2 Pieces of Parenting Advice that Actually Work

by Abby on April 30, 2012

Right now I have 5 new books and a stack of magazines on my bedside table, waiting to be read. Some of them are parenting books. To date, I have encountered very few practical parenting tips that make a real, noticeable difference in my life. From my archives, here are a couple of those tips. Now I’ve got to get back to my reading.

2 Pieces of Parenting Advice that Actually Work

Babytalk magazine coverI’ve had the idea for this post for a long time. But I only have 2 tips, and as I know from my background in magazines, you need at least 3 examples to prove a point.

Also, people are more likely to read an odd-numbered list. It’s true: statistics show that most people will read “5 Ways to Drop the Weight” over “10 Tips for Slimming Down by Summer.” Don’t say I never taught you anything. 🙂

Speaking of magazines, are there certain ones that feel like homework to you? I hate to admit it, since some of my friends write for them, but there are certain parenting magazines that, even though I subscribe, I don’t enjoy actually READING because they’re full of expert advice about what I should be doing, could be doing, and definitely should NOT be doing with my kids. By the time I close the magazine I feel exhausted, guilty, and a failure as a mom and a human being. (Read “7 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day” and tell me you don’t feel the same!!)

But darned if those magazines aren’t right sometimes. I used to openly sneer at the articles about making your kids smiley-face sandwiches and cutesy snacks in the shape of animals. Those are for annoyingly perfect stay-at-home moms with too much time on their hands! I’d think sneer. I can’t be bothered to cut toast into hearts and stars. I’ve got laundry to do! Essays to critique! Paint to watch dry!

Then I had my second child, a kid so averse to vegetables that he would hunt down and pick out a stray carrot shred that I’d tried to sneak into his applesauce. While his big brother would gobble down an entire bowl of steamed broccoli, this baby would squeal like a stuck pig when you tried to fork anything green towards his face.

Then one night Miles was playing with his food. He said, “I’m a dinosaur and I’m going to eat these tiny trees!” Then he’d chomp a piece of broccoli. Riley saw this and immediately began yelling, “Tees too! Tees too!” So we gave him some broccoli “trees” and to my astonishment, HE ATE THEM. It wasn’t a fluke, either. He’s eaten broccoli several times since. So there you have it, Parenting Tip #1: Let kids play with their food. Or maybe, Presentation counts.

Parenting Tip #2 is far easier: To get kids to listen, talk about them to someone else. Here’s an example: In the mornings, I often ask my 4yo to go upstairs after breakfast and get himself dressed. “Miles, go on up and grab some clothes.” “Miles, it’s time to get dressed now.” “Miles! I asked you to please go get dressed for school!” “MILES!! If you don’t go GET DRESSED RIGHT NOW we will be LATE and you will NOT get to play with your friends at school EVER AGAIN!!”

As an experiment, I decided to see if these parenting mags knew what they were talking about. So I said to my other son, “Riley, I guess Miles doesn’t want to go to school today. I asked him to get dressed 3 times now and he’s not, so I guess he won’t get to play with his friends. And too bad he’ll miss snack time.” Guess what happened? Miles sprang into action. He immediately sprinted upstairs, threw on his clothes and was waiting at the door with his backpack within minutes. Well, how about that?

So there you have it, 2 tried-and-true, expert-approved parenting tips that actually work. Just don’t try to convince me that I should be composting with my toddler, OK?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

neena April 30, 2012 at 5:58 am

I always take any food advice I can get!


Abby April 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Today I got them to eat carrot & zucchini muffins. Score one for mom!


Kathleen Basi April 30, 2012 at 6:56 am

I might have to try that #2. 🙂


Abby April 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

It is scarily effective.


Ali April 30, 2012 at 8:00 am

Good tips.

Maybe I should play with my veggies, since I don’t eat any ever! Thank goodness my son doesn’t take after me.


Abby April 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Gasp!! NO VEGGIES?! Don’t make this vegetarian mama come over there and force some broccoli down your throat! 😉


Pamela April 30, 2012 at 9:19 am

Great tips! Also, use the technique my daughter does (as I show in my post “eating the broccoli”). Covering up a green veggie with something red (or pink, or yellow?) does wonders… :+)


Abby April 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm

You mean like cotton candy? 😉


Malia April 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Presentation DOES count, ugh, much more than I wish it did. My kids aren’t big breakfast eaters so I resort to all sorts of tricks to get them to take a few bites of my (lovingly homemade) pancakes. Cookie-cutter pancake shapes were a big hit for a while. You’d think just making the pancakes from scratch would be enough, but they don’t care about that. They’d rather have Bisquick in the shape of a dinosaur. 🙂


Abby April 30, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Damn kids. Lovingly homemade food is wasted on them!


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