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"Make a habit of bringing your awareness to your breathing frequently throughout your day. Our breath connects us to feelings of peace and contentment. Take a minute to deepen your breath from shallow, tense chest breathing to relaxed, deep belly breathing. When you feel totally overwhelmed, stop whatever you're doing, close your eyes if possible, take three deep breaths, and let your body and mind relax." -- Jan Marie Dore

It's impossible to be a compassionate, patient parent when you're tense.  But life with children is full of triggers that make us tense.

Of course, those triggers, be they tantrums or traffic jams, don't actually make us tense. We make ourselves tense in response to them. It's a choice.  Believe it or not, it's entirely possible to breathe deeply and feel relaxed during a traffic jam -- or even a tantrum. (I'm not saying it doesn't take practice. :-))

The easiest way to remind yourself to let go of tension is to breathe.  Just breathe.  It brings us back into our body, back into the present moment, back into a choice about how we want to respond.

So why not start practicing? Today, stop every so often throughout your day and notice your breathing.  Every time you're upset. When you find yourself in traffic.  When anyone in your house begins a meltdown. (Especially you.)   READ POST

Friday, July 11, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura – I'm not one of those 'Count to 3 and They Jump' parents.  I was raised that way and it always seems to involve threats and harshness. But when I say 'It's time to clean up' they ignore me unless I yell. What's the secret of getting them to listen and to take No for an answer, if I don't use punishment?" -- Danielle

Last week, we explored why kids don't jump to it (Obedience: Why Do You Have To Tell Them Five Times?) when we ask them to do something, as part of my series Are Kids Today Spoiled and Undisciplined?  Many parents told me that post helped them understand conflicts from their child's perspective, which made it possible to find some common ground and more cooperation. As always, a few parents advocated more harshness: "Parents just need to learn to say No and back it up with punishment!" But even many parents who are committed to loving guidance wondered, "How can I say No if I don't resort to threats?"

This is, of course, the million dollar question. But it is indeed possible to get kids cooperating, without resorting to yelling, threats or harshness.  The secrets?  READ POST

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 | Permalink

"The exhausting cycle of constantly monitoring their work and performance...makes children feel less competent and confident." - Elizabeth Kolbert, in Spoiled Rotten: Why do kids rule the roost? in the New Yorker.

In discussions about whether kids today are "spoiled" it's common to hear accusations that we as parents are over-protecting, so our kids don't gain confidence from learning to handle things themselves. This is anxiety-provoking for any parent, because the line between appropriate support and helicoptering is rarely clear. (Isn't a helicopter parent just someone who hovers more than you do?)    READ POST

Thursday, July 03, 2014 | Permalink

“Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval." - Elizabeth Kolbert, in Spoiled Rotten: Why Do Kids Rule the Roost?” in the New Yorker.

"The model of parenting most of us grew up with was authoritarian parenting, which is based on fear. Some of us may have grown up with permissive parenting, which is also based on fear. Authoritarian parenting is based on the child's fear of losing the parent's love. Permissive parenting is based on the parent's fear of losing the child's love. Connection parenting is based on love instead of fear." -- Pam Leo   READ POST

Tuesday, July 01, 2014 | Permalink

"In one fairly typical encounter, a father asked his eight-year-old son five times to please go take a bath or a shower. After the fifth plea went unheeded, the father picked the boy up and carried him into the bathroom. A few minutes later, the kid, still unwashed, wandered into another room to play a video game." - Elizabeth Kolbert, in Spoiled Rotten: Why do kids rule the roost? in the New Yorker.

This situation may be extreme, but most parents I know have some version of this complaint. It's a good question: Why don't kids just do what we say the first time we say it?!  And there's a good answer.  Several, in fact.  READ POST

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 | Permalink

"So little is expected of kids that ...Their incompetence begets exasperation, which results in still less being asked of them." - Elizabeth Kolbert, in Spoiled Rotten: Why Do Kids Rule the Roost?” in the New Yorker.

"My little guy does not like it when I cook or do laundry or do the dishes. Why am I not paying attention to him? But I soon realized that he loves to help. He puts clothes in the washing machine, gathers potatoes to bring to the kitchen, brings me clothes hangers. And yes, it takes much longer than if I had done it all myself. But he actually squeals with delight at being given his next task. And I end up being much less frustrated."—Wendy  READ POST

Thursday, June 19, 2014 | Permalink

“Our offspring have simply leveraged our good intentions and over-investment...They inhabit a broad savannah of entitlement that we’ve watered, landscaped, and hired gardeners to maintain.”- Sally Koslow

"I think I want my daughter to have some sense of entitlement... We were raised that we don't deserve anything, including respect.... This happens every generation, the same spoiled children story....I'm sure the first generation of kids to wear shoes or go to school were also considered spoiled and entitled. I say we break the cycle of calling the younger generation names." - Kara

We all want to raise kids who know how to work hard to create what they want in the world. Nobody wants to raise a child who thinks the world owes him, who feels like he’s entitled to take whatever he wants. But Kara is right. We also DO want to raise a child who feels deserving of the blessings of abundance—spiritual, emotional, and yes, physical—the rich life that should be the birthright of every child. How do we raise a child who feels deserving – but not “entitled”?  READ POST

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 | Permalink