Julie K. Nelson

How To Avoid the “Gimmies” at Christmas

Have you ever heard these words after a child opens a thoughtfully-given present: “Is that all?” It’s time to raise children who are less selfish and less disgruntled with the gifts they receive. How can you raise generous, gracious children who think more of others than themselves? Tis the season to start and here’s an article to get you going.

This article was featured in For Every Mom. The byline was:

These 5 ways to avoid the “gimmes” with your kids this Christmas are spot-on sage advice.


UVU Conference on Family

I’ll be attending and/or presenting at two upcoming conferences on the family and you’re invited! The World Congress of Family IX has been hosted in major cities around the world, but never in the U.S…..until now. And I am proud to say it will be here, where I live, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The dates are October 27-30, 2015 and here is the website for more information: http://wcf9.org/

The second conference is even closer to home and much more local. I am a professor at Utah Valley University and every year the College of Humanities and Social Sciences hosts a Conference on the Family. It will be held on Nov. 6, 2015. Here is the website link and a flyer: http://www.uvu.edu/chss/family/

UVU Conference on Family 2015

UVU Conference on Family 2015

And here is how you order tickets (it’s free and no ticket required for UVU students)


I will be presenting and this is the class description. Please come! I’d love to see you there.

Flexible, Feisty and Fearful: 3 Main Temperament Styles in Children – Julie Nelson, professor and author 

Join Julie as she outlines each of the 3 main temperament styles in children. She will explore the strengths – and weaknesses – of each, and highlight how parents can adjust their own style to create a ‘goodness of fit’ to meet the needs of the child. Join her as she illustrates how understanding these temperament styles can help parents build healthy self-esteem within their children, and nurture a positive parent-child relationship. 

I’m so thrilled to live near and be a part of communities and a state that is pro-family. These conferences and organizations are lifting societies, families, and individuals to live a more meaningful, fulfilling life with the people they love.

“Read it again, mom!”

I love sharing wonderful books with young children! I need to just say that again. I love sharing wonderful books with young children! I’m sure I learned that from my mother who also loves to read for recreation and personal education and sharing what she reads with her family. When she comes to visit her grandchildren, she puts children’s picture books in her suitcase. Guess what the grandchildren look forward to do with grandma, curled up on the couch?

I’m also a professional early childhood educator and mother of 5 grown children. Having taught young children ages 3 mo. to 3rd grade and supervised and trained teachers of this age group for over 25 years, I have a lot of tricks for sharing books with kids. It’s more than just opening up a book and reading the words.

What I teach my university students is that you have to prepare your child before even reading. Give them a purpose for wanting to listen. Involve them in the reading, and then discuss a thinking question at the end. Here is a template for book sharing:

Introduction. Start with an introduction and some prequestions or a discussion, i.e. Have you ever seen a mouse?  What do they look like?  Do they really like cheese?  (show the front of the book) This is a book about a mouse who loves to eat cheese and a cat who wants to eat the mouse. Do you think the cat will catch the mouse?

Then, ask them to listen for something so they can develop critical thinking.

Sample Question:  “While I read this book, I would like you to see how the mouse figures out a way to eat the cheese before the cat catches him.” For a toddler or preschooler, simplify the question such as, “Let’s read the book and see if the mouse can hide from the cat.”

Shared Book Experience. Shared reading involves your child in whatever appropriate ways you choose such as: chanting together repeated phrases, stopping at predictable parts and asking children to fill in a key word, echo reading, making predictions or applying to real-life experiences. Just spontaneously involve her while you are reading like having her fill in the missing rhyming word, for example. Or saying, “Look at this page. How many baby kittens do you see? Let’s count them together.” Or asking, “Why do you think this lion looks so unhappy?” Chanting together repetitive phrases is one of my favorites. When you have a repetitive phrase, like “Chica Chica Boom Boom!” ask the child to say it aloud with you on every page it appears. Be sure to track your finger along so she can see how the words translate into the familiar sounds.

Discussion after readingExample:  Did the mouse get the cheese?  How did the mouse outsmart the cat? Then talk about what kinds of pets they know of. Do you have a pet? What do you feed them?

I don’t always use have a pre- and post critical thinking question. But I always figure out a way to introduce the book, get a child involved in wanting to hear what it is about, and involving him while I read. We also discuss the message afterward and relate to real life or react meaningfully to it. The purpose here isn’t to teach reading or early literacy skills (except a little when you do the rhymes together) but to have him enjoy listening to great stories, seeing the beautiful illustrations, and thinking and discussing themes.

Here is a list of GREAT books for young children, ages 2-6.  I deliberately chose them for their simple themes, illustrations, and brief text. You can read them in under 5 minutes.  A lot are Caldecott award winners. Some are even wordless or have few words, which lend themselves for more participation and interpretation of what the child thinks is happening on the page and what might happen next. Many are build-upon or repetitive stories, and others are rhyming, which is really important for early readers to hear often. You want good read-alouds and these are very rhythmical.

So…you’re welcome! Have fun reading every day. Be prepared to hear, “Read it again, mom!” That’s the highest compliment you can earn.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian

Drummer Hoff by Barbara Emberley

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

ANYTHING by Eric Carle (Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Lonely Cloud, Home for Hermit Crab, etc.)

Chica Chica Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

Are You My Mother? by  P.D. Eastman

White Rabbit’s Color Book and Brown Rabbit’s Shape Book by Alan Baker

It Looks Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw

Flotsam or Tuesday by David Weisner

Any short and fun book by Dr. Seuss like “Green Eggs and Ham” “Foot Book” And “Red Fish Blue Fish”

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahberg

Not at Box by Antoinette Portis

Inside a Barn in the Country by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens

In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

No David! by David Shannon

Kitten’ First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (and there’s other versions as well)

A Ball for Daisy  by Chris Raschka

The House at Night by Susan Marie Swanson

First the Egg  by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Benefits of Reading to Children

I was on BYU radio Sept 8th talking about the amazing benefits of regularly reading to your children. I followed such eclectic topic as China and Oil and Vocal Fry.

Here are a few statistics to blow your mind. Just how important is the small yet profound act of regularly reading to your children?

Regular reading to children from birth through five years old is strongly linked to kindergarten readiness. Furthermore, reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of graduation from high school and career success. In an international study of 150,000 fourth-graders, those whose parents “often” read to them scored 30 points higher than their peers who were only “sometimes” read to. In another study, the breakdown of minutes read at home correlated with academic status. On standardized reading tests, students who were read to for 2 minutes a day outside of school scored in the 30th percentile; those who were read to for 5 minutes a day scored in the 50th percentile; those who were read to  for 10 minutes a day scored in the 70th percentile; and those who were read to for 20 minutes a day scored in the 90th percentile.

So reading daily for 20 minutes translates to an “A” grade. Who wants a child to receive any less in life?

So pick up a book tonight when you tuck your child in for bed. Read for 20 minutes, talking about the book and discussing your day together. Make it a daily ritual…like brushing your teeth.

Or brushing the cobwebs out of our brains.

Stay tuned for my next post on my FAV-or-ite books to read aloud to young children.

Chameleon Parenting

I will be giving a talk to parents in November and the topic will be on learning the temperament styles of children.

We all come with our own little packages of personality, likes, and styles. If parents understand their own temperament and seek to understand each child and how he or she is different or the same, we might avoid forcing children to be like US.

Have you ever had a child who reacts quite differently than you which becomes a source of frustration? Why don’t they like to go to the zoo? Don’t all kids love the zoo? Why is my child so shy? I’m always embarrassed of her in public. I’m not that way. Where did she get that? Poor genes from her dad’s side, I’m guessing!

Like the chameleon in this video, the job of a parent is really, really hard because it requires that we become a chameleon. Rather than forcing the child to be like US, we need to feel out the child, what color he is, and change ourselves accordingly. As the experts in this field call it, we are making a “goodness of fit.”

The Power of Moms book review

Author: Julie K. Nelson


With her refreshing sense of humor and a “let’s be real” attitude, Julie K. Nelson has written a fun and fast read to help parents in any stage of raising children.Keep it Real and Grab a Plunger: 25 Tips for Surviving Parenthood is written just as described. Each tip is a little mini chapter—perfect for reading while waiting in the carpool, waiting for dance lessons to be over, or even (ahem!) sitting in the bathroom.

What I Liked Most:

I loved Julie’s conversational style of writing and her shared experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly that we can all relate to. I also loved the breadth of her tips. She covers everything from potty training to helping teenagers find their greater purpose in life. She also shared sobering and difficult personal experiences of how to navigate parenting during divorce and re-marriage. Her tips seem doable and non-intimidating. This book was always interesting, even when I felt a particular tip was not applicable to my family’s stage of life.

How This Affected My Mothering:

I enjoyed the real nuggets of wisdom in this book. For example,the difference between praise (compared to a Pop Tart) and encouragement (compared to fruits and vegetables), and the related topic of being process-oriented versus outcome-oriented as you guide your children, really struck me. It made me pause to examine myself and how I was communicating with my children. I realized that giving praise on an outcome was passing judgement on a child, while giving encouragement through a process is much more loving, motivating, and character building.

Lastly, I love it when other mothers are candid. I feel that it gives me permission to do the same, something that can be scary for me. This book helped me feel comfortable in admitting, and sometimes laughing about, the craziness that is sometimes in my home. I came away with little suggestions that did not feel guilt-inducing, but just something that a good friend might suggest. This is a great book, with something in it for everyone.

Reviewed by

Jennifer Brimhall

To see the live article, here is the link:


BYU Radio Interview: Post-Wedding Blues


Is it just me, or are we having a rash of weddings this summer? I’ve counted 8 just in my neighborhood alone (including my daughter’s which will be in 2 weeks–gulp). The hype and stress of wedding and reception planning can create a huge let down afterward so I was interviewed on BYU radio about how to avoid the post-wedding blues.


Is Sesame Street GOOD for your kids?

sesame street

How well do you know your Sesame Street? In the early seasons, who was the roving reporter for the News Flash?

a) Bert

b) Guy Smiley

c) Kermit the Frog

d) Oscar the Grouch.

What was Oscar the Grouch’s original color?

a) orange

b) red

c) blue

d) black

I give the answer to these, as well as other trivia, and research on how to reap the benefits from your child watching educational programming on the Matt Townsend show BYU radio.


2 smart reasons to thank dads for all those pillow fights

This Cheerios ad caught my attention this Father’s Day because I just wrote an article that ran on ksl.com about the importance of dads. Dads add an element to parenting that is so essential, namely, the active, fun, and a little crazy play that kids need. Watch this commercial and see how many ways this dad does these things with his kids. It’s a really effective commercial….I totally wanted to try peanut butter Cheerios after watching it!

Then read my awesome article!


Inklings and Notions book review May 13, 2015

My thoughts: I just had to review this book when I saw the title of it, since sometimes parenting can be about trying to survive (I don’t mean this in a bad way!).;) I love the practical information in this book that helps parents to connect with their kids and help instill good values. I like her ideas for making meal time fun and a chance to connect with your kids and spouse. I also appreciate her thoughts on raising kids in a technology savvy world, how to make sure that they don’t have an addiction to social media and teaching them the importance of having meaningful conversations and relationships.

This is an excellent resource for parents!

by Amanda Holmes

review can be found at: