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A Grateful Family is a Happy Family: 5 Gratitude Practices

Creating a grateful family culture is a challenge in our entitled, indulgent age. Yet research has confirmed what we intuitively know – Practicing gratitude and being grateful are keys to a happier life.  It’s well ...

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Sticky Note Solution: Chore Reminder

In my book, Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, each chapter ends with a “Bringing Camp Home” section with five different ideas ranging from simple to more indepth ...

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Smile!

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. -Maya Angelou One simple way to create happier and more connected families (and schools) is to remember to smile! In ...

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Household Task Audit: Having Kids Help More at Home

Household Task AuditSubscribe to my weekly emails, and I'll send you my Household Task Audit.envelopeSEND ME THE DOWNLOAD ...

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You’re Doing Great!

Take a deep breath. You’re doing great! The last ten days have been full of some amazing opportunities to connect with parents, educators, and camp professionals who share the same goal — raising kids who ...

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Raise Thriving Kids Workshop – September 27 in Newport Beach, CA

Thank you for all the ways you prioritize and support your kids. I know you are working hard so that they will succeed in life. But parenting is hard, isn’t it? Come spend a day ...

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September Reset

September is one of three “new years,” especially for those of us who have children or work with them. We – and our kids – are getting settled into the schedule and routines of a ...

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Family Photos 2004 & 2019

There was a time, not so long ago, where it was common for us to get together with my sister’s family and my parents for holidays and vacations. I have many fond memories of cousins ...

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Boston Strong

I spent the past weekend in Boston. It was my husband and my fourth trip to the Boston Marathon in the past 11 years, and my memories of this epic event are a mix of ...

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Raising Boys

Perhaps because my three oldest kids are girls, I’ve researched and read more about raising girls than I have about raising boys. Or maybe because it’s that I’m more confused by my sons, because I’m ...

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Live Like Nigel

Yesterday was such a great day, because I spent it doing a few things I really enjoy – connecting with people and listening to music! What do you love to do? Are you making sure ...

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My One Word for 2019: Focus

Focus on what  matters. I love the annual process of thinking about what I want for the coming year and what One Word can be an ongoing focus for me. I also enjoy sharing this ...

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The Best Gifts of 2018

The best thing you can give your children, next to good habits, are good memories. -Sydney Harris Most tangible, material gifts we give our children are outdated, broken, lost, or unused within months of the gifting. ...

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100 Family Memories

Thanksgiving, 2018 100 Family Memories Every December our family makes a list of 100 family memories from the year. This year marks our 11th year of doing this year-end remembrance activity, and we all look forward ...

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Ep. 64: Home for the Holidays: Preparing for Your College Kid to Come Home

 I think when you’re talking about your kids coming home for a longer period of time, whether it is for Christmas or summer, setting that expectation up is really important because otherwise, you get frustrated ...

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How to Respond to Bad Behavior

Bad behavior from other people is an inevitable part of life. While we would love to protect our kids from every mean comment or action by another person, that is impossible. What we can – ...

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Challenging Our Definition of “Success”

Last week I attended a talk by Mary Hofstedt of Challenge Success, an organization dedicated to redefining success and promoting children’s well-being. I’ve been following the work of Challenge Success for several years and love their ...

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Three Strategies for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults

What do you want for your child in 10 years? 20 years? What dreams do you have for him/her? These are the questions I often ask parents to reflect upon before I begin talking with ...

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4 Friendship Concepts to Share with Girls

In researching and planning for a talk I gave a few weeks ago about girls’ friendships, I read through some excellent resources, including these books. I also wrote this post about ways to help your ...

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7 Ways to Help Your Daughter Become a Thriving Adult

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with a group of moms of elementary-age daughters. I shared with them some friendship concepts (which I’ll share in a later post), as well as these seven ...

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Helpful Books for Raising Daughters

I wish these books had been available when my girls were younger, but they’re here now. I’ve learned from these books what it’s like to be a girl growing up in the 2010s. This is ...

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The Magic Relationship Ratio

Gretchen, Shasta, & Audrey I recorded this month’s One Simple Thing during a retreat this weekend at 1440 Multiversity I attended with my daughter, Gretchen (see video below or on Facebook). We were at Shasta Nelson‘s Frientimacy ...

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More of, Less of, Same of (MO, LO, SO)

This is my August installment of my One Simple Thing tip for having a happier and more connected family. Each month this year, I’ve been sharing something I’ve learned from my years at camp that ...

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The Wisdom of High School Girls

One highlight of my summer has been meeting with our oldest female campers to discuss relationships, goals, and life. These girls have so much wisdom to share with each other and with adults. We meet ...

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Talking with Kids about Friendship

“Friendship is a life skill you need to learn, so why not start now?” Jackson, Age 9 I spent yesterday evening making friendship bracelets and talking about friendship with a group of campers. We were ...

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4 Ways to Focus on our Kids’ Strengths

One of my highlights of last week was meeting with our Junior Counselors (17-year-olds heading into their senior year of high school) and talking about their strengths. After spending a morning sharing the strengths they ...

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Helping Kids Find Their “Green Zone” (and Finding our Own!)

The simple concept of red, green, and blue zones from The Yes Brain has stuck with me and is helpful to anyone who is a human being or works with them. When Sloan Walsh did ...

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7 Ways to Help Kids Through their Teen Years

A focus of our staff training is helping counselors learn to connect with kids, empathize with them, and give them positive, supportive guidance. A powerful exercise we do is to ask our staff (19-24 year ...

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With Gratitude to My Dad, “Poppi,” on Father’s Day

An optimist from the beginning. Four years ago, with the help of Chuck Radke, my dad, Peter Kremer, wrote a book about his life called Isn’t That Nice? Reflections on a Blessed Life. I wrote ...

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Pick a Summer Theme!

With school out, longer days, and more open space in your family’s schedule, summer offers a great opportunity to try something new! Instead of getting bogged down (like I often do) with lofty goals and ...

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Raising Girls

The happiest moment of my life was when my daughter was born. But it was also the scariest. Raising a daughter is requiring me to be courageous in the midst of facing my own challenges ...

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What do Kids Need at Different Ages?

In preparation for training our camp counselors, I’ve spent some time revising and updating our materials and resources about the different characteristics and needs of the age groups we serve at camp. This information can ...

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Understanding Kids’ Comfort, Growth, and Blackout Zones

“I DID IT!” Many of my favorite moments at camp are when I get to witness a previously fearful and hesitant camper in the moments just after they’ve tried something new. Their confidence and joy ...

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3 Reasons to Give Your Kid a “WOW” Today

 Would you consider taking a few moments –less than ONE MINUTE — to say or write something positive to your kid? It can be just a quick verbal compliment, like “I noticed you helped ...

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Ep. 31: Listen: 5 Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges

You’re not alone. Whatever struggle you’re facing and however hard it feels to you right now, I’m confident that with support you can get through it. And I’m 100% confident that you’re not the first ...

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How to get Closer to your Kid in 5 Minutes a Day

One-on-Ones On our counselor job description, one of their duties is to “check in with each camper, every day.” We call these check-in meetings “One-on-Ones.” Counselors ask campers specific, open-ended questions to elicit how campers ...

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How Can I Help My Kid Make Friends?

One of the most basic and often overlooked social skills our kids need to learn in order to be approachable and available to make friends is to greet others appropriately. Last summer, when I taught ...

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One Simple Thing: Monthly Parenting Challenges for a Happier, More Connected Family

Each month this year, I’m sharing One Simple Thing to try to create a happier, more connected family! 12 Simple Things DownloadSubscribe to my weekly emails, and I'll send you my 12 Simple Things Parenting ...

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How Doing Less Made Me a Better Parent

After suffering from some random aches and pains (hello middle age!) and working way too hard for too many decades, I finally hit a physical and emotional breaking point a few years ago. I realized ...

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36 Questions to Get Closer to Someone You Love

The art of asking good questions, and listening carefully to the person’s response, is one important key to forming and maintaining positive, close relationships. Our social connections are the most important predictor of life-long happiness ...

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Ep. 23: Peaceful Mornings with Sara Kuljis

Sara and Audrey My regular (and super-fun and wise) podcast guest, Sara Kuljis of Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp and Emerald Cove Day Camp, joined me on Facebook Live for this month’s One Simple Thing topic: ...

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10 Solutions for Chaotic Mornings

In a recent survey I asked parents, “What’s the most chaotic, stressful time of day for you and your kids?” Over half (67%) said that mornings topped the list of their least peaceful times at ...

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How to Have a Closer Family in 5 Minutes a Day

Those of you who’ve been loyal readers know one of my favorite connection tips (besides unplugging), honed over years of practice around campfires at summer camp and family dinners: DAILY SHARING! Find a time each ...

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5 Simple Year-End Reflection Activities

The end of one year and beginning of the next offers a unique opportunity to both reflect back and plan ahead. Because I’ve been a journaler and list-maker since I was very young, I’ve always ...

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My Favorite Parenting Books of 2017

If you’re looking for some wisdom in a specific area of parenting, you might want to consider reading (or listening) to one of these parenting books I enjoyed in 2017. I had the opportunity to ...

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Parents Guide to Teen Addiction – Book Review

Dr. Laurence M. Westreich, a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in addiction and mental disorders, has invested a quarter-century of his professional life studying addiction psychiatry.  His second work on the subject, A Parent’s Guide to ...

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A Guide to EQ and SEL

Guest post by Emma Gibson: Emotional intelligence, also referred to as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to read other people’s feelings and emotions. This may include empathizing with others, negotiating with them, and even ...

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Connection Through Questions

If you were to ask me the most important thing parents can provide their children, camp counselors can provide campers, and teachers can provide students, I can sum it up with one word. Connection. Building ...

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5 Ways to Create a Happy Thanksgiving

The one area of parenting where I am incredibly consistent is in my unrealistic expectations for how family together time will go, especially when we haven’t been together in a long while. I have this ...

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The Yes Brain with Tina Payne Bryson

I had the opportunity to talk with Tina Payne Bryson about her upcoming book with Daniel Siegel, THE YES BRAIN (January 9, 2018). As with their previous books (The Whole-Brain Child and No Drama Discipline), ...

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What to do When Your Kid Says “NO!”

After listening to my podcast interview with Ignore It! author Catherine Pearlman, I got a great question from a listener: What if the child doesn’t just whine and complain but outright refuses to do what ...

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3 Simple Techniques to Help Kids Make Friends

Coaching kids on their social skills is one of the most helpful things caring adults can do to positively impact children’s lives. Why are social skills so important? We need look no further than the ...

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Helping Your Fearful Kid Try New Things

“I DID IT!” Many of my favorite moments at camp are when I get to witness a previously fearful and hesitant camper in the moments just after they’ve tried something new. Their confidence and joy ...

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Why We Need to Unplug to Connect with Our Families

I’ve been following the trends and research about screen use and have long been an advocate of unplugging. I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of unplugging each summer at camp and have fought back in my ...

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5 Must Reads Before You Drop Your Child off at College

Since August is the month when many of us say goodbye to our college-age kids and find our homes more quiet (and our hearts spread far), I thought I’d once again share some of my ...

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5 Steps to Raising a Problem Solver

One of the most important skills our kids need to learn in order to become responsible adults is the ability to solve their own problems. Hovering and overparenting certainly aren’t helpful in this department, but ...

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7 Simple Steps to Teach Kids to Introduce Themselves

Introducing yourself is much more than saying your name; it’s a way to connect with someone new by exchanging words and often, physical contact. Introducing yourself to strangers can be tricky because what you say ...

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The Five Most Common Parenting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Before I was a parent, I worked with hundreds of kids as a camp counselor and then as a camp director. As an idealistic youth development professional, I was very opinionated about parenting techniques, and ...

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11 Ways to Help Kids Create REAL Connections

A 75 year longitudinal study of adult development at Harvard Medical School had two main findings. Researchers George Vaillant and Sheldon Glueck determined that “good relationships”—not wealth or accolades or privilege—“keep us happier and healthier.” ...

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10 Lessons for Parents Raising Children in a Digital World

Those of you who’ve been hanging around Sunshine Parenting for a while know how much I love to research and talk about the benefits of getting unplugged. Getting off our screens and more focused on ...

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10 Ways to do LESS and be a MORE Effective Parent

After three decades working with thousands of kids at camp, and more than twenty years parenting my own five, I’ve learned that doing LESS often makes me a more effective parent. Many of the recent ...

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Resources for Parents of Introverted or Sensitive Kids

Do you have a shy, introverted, or extremely sensitive kid? While these traits or descriptions often go hand-in-hand, Susan Cain distinguishes between “shy” and “introverted” and Elaine Aron outlines a separate set of traits for ...

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Why Kids Need to Feel Needed

When my husband picked my 13-year-old son up recently from a movie night at a friend’s house, the mom mentioned that he was “great at doing dishes.” To me, this is one of the highest ...

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Giving Kids Our Full Attention

Giving Kids our Full Attention Rapport feels good, generating the harmonious glow of being simpatico, a sense of friendliness where each person feels the other’s warmth, understanding, and genuineness. These mutual feelings likely strengthen the ...

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Thoughts on “Being 13”

“Most adolescents with access to smart phones are living their social lives online as much as they do face-to-face. Adults worry that teens are hooked on social media, but most have no idea what teens ...

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What are you going to do?

One thing I taught my kids last year was to ask “What else can I do?” to help them learn the important skill of finishing a job well. They still use it at the end ...

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Good Things Come to Those Who Breathe

My 2016 ended with a bang – two trips to the ER on New Year’s Eve. My son needed a cast for a small buckle fracture in his arm from a snowboard crash (see Exhibit ...

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Focusing on the Gain not the Gap

Last week, I was listening to a podcast from one of my favorite leadership and motivational speakers (Michael Hyatt’s This is Your Life). Hyatt talked about the importance for business leaders to create an environment ...

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Five Ways to Avert Thanksgiving Disappointment

The one area of parenting where I am incredibly consistent is in my unrealistic expectations for how family together time will go, especially when we haven’t been together in a long while. I have this ...

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“SASHET”: A Connection Tool

I just returned from my favorite annual camp conference. Spending time with this group of camp owners and directors refocuses me and helps me get motivated for another summer of camp. These are the only people ...

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How Big is My Problem?

This past summer at camp, one of our counselors reported a conflict within his cabin group. A camper had told one of his cabin mates to “stop acting so stupid.” The offended camper immediately reported to his counselor that “everyone hated him.” The ...

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10 Ways to Teach Kids to Calm Down

Being able to resolve conflicts is one of the most important social skills our kids need in order to thrive in relationships and life. I’ve written a series of posts about different conflict resolution skills, ...

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More than “I’m Sorry”

Teaching Kids the RIGHT Way to Apologize An important relationship skill is the ability to resolve conflicts. And resolving conflicts often involves an apology. Most kids are bad at apologizing, and that’s because the adults ...

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No Time for Family Dinner?

Back in 2012, I wrote about how much I treasure our Family Dinner. That was a precious, memorable year for our family, the final one before our oldest daughter left for college. Now our family dinners include just ...

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Google Parenting

In a phone call with a parent this week, she relayed the story of her teenage daughter running away (briefly) and how, even with 25 years of parenting experience (and numerous parenting books, classes, and conversations) behind ...

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Learning to Enjoy the Little Things

September is my “new year.” The busy summer is over, and I have some time to rest, reflect, and regroup – three things I have never mastered. I’ve been drawn this month to books that ...

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Final Conversations Before College

Today I traveled 2,326 miles to drop off my youngest daughter for her freshman year of college. After a few days helping her get settled and procuring a mattress pad, a desk lamp, and other ...

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Hop on The Energy Bus!

One of our treasured camp traditions is reading to campers each evening at bedtime. We adopted the tradition more than a decade ago, because we realized how calming it is and how much even our ...

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The Power of Positive Words

Well, I don’t know the child that was returned to me on Saturday. It definitely wasn’t the child I dropped off two weeks earlier. The only logical explanation is that your camp is magic. Magic transformed my ...

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Dear Parent Hitting the Refresh Button (again) to View Camp Photos

Dear Parent Hitting the Refresh Button (again) to View Camp Photos, I know your pain. I’m on your side of the computer this week, waiting for a glimpse of one of my children at his ...

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Why Kids Need to Get Uncomfortable

As parents, we spend a lot of time making our kids comfortable. Feeling cold? I’ll grab you a sweatshirt. Hungry? Let me get you a snack right away! Kid being unkind? I’ll complain to the ...

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Helping Kids through their “Low Point”

During one of our final training sessions with counselors, we ask them to think back to their “low point” as a child or adolescent and remember what, if anything, caring adults did to help them ...

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Connection Before Correction

Because I know our counselors may not retain every bit of information covered in training, there are a few concepts I will continue to focus on and share with them throughout the summer. One of ...

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Celebrating Strengths

What are the qualities you like best about yourself? If you’re like me, I’ll bet you haven’t thought about that question much. You may tend to focus more on the things you don’t like about ...

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7 Reasons to Get Outside

Next to unplugging, one of my favorite things to talk about is spending time outside. In fact, I believe the combination of unplugging AND spending time outside may be the answer to many of life’s ...

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Questions for Connection

When the calendar turns to spring, my mind turns full steam into counselor training mode. I can’t help it. After 31 years of preparing counselors for their summer working with kids at camp, I can’t ...

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Conversations Before College: Preventing Sexual Assault

  This is the third installment of my “Conversations Before College” series, written in honor of my daughter and her friends who graduate from high school this Sunday. My hope is that this information will ...

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The Uncool Mom

One of the numerous times I’ve made my son mad this year was the day I told him he had to go to school when a bunch of other parents were not making their kids ...

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Learning to Breathe

I learned to breathe a few weeks ago. Let me explain. While I’ve been breathing my whole life, I found out a few weeks ago, during a counseling session with a neuro-therapist, that I haven’t ...

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5 Parenting Mistakes to Avoid

Before I was a parent, I worked with hundreds of kids as a camp counselor and then as a camp director. As an idealistic youth development professional, I was very opinionated about parenting techniques, and ...

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Conversations Before College: Honest Talk about Alcohol

“3 Things to Teach Your Kids about Alcohol,” the most important thing I’ve ever written, was a plea to parents to talk with kids about alcohol and prevent the kind of tragedy that a family ...

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The Perils of Perfectionism

When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness — the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are ...

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Surviving and Thriving (in High School and Life)

Many kids struggle with their sense of worth and forget who they really are during high school. For high achieving kids, some get so caught up in the tests and grades that they start believing that they ...

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Tips from a Natural Hawaiian Mama

My family has been on a relaxing, beach- and sun-filled spring break this week on the Big Island of Hawaii. This is our favorite vacation spot, as we truly decompress and relax here. I haven’t ...

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Conversations before College: WHO you are matters more than WHERE you go

I just spent spring break with ten high school senior girls and some of their moms. Several of these girls know where they’ll be heading to college in the fall, but others are still anxiously ...

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The Power of Compliments

I saw this video last week, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the power of compliments: Isn’t it amazing? This teacher spent just 10 minutes a day complimenting his students, and he ...

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5 Taco Tuesday Twists: Super Easy Family Dinners

While I’m not a food blogger or an accomplished chef, I am a mom who—like most moms—must figure out what the heck to feed my family EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m always on the lookout for ...

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Five (MORE) Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids to Camp

There are so many reasons great parents choose to send their kids to summer camp. Two years ago, I shared five of them on the most popular post I’ve ever published. But now I have ...

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Be a Better Parent by Doing Less

If you’ve read my posts the past few weeks, you know that I’ve been on a roll with thoughts about letting our kids fail more and preparing them to be competent adults. Reading Jessica Lahey’s ...

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