The Power of the Tongue

Friday, June 28, 2013 No comments

The following is a sample chapter from my book, The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting, which you can purchase on Amazon


There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. - Proverbs 12:18 Holy Bible, ESV

Words are powerful. Words are especially powerful when said by parents to their children. Words have the power to build up, and words have the power to tear down.

In the last chapter, it was discussed how the words we use can either foster a positive self-concept or a negative self-concept. We can also foster connection or disconnection, elicit cooperation or rebellion, hurt or heal, depending on what we allow to come out of our mouths.

There are 4 words that a child should hear regularly. These 4 simple words will take root in a child's heart and bless him his entire life.

I believe in you.

When your child is facing something difficult, “You will overcome this. I believe in you.”

When your child is successful, “I knew you could do it. I believe in you.”

When your child has misbehaved, “You'll make this right. I believe in you.”

When we believe in them, they learn to believe in themselves, and that is a priceless gift to give them. We all long to have at least one person in our corner, no matter what, who we know believes the best in us. A parent should be that one person.

Other words that plant positive seeds which will spring forth self-worth in your child's heart:

I see you.

In the age of distractions, our children need to know that we see them, truly see them.

I see you being kind to your sister.”
I see you taking good care of your things.”
I see you swinging high.”
I see you doing your best on your homework.”

Childhood is so fleeting, and although in the thick of busy days and restless nights, it seems it will drag on forever, the reality is it will be over with all too soon. Ask any parent of grown children how quickly it happens. Leave the distractions behind for a while each day and just look.

You matter.

You matter more than the mess.”
You matter more than the phone.”
You matter more than the broken vase.”
You matter more than my in-box.”

When you've had one call after another and your little one is tugging on your shirt, remember what really matters. When the milk is splattered all over the floor and those little eyes are looking at you for your reaction, remember what really matters. It takes 5 minutes to clean up spilled milk; it takes much longer to clean up a broken spirit.

I believe in you.
I see you, love.
You matter.

Tell them often and watch them flourish.

Positive Parenting in Action Released in Paperback!

Thursday, June 27, 2013 No comments

You asked, and we delivered! You can now get Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide for Putting Positive Parenting Principles into Action in Early Childhood in paperback!

We are so excited about this release! Are you tired of parenting books that only tell you what you shouldn't be doing? Finally, here is a book that shows you how to put the philosophy of positive parenting into practice! This book walks you through more than 40 scenarios for such behaviors as tantrums, aggression, whining, lying, back talk, sibling rivalry, and much more!

Here is the Table of Contents:

Part One – Positive Parenting in Theory
Part Two – Positive Parenting in Action

Hitting/Aggressive Behavior: A Sample Chapter from Positive Parenting in Action

The following is a sample chapter from our new book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide for Putting Positive Parenting Principles into Action in Early Childhood


First, it is important to understand that children who are aggressive are children who are scared, hurt, or feeling disconnected. Small children with limited language and self-awareness lack the sophistication to tell us what is bothering them or maybe even know themselves. Aggression in older children can be a cover-up of those more vulnerable feelings, especially if they have not been taught how to express them appropriately.
I would like to also add that children under the age of 6 don't yet have full access to higher brain functions which allow them to pause and reason. When a young child becomes scared or hurt or is feeling disconnected, they go into that 'fight or flight' mode, operating out of their brain stem, and have little control over their actions. It is for this reason that an aggressive child needs help, not punishment.

Scenario #1:
Your 3 year old has become aggressive toward her baby sister. She tries to hit her and push her over. You're concerned she's really going to hurt the baby. 

Behind the behavior: Jealousy, probably. It's hard sharing mom and dad, especially when you used to have them all to yourself. She may fear being ‘replaced’ by the baby and doesn’t understand the demands put on the parents. From her perspective, nothing good has come of this new person entering the house.

1. Set a limit. (“I won’t let you hit.”)

2. Offer empathy and acceptance of her feelings. (“You are disappointed.”)
3. Let her discharge her feelings by crying with your comfort.

4. Help her explore ways to shift her mood.

To expand on this a bit, you will take her safely away from the baby, get down eye-level with her, and set the limit – “I won’t let you hit” (or push, or bite). It is important to acknowledge her feelings of anger or frustration or jealousy that caused her to hit. "You're feeling upset at the baby. Are you upset that I was holding her?" or "She grabbed your toy and that made you angry." Your child is hurting, even though she may look like she isn't. She needs to know it's safe to show her feelings. Tell her it's OK to be angry, and it’s OK to cry, and that you will keep everyone safe. If she melts down in your arms, she is healing. Let her get her emotions out while you provide comfort. After the incident is over and everyone is calm, address the reason behind the behavior.

1. Spend special one-on-one time with each child. Let her pick the activity. Connect with her. She needs to know that she is still just as loved as before, even if you think she already knows.

2. Teach appropriate ways to handle anger. You can do this by talking it through, modeling it, role-playing, puppet shows, books, or stories.

3. Don't punish her for hitting. At 3, remember she didn't have the cognitive resources to stop and think about her actions logically. Teaching her how to handle her anger will serve her much better than punishing her for handling it wrong.
4. Read books to her about babies and about being a big sister. Scenario #2:
Your 19 month old is a biter. He has just bitten another child at a play date.

Behind the behavior: It depends on what was happening at the play date. It could be frustration, anger, hurt feelings, or fear. Toddlers, even very verbal ones, know many more words than they can say. When something triggers a primal emotion, they will have access to even fewer words. Because the mouth is central to learning at this age, biting is a common expression of discomfort.

ACTION: Remember the steps above. Remove your child to safety, make sure the child bitten is OK, and then set or reinforce your limit. "I won’t let you bite." Validate his feelings; empathize with his upset. "You got mad because he took your truck. I see you're mad, but it’s not OK to bite. Biting hurts." Let your child express his emotion safely, and problem-solve later. The reason I suggest not talking about appropriate alternatives during the time it happens is because children do not take information in well 'when they are in 'fight or flight" mode or are upset. They are much more likely to learn and retain information when they are calm.

Don't bite him to show him how it feels. You'd be surprised at how many parents would advise you to do this. Remember, you are the model for appropriate behavior!

Scenario #3:
You got a call from school. Your 6 year old son punched another student for calling him a bad name. 

Behind the behavior: Anger, obviously, and lack of ability to control his actions.

ACTION: While a 6 year old is getting better at managing his anger, this is sometimes hard for adults to do, so it isn't surprising that a child hasn't mastered this yet. When you pick him up from school, you're going to have to control your own anger. Model! Reserve judgment and ask him what happened. Empathize with his hurt feelings at being called a name. It does hurt! Now, because this is not a toddler, you may be tempted to punish or give him a consequence, but that isn't going to solve the problem or teach him how to handle a situation like this better the next time. It's time to problem-solve. Let him do most of the problem-solving with your guidance as needed. You might ask:

1. How can you fix what you've done because the student you punched is hurt, too? If he doesn't come up with an answer, offer a few alternatives, such as call and apologize or write an apology letter.

2. What can you do the next time you get called a name or there is a confrontation? Let him brainstorm. It's good if he comes up with alternatives on his own. If he draws a blank, help him out. You may suggest he walk away, work it out with words, or get help from an adult if the situation requires it.

Aggressive behavior is very common in young children and peaks from ages 2-6. While this is a common phase kids go through, it is our responsibility to set appropriate limits and teach alternatives. Discipline is always about teaching them right, not punishing the wrong. With empathy and loving guidance, your child will learn appropriate ways to handle her emotions, and this phase will become a distant memory.

Click here to get the book!

Copyright 2012 by Rebecca Eanes and Laura Ling. All Rights Reserved.

Praise Vs Encouragement: Encouraging Words for Kids - Guest Post by Luschka James

Monday, June 10, 2013 No comments

This is a guest post by Luschka James of Diary of a First Child

A new Facebook follower, Kelly Bartlett , recently caught my attention when I saw her title as ‘writer’. I followed her profile till I found a book she’d written, Encouraging Words For Kids. I then found it on Amazon for Kindle and read it and it was so good, I want to share it with you. (Click here to find it on Amazon UK and here for Amazon US*)

First, let me explain why I’m awestruck by this book.

I’ve never understood the point of people who don’t praise their children. I’ve always thought it a bit cold, and mean-spirited, and to be honest, quite damaging. Encouraging Words for Kids explains the whole ‘no praise’ philosophy so incredibly well, and rather than being a difficult study in human development, it offers alternatives and is so practical in it’s presentation, I find myself quite taken aback by it. Honestly, if all things parenting could be laid out so clearly, there would be a whole lot less unhappiness between parents!
The book consists of about 35 pages, and is super easy to read, so it won’t take long, doesn’t include a lot of unnecessary waffle, but is straight to the point and informative. Each chapter explains the why, and then it offers suggestions of phrases you could use, and finally, a real life example of an actual interaction between a parent and child, which I found really helpful.

The amazing thing for me is that while I was reading it, I started putting it into practice with three year old Ameli, and guess what? It really worked! Ameli often starts things – craft projects, playing games and so on, and just as often ends abruptly, a few minutes into playing: especially if I comment on how good she’s being and how well she’s playing on her own. I thought that it was the fact that I was drawing attention to my not engaging with her at that time that made her stop, but now I realise that’s not the case. In this particular example – similar to one in the book – Ameli was busy drawing a train. She drew the wheels and showed me her picture. Rather than my usual “that’s good darling”, cueing the end of her drawing I said something like, “Those are enough wheels for a very big train. What else do you think a train needs?”
As I understand it, she saw that I was interested, she saw that I had noticed what she’d done well, and she was able to think for herself what else the train needed. She came back each time after adding something to the train, but she eventually was talking to herself, saying things like – I think the train needs a whistle, and I think it needs a chimney.

I was awestruck how well it had worked and how much my first attempt had gotten out of her. And she was so proud of her train in the end too, and when she believed she was finished with it I was able to say how much I liked her train (rather than just ‘that’s nice’ or ‘well done’ to an unfinished set of wheels.)
Encouraging Words For Kids points out one of the problems with praise being temporary, short lived and that it creates in a child the need for constant affirmation, rather than being able to find approval of their actions within themselves.
“Simple praise feels good in the moment, but to have a long lasting effect, it must be constantly provided”
In contrast, encouragement communicates “unconditional acceptance between parents and children and have long lasting value.

As I’ve said before, I’ve never understood why you wouldn’t want to praise your child’s actions, but I realised in reading Encouraging Words For Kids that it’s not about that at all! Rather, its about making the praise have longer term effects.
 “After all, that’s why he’s showing you his achievements. It’s not because he needs an evaluation of his work, it’s because he’s proud of himself. So focus on his pride – not yours”
I think Bartlett allays all my fears about not praising my children, and sums the whole crux of why encouragement over praise is so important up in two paragraphs:
“By opting for encouragement over praise, you’re not ignoring your children’s accomplishments or communicating that they don’t matter. Encouragement is simply about keeping your responses focused on a child’s efforts and feelings as opposed to the outcomes of the behavior.
Encouraging words not only reassure kids during times of success, but also in times of disappointment. Instead of looking to a parent for affirmation, kids are able to decide how they feel about themselves and what they need to do. Their failures and successes, as they should be, are about them and not anyone else.”
There are so many paragraphs from this book that I could share with you, but I think I’ll leave it there for now. What I will tell you is that it has entirely changed my perceptions on praise, and has explained an entire theory in a very easy to read, 35-ish page book, and halfway through reading I’ve been able to identify changes to make, implement those changes, and immediately see results in my three year old.


Product description
Encouraging Words for Kids gives parents over 150 examples of phrases to say that inspire a child’s confidence and self-motivation. Encouragement is about drawing forth a child’s own drive to work hard and do what’s right without being told; this book shows you how to get there. It is a guide that parents can turn to again and again whenever they need a dose of inspiration in creating positive communication with their kids.

About the author
Kelly Bartlett is a parent educator and writer with a focus on child development, family relationships, and discipline. She holds a BA in biology and secondary education as well as two additional certifications as a parent educator with The Positive Discipline Association and a leader with Attachment Parenting International. Kelly’s articles have been published in parenting magazines all over the world, and she is a regular contributor for Green ChildNurture, and Attached Family magazines on the topic of positive discipline. She blogs at

Why We Explode and How To Prevent It - Guest Post by Genevieve Simperingham

Friday, June 7, 2013 No comments

natural phenomena

This is a guest post by Genevieve Simperingham of the Peaceful Parenting Institute

In my parent coaching work I like to talk about anger and rage and how common the tendency to explode (or implode!) really is in families.  Anger is a very real and daily challenge for most parents as they juggle the various wants and needs in the family; their child’s anger, their partner’s anger, their own anger.  Anger is an emotion that’s especially difficult to bear; it can feel scary and larger than life.  It can be hard to admit to feeling angry, even to ourselves, and hard to feel that we deserve support and empathy – but we always do.  Much hurt, harm and damage happens as a result of pent up anger, yet the emotion itself is not to blame, in fact empathy for ourselves and empathy for our child is the antidote to aggression and overwhelm.

Parents get angry when … they feel confused about how to best respond to difficult behaviours like aggression in the family.  They need the skills.  Anger can rise with speed and fury when unresolved emotion or trauma becomes activated.  Healing is needed.  Parents get angry when the emotional, physical and financial needs outweigh the resources and they feel unsupported by family and community.  It really does take a village.  Overall, anger usually signifies an overwhelming backlog of unmet needs.

How quickly conflicts spark and escalate.  On any particularly busy day, parents can feel stressed and stretched by the demands of endless jobs and tight time constraints, stress rises as the pressures mount.  Then if you turn and ask your child to do a couple of simple tasks like washing teeth, getting dressed, but they either ignore you or flat out refuse, that tide of anger can rise up.  Your child’s refusal seems completely unreasonable!  Despite trying to control your tone, you snap, you child snaps back.  Boom!  Conflict escalates!  You can’t help wishing your child understood how minimal your demands are compared to when you were their age!

Breaking the cycles of ‘stress-passing’ in the family.  We can, and need to,  learn constructive communication, conflict resolution and problem solving skills.  Yet we need the patience, clarity and confidence to put them into practice.  Becoming mindful of our emotional triggers that relate back to our childhood and then owning, exploring and resolving these emotions forms the foundation of peaceful parenting.

The stress response.  When we become triggered, something in the present reminds us at an unconscious level of something in the past that’s still unresolved and held as tension in the body.  In reaction to our child, all of a sudden stress soars, anger rises, muscles tighten, we fixate on problems, become inflexible, and lose our ability to empathize.  Without realizing it we’re caught in the fight/flight/freeze stress response and there’s no time to sit and listen when things feel this urgent.  In these moments we act more from a hurt child place than a conscious adult place.

In the traditional parenting model, parents attempt to regain control by overpowering their child with that look, by threatening punishments, withdrawing privileges, yelling and ultimatums.  But parents who are working hard to not yell or coerce often face strong surges of emotion that need containing to avoid spilling their stress over onto their child.  Stopping in our tracks and owning and managing our feelings takes a LOT more skill than simply threatening kids into compliance.  It’s in the most challenging moments when pressures are sky high that parents face the need to skillfully surf the tides of emotions that threaten to swamp them.

Getting back on track.  When committed to more peaceful and respectful communication, we need to view our yelling and exploding as our cue to self-regulate; to come back to feeling like we can, not just escape acting from a powerless hurt child state, but become firmly grounded in our calm, confident adult self.  Perhaps we need some non-judgmental listening, meditation, relaxation, we need to reconnect with our self and reconnect with our child.  We just know that things are not going to get back on track with our child until we slow down and release the pressure from us both.  But how do we do that?

Mindfulness.  Becoming more mindful of our triggers plays a big part in parenting from the heart with more connection and patience. It can be valuable to take time to reflect on the things that your child does that can really trigger/activate some big feelings in you and explore what’s familiar about these situations?  For instance, if your child ignoring you is a trigger, does it evoke familiar feelings from your childhood years?  When triggered, words can pour out of our mouths that shock us to hear, often the same words that hurt so much as a child.  It’s a kind of unconscious re-enactment.  The more conscious we become of our triggers, the more we can mobilize and resolve these packages of pain inside and begin to bring conscious awareness to the process as it’s happening, or about to happen and change direction.  I developed my Stress Relief for Parents CD with this whole subject in mind.  The tracks equip the listener with exercises to help them resolve difficult feelings, gain insights into what unresolved emotions are being triggered and offers a blissful 15 minute body relaxation.

It’s okay not to feel okay.  When our child’s behaviour triggers a highly emotional response, by increasing our mindfulness of our reactions, we gain an opportunity to bring compassion to some sore feelings that need and deserve attention.  There’s a lot of power in observing the sensations in our body and recognizing the feelings that get activated at these times and where those feelings are held within the body.  We may identify feelings of sadness, overwhelm, perhaps fears or feelings of inadequacy.  The trigger might be your child’s resistance, lack of responsiveness, their lack of affection, their affection for their other parent, aggression, tantrums, neediness, their response to sleep, food, chores, school.  Something is experienced as familiar at a body instinctive level, feelings open in your body memory that your conscious mind was previously unaware of.

When we’re triggered, it can feel as if the hurt inner child is competing with our child’s feelings with sentiments of; “nobody cares about MY needs/ resentments/ frustrations/ disappointments/ grief”.  Such inner conflict can be very uncomfortable, but be assured that if you’ve even started to become aware of such internal reactions, you’re well on the road to breaking the cycles of disconnection and well on the road to claiming more peace of mind and heart for yourself and your child.

Listening heals.  Counselling and psychotherapy can be a great way to explore and resolve stuck feelings and patterns from the past that prevent growth in the present.  Counselling or organized listening partnerships differ from chatting with friends in that it gives you the chance to really drop into exploring where the related feelings are held in the body.  Crying can feel so very cleansing and relieving when the space is held by a calm, patient, wise and empathic listener.  Their acceptance of your feelings helps you listen to yourself to glean the deeper insights and resolve feelings that previously felt so unmovable like the big rage and grief that can compromise your clarity and confidence daily.

Taking the pressure off.  Parents carry so much stress and fear around getting to sleep, school, work, daycare or swimming lessons on time.  Children don’t and can’t function well within a busy time pressured timetable.  In aiming to lower the stress levels in the family, parents often realize that everyone is living under more pressure than they can sustain and it calls for a re-evaluation of their lifestyle.  It’s good to talk about down time and de-stressing, to model taking rests, reading, playing, meditating, support your kids to have free play time, time to day dream, time in nature, time to find and follow their interests.

Self-regulation skills.  As well as therapy, there are many self-regulation and self-healing skills that everyone can learn that really help to restore peace and calm when strong emotions threaten to dominate the scene.  I’ll share with you some of the tools that work for me and for many parents that I help:

Reconnecting with your heart. This simple act of putting your hand on your heart and asking; “what am I feeling, what do I need?” helps us reconnect with our inner world in a positive way. The response might be “I feel stressed!  I feel angry!  I need to slow down,  I need to ask for help, I need to cross something off today’s list of activities.”  Try it!

“Name it to tame it” is a phrase coined by author and psychiatrist Dr Daniel Siegel.  There’s a lot of power in simply naming what we’re feeling.  When we tell our child “you’re making me so angry”, we give them the message that they control how we feel and it’s their responsibility to keep us happy.  Whereas, when we say “I feel angry, I really need to slow down and relax”, we show them that we can not only identify and be honest about how we feel, but also take responsibility and relieve them of responsibility for our feelings.  This really is fantastic modelling for our children.  The child who can clearly express that they’re angry is more likely to seek support and less likely to take their anger out on others.  I love how, in response to inquiring “you seem really stressed, what do you need?” my children often reply with simple expressions like “I’m angry”, “I feel overwhelmed”, “everything feels really hard at the moment”, “I feel like I need to scream”. When such feelings are expressed, accepted and understood, the emotional charge can dissipate significantly.

Positive self-talk.  We tend to respond to our emotions with similar words and messages that our parents responded to our emotions.  Becoming mindful of our self-talk and consciously practicing empathic and supportive messages, we begin to re-parent ourselves.  Being kind to ourselves creates the foundation for kindness to others.  For example instead of berating yourself for feeling angry and overwhelmed, you might say to yourself “it’s OK, this is just a tough moment, it’s okay to feel what I’m feeling”.

Simply sitting. There’s a Chinese proverb that says “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”  Even though anger can give us physical super powers, attacking the housework in a manic passive aggressive frenzy can be pretty scary and overwhelming for our kids and isn’t the best modelling!  When we become overly stressed, our system becomes flooded with stress hormones, everything speeds up, our breathing, our thinking becomes irrational, our tone of voice intensifies and we speak faster, which every child knows to be a warning sign!  Simply sitting down in an arm chair or even lying on the ground or the grass slows everything down, totally changes the dynamic with our child and gives us a chance to emotionally re-stabilize.  This modelling teaches our children what they can do in overwhelm.

Visualizing a red stop sign.  To help you hold back from speaking words or taking action that you’ll later regret and need to repair with your child, if you just remember one thing, remember a red stop sign.  When feeling emotionally charged, it’s hard to remember the theory, but the brain responds very well to visual messages and bringing to mind a red stop sign, or even better creating or printing a drawing to put up on the wall, may help you stop and slow down enough to begin to remember some more positive things you can do.  If you draw or print one, you could write some key reminder words on it like; “breathe”, “centre”, “de-stress”.

Fresh air brings a fresh perspective.  When stresses rise in the family, the walls can start to close in, everywhere we look jobs demand our attention.  Being in nature helps us decompress and relax. The sights, sounds and smells of nature remind us of life’s small pleasures and help to put things back in perspective.  Most people can literally feel the stress starting to drain away when they put their bare feet on the earth.  Looking up at the sky, looking out to nature helps us lift up and out of the scenario that we’ve got ourselves tightly wound into.

I can see clearly now … Once we return to a calm state, many options open up.  We again remember our child’s goodness and can reconnect and repair after conflicts.  Our child feels and experiences our emotional storms and instinctively protects themselves by muffling the communication. Yet when a parent restores calm inviting communication, their child’s usually right there waiting for them, power struggles dissipate and warmth, connection, cooperation and humour return to the scene.  I also recommend buying the recorded audio download of a “Getting Back on Track – Why we Explode” teleseminar on the same subject with myself and Patty Wipfler of Hand in Hand Parenting.

I also recommend reading this blog post: “Parenting Help: Burn-out Can Be Lightened by Listening” on the Hand In Hand blog.

About the author: Genevieve is the founder of the Peaceful Parent Institute in New Zealand. She is an Aware Parenting Instructor, a Heart to Heart Parenting Facilitator and Beyond Consequences Instructor. Genevieve is an International speaker, who over the last twenty years has presented hundreds of courses and weekend residential workshops in parenting, self-healing, meditation and personal development. She shares her in-depth study of many experts in the fields of early childhood development, personal development, attachment and neuroscience. Genevieve brings to her work the culmination of many years of various trainings in the fields of parenting, counselling, emotional healing, personal growth, family systems, energy healing and medicine wheel work.