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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 14, 2014 | 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 stop yelling?  Surveys show that's the #1 Resolution for parents everywhere.

Or maybe your resolution was to transform your relationship with your son or daughter because you know that's the first step toward your child changing. Or maybe you're working to shift the tone in your house from sniping and snotty to laughing and loving.

While we have the ability to create change at any time, there's something about the symbolic fresh start of the new year that gives us a little extra momentum. But 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 8!

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. And often we don't know how to support ourselves with a step-by-step plan, or we don’t revise our plan to accommodate reality when we hit a wall. Or maybe we never really commit ourselves aloud and in public, so our resolution never gets the chance to grow roots, much less flower.

So resolutions are not enough. Habits are hard to break, and resolutions by themselves are a wish without a plan.  Intention by itself is a great beginning, but it's only the first step of the journey.

But there are a few lucky folks who actually make their New Year's resolutions come true.  What can we learn from them?  READ POST

Wednesday, January 08, 2014 | Permalink

"In fact we often don’t feel the wonder and beauty because we're too busy trying to live up to the ideal in our head....The cost of perfection is that it stresses us out to the point where we no longer enjoy the moment we're living in." - Pastor Jon

Most of us aspire to give our kids a fairy-tale holiday. We have a secret fantasy that this will make up for all of our imperfections as a parent.

And there's an even deeper fantasy driving most of us at this time of year. On some level, we hope that giving our child a perfect holiday will somehow repair everything that wasn't perfect in our own childhoods.

Like most unconscious needs, this one fuels a fierce frenzy of activity that's destined to fail.   READ POST

Friday, December 20, 2013 | Permalink

"Believing in the true spirit of my December holiday, I commit myself to:
Remember those people who truly need my gifts
Express my love in more direct ways than gifts
Examine my holiday activities in the light of my deepest values
Be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends
Rededicate myself to my spiritual growth."
- Jo Robinson & Jean Coppock Staeheli

"Love is what's in the room with you if you stop opening presents and listen." -- Bobby, age 7

If you have a deep faith and keep the rituals of your religious tradition, then you’ve probably given a lot of thought to your child’s spiritual development and have your holiday religious plans all mapped out.

If, on the other hand, you wonder how to put what you believe into words and aren’t sure what spiritual beliefs you want to pass on to your kids, this post is for you.  READ POST

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | Permalink

"Television advertisements for toys and games often exploit children's underlying needs and desires.  Many commercials show a child playing with a game or toy with her parents.  The message is clear to young children: Ask for this product and your mother and father will pay attention to you. It is an offer they cannot resist." -- Lawrence Kutner

Worried that your child seems to get a bit greedy at the holidays? Consider that maybe something deeper is being triggered -- a longing for that happy, perfect, life when he'll feel completely enveloped by your love.  We adults have the same fantasy, of course.  It's part of the wonder of the holidays -- that promise of transformative love.

The human mind has a tendency to crave more, more, more.  Kids (like many adults) haven't yet learned how to manage those yearnings and direct them toward what will really fulfill them, which is connection, creativity, and spirituality (whether your definition of that is God, Nature or Love).

And it is possible to fill our children’s deep longings.  Not with excessive presents – which always leave kids feeling unfulfilled -- but with deep meaning and the magic of love. How?  READ POST

Friday, December 13, 2013 | Permalink

"My memories of Christmas as a child are of stress. My mother wanted everything to be perfect and got so worked up trying to do it all that it made the rest of the family crazy. I remember my dad comforting me when I was about 8 years old, I was crying and said “I hate Christmas” and he said “I do, too, honey. We just have to get through it.”

So for my kids I try to be relaxed and fun. We make ornaments for friends and family in December and give them out as we see people — gets us into the giving without thought of receiving. We take time to see the lights around town, to decorate and appreciate our tree. We talk about the other festivals of lights and remember that feasting and gifts are to make the darkest, coldest time of year merry. We celebrate the return of the sun. We relax and play and laugh and appreciate each other.” - Amy

Thursday, December 12, 2013 | Permalink

"It's especially important during the holidays to remember that aiming for a PERFECT holiday is actually a bad goal. Not only is perfection impossible and striving for it adds stress, but honestly, the holidays families remember most fondly are those when the dog ate the cake, or everybody got the flu on Thanksgiving. Play it loose, have a sense of humor..." -- Meg Cox

If you live in the US, you're already bracing yourself for Thanksgiving Thursday. (If you don't, I hope this post will start you thinking about your December holiday.) 

Are you trying to figure out how to get everything done this week?  Or how to go beyond mere gluttony to add some meaning and gratitude in between courses?  I'm the first to trumpet the benefit to our kids -- and ourselves -- of rituals, and of learning the habit of gratitude.  And you'll find plenty of ideas on the Aha! Parenting website to add meaning and Aha! moments to your family's Thanksgiving.

But my plea to you this week is to remember that perfection is not attainable, and striving for that magazine-spread holiday will only stress you out and make you yell at your kids. Luckily, perfection isn't necessary for you and your family to have a perfectly wonderful Thanksgiving.  READ POST

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | Permalink