Changing Your Mindset

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5 comments

Parenting, like life, is all about perspective.

The way we were raised and our experiences throughout life have wired our brains to certain beliefs and habits. We perform them often at an unconscious level, carrying on the actions and tone of our parents, whether it be good or bad. However, because so many of us were raised with spanking and punishment, the shift in our thinking is the hardest but most important step in embracing positive parenting. Thanks to the great strides in neuroscience research over the past few decades, we know that attachment is best for our children, we know that our interactions with them are wiring their brains, and we know that we can begin to make new neural connections, essentially re-wire our brains and theirs, when we become a more conscious parent.

Making the choice not to spank and to parent gently and respectfully is a wonderful first step, but until you change your mindset, you will find positive parenting challenging, particularly if you were raised punitively.

I'll be honest. It took me about a year to really "get it." Having made the shift in thinking myself, I know it is not an easy task. You are essentially re-wiring your own brain to think about children and parenting in a different way.

Like many of you may be experiencing, I knew I didn't want to spank, but I didn't know what TO DO instead, and that wasn't because I lacked positive parenting tools (I'd read a TON and knew how it was supposed to work) but I was in my same mindset, the control or "fear-based" mindset.

The fear-based mindset says:

1. I have to control my child's behavior.

2. My child learns through consequences and/or punishment not to repeat bad behavior.

3. I am the dominant figure, my child is "under" me.

It is possible to be in a fear-based mindset and try to practice positive parenting. I know, because I did it for a while myself.

Do you:

- Use counting to change behavior? (One of the first books I read which claimed to be Positive Parenting was 1-2-3 Magic.) I used it, and it worked...for a while. Until it didn't work anymore.

- Use time-outs for punishment? (I did this one too. It never worked in my house! It only caused power struggles.)

- Find that, since you don't know how to make your kids mind without punishment, you just don't bother to set real limits? OR, because you know now how important relationship is in positive parenting, you try to never put strain on your relationship? (Guess what? I went there too! I had a brief phase of permissiveness before my "Aha" moment came.)

To really make positive parenting work, you need to switch from a fear-based mindset to a love-based mindset. The love-based mindset says:

1. My role is to guide and teach my child appropriate behavior.

2. My child learns through the examples set in the home and through the limits that are set and enforced respectfully and with empathy.

3. While I am the leader, my child has equal rights to respect and to be heard.

Once you switch to love-based thinking, "what to do instead" will become much more clear and simple.

Here are some tips to help you shift perspective:

Educate yourself on the development of your child's brain. See my post "Positive Parenting is NOT Permissive Parenting" for links to brain development articles and Positive Parenting: What? Why? How? for more links and information. Understanding what your child is cognitively capable of will go a long way in changing your perspective on behavior.

Re-frame your thoughts surrounding your child's behavior. Instead of seeing it as misbehavior, see it as an opportunity. I know this is easier said than done, but all things get easier with practice. Her behavior may be an opportunity for connection, for teaching a new skill, or for setting a new limit. Her misbehavior could be telling you many things (she's tired, she's bored, she's feeling afraid, she's feeling disconnected) but it never means she's naughty or bad.

Replace the idea of consequences with problem-solving. See my post "What's the Deal with Consequences" for more detail on this.

Read "Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control" by Heather Forbes for a in-depth look at the core beliefs of love-based parenting.

Parenting is a journey. It is a time of growth, not only for our children, but for ourselves as well. Sometimes we're not sure which path to take, and sometimes in our journey, we get lost and realize we've gone the wrong way. Luckily, it's never too late to turn around and find the right path. My experience is that, when you go down the path labeled "love," it always takes you where you want to go.

What's the Deal with Consequences?

Saturday, June 25, 2011 18 comments

Whether you're new to positive parenting or a seasoned veteran, the issue of consequences can get your head spinning. Logical versus natural versus imposed. Then there are positive and negative consequences. What is the difference between them all?

I'm going to attempt to simplify this whole consequence dilemma by giving you one secret tool.

Throw the word "consequence" entirely out of your vocabulary and replace it with the term "problem-solving."

Do you see how this changes the whole concept in your mind? Now it's not about coming up with something to do to your child, but it's about working with your child to find a solution. Having your child involved in the problem-solving process will not only teach him valuable lessons and instill self-discipline, but it will leave his dignity intact, and he'll feel good about himself and his relationship with you.

Because I like to give actual examples instead of leaving you guessing, I'll start with a little personal story. My oldest son was barely 4 years old at the time we went to the bank where I used to work for a visit with some friends. Sitting in my friend's office, he began spraying the compressed air duster on everything. I asked him to please put it down, which he did briefly, but he couldn't resist for long (that stuff is pretty fun to spray) and he ended up emptying out the whole can.

Now, you might be wondering why I didn't just get up and take it from him, and the answer is because I saw an opportunity here to teach him a valuable lesson. When we got back to the car, I kindly explained to him that we had to respect the property of others. I did not lecture, I was just matter-of-fact about it. I said "We really need to get a new can for the bank to replace what you used. How are we going to fix this? He thought for a moment and said "I could do chores to earn the money!" I told him that was a great idea and that I was proud of him for thinking of a solution. When we got home, I let him wipe off the kitchen table and the sink, and I gave him $1. The next day, we stopped by the bank, and he took the money to my friend and told her he'd earned the money himself to give back to her to buy more air duster.

*Edited to add: Keep in mind this was just one day, one instance, one lesson. We teach many, many  lessons throughout everyday interactions. He knows it's not OK to waste things and act selfishly because I've taught him that in many other interactions with him. In this particular scenario, the lesson I wanted to teach was that of responsibility and righting wrongs. I made the call to do so because wasting an air duster can is a fairly harmless act and the consequence (earning the money to pay for it) was small. Also, this was a good friend of mine and she was in on the lesson. I explained to her that he'd be earning it back and would bring the money back to her to pay for it, and when he did so, she encouraged his responsibility. Had I not known this person, had it been a slightly different scenario, I would have held my limit and put it out of his reach. However, parenting is a series of  choices, and in this instance I decided to let him experience the consequence of his choice to not listen to me.*

Why was that not a punishment? Because I didn't make him feel bad about himself, he came up with the solution, he willingly did the chores, and he felt proud of himself when he took the money back to her.

If I would have said "Shame on you! You did exactly what I asked you not to do! Now you're going to do chores and give her back the money!" he would have felt ashamed, angry, and resentful. That would have been punishment. Make sense?

Let me give you just a couple more examples of problem-solving instead of imposing consequences.

Note: Because problem-solving is a cortex (pre-frontal) function, the child probably won't be ready to be involved in the problem-solving process until at least age 4. However, you can certainly let your younger-than-4 children hear you problem-solve. Talk it through with them. "You wanted Emma's doll, so you took it from her, but now Emma is crying. You both want the doll. Hmm. How can we solve this problem? How about you and Emma take turns with the doll?"

Your 5 year old son gets upset at Grandma's house and yells "I don't like you!" to her. Grandma tells you about when you pick him up. Instead of telling him he was rude and taking away his tv for 2 days, involve him in making it all better.

Ask him what happened at Grandma's. Hear him out. You might say "I understand you got upset. Everyone gets upset sometimes, but we have to be careful with words because they can hurt. Do you think those words hurt Grandma's feelings?" Ask him "How can we make Grandma feel better? Can you think of something?" He may decide to pick her some flowers or make her a card or write her an apology note. If he doesn't come up with anything on his own, offer him a few suggestions like I just listed and let him choose. When he chooses, help him carry out his solution by taking him outside to pick the flowers or giving him supplies to make a card and tell him how much better he will make Grandma feel. Let him surprise her with it! He'll probably be smiling ear-to-ear.

Your 13-year-old has math homework due the next day, but she wants to go to a movie with her friend. You remind her of the homework, and she says "I hate homework! I want to go to the movie!" Resist the urge to make her sit down and do it "this instant!" and give her the opportunity to problem-solve. You might say "Well, I'd rather watch a movie than do homework too, but I wonder what your teacher will say if you don't have your homework?" Lend an empathetic ear to what she has to say. If she doesn't begin to come up with a solution, you can coach her. "What time does the movie start? I'll bet you can get the homework done in time and still make the movie and have your homework ready for your teacher tomorrow."

Obviously every scenario can go a hundred different ways, but the idea is to involve your child in the process. Let your child come up with as much of the solution with as little prompting from you as possible, but do offer coaching if he's young or having a difficult time problem-solving himself. There should be no shaming, blaming, or anger in the problem-solving process. If you're child is upset, or if you are upset, wait until everyone is calm to begin the process. The keys to successful problem-solving are:

1. Your child feels GOOD about it afterward.

2. YOU feel good about it afterward.

3. The problem has been solved.

I hope this helps you solve the problem of figuring out consequences!

Positive Parenting Is NOT Permissive Parenting

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 19 comments

Over the past year, I have had a few comments on PPTB suggesting that we are permissive parents who fail to set appropriate boundaries, let our children run wild, and fail to discipline them whatsoever. Permissive parenting is just as bad as authoritarian parenting, and we certainly do not advocate being permissive. For more on this, read What's Wrong With Permissive Parenting by Dr. Laura Markham. So, to bust this myth for good, I'd like to make a few points.

DO set appropriate limits for your children. Children rely on us to keep them safe and to teach them. Don't go overboard with unnecessary limits as this will be overwhelming for the child, but choose what is most important to you during that particular stage of development, set the limit, and stick to it. The difference with positive parenting is not the lack of limits, but the way in which limits are set and enforced.

Your 18 month old is a little explorer. She really likes to climb too! She can even climb up in the chair, then up on the kitchen table.

Authoritarian reaction: Sternly, "Do NOT climb up there again!" The next time the child climbs onto the table, she is forcefully removed and sat in a time out chair in the corner, crying.

Permissive reaction: "Honey, I told you not to climb. Please get down." No action is taken. "Honey, I asked you to get down. You might fall." At this point, the permissive parent may not take action and hope for the best for finally get up to remove the child from the table.

Positive reaction: The first time your child attempts to climb on the table, you intervene, saying "Climbing is fun! Let's find a safe place for you to climb. This table is not safe." Let her climb over some couch cushions, if she wants. Climbing itself is not a misbehavior. She may conquer Mount Everest one day! The goal is to keep her safe and teach her what is appropriate. The next time she heads for the table, immediately and gently take her from the table, repeating the above. If she gets upset, aknowledge her upset. "I see you're mad. You want to climb, but that isn't safe. Let's go play over here."

The positive parent set the limit, stuck to the limit by not allowing the child to climb on the table, but showed the child an appropriate outlet and empathized with her feelings.

Children should be respected and valued like adults are, but we realize they are not adults. They depend on their parents for leadership and guidance. If your kids are running your house, they're probably not happy kids. No child wants to be the leader, its too much responsibility for them. Read How To Be The Leader Your Child Needs for more on leadership.

You have a 5 year old and a 2 year old, and you had to come to the store to pick up a few items. Your 5 year old is begging for a new toy, and your 2 year old is late for his nap and is cranky.

Authoritarian reaction: To the 5 year old: "I told you before we came that you couldn't have a new toy. If you ask one more time, you'll get it when we get home." To the cranky 2 year old, "Will you stop whining? We'll be leaving in just a minute. I can't take you kids anywhere!"

Permissive reaction: Buys both kids a new toy AND a sucker to appease them until the shopping is done.

Positive reaction: *TIP* Don't try a store trip if it's nap time and your child is cranky. :) To the 5 year old, "That is such a cool toy! I wish I could buy it for you. Is there a whole set of them? Tell me about the rest of them!" If your child still asks for the toy (mine would!) you can say, "You really want that toy! I see how much you want it. It's disappointing when we can't get something we want right away." Empathize with his disappointment. We all get disappointed when we can't get stuff we want. To the 2 year old, "I know you're tired. Will you be my helper? I'm looking for bananas. Do you see any bananas?" It's also not a bad idea to carry things in your purse that you know your child likes. My own son loves to draw, so if I give him paper and a pencil anywhere, he's a happy camper.

The positive parent showed leadership by being prepared and skillfully using tools from the PP toolkit (fantasizing with the child with "That is a cool toy, I wish I could buy it for you," empathy "I see how much you want it. It's disappointing when we can't get something we want right away" and "I know you're tired," and distraction "Will you be my helper? I'm looking for bananas."

In Positive Parenting, discipline means "to teach" not "to punish." Therefore, we are always disciplining our children! We are mindful that every interaction with them teaches them something, every interaction they see us have with others and that they have with others teaches them something. There are lots of ways to teach appropriate behavior! For some ideas, check out the post Positive Parenting: What, Why, How?

Your 2 year old has started hitting. At a play date, someone snatches her toy, and she whacks the snatcher with a right hand.

Authoritarian reaction: Spanks the child, saying "You know better than to hit!"

Permissive reaction: Ignores the hitting, blames the other child, or nonchalantly says, "We don't hit" from across the room.

Positive reaction: Goes to child immediately and removes her from the situation. Gets down on her level and says, "You're mad! She took your toy and you got mad! Hitting hurts. Sit here with me until you're feeling better." Have her remain on your lap or sit next to you. Help her get regulated by empathizing with her emotion. When she is calm, tell her again that hitting hurts, and she may not hit. If you want to remain at the play date, watch closely and try to intervene before anything escalates to something physical. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Remain calm, empathize with what she is feeling, but be firm that hitting is unacceptable and take action immediately.

As a final note, we post a lot of brain development articles on PPTB, and we talk about what is age-appropriate often; however, just because it is age appropriate doesn't mean "Oh, its normal, let him by with it." The reason why this knowledge is important is this: In the above scenerio with the hitting 2 year old, if you are unaware of how the brain develops and that your child does not yet have access to higher brain functions that allow her pause, reason, and use logic, then you might just assume your child is being "mean" or defiant. However, when you understand that this is age-appropriate behavior BECAUSE anger sends her into her lower brain functions of "fight or flight" then you can 1) empathize with her (which will help her brain develop better) and 2) guide her behavior until she is cognitively able to guide them herself. To learn more about brain development, read Understanding Brain Development In Young Children and Brain Development in Children.


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Kids Are People, Too. - Guest Post by Laura Ling

Friday, June 17, 2011 2 comments

This is a guest post by Laura Ling.

Before I had kids, I thought the response to misbehaving children was that they needed more spankings. I was pretty rigid in my definition of misbehaving, too. Running around, laughing and talking loudly, making messes, picking up things they 'shouldn't'. You know, anything other than sitting still and quiet.

And see, I had this curse, too. Everywhere I went, there were kids. If they weren't there when I got there, they'd show up soon afterwards. Not just a few kids, either. It was like a school bus was following me, just waiting for me to slow down so they could unload. 9pm movies? Yep, a dozen kids (2 infants!) Six Flags? Field trip day. Even a bar, once. So I had lots of opportunities to think how I would do it better. MY child would be quiet in public. MY child would respect adults. MY child wouldn't throw tantrums.

Then my daughter arrived.

It started slowly, that second day in the hospital. The first thing to go was the idea the baby had to be in a crib in another room. I hadn't even questioned getting a crib and bassinet and setting up a nursery on the other side of the house (we had monitors, after all).

It gained momentum when I read that you can't spoil a child in its first year. Intrigued by the idea that gestation would ideally be 21 months for humans, if only their heads would fit through the birth canal, I started reading more about brain development. I also bought some discipline books, figuring I could avoid those common traps other parents fell into because they 'didn't plan ahead'. (Ah, new parents who know everything…lol)

We decided early on that we wouldn't spank. That left us questioning what to do instead. We watched every episode of SuperNanny aired. Read countless books on different techniques. Explored natural and logical consequences. The more I read, the more I realized that kids, while not miniature adults, were indeed still people who deserved to be treated with dignity and respect. That our job as parents was to nurture and guide them on their own path, not mold them into what we thought they should be.

I started learning what was developmentally appropriate for each age and what skills were being built. It really IS much easier getting through a phase when you know it's a phase and they're learning something really important from it. I started looking at traits as they would be when she was an adult herself and it made her determination, so challenging to deal with now, important not to squash.

Now I'm fully transformed into that liberal hippy mom who doesn't believe in punishment of any sort. I think spanking, especially strong-willed children like mine, leads to aggression or paralyzing fear. I think increasing control leads to mindless obedience or rebellion. I think our expectations of children are beyond what they're developmentally capable of.

It did take awhile to figure out 'what to do instead' because "nothing" is really just as bad as being too authoritarian. The answer lies not along the strict/permissive continuum, but in a different direction: connection. Now, I did have serious doubts about getting a 2 year old to do anything that needed being done just by 'having talks' with her. "You can't reason with a toddler." We certainly don't discuss Plato, although that is what she calls the dog on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but she has totally surprised me in her ability to understand and be willing to comply with reasonable requests.

First, we made our list of rules very short, mostly based on safety and respect for life. Hitting isn't allowed and anything declared dangerous by Mama and Papa is off-limits. The rest is pretty much left open. Then we model behavior we want, as children will mimic what they are exposed to. I call her my shiny little mirror. When I see a behavior I don't like, I look first to see if I am doing that.

We explain what is happening to her, not only so she will know but so that she feels like an important enough person to be told these things. We listen to her input because she has valid thoughts and feelings, too.

We have expectations for polite behavior, but no 'consequences' for not following through. Adults aren't always on their best behavior, so why do we expect our children to never have bad days?

I try to ask for behavior I want, instead of stopping a behavior I don't. "Touch gently" instead of "Don't hit." "Play with the toys on the floor" instead of "Don't throw." It's sometimes challenging, but it's much easier for a child to know what behavior is acceptable if you just tell them and don't leave them to figure it out by a series of unacceptable behaviors. "I want you to sit on this chair and read quietly while we wait" compared to "Don't run. Don't throw things. Hush. Don't play with the plant. Don't touch the water fountain." and so on.

But what about those times we need to set limits and she's not willing? Well, we set the limit, explain it to her in terms she can understand and let her know ahead of time (unless there's an immediate danger) what our actions will be if she chooses a certain behavior. She can choose how she wants to behave knowing full well what will happen with either choice. Our intent is guide her in making choices, but not make them for her. For example, we may say "Someone could get hurt. If you throw another block, I will put them up. You may play with them gently."

Early on, there was a lot of testing and "I'm putting this away because you threw it." Since our goal was to teach her how TO do something not just how not to do it, we had lots of do-overs. By trying again, she got to see that certain behaviors resulted in getting what she wanted immediately (throwing blocks) and others resulted in getting what she wanted long term (playing with blocks).

I struggled with consequences like this as they can be perceived as negative by the child. We can't make life sunshine and rainbows every moment, nor should we try. The main difference between allowing the child to make choices knowing the consequences and punitive consequences meted out by the parents is how everyone feels afterwards. A child is able to learn without negative feelings and we want to teach our daughter, not make her feel bad. In fact, people learn better when they are not stressed or fearful.

My unrealistic expectations of how children 'should' behave have changed because I now see them in a different light. They are acting in a developmentally appropriate way and the issue is the adult's. They are more capable than we give them credit for on one hand, yet we demand things of them we wouldn't expect from another adult, like sleeping through the night alone, controlling their emotions, being grateful for correction, and never having an off day.

Parents will issue commands, put their kids off, interrupt them, and not listen to what they say, then wonder why their children do the same things back to them. The answer is not more spankings for disobedience, but showing their children the same respect they want reflected back. If you wouldn't treat your best friend that way, don't treat your kids that way. Or better yet, if you wouldn't want to be treated that way, don't treat your kids that way.

**Picture from

Positive Parenting: What is it? Why do it? But How?

Thursday, June 16, 2011 1 comment

"There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation in the way we raise our children." - Marianne Williamson



The message of Positive Parenting is reaching far and wide. More and more parents are understanding that a change must be made in our child rearing practices. It is exciting to be part of this growing movement, which I honestly believe will better society.

For those new to Positive Parenting, my friend, Dr. Laura Markham, explains beautifully what it is in this post. Here is an excerpt:

Positive parenting -- sometimes called positive discipline, gentle guidance, or loving guidance -- is simply guidance that keeps our kids on the right path, offered in a positive way that resists any temptation to be punitive. Studies show that's what helps kids learn consideration and responsibility, and makes for happier kids and parents.

Positive Parenting isn't a method, a set of rules, or a "style." Positive Parenting is a belief, a way of living. We believe children should be treated with respect, free from fear of violence and shame, and guided with loving encouragement.
It is better to bind your children to you by a feeling of respect and by gentleness, than by fear. - Terence


There are many benefits of positive parenting. Most importantly is the secure attachment between parent and child, which encourages healthy development. Secure attachment builds resilience, paves the way for how well your child will function as an adult in a relationship, and have a positive impact on brain development, just to name a few.

Let me get scientific on you for a second. The brain is not fully matured until we're in our 20's! The first 3-6 years are crucial for brain development. Check out this interactive model to see just how much your child's brain is growing and changing in those first years!

Take a look at this model by TEACH Through Love.*

The "survival center" of the brain is the only section fully developed at birth. This is responsible for regulating autonomic functions, etc. It is also the center for the "fight, flight, freeze" response.

Between birth and roughly age 4 (development is unique to each child), executive functions come online as kids develop this mid brain function. By age 3, their brains are highly organized but very inefficient. They have some access to their higher brain around age 3, but it is the efficiency that we need to help them work on.

By 5-6 they are able to have some level of self regulation; they can pause reflect but not always. This is a process that matures for the next 20 years.

Another thing is the brain won't keep connections that aren't reinforced and utilized. If not engaged in coping skills, creativity, and empathy, the brain will prune away weak neural connections. Immature brains need special handling! Under stress or fear, we all lose access to executive function.
- Special thanks to Lori Petro of TEACH Through Love for her contribution to this section of the post!

What am I getting at? Children are not biologically capable of understanding and following all of our rules. Most times, misbehavior is NOT a matter of defiance, but of cognitive ability. This is where the paradigm shifts! We know so much more now about child development, so it is time our practices catch up to our knowledge.

We now know the harmful effects of spanking. We now understand why time out is not a desirable method, and we know that punishing children really doesn't teach the lessons we want to teach.

Okay, so what CAN I do?


The very first step in becoming a positive parent is to adjust your thinking. This is the hardest but most important part of PP. Look for a blog post coming soon dedicated entirely on changing your mindset! Discipline, in PP, doesn't mean to punish, it means to teach. There are many ways we can teach our children morals, values, and what is acceptable!

This is so, so important. Behave the way you want your children to behave. They learn by watching your example! Let them see you being compassionate and kind. Speak to them respectfully. Each interaction with your child is teaching her something. If you want her to learn not to interrupt you in conversation, model by not interrupting her when she speaks as well. If you want him to use his manners, use yours. When you yell at your kids, you teach them to yell. Adversely, when you speak gently, you teach them to do the same.

Play is vital to childhood. Children learn openly through play. I believe this is when they learn best! Their brains are engaged, receptive, absorbing everything! This is a wonderful opportunity to not only connect with your child, but to teach valuable lessons! Here are some ideas to teach through play:

Make a game! My 4-year-old son and I made a manners game during craft time. One box was used for appropriate behaviors, and the other for inappropriate behaviors. I wrote down several behaviors/manners on stars, and I let him choose which box to put each star in. He enjoyed this game, and he got every single one right. ;)

Puppet Shows! It doesn't have to be a big production. Make some sock puppets if you'd like. Use the puppets to act out a scene and teach a lesson. This can also be done with toys. You can use bears, dolls, or transformers (like us!) and act out different scenes. Kids REALLY do listen and absorb lessons through play!

Role Playing! Be your child, and let your child be you. Show her what is appropriate in certain situations. We have role-played eating at a restaurant, how to sit quietly in Bible School, how to handle various situations. The kids have a blast, and they always remember!

Daily Words! We have a daily word that I post on the refrigerator. I explain the meaning, and we will act out what it means. This not only builds vocabulary, but words such as empathy and gratitude teach wonderful values!

Story time! Of course there are lots of children's books that teach morals and manners, but we like to make up our own stories here too! My youngest prefers to look through books, but my oldest really likes to listen to made-up stories. Throw in some good life lessons in there ;-) They're listening!!


I wanted to find a way to teach my almost 5-year-old some responsibility. Playing "beat the timer" worked great for a while, but he is the type of child that is helped by visual cues. So we made this little chart for him.

There are no rewards involved. This is purely a visual reminder for him. :)

You can also do routine charts, such as this one found at

These charts remind children so YOU don't have to! Be creative! Get your child involved in making the chart. You can clip pictures from magazines or use pictures of your child doing various activities to glue to the chart. Visual reminders can also help children become more organized and independent. For even more ideas, click here.

A day at the park, a few hours at the library, play dates with friends, life IS learning. What if your child witnesses another child being inappropriate? This is an opportunity for you to talk about what happened and teach appropriate behaviors.

Teaching our children emotional intelligence is an important part of parenting. We must accept all of our children's feelings. This doesn't mean we must accept all the behaviors that come with them, of course we must teach healthy ways to channel those feelings, but ALL feelings are acceptable. Being empathetic with your child will help him regulate his big emotions, like fear and anger, more quickly and model for him how to be empathetic with others. For more on empathy, read Dr. Laura Markham's post, Empathy: The Foundation of Emotional Health.

TALK IT OUT! Talk WITH your chidren. Listen when they talk. This is a great way to connect, and connection leads to cooperation!

Our children aren't born knowing our rules. Punishing them for bad behavior doesn't teach them good behavior. We have to give them the tools to do better before we can expect them to do better.

CONNECTION. EXAMPLE. TEACHING. RESPECT. EMPATHY. LOVE. These are your best parenting tools.

In the next post, I'll get into what to do specifically for troublesome behaviors. Look for that in the next few days!

*DISCLAIMER: Three Areas of the Brain model used with permission. No copy may be reproduced or posted online without written permission from TEACH through Love.