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“When they were fighting over ownership of something I would say ‘Jacob, say... ‘Excuse me Sarah, when you're finished may I have a turn please?’’ and then wait for him to repeat my words. And then I would turn to Sarah and say ‘Sarah, say... ‘Sure, Jacob.’ I did this many, many, many times and then one day to my delight I was cooking dinner and overheard them use these exact words unprompted to resolve an issue... It was a proud moment : )” – Deanne

How do children learn social and emotional intelligence skills? Practice, practice, practice. Parents have to explain, model, and repeat themselves, over and over. It can seem endless. But there are ways to help children learn faster, by taking advantage of the problems that come up in every family on a daily basis. Next time there's a problem, think of it as a teachable moment.  READ POST

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura...How should I respond when he yells  'You're not the boss of me!'?" -- Ariel

Defiance.  It's guaranteed to push a parent's buttons.  After all, we're supposed to be in charge, right?  Defiance rubs our nose in the fact that we can't really control another person, whether he's three or thirteen, unless we use force.

Unfortunately, since force creates resistance, either openly or in a passive-aggressive form, it's ultimately a losing strategy.  (You might win the battle, but you'll lose the war.)

When we overreact to defiance we escalate the battle. Often, the result is kids who have problems with authority--either they're always in fights, or they can't stand up for themselves.

So what can a parent do about defiance?  READ POST

Thursday, October 16, 2014 | Permalink

"Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen

Imagine that guilt is like a red light blinking on your dashboard.  When you see it, you:

a) Redouble your efforts to attain perfection, even if it’s giving you a headache.
b) Flog yourself.
c) Pull out the wire so it stops blinking, and go have a drink.
d) Thank the guilt and tell it to take a break.
 Then use the opportunity to check in: Instead of berating yourself, how could you support yourself to be the parent you want your kids to have, while at the same time being kind to yourself?  READ POST

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | Permalink

"Today I will let myself feel what I am feeling and let my children feel what they are feeling....I'll pay attention to what each of us is feeling and give those feelings some respect and space. There's nothing so bad about them; they are only feelings and need not threaten me." -- Tian Dayton

Are your feelings dangerous?  Never.  But most of us are afraid of our strong feelings.  And we're afraid of our children's emotions. Why?

Because the power of our emotions can be overwhelming.  We all know what it feels like to want to hit someone.  And so often when we act on our feelings, we do things we're sorry for later, whether that's smacking our child, screaming something hurtful at our spouse, or throwing a "tantrum" at the office.

But it isn't the feelings that are dangerous. What's dangerous is acting on them.   READ POST

Thursday, October 09, 2014 | Permalink

"Sending children away to get control of their anger perpetuates the feeling of 'badness" inside them...Chances are they were already feeling not very good about themselves before the outburst and the isolation just serves to confirm in their own minds that they were right." -- Otto Weininger,Ph.D. Time-In Parenting

When our kids get angry, it pushes buttons for most of us.  We're not perfect, but we try to be loving parents.  Why is our child lashing out like this?

Many parents send an angry child to her room to "calm down."  After all, what else can we do? We certainly can't reason with her when she's furious. It's no time to teach lessons or ask for an apology. She needs to calm down.

If we send him to his room, he will indeed calm down, eventually. He'll also have gotten a clear message that his anger is unacceptable, and that he's on his own when it comes to managing his big scary feelings--we don't know how to help him. He won't have worked through whatever led to his anger. Instead, he'll have stuffed the anger, so it's no longer under conscious control, and will burst out again soon. No wonder so many of us develop anger-management issues, whether that means we yell at our kids, throw tantrums with our spouse, or overeat to avoid acknowledging angry feelings.

What can we do instead? We can help our kids learn to manage their anger responsibly. That begins with accepting anger -- without acting on it.    READ POST

Tuesday, October 07, 2014 | Permalink

"How do you hit the happy medium between Strict and Permissive parenting? I don't want to be mean, but I do want my kids to do what I say." -- Mike

Most parents seem to struggle with questions about whether they're being too strict or too permissive.  We don't want to be mean, of course, and we want to take our child's desires into account. Not to mention, sometimes we're just so tired. So we compromise all the time on what we'd really like (less screen time, or daily music practice, or more help around the house.)  But then we wonder, what if we had higher expectations? Would our child be more helpful, more self-disciplined? Where's that sweet spot between permissive and strict?

It's easier to find than you might think.   READ POST

Friday, October 03, 2014 | Permalink

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change." -- Carl Rogers

"Our wounds can heal and become our source of power." -- Gail Larsen

Sages say that raising children is one of the best paths to enlightenment because it stretches the heart and teaches us to love.  And indeed, every one of us raising children has daily opportunities to dig deep in search of patience  and compassion! Luckily, we're strongly motivated by our love for our children, so we stretch.

Sometimes, of course, we get stuck.  We find ourselves fighting the same battle over and over.  It's natural that we will have to remind our children repeatedly to do things they aren't motivated to do. That normal childish behavior is best handled with a sense of humor. They do learn, with time and repetition, as long as they feel connected and therefore WANT to follow our lead.

But what about those times when the cycle escalates? When we're stuck in resentment, or the assumption that it's all our child's fault, and he should be different?  It's only human to think we should be able to make our child to change.  But children (and adults!) naturally rebel against force, so you can't actually control anyone except yourself. That's why change needs to start with us.  READ POST

Wednesday, October 01, 2014 | Permalink