Parenting Blog

Latest Posts

"To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words....You listen not only for what someone knows, but for who he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind's hearing to your ears' natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning." -- Peter Senge

In our fast-paced life, we often take a secret pride in how busy we are, how good we are at multi-tasking, how fast we can move. We enjoy the rush of adrenaline. But that fast pace can make us impatient with ourselves, and with our children. Too often, we don't take the extra moment to slow down and connect. We forget to appreciate and take joy in our kids--which is, after all, what makes parenting worth it. We fly through the day without really listening to what matters to him, or the questions she's struggling to articulate.  READ POST

Thursday, August 21, 2014 | Permalink

Dr.  Laura....I don't understand how to even begin to validate our very strong willed 2.5 son when he is screaming at me from inside the van and won't get in his seat so we can get his big sister from school and the 6 month old is there as well..." - Anita

In my last post, When You Just Don't Have Time for That Meltdown, I pointed out that Preventive Maintenance can help you avoid meltdowns at those inconvenient times, like when you're trying to get your kids in the car to go somewhere. What's preventive maintenance?

Well, what happens to your car if you don't fill it with gas, change the oil, and give it a regular tune up?  It ends up in the breakdown lane.  Life with children isn't so different. Unfortunately, parents aren't given a preventive maintenance plan for their children.  But if you don't refill your child's love tank, roughhouse with him daily so he gets some good giggling in, and give him regular one-on-one time, you can count on more breakdown time. Especially if there's a relatively new baby in the family, or if you're transitioning from conventional parenting to gentle parenting and your child has some old stuffed emotions to process.  READ POST

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura, I was wondering if you could do a post about empathic limits. What is an appropriate response to bad behavior from an unconditional parenting approach? For example, every time I come home with my daughter I remind her that when we go inside she must take off her shoes. She often will immediately run to the couch and climb onto it with her shoes on. I know she does this precisely because she knows she's not supposed to, and now I warn her if she doesn't get down she will get a timeout. Usually she gets a timeout. I can't not respond when she does something like this. What can I do instead of a timeout?"

“You don't seem to ever discuss discipline in terms of teaching acceptable behavior.  I really think its a lot of bull to give people an excuse not to have decent expectations. Sometimes these kids are brats and they need to be aware of it.  I'm not saying that Screaming is good but screaming or other tactics besides hugs are necessary."

The Aha! Parenting website is loaded with hundreds of pages of examples of how to teach acceptable behavior using empathic limits, so if you aren't getting enough from these posts, please do some exploring on the website.  I'm hoping you'll have an Aha! moment, which is this: 

There is no such thing as a brat, only a child who is hurting. When our starting point as parents is a close bond with our children, we are their North Star, the point around which they orient. They want more than anything in the world to protect that relationship and meet our expectations, as long as that doesn't compromise their own integrity. If our child is acting like a "brat," she's either signaling that she needs a stronger connection with us, that she's got some big feelings she needs our help with, or that she can't meet our expectation without some tailored support. After all, that (along with modeling) is how we teach acceptable behavior!

So given that Aha! insight, which would be the most effective tactics to transform "bratty" behavior into cooperative behavior?  READ POST

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 | Permalink

"I watch their softly tousled heads slumbering on their pillows, and sadness wells up in me. Have I drunk in their smiles and laughter and hugged them, or have I just checked things off my to-do list today? They're growing so quickly. One morning I may wake up and one of my girls will be getting married, and I'll worry: Have I played with them enough? Have I enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of their lives?" -- Janet Fackrell

It's part of our job description as parents to guide our kids and keep them moving through the daily routine. All too often, that means setting limits, denying requests, correcting behavior.  Sometimes we're skillful enough that our child doesn't perceive our guidance as "negative."  More often, kids give us the benefit of the doubt because all the other loving, affirming interactions create a positive balance in our relationship account.  That's why creating those positive interactions with your child matters so much.

Research shows we need at least five positive interactions to each negative interaction to maintain a healthy, happy relationship that can weather the normal conflicts and upsets of daily life. So when we're short on positive interactions, our relationship balance dips into the red. As with any bank account, we're overdrawn. That's when kids resist our guidance and develop attitude, whether they're two or twelve.

Life is busy, and you don't need one more thing for your to-do list. Instead, why not create a few daily habits that replenish your relationship account with your child? After thirty days, any action becomes a habit, so you don't have to think about it.  Here are 20 things you can start doing today to build a closer relationship with your child.  READ POST

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 | Permalink

"Okay, you've convinced me not to punish. But my two year old still bites, has tantrums, throws his food and scribbles on the furniture...." - Rebecca

Unfortunately, a two year old's frontal cortex is still developing the ability to control his emotions and behavior. That means they throw food, break things, have meltdowns, bite when they're mad, and scribble on the furniture. In other words, they act like two year olds.

But since the brain is still developing through the teen years, kids of all ages sometimes lack the rational control to behave as we'd like. Sometimes even 15 year olds act like 2 year olds!

So what can you do when your child acts out, whether he's a toddler or a teen?  Here are the five best strategies for preventing misbehavior, for all age kids.  READ POST

Tuesday, March 04, 2014 | Permalink

"You will always be your child's favorite toy."  -- Vicki Lansky

“Kids may be screaming for the latest gadget, but what they want more than anything is time with the family. Make that your biggest gift this year.” – MidnightBliss

All of us want to make our children's faces shine by gifting them with something special, especially at the holidays. Isn't that what makes dreams come true?

Unfortunately, no. In fact, those material presents are a bit like drugs -- the lift is temporary, followed by a deeper inner craving, eventually tinged with desperation.   READ POST

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | Permalink

"I give my kids plenty of attention.  What's so special about Special Time?" - Emilee

"Giving your child Special Time is an active form of listening, in which your child’s play becomes her vehicle for telling you about her life and perceptions." - Patty Wipfler

"Special time is priceless because it symbolizes the parent’s unconditional love for the child." - B.J. Howard

Every parent I know who has started doing Special Time with his or her child has told me that they see significant changes in their child's behavior. Parents often say that their child seems to respond to it as if they've been missing an essential nutrient. In a way, they have.

Why?  Because Special Time heals the upsets and disconnections of daily modern life. We live in a stressful culture that disconnects us from each other, from our feelings, and from our own inner wisdom. Special Time is the antidote for parents and children, because it:  READ POST

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 | Permalink