Tips and Tools

Free tips and tools to help you be more effective with your children. You will also find tools to make your relationship with your children less stressful and more rewarding.

A photo showing how a parent goes from yelling to having a great relationship with her daughter

Parenting Resources


Prevent Sibling Rivalry


Solve Sleep Issues



Get Homework Done



School Resources

Encourage Reading


Helping your Child to be Independent

Dental Hygiene

Feelings Chart




Potty Training


Fun Activities for Kids


Games to Play When Bored

Taking Care of Yourself



Parenting Mom

Tips for Parents

Effective Praise Techniques

Effective praise is a powerful tool for motivating and encouraging positive behavior in children. Here are some tips on how to use praise effectively to foster good habits and reinforce positive actions:

  1. Be Specific: Rather than general praise like “Good job,” be specific about what the child did well. For example, “I really liked how you shared your toys with your sister today. That was very kind!”
  2. Focus on Effort, Not Outcome: Praise the effort and hard work rather than just the outcome. This helps build resilience and motivation to keep trying, even when tasks are challenging. Say something like, “I noticed how hard you worked on your homework tonight, that’s wonderful!”
  3. Encourage New Skills: When children try something new or improve a skill, acknowledge their progress. This could be as simple as, “You’re getting better at tying your shoelaces, keep practicing!”
  4. Use Descriptive Praise: Instead of vague affirmations, describe what you see. For example, “You organized your room very neatly. Everything is in its right place!”
  5. Praise Sincerely: Children can tell when praise is not genuine. Make sure your praise is heartfelt and reflects genuine appreciation or admiration for their actions.
  6. Avoid Over-Praising: Too much praise can make children dependent on external validation. Offer praise that feels appropriate to the situation, and focus on fostering internal motivation.
  7. Encourage Self-Assessment: Ask children how they feel about their achievements. Questions like, “How did it feel when you finished that puzzle all by yourself?” help them reflect on and internalize their successes.
  8. Recognize Character and Values: Praise children for demonstrations of character, such as honesty, fairness, and empathy. For instance, “You were very honest when you told me you made a mistake. I’m proud of you for that.”
  9. Timing is Key: Offer praise close to the behavior you want to encourage. This immediate feedback reinforces the behavior as it happens.
  10. Avoid Comparisons: Focus on the child’s individual achievements without comparing them to siblings or peers. This promotes a healthy self-concept and confidence.

Setting Up Successful Behavior Charts:

Behavior charts can be an effective tool for encouraging positive behavior in children when used correctly. Here are some tips for setting up and implementing successful behavior charts:

  1. Define Clear Goals: Start by identifying specific behaviors that you want to encourage or discourage. These should be clear, measurable, and achievable. For example, “clean up toys after playing” or “complete homework before dinner.”
  2. Involve the Child: Include the child in the creation of the chart. Let them help design it and decide on the rewards. This gives them a sense of ownership and makes them more invested in following it.
  3. Use Positive Language: Frame the behaviors in positive terms. Instead of saying “no hitting,” you might use “use gentle touches.”
  4. Keep It Simple: Don’t overload the chart with too many behaviors at once. Start with 2-3 key behaviors to avoid overwhelming the child. This focus makes it easier for them to remember and succeed.
  5. Use Visuals: Especially for younger children, use pictures and symbols that they can easily understand. Visuals make the chart more engaging and easier to follow. Our free behavior chart maker enables you to upload images easily.
  6. Set Short-Term Goals: Long-term goals can be daunting for children. Break goals into smaller, manageable tasks with daily or weekly targets. This helps maintain their motivation by providing frequent feedback and rewards.
  7. Provide Immediate Feedback: Update the chart regularly (at least daily) to reflect the child’s behavior. Immediate feedback helps reinforce good behavior and corrects the not-so-good ones timely.
  8. Offer Meaningful Rewards: Choose rewards that are meaningful and motivating for the child. These can be small privileges, activities, or items. Ensure the rewards are appropriate for the age and interests of the child.
  9. Be Consistent: Consistency is key in enforcing the rules and giving rewards. If a behavior chart is to be effective, both parents (and other caregivers, if applicable) must apply the same standards and rewards.
  10. Review and Adjust: Periodically review the chart with your child to discuss what’s working and what isn’t. This can be a good opportunity to adjust goals or methods as needed, ensuring the chart evolves with your child’s development.
  11. Focus on Positive Reinforcement: While it can be tempting to use the chart to penalize negative behavior, focus on positive reinforcement. This promotes a more positive atmosphere and encourages children to replicate good behavior for positive attention.
  12. Celebrate Successes: Even small successes deserve recognition. Celebrate when milestones are reached, reinforcing positive behavior and making the child feel proud of their achievements.

Encourage New Skills

Encouraging new skills in children is an essential aspect of their development and builds their confidence and self-esteem. Here are some tips on how to effectively support and motivate children as they learn and improve new skills:

  1. Show Enthusiasm: Your interest and enthusiasm can be contagious. Show genuine excitement when your child tries something new or makes progress in a skill. This positive energy encourages them to keep trying.
  2. Celebrate Small Achievements: Acknowledge every small step of progress. This could be as simple as a high five or a verbal acknowledgment like, “You did a great job putting on your shoes by yourself today!”
  3. Provide Encouragement, Not Just Praise: While praise is important, encouragement focuses on the effort rather than the outcome. Say things like, “You’re working really hard on that,” instead of only celebrating the final success.
  4. Create Opportunities for Practice: Offer ample opportunities for your child to practice new skills. Whether it’s scheduling regular practice times or integrating practice into everyday activities, consistent practice is key to mastery.
  5. Set Realistic Goals: Help your child set achievable goals that are appropriate for their age and development level. This helps them stay motivated and not get discouraged.
  6. Use Visual Aids: Especially for complex skills, visual aids such as step-by-step pictures or diagrams can help children understand and remember the steps involved. For example, our free printable morning routine chart maker enables you to upload photos for every step of your morning routine.
  7. Be Patient: Learning new skills takes time. Show patience and avoid rushing your child, which can create anxiety and hinder progress.
  8. Model Skills: Children learn a lot by imitation. If it’s a skill you can demonstrate, show them how it’s done. For instance, if your child is learning to tie their shoes, sit down and slowly show them how you tie yours.
  9. Provide Constructive Feedback: Offer helpful feedback that guides improvement without discouraging efforts. Frame feedback positively and focus on how they can improve further.
  10. Tailor Learning to Their Interests: If a child is interested in a particular topic or activity, use that as a gateway to introduce new skills. For example, if your child loves animals, encourage them to learn more about animal care or start a small project related to animals.
  11. Equip Them with the Right Tools: Make sure they have the necessary resources and tools to practice their new skills. This could range from the right kind of books or educational materials to sports equipment or art supplies.
  12. Celebrate Learning as a Journey: Help children understand that learning is a continual process and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Celebrate the journey of learning as much as the milestones.

Descriptive Praise

Descriptive praise is an effective way to communicate appreciation and reinforce positive behaviors in children, making it clearer what specifically they did well. Here are some tips on how to use descriptive praise effectively:

  1. Be Observant: Take the time to observe the specific actions or behaviors you want to praise. This could be how they handled a situation, the effort they put into a task, or the creativity they showed.
  2. Be Specific: Instead of general comments like “good job,” be specific about what exactly the child did that was commendable. For example, “I noticed how carefully you colored within the lines on your drawing. It looks very neat!”
  3. Focus on the Process: Praise the effort, strategy, or thought process rather than just the outcome. This encourages a growth mindset. Say, “I can see you spent a lot of time thinking about how to solve that math problem. That’s a great way to tackle difficult questions!”
  4. Use Positive Language: Frame your observations positively. Highlight what they did right and focus on positive outcomes. For example, “You remembered to hang up your coat and put your shoes away. That really helps keep the house tidy!”
  5. Make It Timely: Offer praise soon after the action occurs. Immediate feedback is more connected to the behavior and reinforces it more effectively.
  6. Encourage Further Growth: Use praise as a way to encourage ongoing improvement. For example, “You’ve gotten so much better at sharing your toys. I bet your friends really enjoy playing with you even more now!”
  7. Acknowledge the Impact: Explain how their actions impact others, which can help them see the value of their behavior. For example, “When you help your sister with her homework, it shows you really care about her. It makes her happy and proud.”
  8. Make It Personal: Tailor your praise to what matters to the child, which shows that you pay attention to their personal interests and challenges. For example, “You wrote your first book report so well, especially since I know writing hasn’t always been easy for you!”
  9. Avoid Over-Praising: While it’s important to recognize and reinforce positive behavior, too much praise can diminish its impact. Ensure that your praise is meaningful and warranted.
  10. Combine Verbal and Nonverbal Praise: Along with verbal praise, use nonverbal cues like smiling, nodding, or a thumbs up to reinforce your words. This can enhance the message that you are proud and pleased with their efforts.

Using descriptive praise not only boosts a child’s self-esteem but also helps them understand exactly what behaviors are appreciated and why, fostering more of those behaviors in the future.

Positive Discipline

Positive discipline is a strategy that focuses on teaching good behaviors and instilling values in children rather than punishing them for misbehavior. Here are some effective non-punitive methods to guide children towards better behavior:

  1. Set Clear Expectations: Clearly and consistently communicate the rules and expectations. Children are more likely to behave appropriately when they know what is expected of them.
  2. Use Positive Reinforcement: Encourage good behavior with positive reinforcement. This could be through verbal praise, a reward system, or simply acknowledging their efforts and achievements.
  3. Create a Conducive Environment: Arrange the home and daily routines in ways that promote good behavior. This can include organizing play areas to reduce conflicts or setting a calm bedtime routine.
  4. Teach Problem-Solving Skills: Help children learn how to resolve conflicts and problems on their own by guiding them through the process of identifying the problem, thinking of possible solutions, and trying them out.
  5. Give Choices: Offering choices empowers children and can reduce power struggles. Make sure the choices are acceptable to you, but let the child feel they have some control.
  6. Time-In Instead of Time-Out: Instead of sending children away to time-out, use time-in to talk about emotions and behaviors. Sit with the child, discuss what happened, and guide them to understand how they can handle situations differently in the future.
  7. Model Appropriate Behavior: Children learn a lot by imitation. Model the behaviors you want to see in your children, such as dealing with frustration calmly or treating others with respect.
  8. Use Natural Consequences: Let children experience the natural consequences of their actions when it’s safe to do so. For example, if they don’t pick up their toys, they might not be able to find their favorite toy later.
  9. Teach Emotional Regulation: Teach children techniques for managing their emotions. This can include deep breathing, counting to ten, or using words or emotion charts to express feelings.
  10. Hold Family Meetings: Regular family meetings can be used to discuss family issues, family rules, plan fun activities, and solve problems together. This teaches children democratic participation and responsibility.
  11. Be Patient and Consistent: Consistency and patience are key in positive discipline. The same rules and consequences must be applied consistently, and parents need to be patient as children learn and adapt.
  12. Focus on the Positive: Instead of always looking for what’s wrong, catch your child doing something right. Praise them for positive behavior to reinforce those actions.
  13. Encourage Restitution: When children hurt others, encourage them to make it right. This could be an apology or a gesture to show they are sorry, helping them learn about empathy and responsibility.
  14. Use Redirecting: If a child is engaged in inappropriate behavior, redirect their attention to a different, more acceptable activity. This helps avoid confrontations and reinforces what they can do instead of what they can’t.

Encouraging reading and enhancing literacy skills

Encouraging reading and enhancing literacy skills from an early age sets a foundation for lifelong learning and enjoyment of reading. Here are some strategies to foster a love for reading and develop literacy skills in children:

  1. Read Aloud Daily: Make reading a regular part of your daily routine by setting aside time to read aloud to your child every day. This helps children associate reading with pleasure and gives them a model of fluent reading.
  2. Create a Reading Nook: Designate a special place in your home as a reading nook. Make it cozy with comfortable seating, good lighting, and easy access to books, encouraging a welcoming environment for reading.
  3. Choose Age-Appropriate Books: Select books that match your child’s age and interests to keep them engaged. Use colorful picture books for younger children and gradually introduce more complex texts as they grow.
  4. Discuss the Stories: Talk about the books you read together. Ask questions about the story, characters, and what might happen next. This enhances comprehension skills and makes reading a more interactive experience.
  5. Lead by Example: Let your child see you reading. Children who see adults engaged in reading are more likely to view reading as a valuable and enjoyable activity.
  6. Library Visits: Regular visits to the library can turn into an exciting adventure that allows children to explore new books and topics. Most libraries also offer story times and other literacy-related activities.
  7. Expand Vocabulary: Introduce new words during everyday conversations or while reading. Discuss their meanings and use them in context to help build your child’s vocabulary.
  8. Use Technology Wisely: Utilize educational apps and e-books that promote reading and literacy. However, balance screen time with traditional reading to develop a broad range of literacy skills.
  9. Encourage Writing: Encourage your child to write stories, letters, or keep a journal. Writing activities complement reading and help improve literacy.
  10. Play Literacy Games: Engage your child in literacy games that involve reading instructions, creating word puzzles, or playing board games that require reading cards. These are fun ways to practice reading skills.
  11. Read a Variety of Materials: Expose your child to different types of reading materials, including picture books, poetry, magazines, and informational texts. Variety helps develop a broad range of literacy skills and keeps reading interesting.
  12. Follow Their Interests: Stock your child’s reading space with books and materials that match their interests, whether it’s dinosaurs, fairy tales, sports, or space. When children are interested in a topic, they are more likely to engage with the reading material.
  13. Set Reading Goals: Set achievable reading goals with your child, and celebrate when they meet them, whether it’s the number of books read or the consistent practice of reading each day. Use a reading chart to track their reading.
  14. Involve Family Members: Encourage other family members to read to and with the child. This can include siblings, grandparents, or any household members, broadening the reading experience and making it a family activity.