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"Thanksgiving involves an act of the will. It's not a question of pretending that everything is bright and beautiful when you know it's not. To give thanks is to stand up in the face of the storm and declare that life is worth living." -Charles Henderson

If you live in the US, you're already gearing up for Thanksgiving Thursday. (If it isn't Thanksgiving where you live, I hope this post will start you thinking about your December holiday.)

Are you wondering how to go beyond mere gluttony to add some meaning and gratitude?  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 to your family's Thanksgiving.  READ POST

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 | Permalink

“Sometimes life is so hard. I just wish I could be in a better mood, so I could be nicer to my kids!" - Karen

"We're not grateful because we're happy. We're happy because we're grateful.” - Brother David Stendl-Rast

Life can be hard. And being a parent can be one of the hardest things we do.  It's not surprising that we find ourselves in a bad mood sometimes.  READ POST

Thursday, November 20, 2014 | Permalink

"Every time you complain,  your irritability -- like a virus -- is neurologically picked up by every person who hears your voice or sees your face. So by all means, train your brain to be optimistic and positive because (according to 30+ years of longitudinal research conducted by Duke University and the Mayo Clinic), it will literally add years to your life." -- Mark Waldman

Researchers say the average person complains 30 times a day. But there are people who never complain. Their lives, from the outside, aren't any different than anyone else's. They didn't win the lottery. But they rate themselves as happier than other people.  Their relationships are closer. They live longer. And while I haven’t yet seen any research on this, I’d bet they’re happier parents.  READ POST

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr Laura...What if it is not your own child being aggressive, but other kids?  A few days ago my two year old and I were splashing in puddles when two girls with their grandparents walked past. The 3 year old walked up to my son and said 'We will kill you.' It was obvious she thought the puddles were all their's and she was lashing out with hostility."

We all wish we could protect our children from incidents like this. But since we can't, let's help our kids stay grounded in their own dignity and compassion as they cope with the unhappy people who will inevitably come their way. That's how we, and our kids, help transform the world we live in -- by adding to the love, rather than the pain. How?  READ POST

Thursday, November 13, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura...How do you set loving limits, when you do not give consequences? For example, my son's bouncing a soccer ball inside the house. I give him a choice: "Balls are for bouncing outside. You may take it in front of the house or into the backyard. The choice is yours." Sometimes it works...sometimes he ignores me and continues to bounce the ball...I repeat again, and he does not listen. Should I take the ball away? He did not listen and there should be a consequence, no?"

We see behavior that's against our family rules. We set a limit, in this case by giving our child a choice of two alternate, acceptable, options. He ignores us. We repeat. He ignores us. 

Naturally, we're frustrated. We feel an intense need to teach our child a lesson. Shouldn't there be a "consequence"?

Yes. Clearly, we need to take the ball away, to uphold our family rule about where balls can be used. But that isn't a "consequence" (as parents usually use the term) unless we also punish him for not obeying.   READ POST

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 | Permalink

"When we act with love, trying to understand the other person, it is easy, natural to have more patience." -- Alice Uchida

All parents have hard days sometimes. Maybe we find ourselves in an escalating cycle with our child, where we see everything she does through a negative lens. Maybe we have an interaction with him that leaves wounds.

How can we recover our patience, repair the relationship, and move back into a positive cycle?  READ POST

Friday, November 07, 2014 | 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