31 Fast and Healthy Breakfasts

Original article available here…https://greatist.com/health/healthy-fast-breakfast-recipes

We admit it: There are some (OK, many) mornings when it’s all we can do to will ourselves out of bed and grab a fistful of cereal or a granola bar on our way out the door.

A gourmet breakfast isn’t a realistic everyday goal. But that doesn’t mean we should settle for a sugar rush that’ll leave us sad and hungry a half-hour later. You’d be surprised how many healthy breakfast ideas require very little effort when put into practice.

We’re about to blow your mind with everything from über-easy, make-ahead breakfast muffins to lots of delicious vegan breakfast ideas and healthy smoothies you can whip up in just minutes. Overnight oats recipe? Oh, yeah. We’ve got a killer one of those.

There’s also no need to limit these healthy breakfast recipes to the morning hours, friends. Expand your horizons and try these 31 healthy options to satisfy those breakfast-food cravings all day long.

1. Tomato Toast with Macadamia “Ricotta

Here’s a vegan take on a classic summer breakfast sandwich. Instead of mayo, a fluffy, rich mixture of nuts, garlic, miso paste, and nutritional yeast is spread on hearty whole-grain bread. Then slices of ripe tomatoes are layered on — we love to mix red and yellow heirlooms.

Season this open-faced sandwich with ribbons of basil or shiso, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper.

2. Avocado Toast with Egg

Sometimes simple is just better. Top two lightly toasted slices of whole-grain bread with smashed avocado and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Layer on two sunny-side up eggs for a healthy dose of protein and you’ve got a well-rounded breakfast.

3. Nut Butter, Banana, and Chia Seed Toast

Try this superfood twist on classic PB and banana, using sunflower seed butter (or your favorite seed or nut butter) and a sprinkling of whole raw chia seeds, which are packed with an amazing array of nutrients.

4. Berry and Yogurt Smoothie

Share on PinterestPhoto: Chef Savvy

Here’s a simple and delicious smoothie for the morning rush. It takes less than five minutes to blend fresh or frozen fruit (banana and berries work well) with Greek yogurt and a liquid of your choice (milk, juice, coconut water — whatever you like).

This recipe makes two servings, so freeze one overnight and let it thaw throughout the day to enjoy in the afternoon.

5. Berry Breakfast Parfait

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One of the easiest, healthiest, and tastiest breakfasts out there is a classic fruit and yogurt parfait. The best part? It can be made with any toppings you like. Choose fruits that are in season to get the best flavor. But in a pinch, (thawed) frozen will do.

6. Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

Share on PinterestPhoto: The Chubby Vegetarian

Smoothies are a perfect on-the-go snack any time of day. Blend frozen bananas, peanut butter, soy milk, Greek yogurt, honey, and a few ice cubes and you’ll swear you’re sipping a milkshake.

If this is a morning snack, keep it in a tight-sealing container and secure it in a pocket in your gym or work bag. For an afternoon boost, prep it the night before and freeze it. Remove it in the morning, and it will be thawed and ready when that 3 p.m. lull sets in.

Tip: Add a scoop of your favorite chocolate or vanilla protein powder for an extra shot of protein.

7. Pumpkin Granola Yogurt Parfait

Share on PinterestPhoto: Nutrition in the Kitch

This one’s perfect to try out as fall sets in. In your favorite small container (with a reliable lid!), layer rich pumpkin pie cashew cream with plain Greek yogurt and a handful of granola, and then sprinkle with cinnamon.

The best part? Pumpkin is a bona fide superfood rich in beta carotene, which is essential for eye health.

8. Quinoa Fruit Salad

Share on PinterestPhoto: The Recipe Critic

A fruit salad of berries and mango gets extra texture, body, and protein from a scoop of quinoa. Toss the whole shebang around until the quinoa is evenly distributed. Then drizzle on a sweet-tart dressing of honey, lime, and basil and toss to coat evenly.

This recipe makes 4–6 servings, so you can prep in advance and throw together a serving or two as you need.

9. Blueberry Almond Overnight Oats

Share on PinterestPhoto: Busy Girl Healthy World

This is the ultimate busy-bee breakfast. Combine oats, chia seeds, blueberries, vanilla, almond milk, and maple syrup in a sealed container and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, top with slivered almonds and half a sliced banana and you’re ready for breakfast. If you’re in the mood for something warm, heat in the microwave for 1–2 minutes.

10. Savory Oatmeal with an Egg

Share on PinterestPhoto: Healthy Nibbles and Bits

Savory oatmeal? What the… ?! Yes, this recipe takes oatmeal to a whole new level. Quick-cooking steel-cut oats (or regular rolled oats) are cooked in the microwave, mixed with white cheddar cheese, sprinkled with diced red pepper and onion, and topped with an over-easy egg.

Bonus: This recipe has useful tips for cooking in the microwave without making a mess. (We admit it: We’ve wreaked havoc a few times. Sigh.)

11. Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups

Share on PinterestPhoto: Iowa Girl Eats

Here’s a new way to enjoy quinoa: Make mini quinoa breakfast quiches! These two-bite mini muffins are light and fluffy. And this recipe can be adapted to include your favorite

veggies (spinach or zucchini works well) and cheese (ummmm, cheddar).

12. Quinoa and Chia Porridge

Share on PinterestPhoto: Tales of a Kitchen

Cooking quinoa in milk (dairy, soy, or almond) with healthy spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric infuses flavor into this great substitute for a classic hot breakfast cereal. Plus, it’s high in protein.

Simply put all the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Then simmer, stir, and top with your favorite seasonal add-ons.

13. Banana Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

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Try this superfood twist on the classic combo of PB and banana. It tastes like breakfast for dessert, if dessert were healthy. All you need is love — in the form of chia seeds, a banana, some PB, and milk of your choice. And time: The pudding can rest in the fridge for four hours, but overnight is better.

14. Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

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Turn a classic summer quick bread into oatmeal with this recipe. Adding shredded zucchini and chia seeds to the simmering oatmeal pumps up the nutritional value and starts your day with a serving of veggies. Throw on a handful of toasted walnuts for added crunch.

15. Coconut Yogurt Quinoa Muffins

Share on PinterestPhoto: Simply Quinoa

By this point, it’s obvious we think quinoa makes anything better. So when it comes to muffins, it’s a no-brainer (especially if you add flaxseeds, oats, banana, and applesauce, too). Try these moist little bites for breakfast or an after-lunch treat.

16. Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies

Share on PinterestPhoto: Watching What I Eat

Cookies for breakfast? Yes, please. While Oreos or Chips Ahoy may not make a balanced breakfast, these soft, thick, chewy cookies are a top-notch choice. The recipe calls for carob chips, but you can substitute semisweet chocolate chips.

Plus, you can pick and choose what you like to mix in for flavoring — go for almond butter and raisins in one batch and peanut butter and chocolate chips in another.

17. Banana Zucchini Oatmeal Cups

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With oats, shredded zucchini, and maple syrup, this vegan breakfast will start your day with veggies and grains. Make a batch of these baked oatmeal cups in advance, keep them in the fridge, and grab one for breakfast on your way out the door.

18. Apple Crisp Oatmeal Squares

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Oatmeal is a great option for a hearty snack or breakfast, but what’s the best way to make it more convenient and portable? Bake it into squares! In this recipe, a crisp topping covers a layer of apples over a base of banana and oats.

Tip: Individual servings can be frozen and later thawed or warmed in the microwave.

19. Morning Glory Muffins

Share on PinterestPhoto: Martha Stewart

These oat-based muffins (pssst… it’s a Martha Stewart recipe) are packed with healthy carrots and zucchini and lightly sweetened with raisins and a pinch of sugar. Use a mini muffin tin for smaller portions and cut back on the brown sugar or choose a healthier substitute).

20. Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

Share on PinterestPhoto: Minimalist Baker

These tasty, easy no-bake granola bars will remind you of your morning oatmeal, but you can eat them anywhere you like. This recipe calls for honey, but we like to replace it with maple syrup to make the bars vegan.

21. Zucchini, Banana, and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Share on PinterestPhoto: Well Plated

Any recipe that fits a serving of veggies into a delicious baked good is a winner in our book. These muffins are jam-packed with better-for-you ingredients — coconut oil, zucchini, banana, and whole-wheat flour — plus chocolate chips for an extra bit of sweetness.

22. Breakfast Egg Muffins

Share on PinterestPhoto: Dinner at the Zoo

Finally, a muffin without allllll that sugar. These are simple to make ahead of time, and they last all week — great for grab-and-go breakfasts. Blend or whisk eggs with spinach, bacon, and cheese, and then pour the mixture into muffin tins. Bake for 15–20 minutes before serving.

Tip: Once they’ve cooled, store them in the fridge. They’ll warm up nicely in the microwave in your office (sorry it smells so good, co-workers).

23. Spinach and Cheddar Microwave Quiche

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Yes, it’s possible (and easy) to make a quiche in the microwave! Cover half a cup of spinach with water in a mug and microwave it for a minute. Drain the water and add an egg, milk, cheese, and a crumbled slice of bacon. Mix thoroughly, and then microwave for three more minutes.

Transfer it to a container to eat later or enjoy it right away.

24. Slow-Cooker Sausage and Egg Casserole

Share on PinterestPhoto: All Day I Dream About Food

Wake up to a house smelling like sausage and effortlessly put breakfast on your plate, all thanks to the beauty and benefits of a slow cooker.

Layer the vegetables, sausage, and cheese in the slow cooker; top with a mix of eggs and cream (you’d be fine using regular or nondairy milk for a lighter option); and you’re just one sleep away from a delicious and hearty meal. (And yes, of course you can omit the sausage.)

25. Cheesy Spinach Baked Eggs

Share on PinterestPhoto: Sugar-Free Mom

Fried eggs are great, but how about baking a whole egg in a muffin tin or ramekin with veggies and cheese, using a lot less oil? A batch of these babies will feed the whole family for breakfast and make Monday feel like Friday. (Yes, you’re a star and they appreciate everything you do.)

26. Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Share on PinterestPhoto: Minimalist Baker

Here’s a yummy vegan way to have chocolate for breakfast. A bowlful of quinoa cooked in almond milk and flavored with cocoa and maple syrup makes for a flavorful, filling, protein-rich base. Top with banana, berries, and vegan dark chocolate (read the label — some brands of chocolate use milk products).

27. Warm Fruit Bowl

Share on PinterestPhoto: Nutrition Stripped

Craving dessert for breakfast? Or breakfast for dessert? This gluten-free, vegan bowl should hit the spot. Simply bake a blend of berries in the oven until soft, remove from the oven, and sprinkle with shaved vegan dark chocolate (it’ll melt into the warm fruit) and crunchy toasted coconut.

Serve in bowls with warm or cold nut milk.

28. Vegan Blueberry Flax Breakfast Muffins

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These hearty, wholesome, and not-too-sweet muffins make the perfect portable breakfast. Flaxseeds provide a healthy dose of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Mashed banana (one of our favorite healthy baking substitutions) allows for a slight reduction in the added fat and sugar, too.

29. Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Apple Bites

Share on PinterestPhoto: The Comfort of Cooking

This is a perfect pick for apple season. Cut your favorite kind of apple into wedges and scoop nut butter onto each slice. Sprinkle with oats or granola and cinnamon and drizzle a bit of melted chocolate on top.

30. Southwest Tofu Scramble

Share on PinterestPhoto: Minimalist Baker

Stuck with last night’s leftovers? No problem. If you have some leftover tofu and veggies (like peppers and kale), you’re good to go for this easy eggless scramble. (Yes, it’s vegan.) Combine your ingredients in a pan and throw some potatoes on the side for a hearty dish.

31. Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jelly Compote Waffles

Share on PinterestPhoto: Jessica in the Kitchen

The “compote” part might make this recipe sound complicated, but we’ve got your back. If it’s not a slow weekend morning when you’re ready to spend some time in the kitchen, use some substitutes (like regular jelly) to top these tasty PB waffles.

Bonus points because they’re gluten-free AND vegan, so no one has to miss out.

Source

Looking for other healthy eating info, check out our article on starting a Keto Diet Benefits.

 

Post-Workout Nutrition What to Eat After a Workout

You put a lot of effort into your workouts, always looking to perform better and reach your goals.

Chances are you’ve given more thought to your pre-workout meal than your post-workout meal.

But consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before.

Here is a detailed guide to optimal nutrition after workouts.

To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it’s important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity.

When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged (1, 2).

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins.

Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps your body:

  • Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
  • Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).
  • Restore glycogen stores.
  • Enhance recovery.

Bottom Line: Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate growth of new muscle.

This section discusses how each macronutrient — protein, carbs and fat — is involved in your body’s post-workout recovery process.

Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle

As explained above, exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein (1, 2).

The rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle protein breakdown (3, 4, 5).

Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue (1, 6, 7, 8).

It’s recommended that you consume 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3–0.5 grams/kg) very soon after a workout (1).

Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise (6, 8, 9).

Carbs Help With Recovery

Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.

The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.

For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (running, swimming, etc.), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.

Consuming 0.5–0.7 grams of carbs per pound (1.1–1.5 grams/kg) of body weight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesis (1).

Furthermore, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time (10, 11, 12, 13).

Therefore, consuming both carbs and protein after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis (13, 14).

Try consuming the two in a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein). For example, 40 grams of protein and 120 grams of carbs (15, 16).

Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.

Fat Is Not That Bad

Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients.

While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.

For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk (17).

Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected (18).

It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.

Bottom Line: A post-workout meal with both protein and carbs will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein) is a practical way to achieve this.

Your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you exercise (9).

For this reason, it’s recommended that you consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after exercising.

Although the timing does not need to be exact, many experts recommend eating your post-workout meal within 45 minutes.

In fact, it’s believed that the delay of carb consumption by as little as two hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis (9, 10).

However, if you consumed a meal before exercising, it’s likely that the benefits from that meal still apply after training (9, 19, 20).

Bottom Line: Eat your post-workout meal within 45 minutes of exercising. However, you can extend this period a little longer, depending on the timing of your pre-workout meal.

The primary goal of your post-workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients for adequate recovery and to maximize the benefits of your workout.

Choosing easily digested foods will promote faster nutrient absorption.

The following lists contain examples of simple and easily digested foods:

Carbs

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chocolate milk
  • Quinoa
  • Fruits (pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)
  • Rice cakes
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables

Protein:

  • Animal- or plant-based protein powder
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Protein bar
  • Tuna

Fats:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)

Combinations of the foods listed above can create great meals that provide you with all the nutrients you need after exercise.

Here are a few examples of quick and easy meals to eat after your workout:

  • Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.
  • Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast.
  • Salmon with sweet potato.
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread.
  • Tuna and crackers.
  • Oatmeal, whey protein, banana and almonds.
  • Cottage cheese and fruits.
  • Pita and hummus.
  • Rice crackers and peanut butter.
  • Whole grain toast and almond butter.
  • Cereal and skim milk.
  • Greek yogurt, berries and granola.
  • Protein shake and banana.
  • Quinoa bowl with berries and pecans.
  • Multi-grain bread and raw peanuts.

It is important to drink plenty of water before and after your workout.

When you are properly hydrated, this ensures the optimal internal environment for your body to maximize results.

During exercise, you lose water and electrolytes through sweat. Replenishing these after a workout can help with recovery and performance (21).

It’s especially important to replenish fluids if your next exercise session is within 12 hours.

Depending on the intensity of your workout, water or an electrolyte drink are recommended to replenish fluid losses.

Bottom Line: It is important to get water and electrolytes after exercise to replace what was lost during your workout.

Consuming a proper amount of carbs and protein after exercise is essential.

It will stimulate muscle protein synthesis, improve recovery and enhance performance during your next workout.

If you’re not able to eat within 45 minutes of working out, it’s important to not go much longer than 2 hours before eating a meal.

Finally, replenishing lost water and electrolytes can complete the picture and help you maximize the benefits of your workout.

Source

What Makes a Marriage Strong?

Source

I’m coming up on 38 years of marriage. Years ago that wasn’t odd. In our culture today it’s a long time and people marvel. They wonder how we have such a strong marriage. I started wondering too.

Our marriage isn’t perfect. We’ve had some rough times. But for the most part, it hasn’t felt difficult — why is that?

Especially when many people struggle so much — why is that?

What’s the secret sauce that makes a marriage strong?

Is mine just easier? I used to think so because our pairing has a supernatural story to it. But now I think differently.

We’re still people and people have issues. There must be something we do or don’t do that lends itself to why our marriage is strong.

I looked at my marriage and then asked a group of people to find answers.

The primary thing that makes a marriage strong is so obvious we miss it.

It takes two. Two people who make the same decision. Two people who form a partnership. Two people who make life mutual.

One person cannot carry a marriage no matter how much they try or hard they pray. It isn’t 50/50 — it’s 100/100.

A strong marriage takes two.

Before our wedding day we faced and accepted the mindset of forever. Forever is a big word to commit to. It’s scary. How is anyone supposed to know what will happen next week let alone forever? What about this and what about that questions rush through your mind.

But dedication to this commitment forges a strength to endure no matter what life throws at you.

There’s a reason the old traditional vows said for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part. It’s normal to hesitate before saying them — it takes commitment that doesn’t give up when life get hard.

A strong marriage takes true commitment.

My marriage began with God in the center. Many of those in the group I asked put God in the center also. If you think about the origin of marriage this only makes sense.

The one who designed marriage, God, established it as a covenant between Him and the couple. So if He’s in the covenant, He’s involved. And if He designed it, it’s wise to have Him in the center.

Marriage in our culture has been reduced to a piece of paper or a business contract. Covenant is an archaic word to many but it’s much more powerful than a contract.

A strong marriage takes the help of God

Many marriages begin with what people call love when in truth they have feelings. We can feel love but love in truth is a choice. Building a strong marriage takes many choices and choosing love is the first choice to be made.

Things happen and feelings follow but having a commitment to love will supersede emotions. Choosing to commit to love will be visible in the choices that follow.

Love does no harm. Love serves. Love honors. Love is not self-serving. Love lifts up. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love speaks up and corrects with gentleness and grace.

A strong marriage takes choosing love.

Life is complicated and so are relationships. It takes many things to build a good strong marriage — and keep it strong. It’s a process so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Building anything of value takes time.

With the help from the group I asked, here is a list of building blocks to add to the things above for a strong marriage.

  • Communication — active listening
  • Intimacy — emotional and physical (sex)
  • Respect
  • Willingness to grow together
  • Friendship
  • Play — laughter — sense of humor
  • Trust
  • Love them more than being right
  • Grace
  • Good will toward each other
  • Honesty
  • Compassion — understanding
  • Cooperation — Happy willingness to help each other
  • Support — encourage one another in hopes and dreams
  • Forgiveness
  • Humility — Being able to apologize even if you’re not wrong
  • Flexibility

And the list goes on…

A strong marriage takes many things but most of all it takes two people building together.

  • What on the list can you use?
  • Can you add to my list?
  • Get some love for yourself here.

Building a Strong Marriage

Source Each year, more than 2 million couples marry in the U.S. While most couples say they are madly in love, some really wonder if they have what it takes to make their marriage last over time. Whether you’re married now or planning to, you’ll want to know about a Life Innovations survey of 21,501 married couples from every state. It identified not only the top 10 strengths of happy marriages, but also the top 10 problems in marriage. The top 10 strengths are as follows:
  • Partners are satisfied with communication.
  • Partners handle their differences creatively.
  • They feel very close to each other.
  • Spouses are not controlling.
  • Partners discuss their problems well.
  • They are satisfied with the affection they show and receive.
  • There is a good balance of time alone and together.
  • Family and friends rarely interfere.
  • Partners agree on how to spend money.
  • Partners agree on spiritual beliefs.
Additionally, the research found that the strongest couples have strong communication skills, a clear sense of closeness as a couple, flexibility, personal compatibility and good conflict resolution skills. Strong marriages have a balance between separateness and togetherness. These couples prioritize togetherness, ask each other for help, enjoy doing things together and spend most of their free time together. Also, some of the common factors in the relationship roles in strong marriages include both parties:
  • Are equally willing to make necessary adjustments in their roles,
  • Reporting satisfaction with the division of housework,
  • Working hard to have an equal relationship, and
  • Making most decisions jointly.
The happiest couples said they were happy with the way they communicate, it was easy to express their feelings and found their partner to be a good listener. They especially noted that their partner doesn’t use put-downs. Obviously, conflict management/resolution skills are crucial. In strong marriages, both partners say that their partner understands their positions. They feel free to share their feelings and ideas; they take disagreements seriously and they work cooperatively to resolve conflicts. According to the survey, the top 10 problems in marriage are:
  • Problems sharing leadership.
  • One partner is too stubborn.
  • Stress created by child-rearing differences.
  • One partner is too negative or critical.
  • Feeling responsible for issues.
  • One partner wishes the other had more time.
  • Avoiding conflict with partner.
  • One partner wishes the other was more willing to share their feelings.
  • Difficulty completing tasks.
  • Differences never get resolved.
For example, some common stumbling blocks are when one person feels most responsible for the problem, avoiding conflict and having serious disputes over minor issues. Sadly, relationships with unresolved differences can get into trouble. As a result, stumbling blocks become walls instead of stepping stones to build up the marriage. Finally, no matter how in love you feel, bringing two personalities and their families together and learning how to dance can be challenging. So don’t just prepare for your wedding – take time to prepare for your marriage. Learn how to build on your strengths, creatively address differences and work together for the best interests of your marriage. It will probably be the best wedding present you can give to each other. For more information on becoming a newlywed, get our E-Book, 10 Things Every Newlywed Needs to Know

For more marriage advice and resources check out our latest article on Saving Your Marriage.

35 Secrets to Marriage Success

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For many married couples, falling in love and saying “I do” was the easy part. Living happily ever after is the part that takes a whole lot of work.

My family history doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to the vow “until death do us part.” My parents divorced when I was 18, and on my mom’s side alone, not one single marriage has lasted (keep in mind, she’s one of eight siblings). One might think this would make me a cynic when it comes to marriage — but for some unexplainable reason, that’s not the case. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I think you can fall in love with your best friend, grow old together, and even live happily ever after.

I sought out some honest advice from real people who might have insight as to what makes a marriage stand the distance. I reached out to all the married couples and divorcées I knew and asked them the burning question, “What’s the secret to making a marriage successful?” Read their words of wisdom below:

  1. Share everything with each other. Most importantly, everything you are feeling. There is no way to be on common ground if you don’t communicate how you’re feeling.
  2. Whatever bad stuff happens, remember this, too, will pass.
  3. Affection breeds more affection. Touch each other, kiss each other good morning, and have plenty of sex (even when you’re old!). It’s too easy to get out of the habit, which makes you feel distant. Intimacy and physical affection really help keep you connected.
  4. Children can be stressful, but they, too, will grow up.
  5. Let the little things go and think big picture. Since you’re in it for the long haul, are you really going to care who did or didn’t run the dishwasher when you look back in 10 years? Remind yourself that your relationship is much, much bigger than anyone minor incident.
  6. Fill the fridge with his favorites — it’s easy to do, so just do it.
  7. Take time for yourself to do what you love, what makes you happy and gives you energy — being successful as a couple will only work if each of you is strong and fulfilled as an individual.
  8. Avoid giving the silent treatment. Talk about things that bother you as soon as possible; don’t let your emotions build up, because you’ll likely explode.
  9. Let go of hurts more easily, and try not to dwell on things that annoy you.
  10. Don’t be afraid to compromise. It sounds like a bad word and like you are giving up on your “ideals,” but in reality, it’s about the push and pull of a relationship. Try rating how much you want something on a scale from one to 10 and have your partner do the same. So if eating out is a five for you and staying in is a nine for him, then you should stay in that night.
  11. Don’t take each other for granted. You have to work at it all the time.
  12. Be spontaneous. Change things up every once in a while, whether that means a last-minute vacation or a card for no special occasion. Grand gifts and the smallest gestures can go a long way when you’re with someone for a very long time.
  13. Be nice! This can be harder than it seems sometimes, but remember that you (hopefully) love the person more than anyone else on the planet and you chose to marry them, so treat them with kindness.
  14. Be patient. You both might grow together at different times and in different ways, so you need to give and take to make it last forever.
  15. Celebrate when good things happen, and be expressive about it.
  16. Find new things, new hobbies to do together like road biking, a cooking class, or starting a garden. It’s just another reason to spend time together building your bond, and it keeps the excitement going.
  17. Marry someone you like killing time with.
  18. Tell them what you need. As much as you want them to, they can’t read minds. Tell them that you feel disconnected and that you want a day alone together or date night.
  19. Speaking of date nights, go on them and have fun! It’s important to set time alone regardless of how busy either of you get — especially when you have kids. Even if you’re overworked, overtired, or low on funds, it doesn’t take much time or money to reconnect. It can be as simple as going for a walk or cooking dinner together.
  20. Make a budget together. It’s a great way to talk about your plans and dreams for the future and how to make them happen.
  21. Surprise each other like you used to do when dating with special notes, small gifts, baking them a favorite recipe or planning a weekend away. It lets the other person know you’re still in love with them, and it makes you feel the love, too.
  22. On the other end, when your spouse does do something special for you, show appreciation. They may know that you think all those positive things, but it’s nice to hear them out loud.
  23. Build your partner up and support them to be all they can or want to be.
  24. Take time to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes before judging. You want to avoid unnecessary criticism or negativity as much as you can.
  25. Make each other laugh. Try not to take everything so seriously.
  26. Communication is key. When your marriage hits certain speed bumps, remind yourself that when you come out on the other side, your relationship should be better and more evolved. Make sure the tough times lead to improvement, and if you keep making the same mistakes, reevaluate why.
  27. Have couple friends but also your own friends who you hang out with on a regular basis, without your spouse.
  28. Be more generous with time and money.
  29. Be happy yourself. If you’re in a slump, there’s a tendency to take it out on your spouse or want them to fix it. You have to fix yourself.
  30. Don’t get defensive. Try to come at things from a place of love and kindness, and don’t assume you’re being attacked.
  31. Trust and be trustworthy.
  32. Try to always remember why you fell in love with your partner. Whether it was their sense of humor or ambition — always remind yourself.
  33. Say “I love you,” and tell your partner they look attractive.
  34. Appreciate what you have and realize that marriages at times can be fragile and need to be taken care of.
  35. Enjoy the NOW. Add a house, kids, etc. to the plate, and things just keep getting more complicated. Whatever phase you’re in, embrace it and enjoy it.
 
If you got this far and are still looking for help with your marriage check out another one of our articles on saving your marriage.

Online Parenting Course for Parents of Toddlers to Teens Positive

Hi, I’m Amy McCready.

Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, best-selling author, mother of two … and “recovering yeller.”

Don’t let my sunny smile fool you: Before I learned how to get my two sons to listen, I used to yell myself hoarse nearly every day.

Like you, I never imagined I would turn into “That Yelling Mom” … but I was trapped in a vicious cycle:

I’d ask my kids to do something in my nicest voice … and nothing would happen. So I’d repeat myself. And remind them.

… And repeat and remind and repeat and remind …

Until eventually, inevitably, I would lose it and blow up at them … turning into The Big Ugly Yelling Mom AGAIN.

It was a never-ending cycle I couldn’t escape. I was at the end of my rope and CONSTANTLY disappointed in myself for the parent I had become.

Sound familiar? I’m sure you can relate.

It wasn’t until I discovered the power of positive parenting strategies that I finally understood why yelling, nagging, and threats just don’t work as a parenting strategy.

What I learned completely changed my family, and it can change yours, too.

Free Webinar

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The 50 Best Marriage Tips Of All Time, From 50

Every husband and wife should memorize these!

We asked 50 YourTango Experts to share their best marriage advice — and they did not disappoint!

Ranging from how to have better communication to how married couples should spend some time alone, these may well be the 50 best marriage tips ever compiled. (Seriously, this should be required reading for every happily or unhappily married husband and wife, and for all future married couples.)

RELATED: 20 Couples Reveal What They’ve Done To Make Their Marriage Last This Long

1. If your goal is to have a satisfying marriage with longevity, make sure you are accountable for the part you play in the relationship — good or bad.

“When you are in denial about your part in the relationship, then you are no better than a child flinging sand at another child in a sandbox. When you take responsibility for your part in the marriage, only then will you be able to connect with your partner in a mature, intimate way.” — Carin Goldstein, LMFT

2. Research consistently shows that touching more creates a stronger bond by releasing oxytocin.

“Hold hands, rub shoulders, hug, kiss, give high-fives or even fist-bumps or bottom pats. When you give a quick hug or kiss, try to lengthen it to at least 5 or 10 seconds for more effective results!” — Lori Lowe, MA

3. Agree to disagree.

“No two people agree on everything, and that’s okay, but it’s important to be okay with each other’s differences.” — Lee Bowers, LP, PhD

4. Sometimes it’s not about the amount of money you spend on a gift; it’s about the thought that goes into something.

“Take the time to write a thoughtful note every so often saying what you love and appreciate about him/her. Drop it in his/her briefcase or purse so he/she will find it unexpectedly and it will brighten up his/her day.” — Suzanne K. Oshima, dating coach

5. For men, it’s important to understand that women want to be listened to.

“Men don’t need to solve or fix everything; listening itself is an exceptional gift. For women, it’s important to understand that men need time for themselves. By giving him space to pull away and not taking it personally, you allow him to reconnect with his desire for you and his commitment to the relationship.” — MarsVenus Coaching

6. The biggest waste of effort in a marriage is trying to change your spouse since the problems you have with your spouse are generally problems you have in yourself.

“When you try to change your spouse you come across as a nag and wind up sending the message that ‘who you are is not enough.’ Nobody likes getting that message, and it leads to distance and polarization. Let your spouse be who he or she is and focus on changing yourself.” — Dr. Rick Kirschner, relationship coach

7. See problems — boredom in the bedroom, lack of conversations, resentment — as symptoms and treat those symptoms just as you would treat a chronic illness that seemingly has no cure.

“Throw at it every possible remedy you’ve got, no matter how alternative or weird it seems. Chances are one or more of them will actually work and your marriage will get stronger and stronger.” — Alisa Bowman, relationship coach

8. Next time you argue with your partner, drop the shaming, blaming, needing to be right, and really listen without interrupting.

“Communicate how you feel using ‘I’ statements. It’s not your partner’s job to read your mind, guess what you’re thinking, or put words into your mouth. These are huge obstacles to open, honest communication and will guarantee resentment, anger, and frustration in the relationship.” — Sharon Rivkin, MA, MFT

9. Take responsibility in your arguments.

“In order to strengthen your marriage, learn to recognize that most arguments have shared responsibility, that both people have valid points and valid reasons for their feelings.” — Kathy Morelli, LPC

10. Fair is not a four letter word.

“You may have forgotten about fairness, but now’s the time to bring it back into your relationship.

Are you both being fair when it comes to divvying up chores, communicating your needs, expressing dissatisfaction, dealing with finances, parenting, and supporting one another? If not, how can you improve and bring fairness back to the relationship?” — Lisa Steadman, dating and relationship coach

11. Nothing is more important in a marriage than the relationship between husband and wife.

“When other things become more important, such as careers, children, and personal pursuits, trouble sets in. Make the relationship your top priority. When you do, the marriage flourishes.” — Cathy Meyer, CPC, MCC

RELATED: 5 Things You Need To Do To Keep The Spark In Your Relationship Alive

12. Are you creating more pleasurable interactions in your marriage or are you making it painful or unpleasant for your spouse?

“If your spouse treats you with kindness, gentleness, patience and self-control, it’s easy for you to respond kindly. If you are treated badly, with anger, or impatience, it’s difficult to be nice in return. Focus on how you can be a blessing to your spouse and, in turn, you will be blessed and so will your marriage.” — Mack Har

13. Never begin a sentence with the word “you.”

“Instead start with the word ‘I’ and then share your feelings instead of your thoughts. This is not as easy as it sounds because we all disguise a lot of thoughts as feelings, as in ‘I feel like you are avoiding me.’

Genuine feelings are sad, angry, happy, lonely, and frustrated, and sharing your core feelings creates better communication, and more connection and compassion.” — Veronica Monet, ACS, CAM

14. Change your focus.

“Shift your perspective to one of learning to appreciate your partner.” Michelle Poll, CPC, MA

15. Let go of criticism and blame.

“Focus on what there is to appreciate about your mate, then honestly and spontaneously express your specific appreciation to them. It’s also good to do this for yourself.” — Judith Joyce, life coach

16. Never lose the fine art of dating.

“Setting aside a romantic evening on a regular basis can rekindle the magic of a long-term relationship. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just special time for the two of you to remember how and why you first fell in love.” — John Sovec, LMFT

17. Have regular times, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, to check in on your relationship and what you appreciate about each other.

“No talk about kids or schedules allowed.” — Mary Kay Aide, MS

18. Love your marriage by first taking care of yourself.

“So many of my patients say the reason their marriage fell apart is that they became depressed and disinterested in their partner. If you keep working on you, your marriage will stay fresh and vital.

Start today by adding a new wedding vow to your list: Promise to take care of yourself so you will continue to age with grace and confidence by your partner’s side.” — Mary Jo Rapini, LPC

19. Recognize that your husband or wife is mirroring back to you who you are.

“So take whatever you’re upset with him/her about and use it to help yourself look squarely at what you need to do in order to grow and evolve. The relationship will thrive!” — Ilene Dillon, LCSW, LMFT

20. Take time to have some fun together every day.

“With today’s hectic schedules, it’s easy to find your marriage at the bottom of the priority list. Take a walk and hold hands (nature calms), couple-cook (food fight!), exercise together (tennis or dancing maybe?) or just collect a ‘daily joke’ to share.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you make the commitment and effort to laugh together as often as possible, it can sweeten your connection and cement your relationship for life.” — Melodie Tucker, CPC

21. Before you get mad or assign blame, take a breath and ask your partner for his or her perspective.

“For instance, it’s your spouse’s job to walk the dog in the morning, but you discover dog poop on the kitchen floor and cleaning it up makes you late for work. Instead of immediately placing blame, saying something like, ‘I’m puzzled about what happened with Spot this morning,’ is a gentle way to start a conversation.” — Jean Fitzpatrick, LP

22. Make a list of three of the happiest moments in your marriage.

“Spend a few minutes each day briefly reliving those moments in your mind. The results will amaze you.” — Lucia, dating coach

23. You can change your relationship for the better by increasing the use of the following statements:

“Try these: ‘I love you’, ‘I’m here for you’, “I understand’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘Thank you’, ‘I really appreciate all that you do’, ‘It’s so nice to see you’, ‘That was quite an accomplishment!'” — Gina Spielman

24. Appreciate your partner at least five times each day.

“Appreciate them from your heart about who they are at their essence. Leave gratitude in love notes, hide them so they will find them, or look deeply into their eyes and tell them. Be creative!” — Linda Marie, RN, BSN

25. In order to keep the spark alive and avoid “roommate syndrome.”

“Couples need to understand the notion of spending ‘time’ together versus creating sacred time together. Spending time at social events, time with family and doing ‘chores’ together does not count as sacred time.

Instead, carve out special time to not only be intimate, but also ensure that you continue to share new experiences together such as hiking, exploring someplace new, or arranging a stay-cation in your own city.” — Marni Battista, CPC

RELATED: Anyone In A Truly Happy Marriage Knows These 5 Secrets, According To A Happiness Expert

26. Compliment your spouse everyday.

“A compliment is a sign of acknowledgment and appreciation. Make an effort to affirm your spouse’s value in life, and in love.” — Nicole Johnson, dating and relationship coach

27. Create a clear vision of your shared future together.

“Sit down, listen to each other and write out how you want your future as a couple to look. It’s much easier to create your best relationship together if both people’s needs are voiced, heard and supported by their partner.” — Eve Agee, PhD

28. Censor every impulse to blame or criticize your partner.

“Do everything you can to support your partner’s well-being, and respect your partner as you would your best friend.” — John Gerson, Ph.D

29. Date your mate.

“Date night is sacred and special and should be on the same day of the week every week. One week the wife should suggest the date idea and the husband should come up with the date night plan for the opposite week. This encourages both the husband and wife to be invested in date night.” — Julie Spira, dating and relationship coach

30. Add a spiritual component to your bedroom routine.

“Learn and practice Tantra and tantric sex techniques.” — Judith Condon

31. Communication and time together are the keys to strengthening your marriage.

“Impossible to imagine one without the other!” — Lori Edelson, LMSW, LMFT

32. One of the most important factors in a good marriage is respect.

“Respect each other, avoid verbal abuse, and keep insults to yourself. Bad words are just like squeezing toothpaste out of its tube — once it is out you can never get it back in again.” — Georgia Panayi, MBA

33. Set aside 10 minutes a day to talk to your partner.

“Ask what her favorite movie is and why, ask him to recall a happy memory from childhood, ask her what she’d like to be remembered for, ask him to name the three worst songs of all time. Do it at dinner, before bed, or anytime — as long as you do it for 10 minutes every day.

This simple change infuses relationships with new life.” — Dr. Terri Orbuch, Ph.D

34. You can have control or you can have connection with your partner, but you can’t have both.

“Pursue connection!” — Lee Horton, Ph.D

35. Every week, if possible, go out on a date just like you did before you were married.

“Select an activity where the two of you can interact, talk, and just be together enjoying each other’s company (not a movie!). End your date in the bedroom. Works like a charm!” — Ann Robbins, CRC

36. Couples often lose each other because of their busy lives: work, children, computers, and separate activities.

“A healthy marriage is one that has a mix of individual, family, and couple time. The amount of each may be different for each couple, but the mix is necessary to keep a functional marriage.” — Michele Seligman LCSW, BCD

37. Our brains are the only organ in the human body which do not self regulate, but need to be in connection with another brain for healing.

“Sit face-to-face and gaze into your lover’s eyes in order to allow the limbic system to relax. This will bring you closer and create the deepest sort of intimacy.” — Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT

38. When you first see each other at the end of your respective days, before you do anything else, hold each other without speaking for at least 60 seconds.

“By doing so you remind each other’s old/reptilian brains that you are a source of pleasure and comfort. It’s simple, it’s easy to do, and it will make a world of difference.” — Laura Marshall, LCSW

RELATED: 10 Realistic Pieces Of Marriage Advice That Actually Work

39. Preface important communication with a simple yet effective introduction.

“Try saying something like, ‘Honey, I’m confused about your response to my plans for a weekend hunting trip with the guys. When would be a good time to talk further?’ Prefacing your remarks encourages a better, more accommodating reaction from your partner.” — Greg R. Thiel, MA

40. On those ever-important date nights, remember to be a husband or wife first and a critic second.

“Every time you open your mouth to complain about something — whether it’s the food, the service, the movie, the weather, whatever — some part of your partner feels they are failing because you aren’t having a great time. Men are happiest when they can please their woman (and vice versa)!

Save the full critique for your friends and, in the meantime, let your partner see the best in you.” — Delaine Moore, dating and relationship coach

41. Lean in.

“When it gets hard in a relationship, our tendency is to protect ourselves, to retreat, to ‘lean out.’ Leaning out when your partner reaches out creates distance and dissonance.

If instead you ‘lean in’ to the uncomfortable feelings, to the unknown and your own vulnerability, and meet your partner, you can actually strengthen your relationship through the struggles you face together.” — Christine Arylo, life coach

42. Accept your partner exactly as they are today.

“Don’t try to change them.” — Ellen Hartson

43. When your partner tells you something about you that is bothering them, reflect back what they are saying.

“When we ‘mirror’, this helps us not feel as defensive and allows us the opportunity to better understand what he is trying to communicate.” — Anne Crowley, Ph.D

44. The best way to strengthen a marriage is to support and assist each other in being the best you can be.

“A strong marriage is one in which both people understand that the other person needs to have outside interests and activities which help them to feel happy and fulfilled. A strong marriage is one where both people understand that it is more important to be happy than it is to be right.” — Dr. Joe Amoia

45. Have you lost that loving feeling?

“Step 1: Write down 10 qualities you loved about your partner when you first met and read it to each other.

Step 2: Brainstorm a list of 10 fun things you did together when you first met; do one date per week and enjoy bringing back that loving feeling!” — Tasha Dimling, dating coach, MBA

46. You’re entitled to the occasional bad mood.

“But you’re not entitled to make your partner the whipping girl or boy.” — Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW

47. A strong marriage is a partnership in trust.

“Trust your partner in everything, including purchases and financial decisions, and to bring up things with you that need a joint decision. If you can’t do that, the two of you have a problem.” — Donald Pelles, Ph.D., CHt

48. Always remember that life is long.

“In the heat of the moment, what feels super-important will likely fade in importance as time goes by. Before you react by yelling, tossing insults or unkind words, remember that ‘this, too, shall pass’.

Don’t let one unfortunate incident, difficult argument or challenging moment destroy your lifetime of happiness.” — Melanie Gorman, MA

49. A woman needs her partner to spend time giving her his full attention and looking directly into her eyes.

“When she receives this, she can easily get in touch with her feelings of love for her husband and becomes much more receptive to his needs. This is how intimacy can be fulfilling for both people — magical even!” — Linda Wiggins of RelationSync

50. Use character-related words that honor your spouse for such qualities as patience, helpfulness, courage, or kindness.

“Create regular opportunities for fun, laughter, and positive experiences. Figure out what communicates love to each other and do that. Be observant and thoughtful with little things and even do chores that the other dislikes.

Consciously doing what opens and softens your spouse’s heart will benefit you both in the long-run and keep your marriage happier.” — Susanne Alexander

RELATED: 17 Tips For New Parents To Maintain The Best Marriage Ever

Alex Alexander is a frequent contributor to YourTango.

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10 Good Parenting Tips

Parenting is not easy.

Good parenting is hard work.

How To Be A Good Parent?

What makes a good parent?

A good parent strives to make decisions in the best interest of the child.

A good parent doesn’t have to be perfect. No one is perfect.

No parent is perfect.

No child is perfect either … keeping this in mind is important when we set our expectations.

But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work towards that goal.

Set high standards for ourselves first and then our children second. We serve as a role model for them.

Here are 10 tips on learning effective parenting skills.

Many of them are not quick nor easy. And probably no one can do all of them all of the time.

But if you can keep working on them, even though you may only do part of these some of the time, you will still be moving in the right direction.

Top 10 Tips On Improving Parenting Skills

#1 Be A Good Role Model

Walk the walk. Don’t just tell your child what you want them to do. Show them.

Human is a special species in part because we can learn by imitation​1​. We are programmed to copy other’s actions to understand them and to incorporate them into our own. Children, in particular, watch everything their parents do very carefully.

So, be the person you want your child to be — respect your child, show them positive behavior and attitude, have empathy towards your child’s emotion — and your child will follow suit.

Related: 6 Highly Effective Ways To Teach Kids Respect

#2: Love Them And Show Them Through Action

Show your love.

There is no such thing as loving your child too much. Loving them cannot spoil them​2​.

Only what you choose to do (or give) in the name of love can — things like material-indulgence, leniency, low expectation, and over-protection. When these things are given in place of real love, that’s when you’ll have a spoiled child.

Loving your child can be as simple as giving them hugs, spending time with them and listening to their issues seriously.

Showing these acts of love can trigger the release of feel-good hormones such as oxytocin. These neurochemicals can bring us a deep sense of calm, emotional warmth and contentment, from these the child will develop resilience and not to mention a closer relationship with you​3​.

#3: Practice Kind And Firm Positive Parenting

Babies are born with around 100 billion brain cells (neurons) with relatively little connections. These connections create our thoughts, drive our actions, shape our personalities and basically determine who we are. They are created, strengthened and “sculpted” through experiences across our lives.

Give your child positive experiences. They will have the ability to experience positive experiences themselves and offer them to others​4​.

Give your child negative experiences. They won’t have the kind of development necessary for them to thrive.

Sing that silly song. Have a tickle marathon. Go to the park. Laugh with your child. Ride through an emotional tantrum. Solve a problem together with a positive attitude.

Not only do these positive experiences create good connections in your child’s brain, but they also form the memories of you that your child carries for life.

When it comes to discipline, it seems hard to remain positive. But it is possible to practice Positive Discipline and avoid punitive measures.

Being a good parent means you need to teach your child the moral in what is right and what is wrong. Setting limits and being consistent are the keys to good discipline. Be kind and firm when enforcing those rules. Focus on the reason behind the child’s behavior. And make it an opportunity to learn for the future, rather than to punish for the past.

Related: How To Deal With Toddler Tantrums

#4: Be A Safe Haven For Your Child

Let your child know that you’ll always be there for them by being responsive to the child’s signals and sensitive to their needs. Support and accept your child as an individual. Be a warm, safe haven for your child to explore from.

Children raised by parents who are consistently responsive tend to have better emotional development, social development, and mental health outcomes.

#5: Talk With Your Child And Help Their Brains Integrate

Most of us already know the importance of communication. Talk to your child and also listen to them carefully.

By keeping an open line of communication, you’ll have a better relationship with your child and your child will come to you when there’s a problem.

But there’s another reason for communication — you help your child integrate different parts of his/her brain.

Integration is similar to our body in which different organs need to coordinate and work together to maintain a healthy body.

When different parts of the brain are integrated, they can function harmoniously as a whole, which means fewer tantrums, more cooperative behavior, and more empathy.

To do that, talk through troubling experiences. Ask your child to describe what happened and how he/she felt.

You don’t have to provide solutions. You don’t need to have all the answers to be a good parent. Just listening to them talk and asking clarifying questions will help them make sense of their experiences and integrate memories.

#6: Reflect On Your Own Childhood

Many of us want to parent differently from our parents. Even those who had a happy childhood may want to change some aspects of how they were brought up.

But very often, when we open our mouths, we speak just like our parents did.

Reflecting on our own childhood is a step towards understanding why we parent the way we do.

Make note of things you’d like to change and think of how you’d do it differently in a real scenario. Try to be mindful and change your behavior the next time those issues come up.

Don’t give up if you don’t succeed at first. It takes practice. Lots of practice.

#7: Pay Attention To Your Own Well-Being

Pay attention to your own well-being.

Often times, things such as your own health or the health of your marriage are kept on the back burner when a child is born. If you don’t pay attention to them, they will become bigger problems down the road​5​.

Take good care of yourself physically and mentally. Take time to strengthen your relationship with your spouse. If these two areas fail, your child will suffer, too.

#8: Do Not Spank, No Matter What

No doubt, to some parents, spanking can bring about short-term compliance which sometimes is a much-needed relief for the parents.

However, this method doesn’t teach the child right from wrong. It only teaches the child to fear external consequences. The child is then motivated to avoid getting caught instead.

Spanking your child is modeling to your child that he/she can resolve issues by violence​6​.

Children who are spanked, smacked or hit are more prone to fighting with other children. They are more likely to become bullies and to use verbal/physical aggression to solve disputes. Later in life, they are also more likely to result in delinquency and antisocial behavior, worse parent-child relationships, mental health issues, and domestic violence victims or abusers​7​.

There are a variety of better alternatives to discipline that have been proven to be more effective​8​, such as Positive Discipline (Tip #3 above) and positive reinforcement.

#9: Keep Things In Perspective And Remember Your Parenting Goal

What is your goal of raising a child?

If you’re like most parents, you want your child to do well in school, be productive, be responsible and independent, enjoy meaningful relationships with you and others, be caring and compassionate, and have a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.

But how much time do you spend on working towards those goals?

If you’re like most parents, you probably spend most of the time just trying to get through the day. As authors, Siegel and Bryson, point out in their book, The Whole-Brain Child,

instead of helping your child thrive, you spend most of time just trying to survive!

To not let the survival mode dominate your life, next time you feel angry or frustrated, step back.

Think about what anger and frustration will do for you or your child. Instead, find ways to turn every negative experience into a learning opportunity for him/her. Even epic tantrums can be turned into invaluable brain-sculpting moments.

Doing these will not only help you keep a healthy perspective, but you are also working on one of your primary goals in parenting — building a good relationship with your child.

#10: Take A Shortcut By Utilizing Findings In Latest Psychology And Neuroscience Research

By shortcuts, I don’t mean shortchanging your child. What I mean is to take advantage of what is already known by scientists.

Parenting is one of the most researched fields in psychology.

Many parenting practices or traditions have been scientifically researched, verified, refined or refuted.

For good scientific parenting advice and information, here is one of my favorite science-based parenting books, The Science of Parenting.

Using scientific knowledge is of course not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Every child is different. Even within the best parenting style, there can be many different parenting practices you can choose according to your child’s temperament.

For example, besides spanking, there are many better alternatives, e.g. redirection, reasoning, removing privileges, time-in, etc. You can choose the non-punitive discipline method that works best for your child.

Of course, you can also choose to use “traditional” or “old school” philosophies (e.g. spanking) and may still get the “same” outcome.

According to the Diathsis-Stress Model, people who have vulnerabilities to suffer from a psychological disorder are more likely to develop one when they experience stress.

The diathesis, i.e. vulnerabilities, can be biological or environmental.

So, perhaps your child may be lucky and don’t have such vulnerabilities. They may be resilient and prevail no matter how tough you parent.

But they may be not .

Why risk the damages some of the sub-par practices may create while there’re well researched, better ones?

Taking these “shortcuts” may require more work on your part in the short-term, but can save you lots of time and agony in the long run.

Happy Parenting!

Final Thoughts On Parenting

The good thing is, although parenting is hard, it is also very rewarding. The bad part is the rewards usually come much later than the hard work. But if we try our best now, we will eventually reap the rewards and have nothing to regret.

References

  1. 1.Rizzolatti G, Craighero L. The mirror-neuron system. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2004;27:169-192. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15217330.
  2. 2.Landry S, Smith K, Swank P, Assel M, Vellet S. Does early responsive parenting have a special importance for children’s development or is consistency across early childhood necessary? Dev Psychol. 2001;37(3):387-403. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11370914.
  3. 3.Viero C, Shibuya I, Kitamura N, et al. REVIEW: Oxytocin: Crossing the Bridge between Basic Science and Pharmacotherapy. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics. July 2010:e138-e156. doi:10.1111/j.1755-5949.2010.00185.x
  4. 4.Bradley B, Davis TA, Wingo AP, Mercer KB, Ressler KJ. Family environment and adult resilience: contributions of positive parenting and the oxytocin receptor gene. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. September 2013:21659. doi:10.3402/ejpt.v4i0.21659
  5. 5.Maternal depression and child development. Paediatr Child Health. 2004;9(8):575-598. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19680490.
  6. 6.Gershoff ET. Corporal punishment by parents and associated child behaviors and experiences: A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin. 2002:539-579. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.128.4.539
  7. 7.Gershoff E, Grogan-Kaylor A. Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses. J Fam Psychol. 2016;30(4):453-469. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27055181.
  8. 8.Effective discipline for children. Paediatr Child Health. 2004;9(1):37-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19654979.

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