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“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” - Jane Nelsen

Parents are often surprised to hear that I suggest they move beyond Discipline. But discipline means "to guide" and most of what we think of as discipline (spankings, consequences, timeouts) actually gets in the way of guiding our kids to better behavior.  READ POST

Thursday, January 29, 2015 | Permalink

Happy Wednesday! Don't miss today's Parenting Question from the Aha! Weekly Newsletter.

How authentic should parents be with kids about their own emotions?
Dr. Laura.....Does being emotionally stoic damage kids emotionally? Shouldn't they see our authentic emotions?  READ POST

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura...You wrote:  'Sometimes kids just need to cry...Set a reasonable limit and welcome his meltdown.' Are you saying that I should just say No and let my son cry, and things will get better? That's what my parents did, and I spent hours in my room crying. It wasn't good for me, and it made me so angry at them." - Shelly

Shelly makes a good point. Sometimes we all just need a good cry. And kids, with their immature frontal cortex, need to cry more often than adults, to heal all those feelings that are making them act out. But that's only healing if they have a compassionate witness -- the safe haven of a parent. Leaving your child to cry alone just traumatizes her, and gives her the message that she's all alone with those scary feelings, just when she needs us most.  READ POST

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | Permalink

Happy Monday! Don't miss today's Parenting Secret from the Aha! Weekly Newsletter.

Why do kids need routines and structure?

Because routines give them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.

Humans are afraid of many things, but "the unknown" edges out everything except death and public speaking for most people.

Children’s fear of the unknown includes everything from a suspicious new vegetable to a major change in their life. Unfortunately, children are confronted with change daily, which is a growth opportunity, but also stressful......(read more in the Aha! Weekly)  READ POST

Monday, January 26, 2015 | Permalink

"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 recently discovered Aha! Parenting and am trying hard to change things at our house, but my kids seem to be acting out more.  So I still lose it. And I feel so guilty about the past. What am I doing wrong?" 

"For me, this type of parenting is a daily choice. Every morning I have to make the commitment not to yell, to stay calm, to chose love. And there is something very empowering about that.  I apologize to my kids when I make mistakes and slip - I see that when they accept my apology, they feel empowerment and generosity of spirit. This influences their behavior with each other - there are more kind words and gestures, more "I'm sorry" and more "Don't worry, I know it wasn't your fault" that they extend to each other, than before. There are days when things are a big struggle, but I really feel that something is changing deep within our hearts AND I feel us grow closer together when we choose love, and when in the middle of a tantrum I hug my child and genuinely tell him that I hear his pain and that I'll help him work through it."

Shifting your parenting approach is a big transition, and you can expect some bumps as you and your children learn new patterns of relating. It doesn't mean that you're doing anything wrong. In fact, what's happening is that you're healing old hurt feelings so they stop driving new bad behavior. When your child acts out, he's showing you feelings from the past when you punished or yelled. It takes extra compassion from you, but your empathic response will heal those hurts so you can all move on.

So ditch that guilt -- you're paying the price, after all, and making amends now, by helping your child through all those old hurt feelings. Besides, feeling bad doesn't help you act "good," any more than it helps your child. Here's your plan. Take it step by step.  READ POST

Tuesday, January 20, 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