February 1999

Family times are important times. Time spent with your child builds family memories for the years to come. Kids grow up so fast. Take time to do things with your children. Topics include: Ways to help children avoid and resist violence, YES you can - turning No's into Yes, show and tell good behavior, healthy means for healthy families (with Food pyramid), a time to learn about feelings, and cooking with kids.

Take time to talk with your children. Tell them about what is important to you. Talk about serious issues such as drinking, drugs, and violence. Do not assume that your kids will learn about these issues at school. What you think is more important to your children than that of anyone else.

Teach your child to handle his emotions. Explain that everyone gets angry at times and that’s O.K. It’s your job to teach your child how to handle anger without hurting another person. When you stay calm and understanding in hard times, you show a positive way to behave. You can teach your child how to handle anger by talking with him and showing him how you want him to behave. If you shout at your child or hit him when you are angry, he learns that shouting and hitting are O.K. when he is angry.

Children need love, attention, and supervision. The best gift you can give your child is your time.

Parent Tip —

Take time to laugh and be silly with your child. Laughing can help in hard times.

Ways to Help Children Avoid and Resist Violence

Show your child how you want him to behave.

  • Spend time with your children.
  • Have rules that are fair and clear. If you make a rule, stick to it.
  • Teach your child rules without hitting or shouting.
  • Show respect for your child.
  • Children who see violence in movies, TV shows, and video games may think it is O.K. to hurt others. Look at what your children are watching. Is this what you want them to see?
  • Tell your child when you make a mistake.
  • Help your children find ways to enjoy free time with games, reading, sports, and hobbies. Find out what your child likes to do.
  • Talk with your child about violence they see on television and in other places. Talk about what it would be like in real life. Talk about what is important to you.
  • If you have guns or other weapons, keep them locked up so children can’t get them. Store ammunition away from guns in a separate locked space.
  • Teach your child how to be safe.
  • Talk about ways people are different and the ways we are all alike. Teach your child to respect other people, even if they are different.
  • Make sure your child has other relatives or friends who she can talk to. This can keep a child from feeling alone and reduce stress.

Yes You Can

Do you know how to turn a “NO” into a “YES?” Many children misbehave by doing things in the wrong place or at the wrong time. Help your child find the right place and the right time to do just what she wants to do. Here are some ways to say YES to your child:

Turn a NO into a YES. Finding a way to turn a “NO” into a “Yes” can make everyone feel good. Your child feels like her ideas matter and she learns how you want her to behave. So, go ahead and say YES!

Turn NO into YES

"No jumping on the bed" => "Jump here on these pillows on the floor"

"No using markers on toys" => "Use the markers to write on the paper bag"

"No eating food in the living room" => "Let's have a picnic in the kitchen"

Show & Tell

Try “show and tell” with your child to teach good behavior. Every time you discipline your child, ask yourself what you wish your child would do. Then show and tell what you want.

Show your child how to eat a meal politely by sitting down at the table and talking pleasantly. Show how to use a napkin by using one yourself. Be a good role model.

Tell children exactly what you want them to do. Try saying, “Eat with your fork,” instead of saying “Get your fingers out of your food.”

Children learn best when you both show them and tell them.

Time Saving Tip
Before going to bed at night, set out anything that needs to be taken to work, school, or to child care the next day. Choose and lay out clothes for the next day. Have your child stack her books and homework papers so they are ready to go to school in the morning. Planning ahead saves stress in the morning.

Ready for Good Behavior

Children have more problems behaving when they are tired and hungry. Make your child ready for good behavior by helping him to be well-rested, well-fed, and calm. Following these simple tips can help your child to behave better:

  • Keep a daily routine — Young children need the routine to feel secure
  • Have a regular time for quiet play or a nap
  • Provide good snacks for your child — Fruit, vegetables, cheese, bread, and milk make great snacks for children

If your child is having a hard day or having trouble behaving himself:

  • Stop and read some stories
  • Give your child a warm bath
  • Use soft, gentle music to soothe him
  • Turn down the lights to calm him

Healthy Meals for Healthy Families

The Food Guide Pyramid is a guide to choose what foods we need to eat each day to be healthy. The five major food groups in the bottom of the Pyramid are the most important. We need some foods from each food group every day.

Foods included in the top of the Pyramid are fats, oils, and sweets. Try to eat only small amounts of these foods. They give us calories and fat.

The next level shows dairy foods, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. It also has the group for meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. These foods are needed for protein, calcium, and minerals. You should eat 2 – 3 servings of dairy products and 2 – 3 servings from the meat group every day.

Below this are the groups for vegetables and fruits. We need to eat 3 – 5 servings of vegetables and 2 – 4 servings of fruits each day for vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

The largest group at the base of the Pyramid is for breads, cereal, rice, and pasta – all grains. Each day we need to eat 6 – 11 servings of these foods.

Plan meals and snacks by picking foods from each of the groups on the Pyramid. You may want to make a chart to fill in to make meal planning easier. Fill in the blanks with the foods you plan to serve.

Food Guide Pyramid

$$$ Time and Money Saving Tips $$$

Try making casseroles, soups, and main dishes on weekends or days when you are off work. Place them in small containers to put in your freezer. They will be ready to heat and eat on those busy days when you are too tired to cook. This will save you time and you won’t have to make that last minute stop for fast food on the way home from work. It costs less and your meal will be healthier for your family, too!

A Time to Learn about Feelings

Most children have trouble understanding how others feel. When children misbehave it is the perfect time to teach them about feelings. Talk about feelings in an honest and open way. Don’t be afraid to use words like angry and frustrated. Even two year olds can come to understand the meaning of these words. After all, children have these feelings, too.

Here are some words you can use with your child:

  • “You are feeling frustrated because this puzzle piece does not fit.”
  • “You are angry because I won’t give you candy before dinner.”
    Sometimes just putting the feelings into words helps calm an upset child.

Children need to learn that what they do can make people feel both good and bad. Here are some things you can say to help your child learn about feelings:

  • “Joe is angry. He was working very hard on that building that you knocked down.”
  • “It made me happy when you helped me put away the toys.”
  • “When you say please, I want to help you.”

It is important to teach children that they can make people feel good, as well as bad. Children learn best about feelings when they are talking about real things that matter to them. Teach your child about his feelings and the feelings of other people.

Cooking with Kids

Children like to make things with you in the kitchen. There are many things they can do. Making food is a good way to spend time together and make a meal, too.

Fruit Salad

What you need:

  • bananas, strawberries, blueberries, melon, apples — any fruit in season
  • bowl, plastic knife, cutting board, large spoon

What to do:

  • All cooks should wash hands first.
  • Have your child help you wash the fruit and peel the banana
  • Using a plastic knife and cutting board, your child can help to cut soft fruits into chunks. Have him put the pieces into a bowl.

Children who help make food will want to help eat it!


  • Nancy Sailer, Iowa State University Extension;
  • HealthfulSnacks for Children two to five years of age — H.D. Martin, University of Illinois
  • Cooperative Extension Service; Project ELIPSS — Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 
  • Hints from Heloise

Developed by the Better Kid Care Program
Phone: 1-800-452-9108

Supported by funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Pennsylvania Child Care/Early Childhood Development Training System

Family Time February 1999