Parenting Blog

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"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

"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

'Now when my daughter starts whining, I hold her. Sometimes it takes ten minutes, but then she tells me when she's done, and goes off. It seems to ground her. It grounds me, too." -- Kelly

Whining can drive any parent crazy. It's tempting to tell them we can't listen until they use a more grown-up voice. But kids aren't grown-ups, and their whining is a plea for help. Quite simply, children whine when they're overwhelmed. They need to borrow our calm love so they can self-regulate.

Kelly put it beautifully -- when we reach out to hold a whining child, we really are like a lightning rod, helping our child to ground herself. Once she's restored to a state of balance and well-being, she no longer needs to whine.  READ POST

Tuesday, June 03, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura -- Your 'Spring Cleaning for Your Psyche' series says that all emotion comes from our thoughts, so if we change our thoughts, it will change our emotions. But one of the most important things I've learned from you over the years is that we need to acknowledge our emotions and "feel" them, rather than ignore or stuff them--both for ourselves and our kids. I’m confused." -- Corinne

The simple answer is that there's a difference between honoring our feelings, and preventing them.  READ POST

Thursday, May 22, 2014 | Permalink

"Realize that now, in this moment of time, you are creating. You are creating your next moment based on what you are feeling and thinking. That is what’s real. We can let go of the unconscious belief that being anxious about the past or the future will somehow protect us and instead reprogram our cells with new ways of responding.” -- Doc Childre

Do you worry about your child?  Join the club.  It's part of the job description. But when we say "Be careful!" to our child, we're not giving the message that we care, even though that's what we feel. We're giving the message that the world is an unsafe place and we don't have confidence in our child to navigate it.    READ POST

Tuesday, May 20, 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

“The key is unconditional kindness to all life, including one’s own, which we refer to as compassion.” – David R. Hawkins

All parents know that children need unconditional love to thrive. But how can we give our children something many of us haven't really experienced?

The answer is that each of us CAN experience unconditional love -- by giving it to ourselves.  We do this by actively, thoughtfully, accepting our selves -- imperfections and all.  When we miss the mark of our own standards -- as we all do, all the time -- we give ourselves a compassionate hug, and resolve to give ourselves better support so we can keep moving in the right direction.  READ POST

Thursday, May 08, 2014 | Permalink