How to Talk to Kids - Guest Post by Lori Petro

Friday, August 29, 2014 1 comment
Parenting educator Lori Petro, founder of TEACH Through Love is offering a 4 part FREE training series on conscious communication. Sign up here.


Are you wondering how you can connect more deeply with your child?  Would you like to know how to talk to kids using peaceful conflict resolution strategies to ease tension, or calm aggressive behavior in your children?  Often, we can be triggered by our own unresolved traumas - big and small - and this can make it extremely challenging to remain compassionate as we confront our kid's big, explosive emotions. Kids are great at reminding us when we veer from the path.  Love - Connection - Repair

Your kids feel it and RESPOND to it!!  The biggest challenge to using the kind of respectful language that you want your kids to emulate is your own patterns of behavior and habits of reacting, which are based on FEAR. The emotional baggage that you carry around can be unzipped without your consent. Then, you unleash unrestrained emotions and actions driven by automatic unconscious memories and feelings. Your past can trip you up, triggering you into reactionary patterns, and causing you to get stuck in a cycle of disrespect, defiance and demands. If you had a punitive childhood -- Can you think back to a time when you were younger, smaller, less experienced - maybe some time in the first 10-15 years of life when you were judged for your behavior, or maybe punished, shamed or isolated? Maybe it was a time you felt unheard as you tried to explain your thought process or you felt anxious or angry as you tried to get what you needed. What did it feel like to be evaluated and told that you were naughty, ungrateful, a mess, trouble, or that you would suffer consequences or be isolated from peers, family or activities you loved if you did not listen. What parts of your body are awakened when you let those emotions surface now? Now, what would it have felt like if the adults in your life had...
  • Held the limits firmly, with compassion and non-judgment for your less than experienced ways?
  • Calmed their anger and approached you with an honest intention to help rather than control or convince?
  • Maintained tolerance for your youthful curiosity and patience for your unskilled demands and bargaining?  
What would it be like if we could spend the first 20 years of our lives hearing that we were doing our best?   When we feel understood, we can hear and process NEW information.  Whenever you go in with the attitude of "you're wrong" - in return you are likely to receive defensiveness. Assumptions (right or wrong) tend to cause the other person to shut down to anything you have to say because no one likes to be accused of being "wrong." Compassionate requests are more likely to get you heard.   Fear gives us an easy, seemingly negligible, tool to use for obedience. A raised eyebrow coupled with a certain tone - "growly" as my daughter's favorite book character "Junie B Jones" would say - are sometimes effective, but only sometimes.   Ultimately, fear keeps us focused on the outcome - it leads us to want to control behavior so we can feel better faster but what does that teach kids about the world? 
  • that others can influence our behavior (rather than lead us to reflect on how our behavior has affected others).
  • that it is okay to use our power to dominate others.
  •  that it doesn't matter what we think or feel - we simply must obey.  
Consciously parenting is about thinking in new ways - ways that build your relationship, because when you do, your kids will WANT to cooperate with your requests. When you communicate respectfully, your children will do the same!   It's not about scripts, exact words, or all-or-nothing choices, nor should your goal be "making kids obey."   It's not that you say these EXACT words or even ALL the words - but that you go in with the attitude and intention of the Connecting Words rather than the attitude and intention of the Disconnecting Words.

Lori Petro is a Speaker, Advocate & Parent Educator. She founded TEACH through Love as a vehicle to help families heal the cycle abuse and trauma through the relationship-building tools of empathy, compassionate communication and peaceful conflict resolution. As an adult with Aspergers, Lori understands the demands of parenting kids with special needs and believes that by building strong bonds, we can cross the bridge to understanding the behaviors and needs of all kids. Lori is a sought-after speaker who consults privately with clients, teaches online and shares her insights and information in her weekly TEACHable Moments videos. Connect with Lori on Twitter @TEACHthruLove, Facebook and her Website:

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Monday, August 18, 2014 No comments
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Inspiring Stories of These Kids Today - Part 1

Sunday, August 3, 2014 No comments

We hear it all the time! Kids today are bratty, entitled, and disrespectful. 

I want to debunk this common myth about today's youth. Sure, there are a few disrespectful, bratty, and entitled kids out there, but a great many of them are wonderful! I've had stories pour in from all across the globe and I want to share with you today just a few of the inspiring and beautiful hearts of "these kids today."

I recently brought my two young children, Jackson (2 and a half) and Tayva (14 months) to a community Passover Seder at a Rabbi couple's home in Portland, Oregon. There were several families there with young children, and some older kids as well. And there was one very elderly woman in a wheel chair being cared for by her daughter.

Upon arriving and settling in, I took my children to the bathroom.  When we returned to the gathering of attendants getting ready to light candles and begin the evenings event, my son Jackson headed right over to the woman in the wheelchair.

This 90-something year old woman was half-blind, totally mute, propped up in a reclining wheel chair, and covered in woolen slippers, hat, and blankets.  Besides her daughter who was wheeling her around, no one was interacting with her.  But Jackson was completely drawn to her.  He immediately put his little hands on her wrinkled hands resting in her lap, and leaned in and introduced himself with his name with his sweet toddler voice.

When the Seder began, Jackson came back to sit with me and his baby sister. Throughout the evening, he continued to get up and go to her across the room, saying first, "I'm going to go see my new friend!"  And he would again touch her hands and lean in close to her face to talk to her. Or he just stood very close to her and just observe the happenings in the room comfortably, as if standing near a relative or close friend.

What a remarkable thing to witness: his pure, innocent, completely unbiased love from his soul to another soul.  My son has had no prior experience with someone so elderly let alone incapacitated, for neither his father nor I have any grandparents left.  When we go to parties or community events, he often chooses one person to connect with, but it usually is a friendly teenage girl who's good with kids or another child.  That he was so drawn and unafraid to connect with a woman in her state warmed my heart beyond words.  I actually teared up witnessing it, and have shed a few more tears retelling the beautiful story.

Since the Seder a few weeks ago, Jackson asks often if we can go back to the rabbi's house so he can see his new friend, "Grandma Nomi".  I learned from speaking with her daughter that all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in Israel and she hasn't had any children around her for a long time.  Her daughter said she could tell that little Jackson's loving attention to her warmed and lightened her mother's heart.

I couldn't help but ponder if they were friends in past lives. Or ponder whether it was the spiritual similarity between the very young and very old, as the time distance toward and from Spirit is the same.  It really was a spiritual phenomenon, as Jackson was able to connect with someone who could not communicate, by connecting with her soul essence.

Blessings on our children, that they keep their hearts pure of love!  Thank you for the inspiring blog!
Alana W

My son is 15, he'll turn 16 in Sept, and my story isn't anything that he did that went above and beyond or was any random act of kindness it's just about him being there for me.

My father died about a month and a half ago and it was a pretty tough time as you can imagine. My father and I had a very strained relationship, we hadn't really spoken in the past 3 years, which made it both hard and a little easier. Well, I can honestly say I don't know if I'd have made it through it without the constant love and strength that my son gave to me.

The funeral was particularly tough on both of us, we sat together for the majority of it and sometimes just cried amoungst each other, I held him and he held me. Then it came time to go up and say our final goodbyes, I damn near lost it, but there was my son by my side practically holding me up being the strength I needed. My son, my rock, my best friend, my 1st true love, my boy. I don't know what I'd do without him. - Nicole H


Hello, I just wanted to share my daughters story in an effort to help you bust the myth of entitled bratty kids. 

Last holiday season, I set out to change what it means to our family. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and my oldest was getting very excited about Christmas, I wanted the true meaning of Christmas to shine through, and not have my girls get into the mindset of getting gifts. I gave some ideas and thoughts on what we could do, and my 3 year old named Penelope decided she wanted to make presents for all the boys and girls that didn’t have mommys and daddys to buy them presents (I refuse to lie to her about santa, so she knows we buy her gifts) She chose the home here locally to donate to, and we made homemade caramels to give all the children. She now talks of the holidays in terms of what she is going to do for others and not what she is going to get. In our home, it truly is the gift of giving, and I hope to keep it that way. - Amanda 


My mom was shopping at a local thrift shop. She noticed two teenage girls both wearing cute hats. She approached the girls and asked them where they'd gotten their hats. In an effort to explain why she was interested, she mentioned she'd lost her hair to chemo, was wearing a wig, and was always on the lookout for a cute hat. The girls replied to her questions & continued on their way out the store. A few minutes passed and the girls returned, both of them giving the hats they'd been wearing moments earlier to my mom.  I don't know if they realized the impact they had on her. We both cried at their kindness when my mom related the story to me later. They will probably never know that their story is still told (8 years later) and will be forever remembered by me. They acted on an impression to do good. If I could meet those girls, I would give them all the love and appreciation I have through a great big hug.  My mom has since passed on, but I keep those hats as a reminder of the goodness there is in the world. Often it comes through most clearly in the youth! - Joy C


Just wanted to share a story about my 15 month old daughter. Her older brother, who is almost 4, has cerebral palsy and developmental delays. He can't walk or talk. Every time we take them to the park, she will pick flowers and put them in his hands. Every night she won't go to bed until she's given him a kiss. I don't see a child being spoiled by gentle parenting. I see one learning empathy and kindness at a remarkably young age. - Aubri T


My daughter, Scarlett, is 8 years old. Last year for her 7th birthday she decided that instead of presents for her party, she wanted her friends to bring donations to the animal shelter.

She also cares greatly for the environment. When we go for walks she always wants to bring garbage bags so she can clean up the litter. - Lindsey U


When I was pregnant there were a couple kids sitting next to me at the beach while I was eating. Older, teenage kids. Both boys. One lit a cigarette and the other told him they should take it elsewhere because I was pregnant and apologized to me for being rude and lighting up right next to me. I wanted to thank his mamma! - Jennifer N


When my oldest daughter Keely was voted on the homecoming court, I asked her if another girl we knew had been voted for the homecoming court as well. She said "I don't know Mom, I don't hang out with her." I said, "I thought you girls were friends" She said, "We are friends, I just don't hang out with her. She has lots of people to hang out with. My main people that I hang out with are a really overweight girl, and a gay guy that has no other friends....if I didn't sit with them at lunch, they would have to sit alone..." When she told me this, I started sobbing. I knew that I had done the job I set out to do with parenting! It was awesome! - Kendra S

saw a group of young men park their cars and begin to clean up some of the garbage along the streets and lots by my house today. - Mary Jo B

 I recently moved to a new city and went to pick up some sandwiches (with my toddler son in tow) for a worker who was doing some projects in my house. As soon as I pulled up to the sandwich shop, I saw it was packed with teenagers. (They must have been on their lunch break.). After waiting in the long line with my toddler on my hip, I waited for my order and when I went to pick it up, my wallet slipped out of my hand and onto the floor. Without a beat, one of the girls at a nearby table popped down, picked it up, and handed it back to me with a smile. I got myself pulled together and then walked toward the door. One of the punkier-looking boys jogged ahead of me and I figured he must have been on his way out. But no - he just opened the door for me and my son with another kind smile. I have to admit, it made me feel great about my new hometown - and hopeful that my son will be equally as thoughtful when he is their age. - Jessica K

My daughter's class of 6-8 year olds is putting up their art work for auction to get LifeStraw water filters for Ethiopian kids who do not have access to clean water. Just like anyone, when kids are in balance, loved and respected for who they are, they show amazing empathy for those less fortunate. My daughter is so attached to the project that she is planning to set up donations for LifeStraw, as well as a lemonade stand at her summer birthday party to continue to raise funds. I'm not sure if I was thinking about people other than myself when I was 6! - Efsun S


My 3 year old likes to draw pictures and make things for her friends for no reason at all besides it making her happy.

She also offers me the same empathy I offer her when I am sad or upset. She always asks me if I would like a hug. I ALWAYS take it and sometimes just cry. She waits patiently and tells me what I tell her "I am here for you and I love you."

It melts my heart every time!! - Heather B

Inspiring Stories of "These Kids Today" - Part 2

We hear it all the time! Kids today are bratty, entitled, and disrespectful. 

I want to debunk this common myth about today's youth. Sure, there are a few disrespectful, bratty, and entitled kids out there, but a great many of them are wonderful! I've had stories pour in from all across the globe and I want to share with you today just a few of the inspiring and beautiful hearts of "these kids today." 

See part 1 for more inspiring stories.

Ok, this story took place when June was 5.  I was at the park with all 4 of the kids.  I was with the little three in a sand pit, a bit away from the playground structures.  I glanced over to see June come down a swirly slide and then turn around and face the slide again.  I watched as a young one-year-old came down after him.  His mom looked panicked a moment as she realized she was at the top of the structure and her baby was at the base of the slide.  Without hesitating, June gently lifted the little girl off the slide, turned around, and put her gently back on the ground.  I'm sure her mom was even more panicked, originally, when she saw a 5 year old pick up her child, but June knew exactly what to do to help the little girl down.   He was so gentle and kind and the mom thanked him when she finally got to the slide.   It was heartwarming to "catch" him being so caring and sweet.  He had no clue he was being watched.  He didn't do it for recognition or praise.  He helped the little girl because he saw a need. That was one of the moments where it his you "I might just be doing something right." -Susie C.

Last weekend while we were at an Easter Egg hunt, my 6 year old son did something wonderful.
We were sitting on a bench in the park opening all the eggs my son had found when another kid, maybe 4 years old, sat on the bench adjacent to us. He proceeded to look into his bag at the two lonely eggs inside and his bottom lip curled out like I've never seen before. He didn't scream or wail, but he was obviously heartbroken. He tried to pull himself together to find his mom, but he took two steps away from the bench and his little legs just crumbled beneath his body, and that bottom lip made a second appearance. His poor face was just crushed.
Without hesitation, my son reached into his bag of eggs and started putting eggs into the other little guy's bag. Soon another kid saw what my son was doing and came over with some of his eggs to share with the little boy too. Before we knew what was even happening, several kids at the park were coming to offer eggs to the little boy who had only found two. His eyes dried up, and that bottom lip turned into a smile. His mom reminded him to say thank you and he bounded away with a bag full of eggs.
To say that I am proud of my son is an understatement. I've shared this story with all his grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and my son beams with pride every time I share it. I am just so proud of the compassionate person he is becoming. - Jill

About a year ago my girls and I were walking from to a nearby park to play. As we walked, we passed our neighborhood K through eighth grade elementary school. It was around 3 pm, so the school was letting kids out for the end of the day. As we continued and got closer to the park, a group of older students were all huddled around a younger student. My oldest, Charlee, was five at the time. She is a very outgoing, friendly, caring and tender soul. She is also not one to shy away from a party. So she ran ahead of me and approached the crowd (still well within my sight and ear). As she approached the kids, one of the older boys pushed the younger boy down to the ground. I saw her immediately kneel on the ground next to him and ask if he was ok. Then I over heard her scold the older kids. When I approached them, the entire crowd was apologetic and giggling at the fact that she told them, "To treat others kindly and that God does not want them to hurt others". Here was this little five year old preschooler standing up to sixth, seventh and eighth graders. I was so proud of her. -Lindsey

 My son is 7 years old and is currently a second grader in the Maumee area.  For the last two years we have held an event called Conner's Giving, where we collected goods/items to deliver around the holiday times.  The first event he made his own flyers and we made a Facebook page to advertise to everyone.  We ended up collecting so much food, paper/cleaning products, money etc that we were able to donate to The Beach House in Toledo and Mom's House in Toledo as well.  Each time we received something we would take his picture and post it to FB to keep the momentum going.  This last year we collected for The Humane Society.  He wanted to help those in need.  Channel 13 News even did a story on him!  He has also volunteered the last two years for the Glass City Marathon at a water stop with the Agility Angels, and last year for the Race For Hope at North Cape Yacht club to help end Cancer.  He helped with preparing food and setting up tables.  - Jodi G
One of the reasons positive parenting is so important to me is that I want my kids to be considerate and thoughtful of the feelings of others, as I think the world is really lacking in considerate adults. My son, 5, can really struggle with behavior. We started out using punitive discipline and I think his behavior relects some of those past hurts. But he is also a kid who really thinks about others. A few months ago we were coming in from the car. I had his two younger siblings so and was frustrated that he was taking so long. I was about to shout to him to hurry him up when he turned the corner carrying a bag I needed carried in. I hadn't asked him to bring it in, so I asked why he had it. He said "Because I knew it would help you out and I like to see you happy". When positive parenting gets hard I like to think about this story and remind myself that positive parenting is about nurturing character, not controlling behavior. -Brandy

My 5 yo son made up Easter baskets for his teenage cousins. He picked out their favorite candies from his own stash. It was all his idea, he was so excited to play Easter bunny after he learned which candy they loved. We point out how sharing often gives other people joy and fun but we don't "force" sharing. All the sweeter when they genuinely do. His cousins thought it was the coolest thing ever.- Alyssa C

My son is involved in our local youth theatre and is the youngest one. I have been blown away by how wonderful this entire group of kids are (there are over 100 of them!), from some of the elementary kids who have taken him under their wings, to the teenagers who make sure to always say hi, give high fives and hugs, want to take photos with him, etc. And I've been so impressed how much the older kids always encourage the younger ones, and help anyone who needs help with anything. Most of the "kids these days" are pretty darn awesome! - Shannon O

 Just wanted to say my now 19yr old daughter is an incredible help to me and our family. While most teens get a bad rep these days about being selfish and self absorbed I've been so blessed to have a teenager that spends about 1/4- 1/2 her week taking care of her 2 younger siblings (12 and 14yr difference) so that her step dad and I can work and they don't have to be in daycare. She picks them up from school walks them home - takes them to the park - out for hot chocolate and home for dinner - many nights she has done bath and bedtime too - she has been an integral support for out family and her brother and sister are so much better off having been in her care :)

She leaves for school in the fall and while we are so happy to see her off on this new adventure will miss her dearly but she has created a bond with them that will stay strong for a lifetime. - Sam
 Last week, we were at our cooperative and one of the parents came up to me and said they needed to tell me what happened in one of my daughter’s classes. She proceeded to set the scene by saying that one of the little boys in her class (they are all between 4 and 6) had a really hard time with some happenings in the class and he needed to be escorted outside with his mom to calm him down. When the two returned, my daughter spoke to him and said, “We all know how you feel. It’s hard when you don’t get your way and sometimes it makes you really frustrated! And it’s also hard that your mom is teaching the class and she can’t give you all the attention you need because she has to give it to the rest of us! I’m so sorry you’re having such a hard time.” Of course, she is just repeating what she sees me doing with our toddler at home, but the other teachers thought it was super cool. I was so happy for her that she picked up on his pain and was able to empathize with him. I don’t know if these are the kinds of stories you’re looking for, but I thought I’d share. - Kelli H.

Heard of Zach Bonner? This teen has undertaken projects to help others since he was seven years old. Now a movie is being made about his inspiring life. 'Realize that you have incredible power as an individual,' he advises. 'You really can change the world.' Read his inspiring story here.