Parenting Blog

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"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

"Dr.  Laura....I've already given up on my New Year's Resolution to be a more peaceful mother because I've blown it over and over...and it's only the first week of the year! -- Sylvia

How are you doing at keeping your New Year's resolution? 

(a) Great!
(b) Not so great.
(c) I've given up on keeping my resolution.
(d) I gave up making resolutions a long time ago because they always fail.

If you answered anything other than (a), join the club.  Change is hard.  If it were easy, we wouldn't have invented the idea of using the new year to give us some momentum.

But that doesn't mean it isn't worth aiming for change. It's only the second week of the year. We have a whole year ahead of us to practice. To practice being more patient, practice pausing before we rush in, practice empathizing when our child expresses inconvenient feelings.  READ POST

Friday, January 09, 2015 | Permalink

"If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others." – Haim Ginott

Children rely on us to interpret the world:  "That's HOT, Don't touch!... Now we wash our hands...We can walk now that the light is green.....We always... We never.... This is how we do it.....The sky is blue...."

What happens when they hear"You'd lose your head if it wasn't glued on.....That was a dumb thing to do....You drive me crazy ....Why can't you....You never....You always....."?

Or overhear: "You won't believe the day I've had with that kid....He's so irresponsible....She never does her chores without me hounding her.....He can't control himself....She has such a temper...."

They believe it. Even if they don't show it, even if they act like they don't care, on some level our children believe everything we say.

This could demoralize every one of us at times. But it doesn't have to. Instead, let's use our children's trust in what we say to empower them to become their best selves. Our words don't have to be perfect. But what if we practiced these four habits?  READ POST

Wednesday, November 05, 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

"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