5 Simple Changes I Made This Year That Transformed My Parenting that You Can Do Too!

5 Simple Changes I Made This Year That Transformed My Parenting that You Can Do Too!

5 simple changes that transformed my parenting that you can do too

By Jailan Heidar

I don’t know about you but 2017 has been a whirlwind of a year for me! After settling in from our move from Amsterdam to Munich last year and taking a breather. I started getting to know the local community, supporting local families and had a little baby join us this summer! It’s been a lot to deal with and my positive parenting practices were being tested to my limits. Things needed to change.

Today I wanted to share with you 5 things I changed in my parenting this year that transformed our family dynamics.

First, while prepping for some of the online courses I run. I began reading in depth about how the child’s brain works. Dr. Daniel Siegel talks about Connecting Before Correcting. Which means connecting emotionally with your child in an emotional situation before correcting the behavior. Why is that? Shouldn’t we be disciplining and addressing the misbehavior? YES! But in the next step. Children need that connection first by ACKNOWLEDGING their feelings to connect with the emotional more active side of their brain and get their attention. Once they feel heard and validated even if you aren’t on their side. Your child will be more open to discussing the misbehavior and solutions.

We have been doing this in our family with my 3-year-old and I can see the difference in how quickly he calms down when he hears his feelings being acknowledged and then in his willingness to discuss the behavior and think of solutions with me.

Try this out next time your child starts having a meltdown by just acknowledging how sad (s)he is.

The next big change I did to my parenting this year was to involve more SELF CARE. Happier and more relaxed parents means calmer, more patient parenting and a more peaceful home.

In previous years I always put myself last and got burnt out and PPD. This time around with a new baby I am working on giving some time for myself. For me personally, it’s getting 2 hours in the morning for one day each week where I can be baby free. I also make sure the kids are both in bed by 8 as much as possible. Even if they are up I hand them over to their dad. 8 PM is when my mama shift is over and I get to sit with a hot chocolate and watch some Netflix or read a book. I don’t answer phone calls, texts or emails if they aren’t urgent during that time. I’ve learned to say No this is my self-care time and I have to put myself first. It’s only an hour a day at most I’m sure everyone will manage fine without me in that time 🙂 One of the best baby gifts I got was a massage by Julie Leonard of Potentia.

You might be able to do the same, have a different situation or find pleasure in other things. Whatever it is, make SELF CARE a PRIORITY for this year. Even if it’s something as simple as sitting with a cup of tea in silence once a day. FInd out what you need for your self-care and add it to your list for the new year!

For several weeks now we have completely cut off any and all screen time for our 3 year old. The reason? Well in our particular situation screen time was limited to an hour and still made my son more hyperactive and he acted out more after screen viewing. It became a situation where the joy of some quiet time and fun cartoon watching wasn’t worth the meltdowns and tantrums that followed.

His behavior was really in line with the research that shows that children become more hyperactive after screen time as their body movement tries to catch up with their brain activity. For us after cutting screen time The result is that he is a much happier child who is exploring his other toys and is participating in more imaginative play.

This doesn’t mean you should do exactly the same BUT you should consider limiting screen time to just 2 hours a day for young children and no screen time at all for children under 2 which is the APA recomme ndation. If your child is struggling to fall asleep, go to bed or seems tired in the morning screen time might play a part. Check if your child is being exposed to any blue light screens such as mobiles or tablets before bedtime. These keep us awake more than regular screens like the TV. Avoiding any screens an hour before bed can really help your child settle into the bedtime routine will, fall asleep easier and sleep better overall.

Think about what small or big screen time changes you can make in your home that could make other daily activities more relaxed and less of a struggle.

Making many changes in our parenting or family can be overwhelming and too much to do that we end up not doing anything at all. This year I started a weekly initiative with the families on my Positive Parenting FB Page and Munich Community Group. Every week I put a small target for myself and my family to try to make life better and work on ourselves one little step at a time. It helps me keep myself from feeling overwhelmed or asking too much of myself, kids and husband. One week it could be as simple as, insist that 3-year-old feed himself this week. Or as complex as deciding to spend more time focusing on his fine motor skills so he gets the practice which would then involve looking up activity ideas, getting material and allocating time each day. Now, Think about your parenting goals.

Ask yourself how you can break them down so they’re not overwhelming. Then put the most important changes you want to make at the top of the list. From the top 3 choose the easiest one you can start with and make that this week’s goal.It could even be this month’s goal. Give yourself all the time you need till you feel you can move on to the next goal on your list.

Finally last but not least. One of the most powerful and impactful changes has been making a conscious choice to spend daily special time with my 3-year-old.

Every evening when he comes home from kindergarten I play 10 minutes with him while dinner is bubbling away. Then I go and finish preparing dinner. Before we added this little change to our routine I would great him while preparing dinner and attempt to talk and play with him while I was visibly preoccupied with something else. The result was a mix of tantrums, acting out for attention and plain feelings of sadness. Now not only does this send him a message that he’s a priority and of course I miss him while he’s away. He’s also much more agreeable and happier after that. I also spend a few minutes in bed with him each night talking about his day.This works because it’s a quiet and calm space and there are no toys or activities to distract from just having a conversation and connecting.

Look at your daily routine and schedule and see where and how you can fit a bit of uninterrupted special time with your child. Which also means no phone or chores 🙂 It doesn’t have to be something complex or hours long.Set yourself a 10-15 minute special target with your child.

Want to Find More Positive Solutions to Your Daily Parenting Challenges?

If you’ve connected with these Positive Parenting tools and you’re interested in making this year the year for transforming your parenting and adding Positive Parenting to your life, I am happy to support your family and schedule a one-on-one consult.

Instead of feeling lost, helpless and frustrated I want you to parent with solutions and confidence!

You’ll learn parenting tools to help you deal with daily struggles and frustrations you may be having with your young child. You’ll understand what your child is and isn’t capable of emotionally, socially and physically so you can provide the right age-appropriate solutions. You’ll feel more resourceful and confident in your parenting.

The theme we’ll discuss is all about behaviors and emotions. We’ll talk about techniques to stay calm, dealing with tantrums, crying, sleep, attention-seeking behavior and how you can support your child in sharing and developing empathy.

8 Positive Parenting Books you Should Read this Summer

8 Positive Parenting Books you Should Read this Summer

8 Positive Parenting Books you Should Read this Summer

Bright from the Start
by Jill Stamm

Positive Discipline The First 3 Years

by Jane Nelson

How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen

by Joanne Faber & Julie King

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too

by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

The Whole Brain Child

by Daniel Seigel

How to be the Parent you always wanted to be

by Adel Faber & Elaine Mazlish

Unconditional Parenting

by Alfie Kohn

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting

by Janet Lansbury

Routine Chart Tips that Work


I know a lot of families just started school this last month and things get a little busy in the morning getting everyone out the door on time. Some of you may be feeling overwhelmed or frustrated in the morning because of this and I want to help you with that! Which is why I want to talk to you about routines.

The reason i want to talk about routines is that they are easy and effective and great for kids of almost any age

It’s something you can do tonight and can make a difference with your family within a week.

You can watch my talk here as well!

A great way to start is with a routine chart.

The chart gives kids what they need which is a visual reminder and a sense of independence when they do things themselves

Making a chart

  • Do it together involve your child
  • Talk about the stressful situation with your child if they are old enough already
  • Suggest a chart to help us remember what to do in the morning
  • Make it together by asking your child to list all the things that need to get done
    Gives children a great sense of accomplishment and pride!

Ideas fun ways to get this done

  • Pictures of your child, print and hang in sequence → great for toddlers
  • Choose pictures, Print out , cut , color and stick on a chart → great for 4-6 year olds
  • You can also have them in writing and have your child add activities they want or take things away —> great for older kids 7 and up

Practical tips on getting it done in the morning

  • Remind your child of the chart. Don’t give in to nagging
  • Make the chart the boss “what does the chart say we should do next”
  • Put a sticker next to each one that is done
  • Don’t have to focus on sequence
  • It takes time and practice

Try it out


I want you to make a routine chart of whatever area of your day is causing stress for you and your child. It can be getting ready in the morning or bedtime or even stating the steps to getting dressed in details.

Here’s a giant Pinterest link to give you a lot of ideas!


Creating Holiday Family Traditions – Personal Post

Creating Holiday Family Traditions – Personal Post

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I grew up in Egypt celebrating it every
year with my parents, godmother, close family and friends.
 One of my favorite holidays growing up I remember it not for the presents and toys but more for the people, food, activities and memories.

Whatever holiday or occasion you are celebrating, having family traditions is a wonderful way to create long lasting memories for yourself and children.Today, I’m sharing with you some of my fondest memories for the holidays that are in my family tradition.


Food is such a big part of most cultures and definitely a huge one in Egypt. For my family our tradition was making Christmas cookies with my Godmother. As a young child my role was to meticulously decorate every gingerbread man to make each one unique! As I got older I learned so much about making other holiday dishes and brought my own twist on some.
Today our family tradition in my little family is making Christmas cupcakes, also decorated with great detail. The best thing about cooking or baking is sitting at the table with everyone else and sharing.
Cooking and baking are fun ways to involve your little one. Kids really enjoy decorating cookies, pie toppings or helping out with peeling onions. Any simple task can help your little one feel like they have an important role.


Special Parent-Child Activity

Most of my Christmas activities were done with my godmother but I do have one special memory just for Christmas with my mom. Every year we would take the time and sit together and make stockings for every person who was joining us for Christmas dinner. We’d cut, sew and stick each one and finally fill them with all sorts of stocking goodies. Being a working mom it was a great treat to have my mom take the time and do this with me. For your family you can do any craft that you both enjoy; stockings, ornaments or cards. In the end the point is really about spending that special time together as a family.


Family Photo

This is not a custom I grew up with but I love this idea. My brother’s family send us a family picture with their Christmas card every year. It’s a great way to update family or friends that don’t live close. For me it’s great to see how my nieces and nephew are growing and changing over the years and feeling connected as a family.



Every year after Christmas my godmother takes the time to write thank-you letter to everyone. As a child I was always encouraged to join and write my own thank-yous and got my own thank-you notes stationery to help me out. This is one thing I’m still not good at but greatly cherish and value. It’s also a great way to teach children to be and show thankfulness after the holiday rush is over.


Those were some of my family traditions. What are yours?

Image courtesy of bplanet/Free Digital Photos

The Gift of Gratitude

The Gift of Gratitude



How do we get our kids to focus more on what they have instead of what they want? There’s so much available in stores, supermarkets and even most homes it can be a challenge at times to help children look beyond their little world of games and toys. Young children tend to be egocentric, which is a normal part of development. They usually start showing outward behavior of thankfulness or appreciation by the age of 3.

There are however a lot of things you can do to help your child start practicing gratitude in the early years. Here are a few of my favorites to get your started.



Make a Giving List

Sit with your little one and talk about the idea of making a giving list. For every item he’d like for Christmas have him think of something he can give. It can be something handmade, bought from his allowance, giving away one of his toys or clothes and even just helping someone out with something. For your young child keep it simple and help by offering choices and suggestions. For older kids give them time to be creative and think of things themselves if they’d like. Kids can surprise you. Talk about who would be happy with these gifts. Someone in the family, neighbors, friends or maybe look further beyond in your community to local shelters. Encourage your child by modeling and having the whole family join in.


Give Experiential Gifts

Both children and adults tend to focus on giving toys and other material gifts on most occasions. These are great and fun of course but kids tend to lose interest in toys pretty quick especially if they have too many options. Consider giving an experiential gift instead. It can be something simple like a Make a Volcano Kit, a nature magazine subscription or a fun outing with friends and family to the zoo. It can also be something more complex like going to camp, horseriding weekend camp or a family trip. According to psychologist Jeffrey Froh, a gratitude researcher, kids get to feel happy and fulfilled with these experiences because they feed their personal growth or their interest. Kids get to feel more appreciation and create more meaningful memories than just receiving a toy.


Visit those Less Fortunate

This may be a cliche but most of us even as adults have a tendency to take any privileges we have for granted will we come across those who are less fortunate. Children are the same, especially if their circle of friends come from similar economic backgrounds. Talk to your children about what they think they can do to help others in the community or even beyond. Maybe choose a few toys or clothes they don’t use anymore to pack for the local shelter. Take a trip to a child friendly shelter (if possible), children’s hospital, animal shelter or any other place of need. Don’t just make this a drop off but try to spend a couple of hours to volunteer. Read stories for children at the hospital or help groom the shelter pups. It’s all about having a real experience helping your child be a giving and empathetic person.


Talk about Receiving

Gratitude isn’t just about empathy or giving. It’s also about being thankful for what others have done. Instead of asking your child to just say “Thank-you” when she gets a gift talk about how nice it was for grandma to remember that she liked soccer and made the trip to the special sports store to get her the ball. Your child will start to realize there’s more to it than a gift she wants appearing magically. This way the Thank-you comes from the heart.



Appreciate Effort

We don’t always get what we want in life and that can be very disappointing and hard to handle for young children. Gratitude is also about being OK when things don’t go as planned. This is a tough one even for grownups but it’s a good habit to model and practice. For young children it can be hard to grasp what they should be happy about when it rains and they don’t get to go play outside or if they get sick and can’t go on the school trip. These are perfect opportunities to help them think about the positive side; “If we hadn’t decided to play inside today we wouldn’t have gotten to spend such a fun time together making this puzzle that we’ve decided to frame”. Model this in situations when you yourself are disappointed that things didn’t go as planned as well. Children learn best when we practice what we preach ourselves.  


Make Gratitude a Family Habit

Finally, gratitude isn’t something to focus on just during the holiday season or around birthdays. Although those are yearly hot spots, it’s a habit to practice year round. Simply have a gratitude conversation once a week during dinner where each member of the family talks about something they are thankful for.


For further reading on raising a thankful child. Read my article published in The Daily Crisp


Image courtesy of Claire Bloomfield/Free Digital Photos