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A Daily Parenting Advice Podcast. Non-Pretentious. In less than 3min a day!

September 18, 2019

S5-Ep265 - Draw them a Picture

 We ask kids to draw us pictures – and it gives us a peek into their minds. One interesting picture I remember from about a year ago – was when my oldest decided to draw a picture of a house. But not the outside – what’s on the inside – a floorplan style picture. There was a water heater and there was a kitchen in part of it, and the view of the water heater was top down. It was amazing because it had a circle of the top of the water heater and lines down to the bottom of the water heater.

Now this may just be interesting because he was at a cusp of brain development and getting over one hurdle and into the next, but the perspective was just fascinating.

 But there is a lot in there we don’t understand about how our kids see the world and what they do or don’t understand. So when I asked my kid not to put too many raisins in his oats – every day – I should have got the hint that this wasn’t sinking in and I was the one who needed to do something about it.

   This all came to a head with that big meltdown I’ve been mentioning. And after the kids were in bed the wife and I had a big parenting talk between us. I just kept trying to reevaluate my own stance and asked what can I do better. The answer was explaining more. I need to do a better job of setting the expectations before this kid runs us out of raisins every week. And what I came up with was a picture. Some construction paper, a sharpie and a quick circle. Luckily the guy likes to read so he was into reading the text of what goes in what parts.

½ - blueberries or mixed berries. ¼ raisins, and ¼ granola. And all it took was once. The next morning, he told me – how to make them.

As you go through your day, try to understand what your kid doesn’t, and if drawing a picture, or maybe outlining your bedtime routine, or visualizing some other solution – well, give it a shot.


September 17, 2019

S5-Ep264 - Be the Parent you want your child to be as an adult

 Yesterday we talked about how kids see the world differently. My oldest was really upset at a few things that had happened earlier in the day, and he thought it was unfair. Yes, kid, life is unfair. I think that started to sink in to me when I was in high school – so for my kids – we have a long way to go before things stick. Still, I’m not giving up. Good habits, like working with our kids; trying to understand them, pay dividends at all times, but may not solve the specific issue you are working on at the moment. Keep trying.

 So if kids really see the world different then aren’t they technically hypocrites?

   The article (check our show notes) puts it like this; “Kids might be hypocrites because they don’t have coping mechanisms to handle their own self-interest, not because of any failure to understand basic notions of fairness or good play. For parents, that means that it’s critical to show children what it means to act of moral impulses even when doing so is inconvenient or counter to one’s desires. These are moments of potential learning.

  • So in my words: Kids don’t lack knowledge – they lack coping mechanisms. And the solution – well I’m saving it for a quote at the end. Let’s take another example of a problem, and then we’ll get there:

The article goes on to say:

   “If dad speaks highly of women and feminism, but doesn’t take on any of the emotional labor of running the household, something very different than equality is being taught to children,” says Lioi, adding that parents ultimately have no choice but to lead by example if they don’t want to raise a hypocrites.

                And that’s pretty powerful to me. Mark Winkler – an author who runs a program for fathers in LA, wraps it all up nicely. He says, “Be the parent you want your child to be as an adult”.


September 16, 2019

S5-Ep263 - You’re seeing different worlds

 Today’s tidbit comes from an article By Lauren Vinopal. I’ll link it in the show notes, which you can find on youtube- in the description or on our website. Www.theparentingfastcast.com.

She starts out her article with a great first sentence. “Children don’t have to understand what the word hypocrisy means to know a double standard when they see one.” And man is that true. My five year old had a melt down – on top of a meltdown the other night, and while the airing of the grievances happened, the main ones that I thought were tops were all equality things between him and his brother.

Sibling rivalry is real people.

But even though these, somewhat laughable, and always explainable travesties were easily explainable to adults , they are the world of the child.

 So how can we bridge these gaps? How to connect the dots between my adult mind which says; yea – life isn’t fair and there were reasons I had to take away toys and my son’s mind which says, “this is totally unfair!”

  There’s a reason that phrase is so popular with the kids. They feel it!

Lioi (a researcher in this article) suspects children pick up unfairness as toddlers —as young as 2-years-old — and come to understand hypocrisy better as they age and gain a grasp on language and empathy. However, additional research suggests that children don’t actually care that much about hypocrisy until they are roughly eight — at which point some kids start caring a lot. For this reason, six-year-olds often engage in unfair behavior themselves. There is a disconnect between understanding and action when self-interest is in play. They hold dad to account, but not themselves. 

And that’s about as far as I can get you all today. The awareness that you have isn’t in the genes of your offspring. It’s learned. Nature and Nurture. And we’ll get into a few more specifics on equality and we’ll turn the spotlight back on us tomorrow. Until then, just watch. Watch your kid and see if you can spot a few examples, preferably when they’re angry or frustrated, where their view of the situation is completely different than yours. We’ll try to use it, tomorrow.


September 15, 2019

S5-Ep262 - The goals of misbehavior (Part 5)

 This is the last episode on the goals of misbehavior. Maybe there are more, maybe not, I don’t have a direct line to the author, but what I do have is one last item which is critical if it’s something your kid exhibits. To begin with, a lot of parents feel despair, But this hopelessness should be deeper or more often. If you end up agreeing with your child that nothing more can be done then you may be there.

But also, you child would passively respond, or fail to respond to whatever is done.

I hope this is rare. Most of the children I know still have that zest for life and love tackling whatever comes at them that day. I was able to think of an example that I’ve heard of others going through though and that’s a child who tries sports, but quits the second that they don’t succeed to the level they expect themselves to. 

  What would you do in this type of situation? Especially if it’s been going on most of their lives, and you’re worn down and having a bad day? Yea – sometimes the answers seem easy behind a computer screen but  they’re hard in that situation.

   These children may be suffering from a display of inadequacy. Even if only in certain situations. This faulty belief is that they belong only by convincing others not to expect anything from me. I am unable. I am helpless.

That can be frustrating, in the case of the sports tryouts, or very serious if it’s most of the time. But in these cases Gary D. McKay says what I think would be obvious and that’s to have some compassion. Stop all criticism (which may be where you go if you have a child that’s lost). Encourage any positive attempt, no matter how small. Above all don’t be hooked into pity and don’t give up.

September 14, 2019

S5-Ep261 - The goals of misbehavior (Part 4)

  Thanks for tuning into part 4 of this series on what we can do to solve our kids misguided beliefs. These misguided beliefs are, according to this research, the reason your child acts out.

A quick reminder on the two things we need to understand to see if this applies to you: First you have to understand your feelings toward the situation. Then you have to see how the kids respond. And you need both for the solution to apply.

So if you’re feeling deeply hurt by your kids actions, maybe even to the point where you feel a tendency to retaliate, then you’ve met the first criteria. The second criteria is your child’s reaction when you’ve tried to correct this previously. If they are seeking further revenge or choosing another weapon to hurt you then you’ve met part two.

I really think this one is meant more for teenagers or tweens who have learned how to hurt and are weaponizing it. Smaller children in my view, just aren’t this Machiavellian. But we’ll go through it in case you have an older child or know someone who may be helped by it – we’d really appreciate you passing it on to them if you could.

 So what is this child’s faulty belief? What’s can we do to help?

   The faulty belief is this: “I belong only by hurting others as I feel hurt. I cannot be loved.”

And that’s why I think it’s tween-ish. Small children generally feel loved.

What you can do in this situation is to ‘avoid feeling hurt’.  Avoid punishment and retaliation. Then work on building trusting relationships and convincing them that they are loved.

This “avoid feeling hurt” advice is crap. Our emotions are our own. I say feel them. But what I say next is to sit on them for a minute. You’ll calm down. You’ll realize that you want to help this child get through whatever, and you’ll probably work on the best solution you can think of. Tell them that you love them no matter what, and walk on out the door.

September 13, 2019

S5-Ep260 - The goals of misbehavior (Part 3)

   Thanks for tuning back into this series on what we can do to solve our kids misguided beliefs. These misguided beliefs are, according to this research, the reason your child acts out.

A quick reminder on the two things we need to understand to see if this applies to you: First you have to understand your feelings toward the situation. Then you have to see how the kids respond.

So if you’re feeling angry or provoked, or if you can think of a moment/time when you felt angry or provoked, then you’ve met the first criteria. The second criteria is your child’s reaction when you’ve tried to correct this previously. If they are active or passive aggressive about it and it intensifies; or they submit with “defiant compliance” then you’ve met part two.

The only real example I can think of is a rare time when my youngest wants to wrestle, or hit and we as adults don’t want it. And if he keep ratcheting it up, or won’t stop, or finally does stop but goes and hits his stuffed animals instead, then he’s looking for power. Obviously some people get power drunk, and you’ve probably seen them on TV, and it can become a real problem.

 So what is this child’s faulty belief? What’s can we do to help?

  The faulty belief is this: “I belong only when I am in control or am boss, or when I am proving no one can boss me.”.

                Certainly children are normal to test out their power and their ability to be boss. “King of the hill” is a normal game for kids to try. But I never felt like I being king of the hill was worth it. To beat all your friends down just so you can stand at the top – never felt like winning to me.

                And most likely I’m just not wired this way, but maybe my parents were perfect – who knows. But what perfect parents do – and just try – no need to be perfect – They withdraw from the conflict. And they help children to see how to use power constructively by appealing for a child’s help. Fighting only gives into the child’s desire for power.

                So in my house we use the words, “I don’t want to be treated that way” and we leave. This is the logic side of love and logic – and we’re setting an example. If you can redirect – that classic parenting strategy – even better, you’re re-engaging and teaching a great lesson on handling those emotions.

September 12, 2019

S5-Ep259 - The goals of misbehavior (Part 2)

 Yesterday we were getting into the case of the ‘repeater’. The kid who repeats your name 7 times in 15 seconds (or less) and we left it hanging. This section, from “the parents handbook by Gary D. McKay” says that there is a faulty belief that is starting to be ingrained into your child’s mind. And you and I focus on the word faulty, but kids just think what they think. And the repeater’s ‘faulty belief’ is that “they belong only when I am being noticed.”

 And you and I know that’s not true.

   I love it when my kids are playing together or playing quietly, or doing something smart or eating something healthy. But kids just live in the moment, so in those moments we have to adult. We have to parent. And what we need to be doing for kids who crave the attention, is to ignore the misbehavior when possible. Give attention for positive behavior when the child is not making a bid for it. Avoid undue service. Realize that reminding, punishing, rewarding, coaxing, and service are undue attention.

                And luckily my wife and I are on the same page here with this. And I want to be clear – for those of you with the dream that if you and your partner were not constantly differing in opinion, that this would be easy – sorry. It’s still not. But it’s a good starting point, because these take time, they are a constant way to deal with the situation, so don’t see them as an end to all problems, but a beginning to being able to deal with it – just a little better.

                Anyway, I want to re-iterate that the author says you have to approach this in a certain way. First you have to understand your feelings toward the situation. Then you have to see how the kids respond. And if they don’t do these two things, as I’ve mentioned in this example, then you don’t get to this faulty belief (in this case that I belong only when I’m noticed—the goal of attention) without having BOTH. In this case it an annoyed parent and a kid who resumes the behavior. If your kid goes to their room and cries – then their goal isn’t attention.

                But as I said yesterday, we’re all different and all the same, and I bet you will have at least one of the problems we talk about over the next few days. We’ll catch you tomorrow.

September 11, 2019

S5-Ep258 - The goals of misbehavior (Part 1)

 A lot of the times it feels like every situation is unique. Every child tantrum is about a different thing. Each child is different than the last. …. But we’re all the same. All parents are the same – we have a feeling about our children’s actions – be it annoyance, anger, hurt, despair. And the child reacts to our attempts to correct the situation. They react with agreement, ignoring, revenge. And this matrix of actions and reactions is generally small enough that psychologists have figured it out. They’ve got the secret code book. And you don’t.

 So how do you go about getting a copy?

   Well, keep listening because that’s our job. Our job is to teach. And yes, if I had a staff of people, and time to get this onto the website with a ton of graphics for you; I would. But when you start a business (or become a parent) you realize how little time there is to do anything, so enjoy all the free web content out there that took people weeks to create because now I know how hard it is. And speaking of hard – it’s hard to do what I do without listeners – If you think someone could be helped with this – we’d love to have them listen. Please share with one other person – I would appreciate it!

Ok, back to becoming a sensei on learning the ‘why’ of our childrens misbehavior.

Note, this comes from the “systematic Training for effective parenting – circa 1989 by psychologists Don Dinkmeyer Sr., Gary D. McKay and Don Dinkmeyer Jr.

So when you’re feeling annoyed – what do we do? We remind them. And we coax them. For example, I get annoyed when my kid repeats my name 7 times. Now in all honesty, he really repeats my wife’s name 7 times in 15 seconds because she doesn’t always respond, but I will often “remind” him (sometimes not as nice as I could) to stop repeating himself.  And he sometimes does stop. For a literal minute, and then next time he’s back trying to get our attention. And Attention is the goal of the misbehavior. That’s what this book calls out for us. You see, these are all things we could deduce or reason out, but who the hell has time to do that?! Not me, so I need some help sometimes. And that’s what we hope to bring you tomorrow – the rest of this story and the child’s faulty belief – and what we can do about it. Check back, tomorrow.

September 10, 2019

S5-Ep257 - What Should I Eat?

 Kids eating healthy food is something that no one can disagree with. We love our kids, we want the best for them, and healthy food is something that every parent wants for their child. Of course the definition of healthy food, and the balance between real life, other priorities, and the overwhelming nature of it all generally pins us all down at times and cause hot dogs to be eaten. And if life was as easy as wanting it – and it appears – there would be no need for anyone to listen to me. Luckily life is hard, and we all need some help.

 Today’s help is attempting a viewpoint change. A change on how you view mealtimes.

   Again – our pseudo motto – listen – try – evaluate for yourself and if you don’t agree, cool with me.

Here’s my perspective: When most people get hungry they ask themselves, “What should I eat”.  At least that’s what you probably tell yourself because it opens the door to choices – healthy or bad for you – a lot or a little – hot or cold.  But I don’t think that is what’s going on in your mind. I think that the common mind says, “What sounds good to my tastebuds/what am I craving?”. And the answer is almost always going to be something bad for you. Bad food overwhelms our tastebuds, and sugar has been proven to cause you to crave it more. So next time the hangry starts up – ask, “what on this menu is healthy – and which of those sounds appetizing”. That’s really what you want your kids to do to, so pay attention to this dichotomy. If you ask your kids to eat their vegetables, but leave them on your plate at restaurants; well, you have your answer. And if we experience the same thing as our kids, at least on occasion, we start to see life through their eyes, and not our powerful ones. Because when you’re a kid getting parents ‘guidance’ all the time, you start to feel like you’re getting bossed all the time, and most parents don’t even know they’re doing all the bossing and none of the experiencing. So be a boss of a parent and next time dinner out rolls around, give your child options for dinner that are both healthy and sounds good to eat –be sure to tell them that – tell them why you’re picking those options – they’re healthy and sound good to eat – that’s what adults do.

September 9, 2019

S5-Ep256 - Cheer the Good Stuff

 We were having dinner the other day, and I noticed that my wife and I had been talking, without interruption, for probably 3 minutes. And dinners lately have been a barrage of kids trying to get their words in over the other. So when my 5 year old waited to jump in the conversation, well it could’ve been that he was busy thinking of his own things (this may even be the most probable), but it could have been actually sitting back for a minute – or three. The point is that we, as adults need to recognize these good things. And thank them. Positive praise, in this case for the tough work of not interrupting, saying, “I know waiting to tell us about your day was hard, thanks for waiting.”

  But there are other good ways to boost your kids self-confidence besides being direct. Here are a few more sneaky ways to get it done.

   And the idea behind this one is that what we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child “catch you”. For example, if you see a grandparent in person often (or even if you see them on facetime), tell the grandparent about something you were proud of your son or daughter doing. Tell them directly, like your child wasn’t there, so that they hear about themselves in the third person, and they “catch you” cheering on the good things they do.

September 8, 2019

S5-Ep255 - Try, Test, Repeat – Makes it Easier?

  A lot of famous people have issued their directions for success. Sheryl Sandberg has said it her way in “lean In” when she says “Sit at the table”. This is the try part – she says take the opportunity, even if you don’t feel qualified. And you may not feel qualified as a parent because there are many situations you simply cannot prepare for.

Side story – As a guiding light for those ‘I never pictured having to do this’ parenting times, those are the moments why we should all spend time becoming self-aware about our guiding principles, because without them, we’re just blowing in the wind. With guiding principles we can at least have our sail up for the windstorm.

Anyway, other youtubers, business magnates, and travelling vagabonds say the same thing. It’s not a ladder to success – it’s a jungle gym. There are a lot paths to success.

 My question to you is will you ‘try, test, and repeat’? Preferably on a daily basis.

   These little course corrections or stepping stones can lead to some pretty great heights. And control over our situations should then relax us, right? According to one high capacity businessman with his own book, he said, “When I did it better, the struggle never became easier ... If you get better at anything in life, generally through trying, failing, learning, developing a plan to do it better, and executing that plan, you will naturally take on bigger challenges.”

                So this podcast is here for you, to keep coming up with ideas, and we need you, no the world needs you to keep on trying. And trying is hard, so pick tiny little things each day and work on those. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

September 7, 2019

S5-Ep254 - Times to Say Nothing

 The preschool that my youngest goes to, and where our oldest goes after kindergarten lets out at 2:30 tries to be secure. So they have a door with a key code and the way to open the door from the inside is a button on the wall – not by pushing on the door arm. And in a lot of parenting decisions, there is no good answer. This decision – who gets to push the button? Duh, duh, duh. A Big deal to 3 and 5 year olds. So, when I made the split decision to let the little man hit it, I was going to make someone unhappy. And as the big one started to go for the button anyway, I yanked him back. This all happened in a split second, so I know I didn’t give my 5y/o enough of a chance for it to sink in. When I did, he spun around and hit me in the leg. That bastard!

 For me, the blood starts to boil if someone hits me, so I could feel that coming on, but my mind was still in tact and I thought, What should I do?

   We were in a very public place, around other parents and I didn’t want to lose it on him. So I said, “We will come up with your punishment when we get home”.

And in those moments when you aren’t sure what to do, or right then isn’t the place for a time out (I mean we were heading to the car to sit down anyway), or when your blood is boiling, --- say nothing. At least until you can figure out how to say something.

And it helped me in this case in a few ways. One, hitting deserves discipline, so that was coming no matter what, and again – right then wasn’t the place if I didn’t want to walk back into school and set him somewhere quite. And two, I was able to think back on my own actions and learn from it. In this case, a lot of parents, including myself only focus on the hitting and in this case I was ignoring that I was partially to blame because I didn’t give him enough time to back himself away from pushing the button. It was a ‘bang bang’ play as they say in baseball. So that helped me.

And second, remember that discipline is not punishment. Enforcing limits is really about teaching kids how to behave in the world and helping them to become competent, caring, and in control. And my overreaction to hitting probably would have fallen under punishment. That’s not the goal. I think I still enforced the limits – which is not hitting when we’re mad – by the time out he got a half hour later.

September 6, 2019

S5-Ep253 - More on this Negative Language

 Yesterday we talked about the idea that children in welfare situations here more negative and ‘no’ words than their middle class counterparts. And it has an effect. It’s the baseline of our awareness. You define yourself as you grow by knowing, “I am told I can do many things” Or “I am told I can’t do anything”. It’s fairly clear cut.

And yesterday’s episode was terribly important. It may be one of the biggest changes and revelations I’ve had in my parenting life. That’s worth paying attention to. And the answer was to default to yes. Yes, you may __do what you want___, as soon as __ you do what needs to be done___. And if there is nothing in that second part of the sentence, the one where you as a parent can insert a task – whether that’s to finish your plate, or pickup toys, if there’s nothing there – say yes. Because I found myself saying no, just because.

 Need more convincing? There are a few more phsyc things that happen.

   Now I by no means want my children to grow up never hearing the word no. I still use it everyday. But cutting down makes it’s use way more effective. And that makes parenting easier.

First, there's the way your child might interpret the word "no." Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D., … says, … “If you fail to offer any empathetic reasoning or realistic expectations as to why you can't assuage your child immediately, they'll eventually internalize that "no" to mean there's no point in talking to you at all. Understanding the "why" behind the "no" is a vital part of your chid's development.”

                To me this, is why parents who try, succeed. Trying is often thought of as trying to run a marathon, but in this case, trying is simply explaining the things you think are implied, to a child who doesn’t understand all that yet.

Last, Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Prof. Mark Robert Waldman, talk about the consequence of hearing "no," equating the release of stress hormones with the negative reaction to the word. The result can be an anxious, irritable child who eventually becomes incommunicable.

To me this isn’t every child. Some are going to handle life better than others, but if you have one of these kids who can go off the deep end, saying something like “Yes, You may kick and scream, but please do it in the other room because it hurts my ears,” is a great way to help them become aware of what’s acceptable in our presence, and with my philosophy on self-awareness – the rest will start to take care of itself.

September 5, 2019

S5-Ep252 - Default to Yes

 Around my house there are two constants. Food and toys. And this has to be common in 99% of homes with kids 3-7 across the country, so feel comforted knowing that we are all working on fighting the same battles. And there are 385,000,000 google results on “how to get my child to pick up toys”. So here’s my two cents on the classic battle. Say Yes.

You heard me right. When you child says, “Can I get another toy out”. Say Yes. If they don’t ask, and are standing I front of you with a new one, say, “Yes, you can get that out.” But don’t stop there. There’s a second sentence that you should say as well. I’ll get to it in a minute.

 First, Studies have shown that welfare children hear 80,000 encouraging words, and 500,000 negative words. The average middle class child hears the opposite. Sometimes, all it takes is being nice.

   But being endless, bubbly, over optimistic people isn’t what we’re saying here. Where I’m going with this is two directions. 1) Saying yes to get what we (as parents) want and 2) letting go of some things

And I take the second part first.

When I was told, in a parenting class of all places, to ‘default to yes’, I was told that there probably weren’t any good reasons to be saying no. Saying yes hurts very little, and saying no needs to mean a lot. Saying yes is about letting go of my control freak issues. Saying no was me not being an authoritative parent. Saying no when your child is about to step out into the road – that needs to register with them. It’s not really a big deal if your kid wants to go over to that snowbank. It’s not a big deal if your kid wants to bring his stuffed animal in the car. I know you’d rather not have them get their shoes wet, or take 3 minutes to go upstairs to get their stuffys, but you risk being a commanding authoritative parent and losing the war, by winning these inconsequential battles. So that first part was saying yes because, whatever it is, is not a big of a deal.

The scond part: that Saying yes to get what we (as parents) want: Here’s the deal with that

So back to our examples of toys and meals.

This main area where I’ve learned to say yes is at mealtime. Great example coming up here. Just tonight, I deviously set the jar of applesauce on the dinner table with the kids premade dinner plates. And sure enough, three bites in, my little man, who loves fruit, said, “can I have applesauce?” And he hadn’t eaten his dinner. Our dinner rules are that you need to finish what’s on your plate first. So I said Yes. Yup. Yes, you can absolutely have applesauce … as soon as you finish the vegetables on your plate. And he did, and it was a parenting win with zero tears, and veggies in the belly. It’s that second part. Yes you may __whatever__, as soon as you ___ do something I want you to do___.

 And from there, we just keep adding to the encouraging words, and limiting the nos and my wife and I are getting what we want too.

September 4, 2019

S5-Ep251 - Create a Masterpiece

 One of the greatest single mantras on education is by Seth Godin who says the best way to teach children, is to have them solve interesting problems. It’s that simple and that hard, and there are many nuances to it, but at its essence, we understand it’s not memorization of the state capitals. It’s not the perfect script handwriting. And whether you see it or not, it’s likely your kid does this every day already. It’s just that their problems are what clothes a doll wears, or what imaginary roads their trucks build.

 What can kids do, and adults see when it’s all over?

  Well that’s where we have two ideas to engage their minds, and to get it out into the world.

First, Write a picture book.  Have your youngster use their imagination to retell a familiar story, then have them write pictures of it in their own book. Here you’ll have to take some computer paper and maybe staple the center, or corners together, or maybe do it at the end, but provide the canvas. Let your child pick the story, a familiar one or if they’re creative, have them come up with one on their own, even if it really is just a one act, one location story. Afterward, you may need to write the sentences that they speak of their story, down on the bottom. And voila, you have yourself a keepsake which they should spend a 20 minutes creating, hopefully quietly, and re-read it every day for a while. When they’re re-reading it, ask them to remember how it felt to create something. This will lock in those emotional moments to help them increase their EQ.

Second, if books aren’t their thing, but artwork is, have them draw a single, big mural. Buy a sheet of posterboard if you can, cut out a cardboard box of tape some computer paper together if you can’t. On it they could write and illustrate facts they learned in school, or concepts or procedures, even things like getting in line for lunch as a kindergartner. If they just like to spas out with colors, let em at it. Whatever it takes to engage their brains, and get some quiet time.