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Mentoring Our Children

Building Responsibility

One of the toughest things about parenting is watching our kids go through hardships. We cringe through teething pain when they are babies, then come the scraped knees and feelings of being left out when “everyone got invited to the party but me”.

What we really want to do is to take the pain away. For a while, a parent’s kiss is a magical quantity, but magic doesn’t last forever.
When the kiss stops working, and the Band-Aids don’t carry as much allure as they once did, our next instinct is to take on our child’s problems.

We try to solve them by giving orders or asking a multitude of questions:

“Don’t be rude to your friends!”
 “Why did you hit Grant? How would you feel if he had hit you?”
“Why didn’t Susan invite you to her party? Were you mean to her?”

In his book, Too Safe for Their Own Good, resilience expert, Michael Ungar refers to children being “bubble-wrapped - kids who are being denied opportunities to experience risk and responsibility” and the resulting amounts of “depression, anxiety and an incapacity to take on responsibility” that arise.

He also notes an increase of “very dangerous, risk-taking behaviours that [these kids] come up with on their own to cope with what they were telling me were very restrictive or overprotective environments at home.”

Problem solving for our children can seem like a kind and caring way to parent but it sends a conflicting message. We think we are showing our love for our children, yet our actions say, “Let me solve your problems for you because you aren’t capable of solving them yourself.”
When we have infants in our home, this is reality – they need us to bathe, feed, change and care for them. But, as these infants develop into preschoolers and beyond, we have an opportunity to mentor them – to teach them how to solve their own problems.

When they are young, their problems are often small ones. What better place to begin learning how to look after one’s self?
A mentor can be defined as: a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another. When we seek out a business mentor, we aren’t looking for someone to do our work for us, we are seeking guidance with what we strive to do for ourselves.

Bringing this model into the parenting situation can be helpful and rewarding.

Mentoring strategies for parents:

Provide boundaries for your children and then give them the freedom to act within those limits. When our children make choices for themselves, they begin to see themselves as decision-makers.

When your child asks you a question, find out his opinion before giving an answer. This encourages independent thinking and lets you know more about what he was asking and where he’s headed. It also implies that you are interested in his opinion and that you believe he can generate worthwhile solutions.

Meet your children where they are. Acknowledge that new tasks can be difficult and encourage their effort with small steps:
“Wow, pouring your own milk from that big jug can be hard on the arms. Why don’t I put that into a smaller pitcher and then you can give it another try?”

Create opportunities for self-discovery. When starting a new craft project or heading out on a neighborhood walk, invite your child to explore the materials, or choose the path.

When your child asks a question that you aren’t sure how to answer, help her find an expert to answer the question. Our growing children ask interesting, deep questions that can have far-reaching implications. Teaching them to seek out answers from qualified experts can have many positive results. It teaches that:

Not knowing all of the answers is acceptable in your family (no one needs to be perfect; mistakes are ok)
There are many resources to help us find an answer to our questions

As a parent, you support your child in finding answers to questions that she may not feel comfortable asking you.
When the life-impacting questions come around a little later on and your child is embarrassed to ask you, she will be thankful to have learned how and where to find truthful answers to these questions and will have the confidence to do so.

As a parent, you may never know that she sought help, but you will know that she is capable. 

Being a mentor-parent means taking the time to teach your children and asking questions that will help them to find answers to their own problems.

From Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell, Parenting Power

Teaching About Differences

Diversity is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when creating a life-long curriculum for new baby. Reading, writing, crossing the road; these are the categories that seem obvious. It’s often not until our young child comments loudly about the colour of someone’s skin or that they seem different that we realize the need for such a process. It is a rare parent that hasn’t suddenly wished for the “Cone of Silence” to surround the observant child. And then what?!

That decision, as with all parenting decisions will vary from family to family. At Parenting Power when choosing what and how to teach, we like to start with a firm knowledge of the beliefs important to us. We ask, “What are the basic family values – those that we want our kids to live and as a result learn?” Of course, our children will choose and adopt the values which are important to them as they grow. But it is critical to remember that about 75% of what our young children learn from us, they do by watching our actions. What we model is what they do.
When it comes to teaching about differences, the following values come to mind:

1.    Respect

Respect for ourselves is intimately tied with respect for others. If we don’t expect respect (care and kindness) from our children and partners, we are not teaching our children how to respect others. In the same way, if we don’t show respect for other people, our children won’t know to expect it for themselves.

Respect for others includes acknowledging and valuing differences. Sometimes, in an effort to minimize the outbursts from our children, we play down differences. Every being on the planet is unique and by highlighting our diversity, we help our children to recognize and value their own differences along with those of the people around them.

In all likelihood, there will always be someone taller, shorter, smarter, less intelligent, faster, stronger, etc than each of us. These differences are always occurring to us and learning to accept them is part of discovering our own place in the world.

2.    Education

Where we live can have a huge impact on the amount of diversity that our children experience daily. Some communities are filled with people of different colour, shape and religion. Others seem less so. Prior to actually having children, we may have had ideals of exposing them to great diversity but in following the journey of our lives , we may have ended up far from those ideals.

Just because our own communities aren’t diverse doesn’t mean that we can’t teach our children about differences. Larger centers have multiple associations welcoming others to learn more. Technology can also increase our exposure to different cultural events and life situations. 

As a family, decide how often you would like to create awareness of other cultures, and differences around you. Involve your children in decisions about how this will happen: trying new foods, going to cultural celebrations, watching movies, studying the globe, etc.

3.    Tact

In writing this article, we checked with some of our children, “What does the word tact mean?” One six- year old said, “Kindness.”
The ten- year old replied, “Not saying bad things about people in front of them. You know, things that would hurt their feelings.”
So, tact is also about thinking before speaking. This is a valuable skill that all of us need to learn and is indeed more likely to come once our kids are developmentally aware of differing points of view. If our egocentric preschooler can’t conceive of another person having different feelings, how can they be expected to know how to think of what might hurt those feelings?

And that brings us to another important point. We have to have realistic expectations of our child’s ability to think before speaking. Knowing what is realistic can help us to keep our cool when strange things do leave a child’s mouth.  If a 3 year old suddenly blurts out – Mommy, that man only has one leg – rather than worrying about offending the man (who is probably aware that he is without the leg), we can take the opportunity to teach the youngster:

Yes – I can see that too. We are all different and this man seems to be handling his situation pretty well. 
When it comes to teaching about differences, it is the combination of these three things that can be helpful. If in our daily lives, we use respectful language to discuss differences, it is likely that individual differences might not seem so strange. Lastly, as our children develop an awareness of other people’s points of view, we can introduce a need for thinking before we speak and of choosing words that help others rather than words that hurt. In this way, our children will learn the tact to see differences with their eyes and to ask questions about those differences at a time that won’t be hurtful. Hopefully, they will also learn to appreciate the differences that make up our world – those in others and in themselves.

There is so much to teach our children. The great thing – they can teach us even more!

From Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell, Parenting Power

Spring Break Survival

Realistic tips for a week of family togetherness

Some parents love Spring Break: no need to drive kids to activities, kids are home to help with the chores, and it’s a great excuse to “not work” and have fun. Some parents, however, DREAD this time. It means finding time off work, having the kids bugging them all week, finding stuff for the kids to do and dealing with the complaints that they’re the only kids in their classes who are not headed to Mexico or Disneyland.

What if you have decided to go on vacation with your children? We encourage you to be realistic about the experience – travelling with kids can be fun, exhausting, adventurous, hair-raising, frustrating, and memorable...and that’s just in the first day of the trip.

Here are some tips to help you whether you are staying here or getting away.
  • Plan for Sleep
When we take away sleep from kids and adults, they get cranky. This may seem obvious but it is amazing how often it surprises parents. If your kids want to stay up late (or they will because of your schedule), set expectations for naps or sleeping-in. If your son rises predictably at 6:30 am no matter when he goes to sleep, be clear about what bedtime will be from the start, and STICK TO IT!
  • Plan for Real Life
If you are staying home this Spring break, groceries, laundry, dishwashing, etc., all still need to get done. Set yourself up for success by planning when these will happen, and letting kids know the schedule and how they are expected to help (pitching in OR independent play while you take care of it).

If you are going away, real life means that part of your family will not want to go to the Museum of Ear Wax, while others will want to spend the day there. Perhaps you do not want to spend 24/7 at the hotel pool and would like to get out and see some sights. Talk about schedules, working together (or splitting up – one parent gets a free day while the other stays with the kids) and attitudes ahead of time (consequences included).
  • Plan for Meals and Behaviour
Staying home: Will there be play dates, visits to a wave pool or the library? Discuss behaviour expectations and consequences. In addition, there is a good chance that your children cannot/will not want to spend every waking moment together. Schedule quiet times, times for independent play and teach scripts for when your kids need a break: I need some time in my room please, I’ll play with you again in 30 minutes (vs. I hate you, get out of my face!).

Going away: Discuss expectations for behaviour at the restaurants, pools, hotel lobby etc. (Don’t forget those consequences as well). While we are on the topic of restaurants, it is very easy, when your kids eat off of children’s menus, to have children eating cheese and starch at every meal: pancakes for breakfast, grilled cheese at lunch, pizza for dinner. If that works for you, great! If not, outline the expectations for the number of fruits/vegetables to be eaten each day, how many sugary treats they can have and whether dessert is a “for sure” thing at each meal. Please schedule down time for your kids. They will need will need it.
  • Technology – can they live without it? Can you?
Getting away from technology can be one of the hardest things to plan nowadays. “Why would I want to?” you ask. That’s up to you. If your goal is to spend family time together OR you want your kids to have some physical exercise so that they don’t drive you batty, set limits up front. If they choose to observe the limits, they can continue to use technology, if not, they’re choosing to go without for the day. Kids learn what they live so if you expect them not to text while talking to you, model that when you are talking to them.

This list could go on forever and we’re happy to help you if you have any questions. One last suggestion would be in the department of consequences.

Consequences need to fit your child and the misbehaviour. Use our language to help you find just the right consequence.
  • I see running and hear shrieking. Your behaviour shows me you are choosing to leave the pool for today and skip it tomorrow. You can try again the next day. I know you are capable.
  • You are choosing to hit your brother – this means that you are choosing to have me help you to control your hands. When you are ready to try again, let me know and I’ll let go
  • You are getting filled up on sweet treats, so you are choosing to skip those tomorrow and fill your body with healthy foods. When you show us you can do that, we’ll go back to a treat once the healthy food has been eaten.

Lastly, if you are travelling this holiday, please be realistic and clear with your kids about airports, car trips, hotels etc. Travelling is not always fun.

Security people may not have a sense of humour. Talk about the rules; what cannot be said out loud in an airport. It might be a good idea to create a “Try to use the bathroom whenever we actually find one” rule. It can also help to pack a change of clothes for every family member in a re sealable freezer bags so that when someone spills a drink, or throws up on you, you will have something to wear (and an extra change of clothes if the airlines lose your luggage). IF your kids packed their own carry-on bags, please check through them for water guns or other “weaponry” that airport security will not appreciate.

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful week, here or away. Be realistic and remember... if you make a mistake when your kids misbehave, you will always get another chance to do it right, possibly in the next twenty minutes.

From Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell, Parenting Power

Haircuts For Kids With Special Needs

Haircuts can be a challenge for children with special needs. Parents with children with sensory disorders or autism often find it challenging to get their child’s haircut.
At Beaners Fun Cuts For Kids, we want to make getting your special needs child’s haircut quick and easier. The following are some tips to keep in mind when planning a haircut for your child:
  • Call Us: we recommend calling the salon to discuss your child’s needs rather than booking online. The salon manager will match you with the best special needs hairstylist that can accommodate your needs and also book extra time so that you won’t feel rushed.
  • This is also an opportunity to discuss a time of day best suited for your child. For instance, if you are looking for a quiet time, you may want to avoid Saturdays.
  • Prepare: talk to your child in advance about getting the haircut and explain what is going to happen. You may want to watch videos or haircuts being done.  Make-believe “practicing” at home could also be helpful, with a water spray bottle and comb.
  • You are always welcome to visit the salon before the appointment so that your child can get more used to the salon atmosphere and also meet the stylist.
  • Be Visual: if visual guides are helpful for your child, check out Autism Speaks visual guide in the following downloadable PDF.
  • Arrive Early: arrive early for your appointment and ask to speak with the stylist that will be doing the haircut. Remind them of your needs and any sensitivities your child may have (i.e. noise, clippers, cold water etc.).
  • Bring Comfort: bring along any comfort items or rewards that you think would make the experience more pleasant for your child. For some it’s a toy or blanket, for others it might be a treat. If the reward is something you cannot bring with you, bring a photo to remind your child of the reward they are earning.
  • Be patient and positive: We recognize this can be a stressful event for you and your child and we are there to help.

Our goal at Beaners Fun Cuts is to provide your special needs child with a great haircut and a positive haircut experience that is efficient, and hopefully fun!

Special Offer From Kids & Company

Our friends at Kids & Company have an exclusive free registration offer for Beaners Fun Cuts customers! 

Save $200 when you register for full or part time child care online by August 31, 2019 (new registrants only).


To redeem, register online and then present this blog post to the Centre Director when you come in for a tour or to pay your deposit. , You may also scan it and send it to the local director if you are not planning on coming in before their start date.


Kids & Company provides high quality, flexible child care and early learning.  

For more information, visit

Tried and True Parenting Hacks to Make Life A Little Bit Easier!

Our friends at Kids & Company have pulled together some parenting hacks to help with a smoother morning routine. They reached out to their staff and parents and here are some of the tried and true hacks they’ve discovered along their parenting journey.

Morning routine hacks:

  • Do you have a picky eater who refuses breakfast? Try making a frozen homemade yogurt popsicle! It can be eaten without much mess in a car or even on public transit. You can feel good knowing your child has eaten a healthy quick breakfast on-the-go and they think they're having a special treat! Win-win!

  • Struggling to get dressed for daycare? If getting your toddler/preschooler ready is like a reoccurring nightmare, don't sweat the small stuff. Simply pack an easy to change into outfit. You can pack sweat pants and a top, socks and underwear, this way your child can change into their day clothes at day care. If your child still refuses to change out of PJs, it’s okay! Just ensure they’re wearing their snow pants over their pajamas. Snow pants will keep them warm in the cold winter months!
  • Super early start one morning to catch a flight or first-thing activity? You can try this hack: put your child to bed wearing their “day clothes” so you can get up and go.
  • Another parent holds this hack dear to their heart. We have two alarms set. The first one is our five-minute warning. If we are in the car before the second one goes off my youngest son gets a Jube-Jube candy each day and my oldest son works towards $2 at the end of the week. (That’s my other hack, know that different kids have different motivations and should be involved in setting rewards/consequences!)
  • Another has a similar hack: We use a kitchen timer so everyone knows when we are supposed to leave. With 15 minutes left, I say ‘15 minutes’. I set the timer for another five minutes and when it goes off I announce ’10 minutes left.’ And when the next goes off again, we head for the door. 
  • Squirmy child in the morning? One parent shares this hack: I would put my child in her high chair and dress her, even if she was protesting! I could still get a shirt and jacket on her, hands-free, and then her pants, socks and shoes (the pants I just pulled all the way up after lifting her out of the high chair)
  • For those who live in a building, you can save some extra time by this hack shared by one of our parents: we are in a condo – all shoes and winter gear are put on in the elevator… we are high up!

Every day Parenting hacks:

  • Putting on a coat for a child can be a difficult task to handle.  To ease the frustration for your child, they can try the hack below:

    via GIPHY

  • We have two kids. To help with organization I have a shoe bag (the one you hang in the closet with horizontal slots) in the kids’ room. I take out their PJ's and clothes for the week on Sunday and each outfit goes in its own slot. This saves so much time! 
  • I’ve been a mom for almost six years and only just recently realized onesie shirts have the shoulder folds to allow you to easily pull shirts down and over the body when there’s a blowout diaper rather than needing to pull over the head - not so much a hack as it is common knowledge maybe, but wanted to share in case there are other surprised parents like me :)
  • If your little ones are deep sleepers, consider trimming fingernails and toenails at night to avoid a squirmy and stressful process.
  • We never bring a diaper bag anymore but always stash some diapers, wipes, snacks and a change of clothes in each car. 
  • I don’t know why but kids lose one sock out of every pair on what it seems on average every 17 seconds. I’ve seen hacks like ‘wash them together in a mesh bag’ or ‘safety pin them together before washing,’ but the danger zone is before washing, when they’re still in the custody of my children. So now we just buy A LOT of the same colour, length and size and replenish as needed.
  • If you’ve got a little baby, have mini diaper change baskets in various areas of your house with some diaper cream, wipes, diapers and other necessities. Even a trip to the nursery to change a baby can feel tiring if you’re on no sleep with a newborn.
  • For toddler fingers learning fine motor skills, try attaching a keychain to their zipper to help them grab and hold easier and pull it up. Plus if the keychain happens to be a fun toy that motivates them to get dressed and going, bonus!
  • When stressed: Sing a song ♪ Children respond to song cues in childcare and the same can work at home. Try the cleanup song. Or transitions are easier with a song. Maybe a specific playlist/song can be used to cue your child when a transition is about to happen. A five minute song is preferable to, ”we need to leave in five minutes," for a child who has no idea what five minutes is.

No screen time hacks 

  • There is no app that replaces a parent's lap -- read to your child when using public transit or if someone else is driving turn off the radio and sit in the back with your child and read to them. Try bringing a small softcover book for reading in waiting rooms and line-ups.

  • When unable to read - when you're driving or in a loud bus or subway a great alternative is an audio book in your car or with your iPhone and children's earphones on transit - Stories encourage imagination, increases children's attention span and literacy!

Day care transitioning hacks

  • Older children often like the idea of "Big Kid School" so transitioning by having them choose a back-pack before moving from toddler to preschool can help them feel excited. Or go shopping for new shoes or an outfit or special t-shirt for their first day of preschool, much like the first day of kindergarten.

  • If your child has a favourite comfort item, have a back-up on hand (or two). Make sure to wash them together and offer a different one every time as children don't want a "new one for daycare.”
  • Label everything you bring into day care!

A special thanks to our parents and teachers who submitted their tried and true parenting hacks. Sharing your tips has made the lives of many parents a lot easier!

Natasha Carr is the Events and Marketing Coordinator for Kids & Company. She is a mom of two young children who constantly find ways to make her and her husband laugh on a daily basis.