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How to Ensure that Positive Parenting Critics Don’t Derail You

Positive Parents: How to Ignore CriticsYou’re a positive parent, or working on becoming one…

You’re proud of the choice you’ve made. It feels instinctive. Natural.

And your child is thriving. He trusts you. You’re building a strong connection. You expect your child to grow into a happy, confident and independent adult.

But just when you are getting comfortable in your role as a positive parent, your mother-in-law says you’re too soft.  She hints (or maybe even tells you openly) you need to “discipline” your child more.

Perhaps you’ve also heard friends make comments about parenting styles and you wonder if they’re really criticizing you.

— He’ll never learn to self-soothe if you don’t let him cry.

— He’s overly attached to you.

— She’s upset, quick, distract her!

— You need to show him who’s in charge!

Western society expects a parenting approach centered on adult’s wants rather than children’s needs. Punishments, time-outs, threats and rewards have become normal tools in the parenting toolbox.

So, when you’re swimming against the tide of conventional parenting how do you defend your choices?

How do you silence the critics?

How do you stay the course when everyone seems bent on dragging you into the world where parenting is synonymous with discipline based on control and obedience?

I wondered the same.

So I delved into the science and psychology of positive parenting. Want to know what I found out?

[Read More…]

How to Have The Scary “Birds and Bees Talk” With Your Kids

Birds and Bees Talk - Main PosterDoes it make you nervous that your children will ask many different questions about sex, and those questions will only get more specific as they get older?

Many parents think giving vague answers, or perhaps changing the subject and offering the questioning child a cookie, is a valid solution.

But really, we moms and dads have to up our game.

We must be prepared with thoughtful and honest answers so our kids continue coming to us… rather than looking for answers online, on bathroom walls or whispered conversations with equally clueless peers.

I’ve been through these different phases of questioning and can tell you there’s a way to get your kids from elementary school through high school without diseases or pregnancies.

If Your Child Is In Elementary School…

[Read More…]

10 Essential Non-Verbal Communication Skills That Will Make You a Better Parent

Non Verbal Communication Skills - Main PosterEver wonder when your little ones will finally follow directions?

Do you want to encourage your children to respond positively to what you say?

And how can you make them better listeners?

Even more so, how can you positively affect their communication skills?

As parents, we spend much time speaking and instructing our kids. Yet, how many of us have thought about the nonverbal ways we communicate to our children?

Eye rolls, smiles, arms crossed, shoulders hunched.

Nonverbal communication can have long-lasting effects on how they listen, behave, process information, and speak to others.  It also impacts their attitudes towards us parents and affects how others see them.

Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, performed several studies on nonverbal language. He found that body language accounts for 93% of a message. Who knew our physical mannerisms could speak such loud volumes?

Nonverbal communication may have serious effects on how well-liked a child becomes and the types of opportunities offered to them in the future.

Bottom line: it can make them or break them.

As a mother of two and a speech-language pathologist, I’ve had to address this issue in a variety of ways.  My little boy, a toddler, responds much better to my ‘messages’ when I take a moment to alter my gestures in a way that he will be receptive and willing to hear me out.

[Read More…]

How to Handle Your Child’s Video Game Obsession Positively

Kids Playing Video Games - Main PosterDo you live with a child obsessed with video games?

A kid who’d rather play Minecraft than ball?

Who would sooner build worlds in Terraria than accompany you to the neighborhood barbecue?

I took it hard, the day I finally admitted to myself that what most inspires my nine-year-old son is a video game.

Certain we were on the road to laziness, brain atrophy, and obesity, I went through a long spell of helicopter parenting: policing, nagging, and threatening.

My lowest move was to hide the ipad.

This was not a sustainable approach. It didn’t make the desire for video games go away. If anything, the deprivation increased the appetite. It made everybody feel bad.

I had to face facts: the world was against me in this fight. Laptops, ipads, ipods, smart phones, Xbox–this stuff isn’t going anywhere.

I needed a positive approach to video games, to screen time in general, a term meaning any time spent in front of a screen: games, movies, or movies of other kids playing games. The following strategies worked.

I now look at screen time as a fact of life. It doesn’t depress me that my kids like this stuff. I no longer believe that loving Minecraft means you are lazy, dull and destined to have clogged arteries.

And most importantly, I don’t feel guilty about my changed beliefs.

Limits are the key. Start with your attitude: approach video games as one of many options in the vast tool bag containing cool things your kids get to do, rather than the evil monster that will take over your life.

The beast can be tamed. Here’s how.

#1 Accept that gaming is fun for your child, even if it’s not fun for you

Kids Playing Video Games - It is fun for themThose of us who did not grow up with ipads, ipods, and multitudes of devices wonder why anyone would want to spend his down time in a two-dimensional world with no real plot?

Well, not a lot of us want to play tag for more than ten minutes, either.

Minecraft offers yet another opportunity to separate your experience from that of your child.

It isn’t your fault. The love of games did not come from your failure to expose them to sports or to read to them. They like what they like.

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How to Be a Positive Parent Even if You Weren’t Raised by One

What is Positive Parenting - Main PosterDo you ever feel doomed to being just like your parents, even though you’re trying hard to do better?

I know how hard it is to try being a positive parent when you’ve been raised in a punitive home.

Like me, you may have grown up in a home where spanking, hitting, yelling, or shaming were the main “discipline techniques.” And now maybe you’re horrified to find yourself resorting to these techniques, too.

I lay SweetPea down on the floor to change her diaper. Immediately she twists her hips to flip over so she can crawl away. Clenching my jaw, I flip her on her back again and try to distract her with singing, but she is intent on reaching her activity center. Unbidden, the image of my hand slapping the soft, tender flesh of her thigh flashes through my mind.  I take a deep breath. I acknowledge my own frustration. I decide she and I both need a break from the struggle. “We’ll try again in a few minutes,” I say as I let her go and she happily crawls away.

My impulse to lash out comes naturally to me; I absorbed it from my parents.  I’ve spent the last 15 years as a teacher and nanny learning how to react differently and overcome these unbidden impulses so that I don’t pass them on to my daughter.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to take you 15 years to start becoming a more positive parent! I’ll share with you how I healed from childhood wounds and techniques you can use now to re-write your parenting scripts.

Choosing a Better Way

Re-creating the same negativity is not our destiny; we can choose a better way to raise our own kids.

The question, of course, is how?

Despite our best intentions, the things our parents said to us often become the same dreaded words we say to our kids.

“Because I said so.” 

“Stop that crying right this instant.” 

“That’s it! No TV for you tonight.”

Like my momentary impulse to slap my daughter when she resists diaper-changes, the way we were parented becomes our automatic default response.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. [Read More…]