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"Parents who are serious about raising children to be decent people spend an awful lot of time guiding them. It's not enough for us to have good values; these values must be communicated directly... For instance, to say nothing when a child acts selfishly is to send a clear message, and that message has more to do with the acceptability of selfishness than it does with the virtues of non-intrusive parenting. We need to establish clear moral guidelines, to be explicit about what we expect, but in a way that minimizes coercion."- Alfie Kohn

How do you raise a child who assumes responsibility for her actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or not? You....  READ POST

Thursday, February 26, 2015 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura....How do you hold a child accountable for her behavior without punishment?"

"I recently read a quote from a Finnish education minister: "There's no word for accountability in Finnish...Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted." - Teacher Tom

What does it mean, to hold our child accountable for her behavior?  My definition would be that our child assumes responsibility for her actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or notSo, really, it isn't about "holding our child accountable."  What we want is for our child to step into responsibility, to hold HERSELF accountable.  Once someone takes responsibility, we don't have to "hold her accountable."  READ POST

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 | Permalink

Happy Friday! Don't miss  this week's Ages and Stages Tip in the Aha! Newsletter

Positive Parenting a Teenager? A terrific teen who's responsible, considerate, shows good judgment, at least most of the time? Yes, it is possible! Here's your game plan.

You may not feel like you have much influence on your child these days, but teens’ behavior is highly correlated with the strength of their bonds with their parents. Good relationships between teenagers and their parents, as rated by both, are positively correlated with school success and general happiness as rated by the teen and those around her.

Weak or conflictual parent/teen relationships are correlated with early sexual activity, experimentation with drugs and alcohol, the teen's involvement in violence (as either perpetrator or victim), and suicide.

So how do you positively parent this blossoming person who sometimes seems to be becoming a stranger?....(read more here)  READ POST

Friday, February 20, 2015 | Permalink

"You write that "discipline doesn't work" and then you go straight into talking about punishment... For me, these are 2 very different things. Discipline is "to teach" and I think it is important to teach, but not punish, our kids."- Rachael

"I am a loving mother and mostly my children are very good. But everyone knows that children need discipline. What do you recommend as loving discipline?"

Want to join me in a survey?  Let's ask 10,000 people whether children need discipline. I'm willing to bet that in any random sample, 9999 of our respondents will say "Yes, of course!"

But discipline is a murky word, so maybe we should define our terms. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1. Punishment
2. Instruction (obsolete)
3. Field of study
4. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.
5. Control gained by enforcing obedience or order.

So, Rachael is right. The word Discipline originally meant Instruction or Guidance and derives from the same Latin root as the word Disciple.  Nowadays, however, that meaning is considered obsolete, and the word has come to mean Punishment READ POST

Friday, February 20, 2015 | Permalink

"I watch their softly tousled heads slumbering on their pillows, and sadness wells up in me. Have I drunk in their smiles and laughter and hugged them, or have I just checked things off my to-do list today? They're growing so quickly. One morning I may wake up and one of my girls will be getting married, and I'll worry: Have I played with them enough? Have I enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of their lives?" -- Janet Fackrell

It's part of our job description as parents to guide our kids and keep them moving through the daily routine. All too often, that means setting limits, denying requests, correcting behavior.  Sometimes we're able to be emotionally generous, so our child doesn't perceive our guidance as "negative."  More often, kids give us the benefit of the doubt because all the other loving, affirming interactions create a positive balance in our relationship account. That's why creating those positive interactions with your child matters so much.

Research shows that we need at least five positive interactions to each negative interaction to maintain a healthy, happy relationship that can weather the normal conflicts and upsets of daily life. So when we're short on positive interactions, our relationship balance dips into the red. As with any bank account, we're overdrawn. That's when kids resist our guidance and develop attitude, whether they're two or twelve.

Life is busy, and you don't need one more thing for your to-do list. Instead, why not create a few daily habits that replenish your relationship account with your child? After thirty days, any action becomes a habit, so you don't have to think about it.  Here are 21 things you can start doing today to build a closer relationship with your child.  READ POST

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 | Permalink

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

Dr. Laura......My little boy is just 13 months, but the tantrums have already started.....I do the ignoring trick, it works for the smaller things. But when he's really upset it doesn't work. I think it seems to make him more upset. I'll leave the room and he'll follow me around screaming and crying and hanging on me. I am so torn, because he's still little and at that point, I feel like he just needs some comfort and he'll be okay. But then I have this internal dialogue telling me that by comforting him I am sending the message that its okay to throw these fits, and that's how he gets my attention.
(read Dr. Laura's answer here)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 | Permalink

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

15 Ways to Raise a Child with Great Values

Some psychologists think values are impossible to teach, and it is certainly true that telling kids to be more honest, or diligent, or considerate, doesn’t work any better than telling adults to be. But if values are impossible to teach, they are too important to leave to chance.

In recent years, some schools have tried to add moral development to their curriculum. But schools have a tough time teaching kids values because they intervene too late, not to mention in too much isolation from the rest of the child’s life. Worse yet, they are often at odds with what the child is learning at home about values.

Because the truth, of course, is that we do teach values to kids, daily, every minute of their lives. The question isn’t whether to teach values, only WHAT we are teaching.......(read more here)  READ POST

Monday, February 16, 2015 | Permalink