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"The hardest thing is still to calm myself down when my boys get wild and my buttons get pushed. I end up screaming despite my best intentions." - Mollie

"When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen.  When they're finished, I climb out."  -- Erma Bombeck

Mollie's right.  The hardest part of parenting is regulating our own emotions. In our last post, we talked about how to get angry less often. But what happens when your child does something that makes you want to scream, and a playpen won't work? What are your options?  READ POST

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | Permalink

Potty accidents? Wetting the bed? Peeing all over the house? Urinary tract infections?   READ POST

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | Permalink

"If we don't start to correct these five grave parenting mistakes, and soon, the children we are raising will grow up to be entitled, selfish, impatient and rude adults." - Emma Jenner, British Nanny, Huff Post

"In a poll commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents said they think that their children are spoiled." - Elizabeth Kolbert,  Spoiled Rotten, The New Yorker

Are American kids spoiled rotten? Every year a new article goes viral by preying on parents' fears. Are we being too permissive? Are we raising a generation of brats?

These articles don't cite research that substantiates their claims that parents are actually being permissive. In fact, surveys estimate that 80% of American parents have spanked their child at least once and about a quarter of parents of young children spank on a weekly basis. That doesn't sound like permissiveness to me.   READ POST

Friday, July 18, 2014 | Permalink

"About 80% of the youth in our survey report that their parents are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others. A similar percentage of youth perceive teachers as prioritizing students’ achievements over their caring. Youth were also 3 times more likely to agree than disagree with this statement: “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.” - Making Caring Common Project, Harvard.

The Harvard "Making Caring Common" project surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students about what was most important to them. The majority of the kids said they value caring for others and included caring as one of their top three values, but they didn't value it over their own happiness or achieving their own goals.

I would argue that this isn't surprising, and it isn't even necessarily unhealthy. The alarming part for me is that the young people who didn’t prioritize caring, and didn’t think their parents prioritized caring, had very low empathy scores, and were less likely to say they would volunteer on a Saturday to help at a school event or tutor a friend. All of these kids seem to be feeling tremendous pressure to achieve. And most of them thought their parents were more concerned with their achievements than with who they are.

So instead of judging our children for being insufficiently caring, maybe the real question we need to consider is what values we're modeling and teaching.  

What can we do to raise kids with eternal values in today's challenging 21st century world? Teach and role model!  READ POST

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 | Permalink

"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