Parenting Blog

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"Before I even notice, I’m already 10 steps into reacting with whatever issue is at hand with my kids. When I can remain calm, it certainly helps the situation as opposed to when I get heated up, which only makes things worse. It makes me sad to know that until now, I have not been a good example of emotional regulation at all.  And it's so disheartening to see my kids doing things that I know they saw us do.....throw something, slam a door...."

Sounds familiar, right?  Regulating our emotions is at the heart of our ability to parent the way we’d like. In fact, it’s at the heart of most of the ways we trip ourselves up, from over-eating to procrastinating to fighting with our partner. It's just so easy to get hijacked by our emotions and find ourselves already ten steps down the low road.

We often hear that good parents love their children unconditionally, but we all know that no parent always feels loving. So we’re left on our own to figure out how we can restore ourselves to a state of love during the inevitable ups and downs of daily parenting.

This very challenging task -- regulating our own emotions so that we can guide our child lovingly rather than indulging in our own tantrum -- is fundamental to good parenting.  But it's not just good for our kids. This inner work also helps us to grow into our own full potential.

Is it hard? Yes. I think it's the hardest work any of us will ever do. But it's completely possible. Here's the secret.  READ POST

Thursday, January 22, 2015 | Permalink

"I've been working hard not to yell at my kids. But sometimes I just can't help it. I explode, and then I feel so guilty. I know it isn't really what my kids are doing, it's just me, having a hard day. Is it really possible to stop yelling? What's the secret?" - Natalie

The secret is compassion.

For your child, of course, but start with compassion for yourself. You can't be emotionally generous when you're stressed, running on empty, feeling like you aren't good enough. Once you feel a bit less tense, you'll think better, and you'll be able to reach out to your child in a more relaxed way to turn around whatever is happening. Without yelling.

So when you notice that you're feeling irritable, no shame, no blame. That's just part of being human. We all have hard days. Think of your irritation as a red blinking light on your car dashboard. When you notice it, you:  READ POST

Friday, January 16, 2015 | 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 13, 2015 | Permalink

"The moment one commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred...Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." - Goethe

Did you make a New Years Resolution to be more patient, or to stop yelling? Surveys show those are the #1 resolutions for parents.

If you're like most of us, you've had the experience of making resolutions only to give up in frustration and self-disgust within a few weeks. You may even feel like giving up already, and it's only January 7!

The truth is, most new year's resolutions fail. Not because we're not good enough, or we don't try hard enough. But because what we're trying to do is HARD.  If it were easy, it wouldn't take a New Years Resolution!

The second reason we don't make progress on our resolutions is that most resolutions are a wish, not a plan. To accomplish anything hard, we need to break it into small chunks--a step-by-step plan--and support ourselves to accomplish each step. Then, we need to revise our plan to accommodate reality when we hit a wall.   READ POST

Wednesday, January 07, 2015 | Permalink

"Every time you complain,  your irritability -- like a virus -- is neurologically picked up by every person who hears your voice or sees your face. So by all means, train your brain to be optimistic and positive because (according to 30+ years of longitudinal research conducted by Duke University and the Mayo Clinic), it will literally add years to your life." -- Mark Waldman

Researchers say the average person complains 30 times a day. But there are people who never complain. Their lives, from the outside, aren't any different than anyone else's. They didn't win the lottery. But they rate themselves as happier than other people.  Their relationships are closer. They live longer. And while I haven’t yet seen any research on this, I’d bet they’re happier parents.  READ POST

Tuesday, November 18, 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

“Before the plane takes off, the pilots have a flight plan…but during the course of the flight, wind, rain, turbulence, air traffic, human error, and other factors act on the plane…90% of the time the plane is not even on the prescribed flight path...During the flight, the pilots make constant adjustments to get back on track. The flight of that airplane is the perfect metaphor for family life…it doesn’t make any difference if we are off target or even if our family is a mess. The hope lies in the vision and in the plan and in the courage to keep coming back time and time again.” – Stephen Covey

You may have noticed that you aren’t perfect. That sometimes you aren’t the parent or the person you want to be. Sometimes you blow it.  We all do. Welcome to humanity.

The bad news is that even if we’re committed to being the best parent, and best person, we can be, we will never be perfect. Life happens. We get off track. We get disconnected -- from our child, our partner, our own deepest guidance. We see the other person as making our life more difficult, rather than realizing that they're having a hard time. We feel hurt, we feel frustrated, we feel trapped. We lash out.  READ POST

Friday, September 26, 2014 | Permalink