s forgotten his homework?

Here’s how to “Cope and Connect”:

We all want our kids to grow up to be capable and responsible for themselves and their things. Yet, we forget that these habits and abilities are instilled at an early age.

We get so busy that we just want to ‘hurry up’ and so we carry the backpacks, lunch boxes, and musical instruments just to move the show along!

However, a deep need for boys is – THEY WANT TO SERVE!

They want to do things for us…so let him start learning EARLY to serve you and the family.

When you create opportunities for him to be of service at home – laundry, dishes, table setting, and feeding the animals – he is learning about his growing abilities to do things.

I know, as with all teaching, it takes patience and repetition to get it right but…

The PAY-OFF comes later.

When those habits are instilled in him and you can rely on his help with groceries, dishes, laundry etc, you have helped to develop his sense of service and helped him to realize the satisfaction that comes from being of service.

As he grows, you’ll be proud and amazed as he chooses his own ways to serve others and to serve his greater community.

That feeling? That begins now.
Let him carry in your groceries – at any age – and enjoy the shine in his eyes as he helps you out!

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Asking Him to Look at You

Many parents tell me they had “NO IDEA!” how exciting, puzzling, and exhausting parenting a boy would be!

Here are some proven ways to COPE and CONNECT with him.

First, it is essential to understand what is hard-wired and therefore, unchangeable (this is usually the place where you tend to butt heads.)  Then, understanding and adapting to these hard-wired parts of who he is and knowing how to adapt your responses to meet him – HIS WAY – is the KEY to coping and connecting!



“Look at me when I’m talking to you.”
This is a familiar refrain of MANY WOMEN – both with our kids and with our partners.

This request is often met with his glare, his resistance, his melt down – or he may not even hear you and, even less, will be able to comply with what you’ve said.

And you may end up taking his resistance personally…

Here’s how to “Cope and Connect”:

Many males are uncomfortable with eye contact.
This goes far back in human history — I won’t get into all the details about that now.

However, if you realize that if he has just had a run-in with you or with a friend, he is NOT going to want to talk with you about it – at that moment. He will likely feel threatened if you insist that he make eye contact with you and he’ll shut down and close you out even more.

One dad explained it this way, “I tell my wife, if she wants me to listen to her, I can’t look at her. If she wants me to look at her, I can’t hear what she’s saying. I tell her to CHOOSE ONE CHANNEL.”

What should you do?
Connect with him side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder. It takes practice to get used to not having direct eye contact with him (we females love it!). Yet, you CAN feel connected to him by touching shoulders or thighs as you sit, sharing a high-five, or making brief eye contact.

When you get comfortable without so much direct eye contact, you’ll be able to talk with him in a way that feels safer and easier for many boys and men.

If you let his hands be busy doing something – bouncing a ball, playing legos, crumpling paper – he’ll be even more relaxed and able to access his words.

And you’ll be well on your way to connecting at an even deeper level with him – whether he is your son, your partner, or your co-worker.

Give it a try!



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Boy Talk #7: We are the Mothers of Our Own Re-Invention

Guest author Michelle Ghilotti of Michelle Ghilotti, International shares her thoughts on having a happy life, so you can RAISE happiness, too. Michelle and I have known each other for years and I’m so happy to introduce you to her and her empowering work.
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She was our guest on BOY TALK  – save your seat for future BOY TALKs here.

From Michelle:


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Are we ever…the Mothers of our own re-invention.

As Mothers and generally as women, we are inherently creative. To that end, we are not only powerful enough to create and birth life but birth our own re-inventions, sometimes over and over and over again.

Think back on your life…you’ve done that.

We are so much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. And it’s this power that grows exponentially when we feel supported and receive as much as we give.

I feel strongly about asking for what we need and want. How else do we move forward? We can do a lot but we can’t do it all ourselves. As with many of us, however, I learned to ask for what I need, in business / life through a process of discovery (trips/falls/bumps/bruises).

We must ask for what we want in order to continue moving forward toward the highest version of ourselves.

Think of what’s burning in you to create, change or birth? What is the highest version of your business and why haven’t you done it yet?

What could you ask for that would allow you to step into that vision gracefully?

Everything else is already inside of you.

It’s our birthright to be fully-expressed, to create and re-invent ourselves to increase our happiness.

If you need support, seize it. There are loads of coaches and support out there.

If what’s holding you back is confidence or a wall of fear…jump. (the only remedy I’ve found for jump-starting this re-invention process!). I wouldn’t have gotten much done up to this point without jumping (no net).

In the writing of the how to be a Walking Momtra™ book, this theme comes up again and again. I believe this ‘failure en route’ to goals is an empowering theme to also be sharing with our little ones. It’s empowering in its realism.

Tips for re-invention:

• Jump

• Get support

• Realize “failure en-route to your goals” is realistic and only makes you stronger for when you finally get there.

• And, as I always say, start today. Whether it’s a micro-movement (a call or email to get a ball rolling), do it. Put yourself in the game.

Your happiness awaits on the other side.

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This illustration I created with the help of an illustrator commemorates the reverence I have for change and re-invention. In ten years of business, I’ve lived in six different cities and three different countries. I’ve started a business, grown that business, changed the business, had a baby overseas, started anew many times after that, began writing a book and generally have put myself out there in more ways than I sometimes give myself credit for.

Life is good.

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Boy Talk #7: Four Tips to Your Yes

Guest author Michelle Ghilotti of Michelle Ghilotti, International shares her thoughts on having a happy life, so you can RAISE happiness, too. Michelle and I have known each other for years and I’m so happy to introduce you to her and her empowering work.
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She’ll be our guest on BOY TALK this month – save your seat here.

From Michelle:


Ode to you, Creative Heroine…

As a creative woman, I know you want the yes you give in life and business to be an oaky, full-bodied YES.

In fact, you live for the oaky, full-bodied YES. (me too)

As my bookHow to Be a Walking Momtrasays, “Focus on your happiness so you can RAISE happiness.”

Life ticks in a beautiful way if we give the full-bodied YES to Self first.

Throughout the last 14 years in business for myself as well as the last 9.5 years as a mother, giving from this “overflow” is where my greatest happiness and success have come from (sure, there are other contributing factors to happiness and success, however, in keeping myself full or “filled up”, I’ve primed my internal environment to be able to give to the degree I lo-hove to give to others).

It’s this generosity of spirit that has grown my brand and contributed greatly to the equilibrium in my family life.

In short, we are able to contribute to the joy and success of others in a greater way by making sure our cups runneth over…

Personally, I can be a better Mom, Branding and Success Coach (to name just a couple of my titles) by being more in tune with what my body, mind and spirit need to be able to give and give greatly.

When we give to Self first, things feel different, work better and the quality of how we perceive EVERYTHING softens and is enriched.

Everything falls into place.

When we give from the overflowing cup vs. the cup desperate and thirsty for a few drops of tea or water, we are able to affect our brands, businesses, children and other important relationships in a way that truly stretches everyone’s happiness.

Everyone wins when you win.

It’s worth a more consistent try, well, let’s call it a more consistent DO.

How to Give the Oaky, Full-Bodied YES to Self First

1. Make it a must. Make YOU a must.

2. Make this your mantra: I focus on my happiness so I can RAISE happiness (in my family, community and world). Repeat this at least 3x every morning or when you most need it.

3. Clear your weekly calendar of the people or projects that are depleting you. Find that space, that clearing, for what you truly need and love.

4. Start doing the things each week and specifically each morning that truly fill you (you and only you). How we start our day and our week is likely how we end it, so start by diving deeper into you first thing: take the hike, hit that early morning yoga class or do that 10 minutes of meditation. And, if the early morning hours prove to be too difficult, no problem, no need to go into overwhelm. Create time for you each day during the block that serves your life (the important thing is that it happens). How will you savor life (and give to Self) each and every day? What will those ten minutes or hour be filled with?

To your week of the oaky, full-bodied YES. Cheers.

Life is good,
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She’ll be our guest on BOY TALK this month – save your seat here.

Boy Talk #7: Creative Heroine, You

Guest author Michelle Ghilotti of Michelle Ghilotti, International shares her thoughts on having a happy life, so you can RAISE happiness, too. Michelle and I have known each other for years and I’m so happy to introduce you to her and her empowering work.
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She’ll be our guest on BOY TALK this month – save your seat here.

From Michelle:
If you’re a mom, entrepreneur, writer, artist, creator or human, read on…

Everyday leadership.

Creativity is all about moving from problem to solution ~ and more quickly each time ~ so we may express more of who we truly are and *have* within.

In fact, everyday leadership and creativity are *both* about that; expressing who we know ourselves to be on a daily basis regardless if “everyone” likes it, if Facebook is used *for* it or if it’s what is en vogue with family or your industry…

Leadership and creativity don’t care about any of that. They care that you’re interested, really flipping interested in what you’re saying, doing and showing, not at all if you’re interestING. It cares not at ALL that you’re interesting.

Everyday leadership is about creating what we want to be a part of, and all regardless of what life, work, motherhood, romance or health, like that loyal feline, has brought to your doorstep to play with lately.

It’s about being a part of things such as resilience, authentic elegance, understanding, community, empathy, love and the simplest of joys…
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Though we forget sometimes that evolution bred creativity (and all things like it) into all of humanity, we’re all creative heroines. We are each leaders, leading not from the front lines necessarily, but from within, especially from within. A Creative Heroine and Loving Leader leads from the unique light that burns and burns like the midnight oil. The Light, who knows that being broken open, and sometimes over and over again, is exactly where her greatest talents comes from.

We do all of this, we move from problem to solution, exercise our creativity and lead by doing one thing over and over again: loving ourselves. We find ways, strategies, “tools”, we sometimes call them, mantras, bathtubs, gratitude practices, walks, love, runs, mediation, yoga, music and poetry more every day, maybe, so we’re able to waltz to the other side of us with agility, grace.

Pain is human but suffering is optional. I understand it more now than ever. And when I forget, I mantra, bathtub, practice gratitude, walk, love someone hard, run, meditate, yoga, play music, read or write poetry, some more.

Leaders, similar to the creative inside you, don’t don’t dwell, they decide. Creators, like leaders, don’t dance around the subject, they jump straight inside it, so they can more quickly swim out from under it. They keep moving forward because that’s what they keep realizing life is about ~ being part of the solution and not the problem.

You are a Creative Heroine and you will continue to create in life what you want to be a part of. It’s empowering and true. Feels good to hear, I hope. Each day is a clean slate to set into motion what you want and want to be known for and a part of, to expand, to be set free…

Paige Bradley, a sculptor I adore, does some of the most gorgeous work I’ve ever seen and felt. One of her pieces called Expansion shares who I believe the Creative Heroine is and of what letting the light within lead looks like. Of problem to soulful solution. Of you.

When you lay your head down tonight think of this ~> of the creativity and ability you have to lead your life (and in the process, without even really trying, helping many others do the same). Think of all that your light represents. Ask yourself, if I hadn’t experienced this, felt that or loved him/ her, would I be able to illuminate or decorate my life in the same way that I’m able to today?

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Kids and Sugar

Talking with Steve and Rebecca on KXL 101.  Steve says, “It’s almost impossible to keep your child away from sugar during the holidays.”

What’s a parent to do when there are sweet treats everywhere you go?  Sure, we want our kids to be happy BUT we know eating sugar is bad for you and highly addictive.
Did you know that we’re actually programmed to crave high sugar and high fat foods?  Its part of our survival mechanism and is particularly strong in children and adolescents. Check out Live Simply Natural for more about breaking your child’s sugar addiction.

4 Quick Tips for taming the holiday sweets overload

1. Treat sweets neutrally. Try not to make them “good” or “bad” – instead, talk about the frequency that we eat sweets vs. other foods.

During the holidays, though, if grandma wants to share cookies with the kids, be okay with that – its more about the relationship than the food right now.

2. To avoid the sugar meltdowns – make sure kids eat protein (meat, cheese, yogurt) and / or fiber (veggies, fruit, whole grains) along with the sugary treat.

3. No seconds on sweets. Ever.

This is longer-term strategy to combat the sugar gremlins at your house:

4. Serve dessert with dinner. Yep. Put sweets and dinner at the same level. Kids will sometimes ‘hold out’ for dessert. When it’s a small portion served with the meal, they will get their sweet-fix but also be more likely to eat their dinner, too.

More advice from Maryann at Raise Healthy Eaters: Serve dessert with dinner: “The most helpful advice I’ve found is often the hardest for families, and that is to serve a child-sized portion of dessert WITH the meal, but no seconds on dessert. ” says feeding expert Dr. Katja Rowell from Family Feeding Dynamics.  “It really does neutralize it, and also puts all the food on a level playing field.”

Rowell explains that kids are likely to eat dessert first for awhile but they eventually learn to enjoy and tune in to the entire meal without obsessing or fretting about what they have to eat, or how many bites will earn dessert. “There is data to suggest that bribing kids with dessert makes them less likely to enjoy new foods, and that’s certainly what I’ve seen.”

One of our readers wrote in with her success with this strategy: “I have noticed that if I go ahead and add a small sweet to their dinner plates, both of my girls will eat a more balanced meal instead of ‘holding out’ for dessert,” says Ramona, a mom of two young girls.

And don’t forget: Plenty of exercise and outdoor time helps, too! (yes, even in the rain!)


Click here for the Boys Alive! Free Report – “Living with Boys: How to Cope and Connect – HIS Way”

Boy Talk #6: If you like Percy Jackson, Read This!

By Guest Author Valarie Budayr, Founder of Jump into a Book

Maybe you’re in the same boat as we are.
We’ve finished all of the Percy Jackson books…now what do we read?
We want more Rick Riordan!

Or perhaps you have an ‘aging’ reader?
Our son is now in high school.
Percy Jackson was such an epic event in his younger years that he is continually searching for books that “grab” him just like Percy Jackson did.
So what does on do after Percy?

First, I suggest The Lost Hero Series which is Percy Jackson-related AND is also written by Rick Riordan.

Percy Jackson Lost Heros

Still needing a little bit more Percy Jackson ? Here are two great big favorite books from our favorite demi-god Percy Jackson.

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods

Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes

Opercy Jacks's Greek Heroes

Another favorite Rick Riordan series is his Red Pyramid Trilogy. We just loved it!

Rick Riordan

Now as we wait for the latest new series from Rick Riordan, on Norse Myths this time. Magnus Chase will be out in October.

Magnus Chase

Until then, here are a few Books Like Percy Jackson for grades 6 and above, covering a wide range of ages and interests. They are ALL series! Happy Reading!

books like Percy Jackson

The Lost Years of Merlin Series by T. A. Barron

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A young boy with no memory or identity emerges from the sea…and discovers his destiny as the most legendary wizard ever to live. (Grades 6-8)

The Goddess War Series by Kendare Blake

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Goddess Wars Series. Athena and Hermes’ search for the cause of their illnesses leads them to Cassandra who may be key to a war started by Hera and other Olympians who have become corrupt anti-gods determined to destroy their rivals.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

books like Percy Jackson

A twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl, brings the fairy folk to their knees when he kidnaps one of their own. (Grades 6-8)

(Grades 7-9+)

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

books like Percy jackson

Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates. (Grades 9+)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

books like Percy Jackson

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. (Grade 7 +)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

books like Percy Jackson

Outside the safety of the Glade lies an enormous maze, populated by nightmarish perversions of technology. (Grades 6-10)

The Mortality Doctrine Series by James Dashner

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Mortality Doctrine series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares. (Grades 7+)

City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau

books like Percy Jackson

Books of Ember Series. Lina & Doon must fulfill the prophecy and help everyone in town survive. So what if the townspeople are all trying to kill them? (Grades (8-9+)

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

books like Percy Jackson

If Jack’s sister had just stayed quiet, they wouldn’t have been captured by Vikings. Little sisters can be so annoying! (Grades 6-9+)

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

books like Percy Jackson

Flinn has lived his entire life inside the gigantic prison known as ‘Incarceron.’ Escape seems impossible…until he meets Claudia, who is trapped in the 17th century by a computer.
(Grades 7-9+)

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

books like Percy jackson

Ranger’s Apprentice Series. 15-year-old Will joins the magic wielding rangers to battle against an evil warlord. (Grades 6-8)

The Paladin Prophecy series by Mark Frost

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A boy who has spent his entire life trying to avoid attention finds himself in the middle of a struggle between titanic forces when he is recruited by an exclusive prep school and followed by sinister agents. (Grades 7+)

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

books like Percy Jackson

Welcome to the Mirrorworld, where the darkest parts of your favorite fairytales are a chilling reality! (Grades 7-10)

Tunnels By Roderick Gordon

books by Percy Jackson

The Colony” has existed unchanged for a century, but it’s no benign time capsule of a bygone era— it is ruled by a cult like overclass, the Styx. And before long—before he can find his father—Will is their prisoner…. (Grades 6-9)

Runemark by Joanne Harris

books like Percy Jackson

In Maddy Smith’s world, order rules. Chaos, old gods, faeries, magic–all of these were supposedly vanquished centuries ago. But Maddy knows that a small bit of magic has survived. (Grades 7+)

Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz

books like Percy Jackson

The Gatekeepers Series. When Matt gets into trouble one time too many, he is sent to live in a far-away village. Is he the only one who can see the evil below the surface? (Grades 8+)

Talon by Julie Kagawa

books like Percy Jackson

Dragons exist and Ember is one of them. Trained to infiltrate the humans, she just wants to have fun in her final summer of freedom before joining the Talon, but destiny has another thing in store for her. (Grades 9+)

Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy

books like Percy Jackson

Skulduggery Pleasant Series. When twelve-year-old Stephanie inherits her weird uncle’s estate, she must join forces with Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton mage, to save the world from the Faceless Ones. (Grades 6-8)

The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

books like Percy Jackson

Seven Wonders Series. Seven pieces of power from Atlantis that disappeared long ago. Cass, Jack, Marco and Aly depend on them to save their lives. (Grades 6-9)

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

books like Percy Jackson

Adelina survived the blood fever, an illness that killed many, but left others with strange supernatural powers. Cast out by her family, she joins a secret society called the Young Elites and discovers her own dangerous abilities. (Grades 8+)

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

books like Percy jackson

When the apothecary is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the sacred
Pharmacopoeia in order to find him and save the world. (Grades 6-8)

A World without Heroes by Brandon Mull

books like Percy jackson

Beyonders Series. Jason and Rachel are pulled into the mysterious, troubled realm of Lyrian. All they want to do is get back to their own world, but they may have to stop evil wizard emperor Surroth first. (Grades 6-8)

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen

books by Percy Jackson

When slave-boy Nic is forced to enter a cavern containing lost treasures, he discovers an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods — magic some Romans would kill for. (Grades 6-9)

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

books like Percy Jackson

Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica Series. Three guys become owners of the Imaginarium Geographica and open mystical worlds. (Grades 8+)

Divergent by Veronica Roth

books like Percy Jackson

One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she’s determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous. (Grade 9+)

Magyk by Angie Sage

books like Percy Jackson

Lost as a child, Septimus Heap must reunite with his true family & learn the magyk arts.
(Grades 6-8)

The Alchemist by Michael Scott

books like Percy Jackson

The Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel Series. Two teens are caught up in a battle between ancient alchemists looking for the secret of immortality. (Grades 6-9)

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

books like Percy Jackson

‘The Grimm Fairytales were just stories,’ or so Elizabeth thinks, until she discovers that some of the more famous and magical objects are very, very real! (Grades 6-9)

I.Q. by Roland Smith

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Q and Angela have rock star parents who may know more about the dangerous world of spies and terrorists than they let on… (Grades 6-8)

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

books like Percy Jackson

The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened… where they train you to be a criminal mastermind. (Grades 6-9)

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

books like Percy Jackson

The Bartimaeus Trilogy. When young magician Nathaniel summons the ancient, powerful, and mischevious djinni Bartimaeus, he gets more than he bargained for! (Grades 6-9)

The Shadow Thief by Anne Ursu

books like Percy Jackson

Cronus Chronicles Trilogy. Charlotte sneaks into battle with a Greek demigod, then gets grounded for it. Still she continues on to fight the malevolent forces of the under-world. Charlotte’s life is tough! (Grades 7-9)

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

World War I is waged between the ‘Darwinists,’ with their fantastic genetically-altered creatures, and the ‘Clankers,’ who pilot giant robots. Aleksander and Deryn are caught in the middle! (Grades 7+)

See any good titles here? Any favorites? Any on your “must read” list? Please share in the comments below!

Best Wishes,
Valarie Budayr

P.S. Some of these links are affiliate links.


Valarie was recently our guest on BOY TALK. Save your seat for future BOY TALK Conversations here.
Missed one? You can download past BOY TALKS, along with a Tool Kit of tips and resources, for a small ticket price – see the full catalog here.

Click here for the Boys Alive! Free Report – “Living with Boys: How to Cope and Connect – HIS Way”

Boy Talk #6: Haunted Histories – Jump Into a Book

Guest Post by Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book

Do your kids like ghosts and the idea of a place being haunted?
My kids go through phases on this one and so I pick their scary, ghost type books carefully.

My first goal is to grab something that will have them turning the pages, Haunted Histories: Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons, and Powerful Palaces ! is such a book. Even the most reluctant reader will embrace this fun book by Marilyn Scott Waters and J.H. Everett.

“Sure to lure reluctant readers.” —School Library Journal

“Reluctant historians may find Virgil’s ghost story appealing.” —Kirkus Reviews

Haunted Histories

Virgil is my new favorite Ghostorian. Taking us on a time tour, Virgil introduces us to the incredible world of castles, dungeons , and palaces. Included are amazing facts of resident ghosts, timely traditions such as how are castles really built, what are the best means of torture, and what are palaces really for as well as having a look at life as a working child and a few grave yard tips.

Happily, this book is creepy but not scary. A perfect read for boys especially ages 8-12, girls will like it, too. This is one of those books which boys will absolutely love!

Excerpt From The Book:

Some kids think that castles in the old days were pink and filled with princesses and ponies. Guess what? Life back then was no fairy tale. I know ghosts who can prove it.

Filled with great amounts of history told in a very entertaining way. I adored this book and we read it in one sitting. I can always tell when a book is a big hit at our house because it just sort of floats from one person’s room to another. And you can hear questions such as; “are you through with that yet?” and “when will you be done?”

About The Authors

JH Everett

J.H. Everett :J.H. Everett is an artist, visual storyteller, writer, and creativity expert. He is currently Senior Partner of EverWitt Productions, LLC. A multimedia studio in Encinitas, CA. J.H. thinks his official title should be “get’s paid to have more fun than he should be allowed to have.” Read more about J.H HERE.



Marilyn Scott Water

Marilyn Scott Waters: Marilyn Scott-Waters loves making things out of paper. Her popular website,, receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things. Her first self published book, The Toymaker: Paper Toys That You Can Make Yourself, was a best-selling paper toy book on, sold out two print runs, and was picked up as a series by Sterling Publishing in 2010.



Haunted Histories: “Haunted Histories came out of my desire to help kids experience history closer to the approach and point of view of a professional historian,” says J.H. Everett, who himself has a PhD in history, apart from being a multi-media artist. “History is not just one thing after another in a textbook or dates in a timeline. It is connections, mutations, accidents, trivialities, and everyday life. In short, history is messy. History is about people…History is fun!”

Not only does the book have a great deal of fun embedded in its pages and its images, however, this book also aims to talk up to kids. “The most important thing was to write the best possible book that we could for kids,” says Co-Author/Co-illustrator, Marilyn Scott-Waters, “children deserve our best and highest work.”


Something’s To Do


In the back of Haunted Histories is a timeline. We used this as a gauge as to what was happening in the castles, dungeons , and palaces. Using a continuous strip of paper we placed dates and events. Since this timeline focus’ on buildings, we looked up each castle, dungeon, and palace online and printed out a photo to paste onto our timeline. We also took a moment to read more about each place. The following places were investigated for our timeline.

  • Himeji Castle
  • Krak Chevaliers
  • Tower of London
  • Newgate Prison
  • Castle Neuschwanstein
  • the Bastille
  • Hampton Court
  • Hellbrun
  • Jag Mandir



How about a little castle-creating fun? Here’s a fun craft from InCreations


Cardboard Fort with Escape Chute from What I Made.


Haunted Histories gives us loads of ideas on how to attack a castle. For us, the best way is to use a trebuchet. Here’s a fun and easy design made out of popsicle sticks which will have those castle walls coming down quickly….. or at least in our imaginations they will. For throwing purposes we use marshmallows or cotton balls.

How to Make a Popsicle Stick Catapult


Go To Jail

In the French prison called the Bastille, telling a bad joke could land you in prison plus some not so nice punishments. Gather your family and friends. Everyone is to bring a large collection of jokes. Divide into two teams, toss a coin to see which team goes first, and then start telling those jokes. After each joke is told, those that don’t get laughed at will land the joke teller in “jail”, that is until his team-mate gets a laugh to get him or her out. Remember to try not to laugh, no matter how funny the joke is. :) Good luck with this one. We are a bunch of corn balls that laugh at just about anything, especially really, really stupid jokes. The stupider the better.

Some fun and clean joke sites for kids

101 Kidz Jokes Great and plentiful animal jokes on this one.

Az Kids Net: -Knock-Knock Jokes

Scatty: See if you name has it’s own knock-knock joke. There are literally thousands of great jokes on this site.

What is Gruel ?


I’ve always wanted to know and now Haunted Histories has ended that mystery for us. In work houses and in cruel boarding schools, gruel was served as the one meal of the day. Gruel is a water downed version of porridge made with any grain that was on hand, for example, Rye, wheat, corn, etc., also known as groats. Groats is a combination of grains. For those of you who are really brave here’s our best gruel recipe.

1 tablespoon of groats or oatmeal
2 tablespoons of cold water
1 pint of boiling water

Cooking Instructions
First put the oats, together with the cold water, into a saucepan and mix together until smooth. Then, over this, stirring all the time, pour one pint of boiling water. Now stirring frequently boil for 10 minutes. Serve.

P.S. : If this is a bit too thin for you add more groats or forget this whole idea and make oatmeal.


Create a Coat of Arms: Here is a great site which shares a wonderful wealth of information about the symbols and messages used in a coat of arms. It also provided free templates and other activities to do with your newly designed Coat of Arms.

Things to Do with your Coat of Arms:

  • Create a shield
  • Make a flag to hang from your castle or front door of your home
  • Place it on a sweat shirt or Tee Shirt
  • Make a badge to place on your back-pack

Test Your Haunted Histories Knowledge

Here are some super cool trivia cards made by the creators of Haunted Histories. The online versions are animated but you can print them out as well.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the world of Haunted Histories. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below or share your photos with us on the Jump into a Book Facebook Fan Page.

Best wishes,
Valarie Budayr


Valarie was recently our guest on BOY TALK. Save your seat for future BOY TALK Conversations here.
Missed one? You can download past BOY TALKS, along with a Tool Kit of tips and resources, for a small ticket price – see the full catalog here.


Click here for the Boys Alive! Free Report – “Living with Boys: How to Cope and Connect – HIS Way”

Showing Up – on Facebook

“The act of showing up…” on Facebook of all places.Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.55.26 AM
There are many ways of ‘showing up’ on Facebook:
Do you surf?
Do you stalk?
Do you find your group and dig-in to fully contribute?

Showing up – on Facebook and in LIFE – allows us the opportunity to ‘bear witness’ for another, if we so choose.

Throughout time, pre-Facebook, ‘showing up’ or ‘bearing witness’ for another was a powerful act – one that comforted in times of distress or elation.

Perhaps you have a friend who naturally gets this – they are the ones that show up and are so simply just ‘there’ for you. If you’ve experienced this, you know it creates a deep connection unlike any other.

But seriously, can this really happen on Facebook, in a group full of strangers?

Yes, it can.

And it does, in the Boys Alive! private Facebook group (Consider this your first invitation to join us there).

Too often, it seems, we struggle with the feeling that we’re alone, that no one else feels the way we feel or has experienced what we’re experiencing.

This can feel overwhelming – especially as a parent.

After all, who cares about hearing all the mundane details of our lives – laundry, groceries, sick kids?

Yet, I’m sure you’d be the first to open your heart and listening ear to someone who said, “I need you.” “I’ve got a question.” “Can you help me?” “I would love your thoughts.”

You stand ready to bear witness to others who may be feeling alone:

Feeling alone, when our kid who has gotten in trouble at school – again.
Feeling alone, when our kid’s teacher wants us to have him tested for ADHD.
Feeling alone, when our kid makes us so furious we’re ready to leave home – for good!

YET, when we share – our victories and our defeats – we get down to being really human. We give and we receive – and yes, most of us are way more geared toward the giving than the receiving. (Yet in receiving we’ve just given the other the most precious gift of giving…funny how that circle works).

When we bear witness with each other in all of our moments – good and bad – we build community.

In her article, “The Power of Bearing Witness,” Judith Johnson explains, “When we bear witness, we lovingly give our attention to the other without judgment. We comfort without smothering. We play a supporting role – powerfully upholding the other starring in his or her life. It is not about us. It is about them… Bearing witness says, “You are not alone. I see you. I witness what you are experiencing. What you are experiencing matters to me. I surround you with my love.””

When we dare to ask a question or vent a frustration, then we may find ourselves surprised to realize that we aren’t alone – that someone else’s kid has done the same thing. Then we catch that lifeline tossed from another that says, “Yep. Been there. We’ve survived. You will, too.”

We realize we aren’t alone when someone ‘shows up’ with just the exact right article, book, or person to recommend – when we were positive there wasn’t a solution to our ‘unique’ issue.

When you reach out because you just need to hear a voice and receive a virtual hug – and you are heard and hugged – that is powerful.

Then you really know that this Facebook thing is okay.

Sure, there is no substitute for real-time, face-to-face contact, but there is something to be said for OUR community – for all who have clicked and said, “Yes. I stand together with you – no matter what.”

In this group, we advocate for boys.

But that doesn’t mean we leave girls behind. We advocate for understanding the uniqueness that we all have – and commit to changing our homes and schools so ALL kids can shine.

Along the way, our adult relationships change and grow, too.

We care.
We advocate.
We ask.
We share.
We cry, scream, laugh, and share some emoticon love, too.

We bear witness.
We show up.

Join us at Boys Alive! Supporting Parents and Teachers at Home and in School We’d love to have you!
Warm welcome,
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