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"What I start to feel is not just anger appropriate to the situation, but old feelings I carry from the past.  And those feelings have nothing to do with my child or the situation.  They have come up for me to take a look at them.  They are part of me.  But they don't belong in my relationship with my child.  They have to do with me and the person who raised me."  -- Laura Davis & Janis Keyser

Is it ever appropriate to get angry at your child?  Well, it's unavoidable, if you're human. Like a blinking light on the dashboard, anger is a signal that you need to address something so your engine doesn't overheat. Ignoring it can be disastrous.  READ POST

Tuesday, July 22, 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

"2 year-olds argue with their parents 20 to 25 times an hour." -- Study reported in Child Development Magazine

Between 11 and 15 months, we learn a wonderful word:  "No!"

It's an ecstatic discovery. We learn we are separate, autonomous beings with a will of our own who can impact what happens in the world.  We delight in saying, "No!" at every opportunity.

Our "No" is actually a big "YES!"

It's an awesome, pure expression of our life force.

After the first cute "No" or two, our parents are usually less than delighted.  In fact, this developmental stage launches what's often called the "terrible twos."  Rarely are our ecstatic expressions of primal life force affirmed.  Do you remember your father or mother saying:
"I love your independence and autonomy!"
"I see that you're learning to stand up for your own truth, which will really help you later in life."  READ POST

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 | Permalink

"Seeing your child in distress, and particularly if that distress is directed at you, is the most dysregulating experience there is. Wild, out of control thoughts of epic disaster come unbidden. Rage, self doubt and other destructive feelings quickly cloud your thinking. What if you could work to push those thoughts aside, and in a way analogous to meditation, concentrated on being in the moment, concentrated on remembering to breathe? It would help you focus on your child, and on the immediate task before you rather than its global implications." – Claudia Gold

When our child acts out, lashes out, or is simply in distress, it's natural for us to panic.  We're plunged into "fight, flight or freeze" because it feels like an emergency. And if our child's distress is directed at us, then he looks like the enemy.

But it's natural for children to have big feelings, and to act them out. If we "lose it"  when our child gets upset, we give her the message that her feelings aren't permitted, which doesn't help her learn to regulate her emotions. Worse, we're saying that we can't control ourselves until she controls herself! Whether she's 5 or 15, that's not what we want to model.   READ POST

Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Permalink

"Isn't there a time and a place for a parent to just plain 'be in charge'?  So often, and especially now, with this new approach, she pretty much does whatever she wants...I don't want my child to be an uncontrollable brat." - Amber

Often, parents get confused about peaceful parenting. They think that if they stop punishing, their child will do whatever she wants. But that assumes there are only two choices -- being permissive or punitive. What about holding to your expectations while at the same time offering your child support and understanding?

Let's say you tell your child that it's time for bed, and she ignores you or says NO! What are your choices?  READ POST

Friday, April 04, 2014 | Permalink

"Yesterday my husband and I had an argument at dinner time in front of the kids. My four year old daughter yelled at us to ‘Be quiet!’ …  My two year old had a tough time going to bed, which is unusual for him. Could that have had to do with mommy and daddy arguing?”

In honor of Valentines Day last week, my posts this week are about the intersection between being a parent and being a couple -- specifically, how to work through conflicts when you're in front of the kids. Next week, we'll get back to our Beyond Discipline series, with 10 Alternatives to Consequences and When Kids Just Won't Cooperate.

Conflict is part of every human relationship. If we live with children, those conflicts will sometimes come up in front of the kids. In the past, most experts reassured parents that there’s no harm in children seeing them fight, as long as the kids also see the parents make up afterwards. However, recent developments in neurological research challenge this view. Not surprisingly, it turns out that when children hear yelling, their stress hormones shoot up. In fact, even a sleeping infant registers loud, angry voices and experiences a rush of stress chemicals that takes some time to diminish.  READ POST

Tuesday, February 18, 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