Seven Tips for Raising Responsible Children

As a parent, what would you say is your top goal for your children?

A common response is that parents want to help their children grow into responsible adults. This may include smaller goals such as helping them have the skills necessary to be productive members of society and helping them be healthy, happy and able to take care of themselves. To encourage and help direct parents toward achieving this goal, Cornell University Extension, Jefferson County, has created a parent guide that identifies and breaks down seven parenting tips that are worth considering.

         1. Don’t do things for your children that they can do for themselves.

Even young children can help with chores and get themselves dressed in the morning. Resist the urge to take over and solve all your child’s problems. Instead, help children learn to help themselves.

          2.Be clear and consistent about your expectations.

Make sure your children understand the rules of the household. Be consistent with your messages. If the rule is that children must finish homework before watching TV, then stick with it. Give children advance notice if you expect certain behavior. This is helpful when taking them to the grocery store or on a family vacation, for example.

          3. Teach skills and give positive feedback.

Don’t just tell your child what to do — include how to do it. For example, a young child may be told to clean up his or her toys, but showing what you mean usually works best. Older children may benefit from written step-by-step instructions. For example, to clean the bathroom they may need to know: spray down the shower walls and floor with “X” cleaner, leave for 5 minutes and then rinse with warm water and use a squeegee to dry. Give positive and specific feedback for a task or assignment done well. For example: “I love the way you folded your clothes so neatly before putting them in the drawer.”

          4. Create a home that helps children act responsibly.

Work with children to organize their space and belongings. This might mean providing bins and shelves they can reach. Make sure children know where to find cleaning supplies to do their chores and clean up spills. Set up an area for homework that is comfortable, well-lit and that minimizes distractions.

          5. Teach children that mistakes are an opportunity to learn.

Everybody makes mistakes. Try not to over-react. Instead, view mistakes as a time to make new plans and take better actions in the future.

         6. Let children experience the natural consequences of their behavior. When children don’t act responsibly, don’t be a “helicopter” parent who always rushes in to fix the mistake – unless it is dangerous to their personal safety. Instead, let children experience the results of their actions.

          7. Be a positive role model.

Speak positively about your work and chores. Don’t complain about all you have to do. Instead, take pride in the things you do well.

When you make a mistake, admit it, then show how you will correct it.

These tips come from the publication found at: http://ccejefferson.org/parenting under Resources for You, Raising Responsible Children.

          A few final take-aways for parents include:

          *Children do best when they know what to expect.

          *Letting children know when they do well encourages responsible behavior.

          *Remember that you are in charge of your home.

          *Keep in mind that when children “choose” their behavior, they must also choose the consequences.

By: Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor,435-586-8132, Kathleen.riggs@usu.edu

Tips to Keep the Spark in Your Relationship All Year

Though it’s February and relationships are on people’s minds, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to consider ways to strengthen your relationship with your partner. Consider these six tips to help keep the spark going all year.

1. Find and make time to spend one-on-one with your partner. Put distractions (i.e. cell phones) aside, and enjoy the time conversing with each other. Go on your favorite dates, and mix in activities that can help you explore new interests.

2. Share acts of love and kindness. Leave notes under the pillow or in a lunch box. Drop by each other’s work with a treat. Come home with a fun surprise, or take your partner on a quick, unplanned outing for a drink or ice cream.

3. Think before you speak. When it comes to arguments and differences of opinions, take a step back and reflect on how important the point of argument is. Is it really worth putting your foot down? Is there room for compromise?

4. When discussing matters, be a good listener. Don’t interrupt — wait for your turn to speak. When speaking, repeat what you heard to summarize what you think you heard. Then use “I” statements by saying “I feel [what feeling?] when [this happens] because [why you feel that way]. Even better is when you can follow up with a request. For example, “I feel frustrated when you leave for the gym before you help clean the kitchen, because I am left to do all the work on my own and it takes the rest of my evening. Next time can you please help me quickly after we are done eating?”

5. Make each other smile. Laughter is the best medicine. Capitalize on inside jokes to make special moments of connection. Replay the inside jokes occasionally during conversations, or in texts or emails. This can help keep you both smiling.

6. Keep traditions alive, and consider creating new ones. Remember anniversaries and special events with a date, gift or note. Consider re-creating your favorite activities each year.

If you are looking for more ways to strengthen your relationship, visit relationships.usu.edu.

By: Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County, Melanie.jewkes@usu.edu

How to Juggle Parenting and Working from Home – Seven Tips

As we continue to find ourselves in new territory with COVID-19, we face major changes to our routines – including parents having children at home while they work. While many parents have worked from home when their child was sick or out of school, the current situation may require us to accept this arrangement for weeks (or months) to come. If you are still trying to figure out how to make this work in your home, consider the following tips to help you get your work done and also meet your children’s needs.

1. It can be difficult for younger children to see you as anything but their parent. They may not understand that even though you are at home, you aren’t going to be available to them all the time. Talk to them about your job and explain why it is important.

2. Create a home office or designated workspace so children understand that when they see you there, it means you are working.

3. Give children some uninterrupted time at various points throughout the day. Set up a daily schedule that includes breaks for snacks, brief physical activity and lunch. Go over the schedule for the day during breakfast and make sure children who can read can see the schedule. For younger children, set a timer so they know exactly when their next break and time with you will be.

4. Give younger children a “job.” Give them tasks to complete while you work and tell them that you are both “going to work.” Set up a desk for them and give them work supplies such as markers or crayons, paper and a glue stick. Try giving them assignments, such as drawing pictures or writing stories for you and make sure to have activity books and reading books available. Take time during breaks to let them share what they have created or read.

5. Allow older children to have designated time for screen-based activities, but make sure their schedule also includes activities such as playing outside, doing chores or tasks around the house, reading a book or spending time on hobbies. If they don’t have hobbies, this is a great time to help them explore some. Hobby and activity ideas can be found through Discover 4-H at https://utah4h.org/discover/. Take time during your scheduled breaks to ask about what they have been doing. This shows you are interested and ensures they are following the set schedule.

6. When you need to have a meeting without interruptions, put a sign on your office door or desk that says, “In a meeting.” Explain that the sign means not to disturb you unless there is an emergency. The visual cue will help remind them that you are at work.

7. Finally, if your work allows it and your productivity won’t be negatively affected, shift your work hours to earlier in the morning or later in the evening when kids are in bed or when another adult can help with childcare. If this isn’t possible, consider scheduling work tasks that require quiet and focused concentration when you know your kids will be involved in an engaging activity, like during screen time.

Remember that being an engaged parent and a productive employee while working at home is not an easy feat. Try not to get frustrated or discouraged if it takes a while to figure out what works best for your family. Once everyone gets used to the new normal, it should make the juggling act a little easier for all of you.

Parenting Tips to Help Keep the Holidays Happy

parenting tips holidays ask an expert

Keep your holidays happy with these six tips from USU Extension family life specialist David Schramm.


The holidays can be a magical time of year with great food, movies, traditions and decorations. But they are also a busy time that can cause stress. And when the kids are out of school, they can become tired, argumentative and overexcited, which in turn can cause frustration for parents. It’s important for parents to keep things in perspective so the holidays stay happy.


Consider these tips for dealing with holiday stress:


  • Set realistic expectations. Not everything will go as planned around the holidays. The food may not turn out as planned and things can get spilled or broken. Be positive, flexible and open to changes and messes. Try not to overschedule activities to the point that it becomes more stressful than enjoyable.


  • Pay attention to bids for connection. Children thrive when their parents give them attention, affection and connection – especially during the excitement of the holidays. Plan to give them your dedicated time at least once per day, offering full attention for whatever they want to do (board games, playing in the snow, reading books, etc.).


  • Hold up the emotional mirror. Many parents will see a range of emotions from children around the holidays. Mirror their excitement, show understanding when they are sad, and express empathy when they are upset.


  • Grant in fantasy what you can’t grant in reality. Instead of squashing your children’s holiday dreams or their gift list, let them know you hear them and understand. Phrases such as, “Wow, that would be fun!” or “I wish we could do that too!” can give them the next best thing to what they want, and that is knowing you understand what they want.


  • Don’t use unrealistic threats such as “Christmas will be cancelled if…” or “Santa won’t bring you toys if…” Strive to be positive, but still follow through with rules and unacceptable behavior.


  • Take care of yourself or your happy holiday may turn into a Noel nightmare. When parents are stressed out, it often spills over and children feel it. Take time for yourself. Exercise, get adequate sleep, take some deep breaths and try to see the bigger picture. Make positive memories and enjoy the moments, because they don’t last long.


This article was written by David Schramm, Utah State University Extension family life specialist. See more from Dr. Dave on Facebook.

7 Tips for a Mindful Marriage

Mindful Marriage GraphicMindfulness can help you more fully enjoy what matters most– including your spouse! Try these seven tips to be more mindful in your marriage.

We live in a fast-paced world, and if we aren’t careful, life can slip by without us fully enjoying the people and things we love most. Being mindful, or maintaining an awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surroundings, can help you be more mentally, emotionally and physically present, and more fully enjoy those things and people that matter most. Consider these seven tips for increasing mindfulness in your relationship with your significant other.

1. Practice personal mindfulness.

Practicing personal mindfulness can help create a stronger relationship with your sweetheart. Quieting the excess chatter in your mind will help to steady your emotions and lower your physical and mental stress levels, potentially making you less reactive to your partner’s actions or words. It can also help you to focus on the small, everyday moments with your loved one, such as being fully present when you hug or kiss.

2. Prioritize time with your spouse.

In order for us to connect and be mindful of our partner, we need to have time together. Make your spouse a priority and give him or her your undivided attention, even if it is for 10 minutes every day to check in with them about their day. No TV. No phones. No books. Just each other.

3. Continually learn about each other.

Take time to ask open-ended questions so you can know about what is really going on in their world. The more mindful you are of each other’s hopes, dreams and challenges, the more of a support you can be to each other.

4. Show affection.

Let your partner know that you are mindful of them by showing your love daily through affection. Hold hands, give a lingering full-body hug or a five-second kiss.

5. Play together.

Have fun together and try new things. Show that you are mindful of your partner by trying things that he/she enjoys doing.

6. Express appreciation and compliments.

Show your partner that you are aware of him or her by sharing genuine compliments and words of appreciation daily.

7. Service.

Show your partner that you are mindful of him or her by helping ease their load through small acts of service. Even little things like getting up with the kids, making dinner, or doing a chore you normally don’t do can make a huge difference.

Naomi Brower NewNaomi Brower is an Extension Associate Professor in Weber County specializing in helping others improve the quality of their lives through creating and strengthening their relationships. She earned her master’s degree in Family and Human Development from Utah State University and she is a Certified Family Life Educator. She enjoys hiking, traveling (especially anywhere green) and playing with her husband and adorable little boy.  Contact Naomi at naomi.brower@usu.edu or check out videos and other content at relationships.usu.edu.


Doherty, W. J. (2013). Take back your marriage. New York: NY: The Guildford Press:

Gottman, J. M. & Silver, N. (2007). The seven principles for making marriage work. London, England: Orion Books, Ltd.

Parker, T. (2016, August 24). How to mindfully meditate in marriage. [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/mindfully-meditate-marriage/


Managing Unmet Expectations in Relationships

Expectations Graphic.jpg

 Are unmet expectations causing conflict in your relationship? Read on for four tips to manage this problem and strengthen your relationship.

Expectations are beliefs about the way things will or should be. They come from the family we grew up in, the relationships we have had, and the culture that surrounds us (i.e., family traditions, religious or ethnic backgrounds, media, etc.). While we all have expectations, unmet expectations can lead to conflict, frustration, and relationship dissatisfaction. On the other hand, learning to manage expectations is one of the keys to healthy relationships. Consider these four tips to managing unmet expectations.

1. Identify your expectations as well as those of your loved one.

Unspoken expectations and expectations that you may not even be conscious of are often at the root of conflict. Take a step back to examine what expectations might exist that you may not have considered before. Consider the common topics of conflict.

2. Be reasonable.

Step back and look at your expectations from another perspective. Is it reasonable for the current situation? Just because you would prefer it or it may have “always been done that way” doesn’t mean that it is the best and most realistic solution for current circumstances.

3. Be clear.

Express your preferences using “I” messages and take time to listen to other’s desires. We may not always agree with their expectations, but validating each other’s perspective can set a positive tone for finding a realistic compromise that is acceptable for everyone.

4. Seek for a win-win solution.

Remember, if the solution is not win-win everyone loses. If a win-win solution does not seem possible, then find a way to equally compromise or take turns compromising. Be sure to get back together after an agreed upon time to evaluate, discuss and make adjustments, if needed.


While unmet expectations create frustration and conflict, following these four tips will provide opportunities to grow closer and build happier and healthier relationships.


Learn more great tips to strengthen your relationships at www.relationships.usu.edu.


Naomi Brower NewThis article was written by Naomi Brower. Naomi is an Extension Associate Professor in Weber County specializing in helping others improve the quality of their lives through creating and strengthening their relationships. She earned her master’s degree in Family and Human Development from Utah State University and she is a Certified Family Life Educator. She enjoys hiking, traveling (especially anywhere green) and playing with her husband and adorable little boy.  Contact Naomi at naomi.brower@usu.edu or check out videos and other content at relationships.usu.edu.

Find more contributor bios here.


Markman, H.J. Stanley, S.M., Blumberg, S.L. (2010). Fighting for your marriage. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

Markman, H.J., Stanley, S.M., Blumberg, S.L., Jenkins, N.H., Whiteley, C.W. (2004). 12 hours to a great marriage. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.


How to Keep Your Relationship Strong

Keep Your Relationship Strong

Keep your relationship strong by removing these three blocks, and replacing them with things that will build your relationship.



Get Ready, Get Set, Play!

get ready get set play

Take time to play together as a family this summer. Try these tips to make sure everyone has fun.

You’ve probably heard that a family that plays together stays together. It’s true! Here’s a glimpse of what research tells us about why playing together is not only fun, but good for our relationships:

  •      Play teaches us about ourselves and each other.
  •      Play can be therapeutic.
  •      Shared laughter creates a bond.
  •      Humor breaks down walls.
  •      Play can build trust.


Since there are so many things you can do this summer, consider a few basic tips when planning to make sure everyone has fun.

Use a calendar. Be sure to schedule the fun in advance or the summer might just unintentionally slip by.

Get everyone involved. Have every family member suggest ideas for activities and take turns choosing what to do. Be open minded and try new things.

Keep it light. Too much competition can create hurt feelings. Try playing a new game that no one has skills for. Play just for fun and don’t keep score.

Get active. Be sure to include outside activities that get you moving so you can enjoy the great outdoors together.

Focus on each other. Set boundaries for electronic use so you can focus on connecting with each other.

Keep it simple. Having fun together doesn’t need to take a lot of planning or money. For a list of fun ideas, click here .

This Article was written by Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor

4 Reasons Date Nights Matter

Date Nights MatterNeed an excuse for a date night? We’ve got four— that is, four ways date nights can strengthen your relationship.

Make Date Night a Priority

Summertime is a great time to build memories as a family, but don’t forget to also take time for a one-on-one date with your sweetheart too! While it can be a challenge to make arrangements or take the time to get away together, research has shown that having date nights can strengthen your relationship in the following ways:

  1. Increasing communication. Time to talk can provide opportunities to reconnect and discover your partner’s newest interests and dreams.
  2. Having fun together. Date nights provide an opportunity to get out of the routine, build happy memories and rekindle the spark that can help sustain couples through the tough times.
  3. Strengthening commitment. Setting aside time to go on a date demonstrates your commitment to each other and sets an important example to children and others that you value your relationship.
  4. Providing stress relief. Date nights allow couples to enjoy time together apart from the pressing concerns of ordinary life.


Make Date Night a Success

In order to make the most of your time together, consider the following tips:

  • Make an effort to plan your date, and if needed, budget so you can put money toward nice evenings out. For date ideas, check out 10 Tips for Romance on a Budget.
  • Make an effort to look your best by wearing something special for your date (cologne, jewelry, special clothes, etc.).
  • Get ready to music that pumps you up!  When you’re listening to music you enjoy, you’ll begin to feel good and radiate positive energy.
  • Give compliments. Compliment yourself and your spouse to build self-esteem.
  • Make the car ride special. Use the time driving to get to know your partner better and discover their current hopes, dreams and interests.

Join us for a Date Night

Looking for a fun date night? Come to the Take a Hike! Reaching New Heights in Your Marriage Date Night on June 23, where you will explore the great outdoors as you hike together in the beautiful mountains near Salt Lake City. Reach new heights as you participate in additional relationship enhancement activities along the way to the top. Click here for more information.

This Article was written by Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor

For more information, see “The Date Night Opportunity” by Brad Wilcox and Jeff Dew found at http://nationalmarriageproject.org/resources/the-date-night-opportunity/


Three Tips to Win Your Relationship

win your relationshipWin your relationship by finding small ways to connect with the person you love. Learn how in this video from Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor.