9 things parents can say to defuse a meltdown with compassion.

When your toddler has a meltdown, it's perfectly natural to want to fly off the handle.

There's nothing more infuriating than a small human repeatedly demanding something that's physically impossible for you to give them, or wailing because you had to punish them after repeatedly telling them to knock it off.

"I CREATED YOU, YOU LITTLE MONSTER. I CAN DESTROY YOU," you might want to say (though you never would). You love your kids — of course you do — but damn if they aren't the best at pushing you to your breaking point.


As tempting as it may be to raise your voice, yell, and keep ramping up the punishment to ridiculous levels, some parenting experts say there's a much better option.

Vanessa Lapointe, a mom and professional psychologist, suggests something called "discipline without damage."

Lapointe defines this practice, sometimes called "compassionate parenting," as an intervention that reinforces connection, not separation — in other words, staying calm and kind while setting firm boundaries for kids in a way that doesn't dampen their spirits or preach obedience above all else.

This isn't just some new-agey, feel good stuff: Lapointe says it's all based on science and the way children's brains develop.

"Our job as parents is to grow up children who are hardy. Not children who are hardened," she explained in an essay for The Huffington Post. "Children who are hardy can weather the storms of life. Children who are hardened cannot, and instead tend to shut down and have ineffective coping strategies."

Lapointe recently released a nifty "Discipline Cheat Sheet" that offers some simple changes to the words we use when faced with a meltdown that can completely change the tenor of the situation for the better.

Graphic via Vanessa Lapointe, used with permission.

Here's how this technique might play out.

Say your toddler colored on the wall with bright green crayon.

Instead of screeching something along the lines of "What were you thinking?!??!" Lapointe recommends using a kind and compassionate tone and saying something more like, "You know I don't want you coloring on the walls. We need to get this cleaned up."

"No!" your kid might respond, with a stomp of a tiny foot. "I don't want to!"

"Come on," you say, keeping your voice calm. "I'll show you where the cleaning supplies are and help you get started."

Now, ideally, that would be enough. Your toddler would calm down and gladly help you clean the walls. When it comes to toddlers, however, parents know things are rarely that easy.

What if by then he's too upset and has thrown himself to the ground in protest, banging fists against the floor? Instead of finally breaking and losing your temper, it's time to try a different tactic from the cheat sheet.

"I can see this is tricky for you. We're going to solve this later. Let's get a drink of water," you can say.

He may agree or not. But eventually, he will calm down (every parent knows that they always do), and you can show him how to get the crayon off the wall.

When the wall is finally clean, turn to him and say, "Let's find a better place to keep your coloring supplies so this doesn't happen again."

The whole conflict may take a while, and you may have to go back to the cheat sheet to try many of these different techniques, but in the end, you get what you want (a clean wall) without yelling at, frightening, or physically forcing your toddler to clean it up. At the same time, your kid learns that their actions have consequences.

The reality is that most toddlers are nearly psychologically incapable of impulse control. No amount of yelling or being a strict disciplinarian can change the wiring of their brains. And though the phrases in the chart above are best for young children, the same principles of compassionate parenting apply to older kids, too.

The chart has been shared far and wide across the web, though Lapointe's approach isn't without its critics.

Some parents worry that her recommendations feel an awful lot like "helicopter parenting" and isn't strong enough to teach kids about independence and feeling the consequences of their actions.

Lapointe says these people are missing the point. She spells out the difference:

"The hoverer is worried, nervous, and uncertain, and prevents their child from ever having to come to terms with the things in life that simply cannot be. The provider is confident, all-knowing, and in charge, and supports the child in regulating around their upset in coming to terms with the things in life that cannot be. "

She urges parents to remember that kids are kids and not to expect them to understand the world as adults do.

Compassionate parenting is more than just a few handy phrases.

The phrases on Lapointe's cheat sheet are a great first step for reframing the way we react when our kids start misbehaving, but they're not the only tool a compassionate parent can keep in their back pocket. For parents looking for an alternative to punishment and escalating behavior, however, Lapointe's cheat sheet could be just the help they need to stay calm in the face of a toddler tornado.

Though easier said than done, a simple, "Come here, I've got you," could be exactly what your kid needs to hear.

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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