Posts Tagged: Guest Post

Why Parents Shouldn’t Force Their Kids To Say Sorry

Parents find it shocking when I give the advice “don’t force your child to say  “I’m sorry” after an incident”.  They think I am letting kids off the hook. Not true! Let me take a moment to clarify my reasons.

First, to be clear, I want your children to have good manners and develop a true sense of empathy and compassion for others. Yes,  I want them to take responsibility for their actions and to make amends when someone has been wronged. All of those pursuits are important. I am only suggesting a different means and method to arrive at that end.

When parents simply force a child with the ole’ parenting chestnut “Come on now, say you’re sorry” they invite that classic nasal and sarcastic reply “ I’m saaaawry”.

Step into the child’s mindset and emotional state. You can imagine that any empathy that they were feeling because of their wrong doing, just flew out the window as their parents put the spot light on them and their screw up, which is now on public display.   Embarrassing.

Next, you are commanded to apologize (as if you wouldn’t have capacity to do so of your own volition).  Well, its humiliating and degrading, frankly.

Why They Do It:

The child’s use of mocking tones serve to help them save face and keep a shred of dignity in the moment.

The child is saying with their behavior “I won’t be forced against my will.  You can’t make me.  You might be able to force me to say “I’m sorry”, but you can’t make me feel it – HA! I win! I defeat you!”

Sadly, it becomes a war between parent and child, a total distraction from the actual task of learning from their mistake, helping the harmed party feel better and ultimately making amends for the incidents.

The child begins to feel angry at their parents and instead of owning the responsibility for their behavior they feel the other party actually got them in trouble with their parents, so they don’t feel empathy or remorse anymore. In fact, they now feel justified and not responsible!

What to do instead?

1)   Modeling.  If you are one to say “sorry” when you err, they will mimic you.  Trust me on this one.

2)  Pause.  That’s right.  Give kids a moment to volunteer a genuine response to a situation before you jump in two guns a’blazin’.  You may well discover that your children do say they are sorry, if given a moment to compose themselves.

3)  Focus on the future:  Instead of forcing them to say sorry about the past, which they can’t change, put the focus on their commitment to do something differently in the future.  “Can you let your friend know that you won’t take his bike without asking again.”

4)   Ask your child “what should happen now?” If they broke a neighbor’s window playing ball, letting the child think for themselves of how to right the situation helps build empathy, internalizes the lesson, and generates positive feelings about rectifying the situation.    Replacing the window with their allowance and writing a letter stating it was an accident and promising to play in the park in the future feels restorative when they come up with the idea.


About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at

3 Small Changes Make a Huge Difference

By Theresa Albert, DHN, RNCP

If there were three simple things that you could do every day that would virtually turn your health around, would you do it? What if all three were easy to do, did not take any time and cost you exactly nothing. Any one of them will help you live healthier, longer and take years off the appearance of aging skin but together they are your little secret to your inner universe.  Are you ready? Of course you are!


Life Altering Tip #1

Make yours NEAT!

We are all strapped for time and getting to the gym isn’t on everyone’s wish list anyway. When you think about it, the official exercise regime gets you moving for one hour per day. It is what you are doing the other 15 waking hours that really counts.  Now there is “NEAT” or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Making this change is as simple as increasing all the heat creating (aka calorie burning stuff that you do in a day) and you have a lot of sway in how that goes.

  • Find as many ways as you can to wiggle, tap, move throughout the day. Walk one bus stop, take the stairs for at least one flight, sit on an exercise ball for an hour a day while at work or watching tv. The possibilities are endless and they all add up.
  • Add weight whenever you can.  Fooling your body into carrying more weight around (that isn’t really your own!) builds muscle.  A backpack of books, maybe? Carry a basket around the grocery store instead of using a cart or strap on a weight belt for the subway ride standing up.
  • Convert your desk to a standing station to reduce all of the sitting hours in your day.


Life Altering Tip #2

Remove liquid calories.

The brain does not process liquid calories the same way it processes calories that must be chewed.  When you chew, your human internal food mechanism indicates satiety, when you sip…nada. If you added up all the useless calories that come by way of cream and sugar in your coffee, sodas, alcohol and even juices you would likely find 300 calories each day that you could do without.(Do that for 11 days and you can lose one pound!)  And don’t go switching to aspartame laden beverages, they are even worse! Try this juice substitute instead.


Life Altering Tip #3

Add ½ cup of beans each day.

There is now sound evidence that it takes one small serving to make a world of difference in your cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.  Beans and pulses (not green beans!) can come in any form and need no longer be the overnight-soaking-pain-in-the-pants they used to be. Here are some ways to work beans in:

  • Serve hummus (made from chick peas)
    • as a dip for an afternoon snack
    • hummus comes in a variety of flavors so you will never get bored
    • It’s easy to make at home in a blender
    • add a tablespoon to every wrap and sandwich instead of mayo
    • Add drained, rinsed canned beans to any pasta dish
      • White navy beans and lentils work best
      • Make a crockpot full of lentil or minestrone soup weekly
        • store in the freezer in single servings for lunches or appetizers
        • Top salads with canned kidney beans or chick peas
        • Look for bean based veggie burgers instead of beef burgers
        • Snack on roasted soybeans instead of nuts or popcorn

All it takes is a tiny shift in attitude to improve your health outcome. Make these healthy habit decisions once and never look back. Do you have others to share? Always looking for simple ways to get people moving in the right direction!


About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a nutritionist and food communications consultant. Her Food Network show, Just One Bite! aired for 5 years on both Food Network and BBC Kids. She is currently a trusted on-camera correspondent for CTV Newschannel as well as CBC and regular health expert on the daily lifestyle show, Steven and Chris which airs internationally.

Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Tweeters by Today’s Parent Magazine and one of’s 35 Favorite Bloggers, she is called for comment from every major magazine, newspaper and television outlet in Canada. She has a weekly column in the Metro Newspaper and regularly writes features for Today’s Parent, Canadian Family Magazine and blogs at Huffington Post.

How To Make School Lunches Like A Boss

How To Make School Lunches Like a Boss

Cafeteria food hasn’t changed much since you once went to school. It’s much easier to guarantee your kids will eat all their lunch when you pack it, but what should you pack? How do you keep it from being boring? It isn’t nearly as big of an undertaking as you may think it is.

Admittedly, it can be hard to think outside the (lunch)box when it comes to what to prepare. Plus, if your mornings are anything like my mornings, there’s simply no time. And while it making the same lunch daily could make things simpler, I think we can both agree, adult or child, eating the same thing everyday is NOT fun.

Here are five easy-to-implement strategies to get you well on your way to kicking butt at lunch-making for your kids in no time.

1. Prepare the night before. You’re already in the kitchen cooking dinner, why not utilize that kitchen time to start preparing lunch? I cut carrots, celery, cucumbers, or prep other side-dishes while I’m busy cooking dinner, using my time more wisely. This comes in handy especially if I’m re-purposing ingredients for lunches the next day. Say I’m serving pizza for dinner, and then I decide to use pizza toppings and make pizzadillas or pizza grilled cheeses the next day.  I’d rather prepare the night before than rush to make the morning of.

2. Use leftovers creatively. There’s no law that says leftovers aren’t good for lunches. In fact, I think they make the BEST lunches. (Plus, they’re already prepared, what could be easier!? Why not, if you’re serving spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, prepare extra meatballs to serve meatball subs for the next day’s lunch? Or use that leftover spaghetti and serve with a breadstick instead? On taco night, why not use some of the soft taco shells and taco meat, roll-up the meat inside the shell, and bake in the oven to make some baked taquitos for lunch? The sky is the limit here, so long as you consider how well their lunches will keep out of the fridge until lunchtime. As some cafeterias do not allow microwaving, it’s best to send along already-cooked, easy to eat room-temperature meals for the kids.

3. Breakfast for lunch? Okay! This is my favorite trick! And I feel a little sneaky doing it! While you’re busy cooking dinner one night, batch cook a bunch of breakfast-type items for your kids all at once. This way, you’re saving time in the mornings for your family (because they can re-heat breakfasts during those hurry-up mornings) while simultaneously creating a fun and “different” lunch for them, too!  Try pouring whipped eggs, cheese, and some crumbled bacon into muffin pans for easy-to-eat mini quiches, or, while making regularly sized muffins, prepare a batch of fun-sized mini-muffins to add pizazz to any lunch.

4. Make it fun. You don’t have to be a skilled professional chef to make lunches fun for your kids. Some of our favorite ways to make it fun and give them something to look forward to include: wrapping string cheese in lunch meat, quartering it, and making “lunch meat sushi.” Also, cut up a hot dog lengthwise to make legs for an octopus! Or spread peanut butter on celery, topping it with raisins for “ants on a log.”

5. Go with what you know. Got a picky eater (like I do)? It’s okay to have to cater to a picky palate. But there are times you wonder, “Is this getting boring?” To help change-up the normal a little, do it slightly different each time. Does your child live and breathe grilled cheese? Make his favorite sandwich in cut-out shapes instead (like stars, circles, squares) or on different breads to spice things up! Does she love nutella? Make her a nutella uncrustable sandwich, or give her pretzel rods with nutella to dip it in!

I’m currently on a mission to make lunches for my children fun, exciting, and something they can look forward to. I’m calling it Operation Awesome School Lunch. I’d love it if you’d join me. You can follow our journey on our School Lunch Pinterest board, too.

Have any questions? Feel free to ask away!

About the Author:
Lisa Douglas is an Army wife and mother to S-E-V-E-N kids, and author of, a parenting blog that provides an often humorous take on parenting, and all the (hilarious) war-stories that go along with it, with family-friendly recipes, health & fitness, kids crafts, & other family-oriented topics.

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