Everyone needs a little help being a human. From sleep to saving money to parenting and more, we talk to the experts to get the best advice out there. Life Kit is here to help you get it together. Subscribe to get new guides every two weeks.
Self-regulation skills, including self-control, help us reach our goals, learn in school and get along with others. Millions of children struggle to develop them. We talk to experts for strategies to teach these skills — and get some very special help from Cookie Monster. Here's what to remember:- Look at self-regulation as a skill that can be learned and practiced.- Teach children to calm themselves.- Use your imagination to reframe a temptation.- What would Batman do? Kids can channel their heroes to make it easier to live up to their values.- Be strategic about distractions.- Build self-regulation skills with activities like martial arts or music lessons.
Up to 93% of American adults have some degree of math anxiety. The problem often starts in elementary school, but parents can do a lot to fix it. We talk to experts to get some unexpected strategies for children of all ages, with a little bit of help from Sesame Street and, of course, the Count. Here's what to remember:- Your own math anxiety doesn't have to hold your kids back.- Talk about math when you're sharing everyday activities. - Play math — with board games, card games, puzzles, and more. - Forget about right and wrong answers. Keep things open-ended — life, and math, are more fun that way.
Most kids value success and achievement more than caring for others, according to Harvard's Making Caring Common project. Who is to blame? We are. We talk to experts for ideas on how to do better, and why.Here's what to remember: - Children are born to be kind — but also unkind. - Kindness requires courage.- To build kindness, practice mindfulness.- Teach real apologies, and frame forgiveness as a gift you give yourself.- Practice gratitude to "raise the capital" of everyday kindness.- Kindness is a habit; rituals, chores and service can all help.
The way many of us think about weight loss is totally counter-productive. Focus on healthy habits you can sustain instead of the numbers on the scale. Here's what to remember:- Forget goal weights. Instead, focus on behavioral goals. - Start with small changes and let them snowball.- A loss of only 3% of your body weight can meaningfully improve your health.- Remember that your best weight is the one you reach when you live the healthiest life you can actually enjoy.
Our biology makes it hard to lose weight. In this episode, we won't tell you how to lose weight — or whether you even need to. We will give you five realities about biology, and they might even help you be kinder to your body. Here's what to remember: - Metabolism slows when you lose weight.- Hormonal changes that come with weight loss make you hungrier. - What you eat is more important than how much you exercise.- Exercise seems to play a big role in maintaining weight and preventing further gain.
Whether a school shooting or a deadly tornado, scary events in the news can leave parents struggling to know when — and how — they should talk with their kids about it. Rosemarie Truglio of Sesame Workshop and Tara Conley, a media studies professor at Montclair State University, give us tips. - Limit their exposure to breaking news.- For the really big stories, pick a quiet moment and start the conversation by asking what kids have heard and how they're feeling.- Give facts and context: Let kids know that most scary news events are rare. Show them where it is happening on a map. - When they ask why something happened, avoid labels like "bad guys." - Encourage kids to process the story through play, art, even video.- Take positive action together.
'What If We Lived In Two Houses?' Talking Kids Through Divorce
Even the most amicable split is world-changing for young children. Here are a few key tips for grown-ups trying to help their kids navigate this big transition. - Give children as much heads-up as you can — as soon as you've made a definite decision to split up.- It's a grown-up problem. Don't share details that will confuse your child or hurt your partner.- Don't fear the big feelings or the "pajama truth-bomb." - It's good for kids to talk about a separation — even when it may be painful for adults to hear.- Make sure your kids know that not everything will change. - Keep routines, and toys, consistent, even if they're traveling from one home to another. - Look back together on the good memories.
Whether it's mini-makeup kits, gross-smelling slime or semi-automatic foam-dart guns, every parent or caregiver has fielded requests for toys that they're just not that into. We talk about princesses and superheroes and their influence on kids with Rosemarie Truglio of Sesame Workshop and Lisa Dinella, a gender studies professor at Monmouth University. Here's what to remember: - Banning toys outright can be counterproductive. - Pay more attention to how kids play than what they're playing with. - Fight sexism in the playroom by broadening toy selections. - Talk directly to your kids about your values.- Join in your child's play to help expand the possibilities. - Grossed out? Use toilet toys as a chance to teach science — and manners.
When you can't sleep, your thoughts can be your worst enemy. In this episode, we explain five key strategies to help break the spiral, based on what many believe is the most effective treatment out there: cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I. Here's what to remember:- Log your sleep time to get a reality check on how much you're actually sleeping. - Write down your anxious thoughts; then replace them with more rational ones.- Restrict the amount of time you spend in bed based on information from your sleep log.- Find a relaxation technique.- Make it a rule: The bedroom is only for sleep (and sex); no electronic devices, no lying in bed, ruminating.
From mediation to melatonin to putting on a pair of socks, we all have routines to help us reach that blissful state of slumber. These are the ones that work:- Forget sheep. Instead, use mental imagery — picturing a walk in the woods or a stroll on a beach — to help relax. - Relaxation and meditation apps can help you unwind. - Melatonin supplements might ease your way into sleep, but too much melatonin could disrupt it. - Over-the-counter sleep medications may knock you out, but they won't result in effective sleep.- If young kids wake you in the wee hours, don't react in a way that increases their stress — but do find strategies that make it no fun to be up.- Sleep rituals are personal. If you believe in yours, that might be all you need.
From the moment you wake up, your body starts to prepare for sleep. We show you how to adjust your daytime habits to get the best possible night of rest.Here's what to remember:- Start the day with natural light — from an east-facing window, or even better, go outside — to put the brakes on melatonin. - Cut the caffeine off by late morning. Even if it doesn't keep you up, caffeine impacts how much deep sleep you're getting. - Get moving during the day. Exercise can increase the quantity and quality of your sleep.- Avoid the nightcap. Alcohol makes you feel sleepy but disrupts deep sleep.- Ban the smartphone and TV from the bedroom. Too stimulating, when you should be letting go.