Parenting Blog

Latest Posts

“Sometimes life is so hard. I just wish I could be in a better mood, so I could be nicer to my kids!" - Karen

"We're not grateful because we're happy. We're happy because we're grateful.” - Brother David Stendl-Rast

Life can be hard. And being a parent can be one of the hardest things we do.  It's not surprising that we find ourselves in a bad mood sometimes.  READ POST

Thursday, November 20, 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 much more love and affection can I give him? .... Because once you pee on your brother, you've gone too far, and we have to fix this now."

What's a parent to do when a child acts out in a big way? In a recent post, we evaluated some options: spanking, time-out, sticker charts. Bottom line, they're unlikely to be effective, because they don't get to the root of the behavior. We can assume the toddler is showing his baby brother who's boss because he's feeling major jealousy. Punishing him will just reinforce the sibling rivalry, because it convinces him that he really has lost you.

Then, in our last post, we talked about how connecting differently with your child can turn a situation like this around. Instead of punishing, nip this behavior in the bud by focusing on prevention. Refill your child’s love tank and give her an emotional tune-up on a daily basis, so you don’t end up in the breakdown lane. Hard, yes--but it works. When you connect with your child in the way she needs, most of the time her behavior improves dramatically.

But what if it doesn't? "Just how much more love and attention can I give him?"  I call this the leaky cup syndrome. The answer is, if you're really giving him all the love and attention you can, and it isn't changing his behavior, it's because you aren't healing the feelings driving the behavior.   READ POST

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura....I just want to give my kids a better start in life than I had.  How can I make sure they're self-disciplined but happy?" - Katie

All of us want to raise children who become self-disciplined -- and happy -- adults.  The only question is how best to do that.  Luckily, we know the answer.  Research studies have been following children from babyhood to adulthood for decades, so we actually know what works to raise great kids. Here are the five most important things we know.

1. Children need a secure attachment with at least one loving adult.  Parents facilitate this secure attachment in the first year by listening to their unique baby and responding to her needs. They continue to nurture secure attachment by accepting the full range of who their child is -- including all that messy neediness and anger -- into the toddler years and beyond. Parents who are unable to tolerate the child's neediness, controlling (rather than accepting the child as he is), intrusive (rather than taking the child's cues), or otherwise reacting out of their own needs rather than responding to their child's needs are less likely to raise a securely attached child.  READ POST

Friday, August 15, 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

"How would you handle a situation when you have to leave the park to go get your other two children and unfortunately can't sit on the bench for thirty minutes while she cries?" - Sandra

In our last post about setting limits with empathy, the three year old was upset about leaving the park, so the parent supported her through her disappointment, which involved tears and anger on the park bench. But that's not always an option. What do you do then?  READ POST

Thursday, July 31, 2014 | Permalink