Cliques can make school days rough for tweens and teens, but they’re no picnic for parents either. It hurts to see your child pushed off to the sidelines or facing peer pressures beyond your control.

Whether your child is being left out or running with the popular crowd, they need your support. After all, they’re learning about socialization as well as academic subjects when they go to school.

Try these tips for helping your child to look beyond cliques and start forming healthier connections.

Helping your Child to Deal with Cliques:

1. Empathize with their emotions. Feeling accepted is a high priority for most tweens and teens. They long to fit in, and may use their popularity to measure their worth. Think about your own adolescence and then factor in the impact of today’s social media. You’ll understand how much rejection can sting.

2. Watch for risky behavior. Cliques and their leaders exert a lot of power and their rules may be harmful. Be alert for signs of extreme dieting, bullying, or shoplifting.

3. Share your experiences. Let your child know that you went through similar trials back when you were in school. They may appreciate the solidarity and be more willing to open up.

4. Use stories. You can find lots of books, movies, and media stories to help you get your message across in an entertaining and compelling manner. Pick a recent title or suggest something that helped you when you were growing up. Be sure to discuss it afterwards.

5. Reach out to teachers. Ask your child’s teacher to talk about what they see going on at school. See if your school has resources that can help your family deal with cliques and related issues. Talk with other professionals, like guidance counselors or psychologists who work with adolescents.

6. Think long-term. Remind your child that high school is not forever. Cheer them up by giving them exciting things to look forward to. Send away for college brochures and plan campus visits. Use volunteer work and internships to start them thinking about the career of their dreams.

Helping your Child to Form Healthy Friendships:

1. Encourage outside activities. Balance out the influence of cliques by giving your child opportunities to pursue their interests and make friends in contexts other than school. Having diverse social circles can help them become more independent and inclusive.

2. Make your home inviting. Do your children feel comfortable bringing friends home? When you create a welcoming place to gather, your children have more chances to practice their social skills and interact with friends in a space where they feel secure.

3. Have deep conversations. Discuss big issues on an ongoing basis. Challenge each other to live up to your values, use power responsibly, and speak up for yourselves and others.

4. Act it out. Role playing can be an excellent way to explore complex subjects. Children can practice resolving conflicts without endangering their real friendships.

5. Start early. Children start forming attachments at a very young age. Even infants can benefit from having more face time with other babies, and toddlers can enjoy play dates or looking at books together.

6. Be a role model. Your children will learn from your example. When you cultivate positive connections, you teach your sons and daughters to do the same.

With your guidance, your child can maintain their confidence while they deal with cliques and prepare for more mature relationships in their adult life. Teach them how to be a good friend, treat others with kindness, and make their own decisions.

Conversations screech to a halt in a lot of homes in the after school hours when parents ask “How was school today?” If that’s been your opening line, your child has probably told you that school was okay or even suggested that somehow the day went by without any activity occurring.

What you really want is for them to open up and talk about school and their friends. After all, you’re concerned about their education and happiness, and you want to be there for them.

Even if your children seem a little reticent, they need your support too.

Try these strategies that can help you communicate more effectively.

Nonverbal Communication Strategies:

1. Take a breather. If you arrive home looking forward to some peace and quiet after a day at the office, your children might feel the same way after school lets out. Give them a half hour to relax before mentioning homework.

2. Be affectionate. Touch is vital for healthy brain development and bonding. Hug your children regularly.

3. Play around. Small children may find it difficult to put their feelings into words. Tossing a ball around or jumping rope can help release stress. When they’re ready to talk, stuffed animals or sock puppets may help them express how they feel.

4. Use art. Study the drawings that your child brings home. They may give you insights into what they’re thinking about.

5. Stay informed. The more you know about your child’s schedule and studies, the more you’ll be able to support them. Talk with their teacher and other parents. Use the school website to stay updated on news and events.

6. Engage in activities. The most constructive conversations often develop naturally when you’re preparing dinner or taking a walk together. Spending time with your children creates more opportunities for deeper communication.

7. Schedule family dinners. One of the most beneficial activities is eating together. Regular family dinners provide a time to connect and practice conversation skills.

Verbal Communication Strategies:

1. Ask specific questions. Younger children often need targeted questions to help them organize their thoughts. If you want to understand what happened at recess, guide them through it step by step.

2. Be direct. Transparency will earn you more trust than skirting around sensitive subjects. Be gentle but firm when you need to explore behavior issues or failing grades.

3. Offer praise. Pay attention to your child’s accomplishments as well as the areas where they might be struggling. Let them know that you’re proud of them for making an effort to learn French or being kind to a new child who just transferred to their school.

4. Encourage solutions. It’s tempting to rush in and fix things when you see your child in distress. However, they’ll have a brighter future if you give them enough room to solve their own challenges.

5. Laugh it up. Use a little humor to defuse embarrassing situations. Share a story from your childhood about how you dealt with a teacher who scared you or tried to make yourself more popular.

6. Be a role model. Sharing details about your workplace will show your child how to talk about their experiences too. You may find that they’ll be asking you to tell them about your day.

7. Listen closely. Be an active listener. Set aside time to stop what you’re doing, and give your child your full attention. They’ll be more likely to open up when they see how much you care.

The way you talk with your children has a major impact on being able to share information and build strong connections. Let your child know that you’re interested in their school day, and ask them what you can do to help them learn and grow.

As a parent, your job is to take care of your children until the day when they can strike out on their own. While they graduate from high school knowing how to read and write, there are other skills that are just as important that may not get covered in the classroom.

Before your teen leaves home, ensure they’re ready to fend for themselves and have a positive impact on the world.

Take a moment to run down this checklist of life skills your teen will need.

Practical Life Skills:

1. Manage time. Be a positive role model for establishing priorities and dealing with distractions. Show your teen how to use a calendar and work backwards from a deadline.

2. Study efficiently. While your teen won’t be taking geometry classes much longer, they will continue to benefit from knowing how to learn. Encourage them to love reading. Demonstrate how to recognize key concepts and design their own self-tests on any material.

3. Stick to a budget. The choices your teen makes today will help to determine how much debt they accumulate during college and what their options will be when they graduate. Give them a head start on developing financial responsibility by assigning them tasks like managing their allowance.

4. Eat well. Healthy eating habits start early too. Bring your teen along for grocery shopping and invite them to join you in preparing dinner. Stress the importance of eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods.

5. Clean up. Kids who grow up doing chores will be more likely to take care of their first apartment and personal possessions. Teach them how to vacuum, dust, and do their laundry.

6. Stay safe. Talk with your teen about protecting themselves online and off. Provide common-sense warnings and share your own experiences.

7. Handle emergencies. Does your teen know what to do if they have a fender bender or there’s a severe storm in the forecast? Rehearse how to respond to common emergencies.

Social and Psychological Life Skills:

1. Clarify core values. The values your teen chooses will guide their behavior. Point them in a promising direction by ensuring they can articulate their beliefs and put them into action.

2. Give generously. Your teen is more likely to succeed if they help others to do the same. Encourage them to share their resources and volunteer their services.

3. Act mindfully. Mobile devices seem to be shortening the average attention span. If you want your teen to understand the power of mindfulness, you’ll need to teach by example. Give them your full attention when they’re talking, and turn the TV off unless you’re watching a specific program.

4. Deal with stress. Developing mindfulness will help protect your teen from depression and anxiety. They can also learn to relax by engaging in physical exercise and working on a hobby.

5. Master phone etiquette. Even if your teen spends much of their waking life on the phone, they may not communicate effectively. Train them to identify themselves and speak clearly. Rehearse scheduling appointments or calling a professor.

6. Talk face-to-face. Your teen may be more comfortable on social media than having a conversation in person. Hold regular family dinners where they can practice.

7. Cultivate relationships. Supportive relationships are vital to health and wellbeing. Coach your teen on how to make friends and network.

8. Be assertive. Help your child to develop healthy self-esteem and advocate for themselves. Knowing how to share their wants and needs will bring them closer to fulfilling their goals.

You can ease your teen’s transition into adulthood. Protect your children when they’re young, and then gradually give them more responsibility so they can acquire the skills they need to live independently.

You can enjoy greater wellbeing and make your marriage more satisfying by helping your spouse to grow and change. It turns out that you’re more likely to pursue rewarding challenges if you have a supportive partner.

That’s the lesson from a recent study by Carnegie University. In this study, researchers divided couples into two roles: a decision maker and a support provider. Then, they gave them a choice between completing a simple puzzle or competing for a cash prize in a public speaking competition.

Spouses with an encouraging partner were much more likely to take on the greater challenge. Plus, when they were surveyed 6 months later, they reported increased personal growth and happiness, along with stronger relationships.

The study also identified what behaviors you need to be helpful and encouraging rather than too pushy or passive.

Discover the 3 essential elements of effective support, and how to use them.

Show Your Enthusiasm

Marriage gives you an opportunity to cheer each other on. Let your enthusiasm shine through. As a bonus, it will make your relationship more fun.

Try these activities to show enthusiasm:

1. Share meaningful activities. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when you love what you’re doing. Figure out your top priorities and devote your time to them, individually and together.

2. Ask questions. Do you find it hard to take an interest in your spouse’s job or hobbies? Becoming more knowledgeable could stimulate your curiosity. Ask them to give you an introduction to corporate litigation or gourmet cooking.

3. Give specific praise. Compliments mean more when you make them substantive. Tell your spouse precisely what it is you admire about their communication skills or leadership style.

4. Stay energized. How can you sound perky when you’re tired and hungry? Practice self-care by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping well.

5. Manage stress. Learning to relax will also help you to keep your spirits up. Set aside time to meditate and pray. Listen to gentle music or go for a walk.

Provide Reassurance

Most worthwhile projects require effort and persistence. Having a reassuring partner can help you hang in there until you achieve results.

Try these ways to reassure your partner:

1. Remember your purpose. When obstacles arise, encourage your spouse to think about the reasons behind their work. Talk about your values and set goals that you both believe in.

2. Examine your assumptions. Many barriers are internal. Provide a sounding board so your spouse can recognize and overcome self-limiting beliefs that may be holding them back. Strive to be a role model for going beyond your comfort zone and making constructive changes.

3. Review your accomplishments. Go over the things that you and your spouse have accomplished together. You’ll feel more confident and empowered.

4. Get organized. Physical and mental clutter can trigger anxiety and slow you down. Maintaining an orderly home and creating efficient routines will give you both more peace of mind.

Focus on What You Have to Gain

It’s easier to take risks when you think about the benefits. Cultivate a cheerful outlook. Your hopefulness is contagious so your spouse will pick up on it too.

Turn these actions into daily habits:

1. Look on the bright side. Find the advantages present in any situation. Keep a list of the things you and your spouse have to be grateful for, including each other.

2. Reframe challenges. Look at setbacks as opportunities to learn. Give your partner a chance to express their feelings, and then move on. Direct your energy to coming up with solutions.

3. Adjust your environment. What types of influences surround you and your spouse? Be selective about the media you consume and search for inspiring stories. Develop a strong network of family and friends you can rely on.

Supporting your spouse can make you happier and more successful as a couple and as individuals. Nourish your relationship with enthusiasm, reassurance, and optimism.

The average 19 year old in the US is as sedentary as a 60 year old, according to a recent study by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. After checking fitness trackers placed on participants aged 6 to 84, researchers found that physical activity was lower than expected among kids and teenagers.

Experts such as the World Health Organization recommend at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day for adolescents, but only 50% of males and 25% of females aged 12 to 19 are meeting that standard.

The study suggests focusing more on the times of day with the least activity, and paying more attention to low-intensity activity.

If you’re a parent concerned about helping your teen to manage their weight and stay fit, there are many things you can do. Take a look at these ideas to help you begin.

Activities for Different Times of Day

The study singled out two opportunities for modifying daily schedules. Try doing something different with your mornings when kids and teens are least active, and take advantage of afternoon hours between 2 and 6 pm.

Try these activities:

1. Wake up early. If you want to squeeze in more activity, you’ll need more time. Go to bed early and move your alarm up an hour or two.

2. Warm up. Even a brief workout helps. Gather the family together for a few whole body stretches and Pilates moves.

3. Walk the dog. If you love animals, a pet can motivate your family to get moving. Join your dog for a stroll around the park or a quick trip to the park.

4. Talk with your school. See what goes on in your teen’s physical education class. Ask about making time outdoors and exercise available during recess. Some schools even give students the opportunity to earn points by running around the track during any breaks.

5. Visit the gym. Buy a family gym membership and stop off for a while before returning home from school and work. Sign up for group classes, use the treadmill, or lift weights.

Low intensity Activities

Even if your teen plays soccer, that may account for just a one-hour burst of activity in the whole week. The study urged paying more attention to the big picture.

These low intensity activities will also help get your teen moving:

1. Stand up. Cut down on the amount of time spent sitting around. Limit hours on the TV and computer or use a standing desk.

2. Assign tasks. Burn calories while raking leaves and vacuuming the stairs. You’ll also be teaching your teens to take on responsibility.

3. Develop hobbies. Pay attention to your teen’s interests so you can suggest hobbies they’ll want to pursue. They may love modern dance or building robots.

Other Tips:

1. Be a role model. Your teen will follow your example. Show them that you work out on a regular basis, and lead an active life.

2. Discuss health issues. Talk about how physical fitness helps you to lead a longer and fuller life. Bring home interesting magazines or browse online for the latest news.

3. Make healthy choices. Look at your lifestyle and how it impacts your family’s health. Aim for a diet that’s rich in whole foods, including lots of vegetables and fruits. Manage stress with physical exercise and good quality rest. Show your teens how to choose supportive friends and build a strong social network.

Regular physical activity lowers your teen’s risk for obesity, helps them to build a strong body, and enhances their academic performance. Look for positive changes you can make to encourage more exercise at home and in school.

Some children are highly self-motivated. They possess a continuous drive to give their best 100% of the time. Other children are less enthusiastic. Some children require assistance in learning to do their best, particularly at school. Life is more challenging if approached with minimal effort. A child that learns to do her best with have a more fulfilling life.

Teach your child to give his best effort:

1. Set a good example. Do you want your child to do her best? Do your best. When your child sees you making an effort to do your best, she’ll be inspired to do her best, too. It’s challenging to motivate your child to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.

2. Give praise for effort. Only acknowledging results is insufficient, especially when a child is learning a new task. Ensure that your child knows you appreciate their hard work. Teach your child that effort is as important as the final results.

3. Avoid criticizing or yelling. There’s a more effective way. If you’re displeased with your child’s behavior or effort, try this process:

* Explain why your child’s behavior is unacceptable.
* Communicate what you expect in the future and why your alternative is better.
* Inform your child of the consequences if they repeat the behavior.
* Follow through.

4. Ask questions. People mention what they think is important. By asking questions about your child’s school work, friends, sports, or art work, you’re demonstrating that those things are important. Your child will take them more seriously.

5. Explain the benefits and the consequences. For example, you can explain to your child that if they perform well in school, they’ll have more educational choices after high school and a greater selection of careers. Failing to do well in school can result in a lifetime of low pay and unenjoyable jobs.

6. Your child needs to have a little power over her life. Allow your younger child to choose what she’ll wear for the day. Allow your teenager to choose the dinner menu. Give your children options, but allow them to make the final decision. Having control over their environment can boost their self-esteem.

7. Set your child up for success. Set goals with your child and ensure that those goals are accomplished. It feels good to be successful and success catalyzes future success. The goal can be easy, like reading for 20 minutes each night or eating one vegetable at dinner time.

8. Encourage persistence. Persistence is the critical component of success. When we feel uncomfortable, it’s natural to want to escape from the situation. Encourage your child to continue even if they’re struggling. It can be as simple as spending another 10 minutes on homework after they want to quit.

Motivating your children can be challenging. It’s never easy to influence the way someone views a task or life in general. Self-motivation is empowering to a child or an adult. Children are often motivated by extrinsic rewards, mainly praise and the opinions of their peers. Praise is a valuable tool to motivate a child.

Ideally, a child will eventually learn to motivate themselves. A child becomes more independent and successful as an adult when intrinsically motivated. Later in life, praise is rare, and the need to perform for one’s peers is diminished. This is why many successful high school students struggle later in life. The extrinsic motivation is gone.

Teach your child to motivate themselves and you’ll give them a gift that will benefit them for the rest of their life.

The average school-age child in the US spends 7 and a half hours a day in front of a digital device, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. As a parent, you want your kids to have access to the technology they need to succeed in school and prepare for successful careers.

However, you also want them to lead balanced lives and appreciate the value of inexpensive and enriching offline activities.

Encouraging the moderate use of media gives your children more opportunities for interactions and experiences that are essential for healthy development. Take a look at the benefits of disconnecting, and ideas for what to do when you’re offline.

Benefits of Electronic-Free Activities:

1. Shape up. Too much time sitting in front of screens increases the risk of obesity. Give your children a head start on making exercise a regular part of their routine.

2. Sleep well. Bright screens and mental stimulation interfere with good quality rest and sleep. Set a curfew so electronic devices are turned off at least 2 hours before bedtime.

3. Promote learning. Digital devices can deliver excellent educational content, but a steady diet of empty entertainment or texting can distract from studying. Help your child keep their mind on their schoolwork.

4. Manage behavior issues. Using media wisely helps prevent aggression, substance abuse, and other risky activities. It also promotes the development of important social and communication skills.

5. Save money. Maybe you have trouble affording the latest devices. Inexpensive activities teach kids how to value relationships and creativity rather than material possessions.

Ideas for Electronic-Free Indoor Activities:

1. Make music. Your kids probably know how to stream music, but can they play an instrument or sing? Introduce them to the joys of expressing themselves through music.

2. Do crafts. Collect household items or visit an art supply store so you have supplies on hand to do arts and crafts anytime. Practice making origami animals or holiday ornaments.

3. Play board games. Pull out your old favorites or shop for new versions. Spend an evening with Monopoly instead of watching a movie.

4. Put on a play. Create your own productions. Turn a large cardboard box into a puppet theatre. Read a play out loud with each family member taking a different role.

5. Cook dinner. Prepare meals together. Even small children can rinse fruit or tear up salad greens.

Ideas for Electronic-Free Outdoor Activities:

1. Go for a walk. Make it a habit to take a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Walking is a gentle form of exercise your children will be able to do anywhere with no special equipment needed.

2. Toss a Frisbee. A Frisbee makes it fun to move around, and even your dog can master the rules. For more variety, stock up on other simple toys like hula hoops and jump ropes.

3. Plant a garden. Grow your own vegetables and flowers. Gardening teaches your kids where food comes from and how to work with others.

4. Take a dip. Having an in-ground pool isn’t the only way to enjoy the water. Let your kids ride their bikes while you spray a hose around them.

5. Visit the library. Libraries are a community gathering place. In addition to bringing home books, check out the calendar for special events.

6. Camp out. Pick a campground that suits your idea of roughing it or just sleep in your backyard. Toast marshmallows and tell ghost stories.

In a digital age, your kids are bound to be surrounded by computers, smart phones, and televisions. Show them that it’s possible to have fun without any screens involved, and carve out boundaries to keep the overuse of technology from interfering with healthy development.

Do your children attract colds the way a bird feeder makes hungry squirrels come running? With some simple precautions, you may be able to keep your children free from infections this cold and flu season, or at least relieve their symptoms faster and reduce their number of sick days.

While adults average only about 2 to 4 colds a year, many children have 10 or more, especially if they’re in close contact with other little ones at school or day care centers. If you want to beat those odds, take a look at this guide to preventing colds.

Fighting Colds by Encouraging Cleanliness:

1. Wash your hands. The most effective way to stop colds is to keep your hands clean, and keep them away from your face, especially your eyes. Teach your children to wash their hands frequently with soap for about 20 seconds at a time.

2. Check your nails. Remember to scrub under fingernails too, because that’s where germs get trapped. Keep your child’s nails trimmed short and use a nail brush to be thorough.

3. Switch your towels. A dirty towel will undo all your good intentions. Consider using disposable towels, or wash cloth towels daily, when a family member is ill.

4. Disinfect toys. Stuffed toys and other playthings can transfer germs too. Clean hard surfaces with diluted bleach. Hand wash teddy bears or put them in a plastic bag with baking soda, and give them a shake.

5. Limit sharing. Show your child how to share safely. Train them to use their own drinking glass and water bottle.

Fighting Colds by Changing How You Feed Your Kids:

1. Eat up. Starving a cold is a myth. Serve your child a balanced and nutritious diet that will keep their energy up.

2. Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of liquids is good advice. Water or tea will loosen up congestion, and warm beverages feel good on scratchy throats.

3. Sip soup. Chicken soup is another home remedy that makes sense. In addition to keeping your child hydrated, it provides essential nutrients.

4. Try vitamins. A number of studies suggest that products with ingredients like vitamin C or zinc may not provide any special benefits. However, if you don’t mind the cost, you might want to see if they work for you.

Other Strategies for Fighting Colds:

1. Use a humidifier. Humidifiers can reduce coughing and make it easier to breathe by adding moisture to dry winter air. Clean them regularly to avoid mold.

2. Gargle with saltwater. Your probably know that salt can soothe a sore throat, but it may also prevent colds in the first place. Some studies show that even gargling with plain water leads to fewer colds, and it costs nothing.

3. Cover your mouth. Encourage your child to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze. Germs are more easily transmitted by touch than by air, but it’s still the polite thing to do.

4. Warm your feet. Many studies have cast doubt on the belief that you’ll catch a cold if you go outside without a coat or hat. On the other hand, there is some evidence that keeping your feet warm helps, so let your kids wear footed pajamas or socks to bed.

5. Play outdoors. Whatever they wear, your children will benefit from spending time outdoors. Some research suggests that vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of infection by 10%, and sunshine can have similar effects.

Practicing good hygiene and eating lots of chicken soup will help your child to avoid colds or recover faster. Either way, your whole family could have fewer sore throats and runny noses this winter.

If you want to keep your love alive, it’s important to work at nurturing your relationship. Sometimes that means a grand gesture, and sometimes it’s a matter of paying attention to the small stuff. Otherwise, you may start taking each other for granted and drift apart.

Whether you’re newlyweds or you’ve been living together for many years, you can keep your connection strong. Try these romantic and practical ideas for showing your partner just how much they mean to you.

Romantic Ways to Show Your Partner How Much You Love Them:

1. Display affection. Greet your partner warmly each time they come home. Hold hands at the movies or walking around the neighborhood.

2. Write love notes. Create your own poetry or borrow quotations from Keats and Neruda. Stick Post-its with sentimental messages on the bathroom mirror or kitchen coffee pot. Put a love letter in your spouse’s luggage when they leave on a business trip.

3. Shower them with gifts. Presents can be inexpensive as long as they’re thoughtful. Bring home a movie your wife will love or a new novel by her favorite author. Buy your husband scented lip balm or drive across town to get the brand of salsa he prefers.

4. Spring a surprise. Wake up early and serve breakfast in bed on an otherwise routine weekday morning. Send your children to their grandparent’s house for the weekend, and spend a couple of quiet days together.

5. Laugh it up. It’s okay to have fun while you’re working on your relationship. Feel free to be silly. Sing songs from old commercials or dress up like a ghost. Reminisce about the blunders you made on your first date or during your early attempts at parenting.

6. Share your dreams. Talk about your plans and goals. Common values are even more important than liking the same pastimes.

7. Arrange date nights. Take turns planning a date night each week. You need some couple time away from children and chores.

Practical Ways to Show Your Partner How Much You Love Them:

1. Listen closely. Knowing your partner will help you speak their love language. Validate their feelings and concerns. Try to understand their perspective even when you disagree.

2. Do chores. Sharing the housework speaks volumes about your love and respect for each other. Claim the tasks you excel at or take turns.

3. Apologize promptly. Acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. Be quick to forgive when your partner has a lapse.

4. Cheer them on. Give each other your full support. Listen actively and ask questions when your spouse describes their current projects. Celebrate their victories and empathize with their setbacks.

5. Work out together. Staying fit can give you more years to spend together. Sign up for a family or couple’s gym membership. Search for a sport that you both enjoy such as volleyball or tennis. Build a workout area at home where you can train together even on rainy days.

6. Find a hobby. Make your leisure time more enriching and develop interests that will draw you closer together. If you both love astronomy, buy a telescope, become members at your local science museum, and visit observatories when you travel.

7. Give each other space. While it’s important to spend time together, each of us needs our independence too. Let your partner know it’s okay when they want to spend some time alone or hang out with their friends.

8. Keep growing. Developing your potential may be the most profound way to express your love. The more you have, the more you can contribute to your relationship.

Maintain the magic in your relationship by asking yourself how you can make your spouse feel special. Loving words and actions will help keep you strong and united.

As a parent, you want your kids to have happiness, health, and success. Even if you don’t have a magic wand you can wave, you have the power to bring these things about by influencing the way your children think. One good place to start is by encouraging optimism.

A positive outlook boosts your immune system and helps you to live longer. When you look on the bright side, you build up your resilience and achieve more.

If that’s the kind of legacy you want to pass on to your children, consider these strategies. They’ll help you to raise optimistic sons and daughters.

Steps for You to Take Yourself:

1. Be a role model. Your children will follow your example. The more you demonstrate the power of optimism, the more likely they are to pick up on your sunny outlook.

2. Accentuate the positive. Make it a habit to focus on the upside of any situation. Transform disappointments and irritations by turning them into lessons. If a camping trip gets rained out, show your children how to be flexible. Pitch your tent in your living room.

3. Show gratitude. Counting your blessings helps you to see the world as a friendly place. List the things you have to be thankful for.

4. Choose empowering words. How often do you catch yourself complaining? Replace defeatist statements with positive affirmations.

5. Be realistic. Optimism needs to be grounded in facts. Acknowledge challenges while you focus on solutions.

6. Take action. Optimism also needs to be backed up by action in order to succeed. Seize control of your life and remember that you can handle anything that comes your way.

Steps to Take with Your Children:

1. Set high expectations. Children build confidence by living up to the responsibilities you give them. Teach them to believe in their abilities to excel at school, play sports, and make friends.

2. Encourage independence. It’s natural to want to intervene when your child is hurting. On the other hand, they grow more when you step back and let them fix their own challenges.

3. Take risks. Reward your child for taking sensible risks. Give them credit for speaking up in class or trying to ski for the first time.

4. Leverage strengths. Notice what your child likes to do and what they’re good at. When they succeed at a task, help them to analyze what they did well, and how they can build on their achievements.

5. Learn from experience. When your child has a setback, talk about what they can do differently next time. Help them see that their sadness or frustration is temporary.

6. Engage in creative play. Feed your child’s imagination with activities that help them to express themselves and develop their skills. Build a theatre out of a cardboard box so you can put on puppet shows. Paint pictures and do crafts. Creative thinking stirs up hopes and dreams.

7. Share affection. Studies show that children who receive plenty of love and affection feel more secure about their future. Listen closely to what your child has to say so they’ll know that they’re important to you. Hug them when they leave for school in the morning and come home in the afternoon.

8. Give praise. Positive reinforcement will help your children to value themselves and develop constructive habits. Tell them that you’re proud of them for studying hard and being kind to their neighbors.

Optimists are made, not born, so you can teach your children to see the glass as half full. Positive thinking will help them to make sound decisions and deal effectively with life’s challenges.