Parenting Blog

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"Dr. Laura.....I know I need to do a better job with preventive maintenance like spending time with my son, but I still don't know what to say to teach him a lesson when he misbehaves. You can't prevent all misbehavior, can you? So you still need to teach them a lesson somehow, right?" 

Staying connected with kids and helping them with their big emotions does prevent lots of "misbehavior."  But kids will always need our guidance. They come into the world ready to learn, and they look to us to teach them. Red and blue, right and wrong, what to do when they get angry, how to express their needs and feelings. 

We teach so many lessons, and often without even noticing that we're teaching! Because those verbal "lessons" will never teach our children as much as what we actually do. Do we yell (i.e., have tantrums) when we get angry?  So will they.  Or do we notice when we're getting irritated and say "I'm feeling grumpy....I'm going to take a minute to chill out and get calm...I will be right back..."?  They'll learn to do that, too.  READ POST

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 | Permalink

"Parents who are serious about raising children to be decent people spend an awful lot of time guiding them. It's not enough for us to have good values; these values must be communicated directly... For instance, to say nothing when a child acts selfishly is to send a clear message, and that message has more to do with the acceptability of selfishness than it does with the virtues of non-intrusive parenting. We need to establish clear moral guidelines, to be explicit about what we expect, but in a way that minimizes coercion."- Alfie Kohn

How do you raise a child who assumes responsibility for her actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or not?  READ POST

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura....How do you hold a child accountable for her behavior without punishment?"

"I recently read a quote from a Finnish education minister: "There's no word for accountability in Finnish...Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted." - Teacher Tom

What does it mean, to hold our child accountable for her behavior?  My definition would be that our child assumes responsibility for her actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or notSo, really, it isn't about "holding our child accountable."  What we want is for our child to step into responsibility, to hold HERSELF accountable.  Once someone takes responsibility, we don't have to "hold her accountable."  READ POST

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 | Permalink

"I am a loving mother and mostly my children are very good. But everyone knows that children need discipline. What do you recommend as loving discipline?"

Want to join me in a survey?  Let's ask 10,000 people whether children need discipline. I'm willing to bet that in any random sample, 9999 of our respondents will say "Yes, of course!"

But discipline is a murky word, so maybe we should define our terms. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1. Punishment
2. Instruction (obsolete)
3. Field of study
4. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.
5. Control gained by enforcing obedience or order.

So, the word Discipline originally meant Instruction or Guidance and derives from the same Latin root as the word Disciple.  Nowadays, however, that meaning is considered obsolete, and the word has come to mean Punishment READ POST

Friday, January 24, 2014 | Permalink

"The reason a child will act unkindly or cause damage is always innocent. Sometimes she is playful and free spirited, and other times, when aggressive or angry she is unhappy or confused. The more disturbing the behaviour, the more the child is in pain and in need of your love and understanding. In other words, there is no such thing as bad behaviour in children. Instead there is a child who is doing the best she can and we don’t understand her.” – Naomi Aldort

Parents are often surprised to hear that I don’t believe in most of what we think of as discipline (spankings, consequences, timeouts) because it keeps kids from becoming responsible, self-disciplined people. “How will my child learn how to behave?” they ask.  READ POST

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 | Permalink

"What I have learned from this book (Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting) has already improved my relationship with my eight year old son. My son thanked me this morning for reading this book. He said I am turning into the mom he always wanted. 'Even if it means you don't always get your way?' I asked. He replied, 'It's easy to learn from my mistakes when you aren't yelling at me about them.' I almost burst into tears."- Shannon

Kids like to get their way. But there's something every child wants even more: Someone who loves you, no matter what. Someone who doesn't yell when you make mistakes. Who loves you even when you're mad or whining, who listens and empathizes ...even when you're wrong, even when you were so upset you were rude, even when you hit your sister. Someone who loves you enough to overcome their own upsets to help you through yours. Someone who holds a vision of you as your best self, even when you can't find that self.  READ POST

Thursday, January 16, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr Laura....I'm trying stop yelling, but I can't. And I can't imagine getting my kids to listen if I don't yell at them. ...Can you move in with me for a week?!” - Cheralynn

Like Cheralynn, most parents think they "should" stop yelling, but they don't believe there's another way to get their child's attention. After all, it's our job to teach them, and how else can we get them to listen? It’s not like yelling hurts them; they barely listen, they roll their eyes. Of course they know we love them, even if we yell. Right?

Wrong. The truth is that yelling scares kids. It makes them harden their hearts to us. And when we yell, kids go into fight, flight or freeze, so they stop learning whatever we're trying to teach. What's more, when we yell, it trains kids not to listen to us until we raise our voice. And it trains them to yell at us.  READ POST

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 | Permalink