Category Archives: Coaching & Counseling

Why Vacationing with Kids Boosts Their Development
family travel

This month, Bonnie has invited guest writer, Abi Long, to offer her traveling insights for families.

“Having fun with children creates connection. Connection builds relationships. Relationships are what we need to raise our children. So start having more fun, more of the time.”

~ Bridgett Miller

Vacations are a brilliant way for adults to relax, unwind and immerse themselves in new experiences – but what about when there are kids to think about? Travelling with young children can be a daunting prospect, and you may wonder if they’ll even get much out of the experience. The truth is, taking little ones on vacation can do incredible things for their development. Here are three key advantages of vacationing with young kids.

1. Travel supports education and motivates kids to learn

Vacations give kids the opportunity to learn in an immersive manner. They can apply concepts they’re taught in school or from books to real-life experiences, and there’s plenty of research to back this up. When children apply attention to diverse experiences such as travelling, permanent changes occur within the brain

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From “Toilet Talk” to Curse Words: How Forbidding Turns Curiosity into Weaponry
silyl faces

Q. We have a 4-year-old turning 5 next month, and we have a lot of toilet talk going on. We’ve tried ignoring it, explaining why it’s not okay and that it’s not okay to use in our house. Nothing seems to work. He just lays around and says: penis, boobies, vagina and other words. No swear words but typical toilet talk. Also he’ll poke me or others and say I can see your booby, bum bum etc. Also with his 1-year-old sister and dogs. Any advice would be appreciated as it’s starting to be such a theme and hard to help him know that it’s not okay to yell this and say it all the time.

A. Actually, it’s you who needs to know it is okay. Your son is right on target developmentally when it comes to “toilet talk.” Four and five-year-old’s have curiosity about their bodies, compare themselves to others, especially the opposite sex, and want to discover what bodies do and what makes them different. Because they are this age, they get silly about it all.

Unfortunately,

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Are you (accidentally) invalidating your child’s feelings?
Mom with child

Are you trying to do the right thing by validating your child’s feelings only to hear even angrier tirades? Your best intentions backfire and you don’t know why. Let’s break this down to figure out why your child is reacting negatively when you are trying to empathize.

“I am understanding of how my child is feeling, but it seems to just make her madder,” is something I hear from many parents. Progressive parenting has put a lot of emphasis on validating feelings and being empathetic—rightly so. Your kids want nothing more than to know you understand them. But in our impatience to get on with what we want them to do, to correct them, we may end up invalidating their feelings without realizing it.

  1. “I understand you’re upset. You can be angry, but you have to get in the shower.” 
  2. “I get that you’re mad at your sister, but you can’t hit her.”
  3. “You’re upset you got a bad grade. Buck up. You’ll do better next time.”
  4. “A friend should never make fun of you. You need to tell her
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When (and when not) to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

Q. While listening to one of your insightful podcasts, “Mom, When Can I Start Watching Porn?”, I heard you say “that the best time to start introducing your children to the mechanics of sex and how babies are made and born is between 4 and 6, before it becomes embarrassing, shocking and awkward. If you are saving “the talk” until kids ask, you may wait forever.” I have two daughters, ages 5 and 1. I always answer their questions as honestly as possible except when she was three and I was pregnant. She asked: “Mom, how did my baby sister get in there?” Not prepared, I froze. What, when and how do I share the answers to her future sex ed questions before she is too embarrassed to ask me? 

A. Don’t wait for the questions. They may never come. Sometime, ask her, “Do you remember when I was pregnant with your sister, and you asked me how she got inside me? I didn’t think you were old enough to understand then but now I think you are. Would you

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How to Talk to Your Kids About the Hard Stuff
Dad and Son Talking

After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, I wrote an article called Look for the Helpers inspired by Fred Rogers. I am redoing it with the same basic
message—sadly because so much more has happened. Not only has gun violence increased, but our democracy and our climate are threatened. Whatever side of the political spectrum you fall, the recent overturn of Roe vs. Wade by the Supreme Court requires discussions with your children. How do you assure their safety at school? How do you tell them that the highest court in our nation has undermined the liberty of women?

My son just gave the commencement address at the high school where he teaches.
He too was inspired by Fred Rogers’ words:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother
would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are
helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my
mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still
so many helpers—so

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How to Give an Allowance
Teaching Kids About Money

~ so your kids grow up financially savvy.

  • Ever get sick and tired of kids begging for one more thing?
  • Ever feel taken for granted because your kids don’t appreciate all you do and buy for them?
  • Ever wish your teenager was more responsible with money?
  • Ever wish your children had a little more patience and stop expecting things RIGHT NOW?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, my advice to you is give them an allowance. It’s as important as teaching them to swim. 

Having an allowance will teach your children how to manage, use, save, spend, and value money. And, maybe most importantly, they will learn delayed gratification—a lost skill in this age of instant everything. 

Growing up with an allowance means your children have a much better chance of managing their future finances responsibly. When children have their own money to spend, they soon learn the value of what they spend it on. A tempting toy that breaks the first day becomes a lesson in quality. Spending the wad on candy means there is nothing

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Trying to Bottle Up a Tornado?

Q. My 6 yr. old son is worrying me to death. He seems to wake up in the morning with a wish to hurt as many things as he can – including me and sister. He has even screamed at his grandparents. If anyone so much as looks at him funny or tells him to do anything, he starts to punch and yell. I have tried everything. Time outs and putting him is his room only seem to wind him up more. If I tell him he can’t watch a program unless he can stay calm for an hour, he screams at me. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m afraid I’m letting him get away with it because I don’t have the strength to fight him anymore. Help.

A. Let’s first think about what might be going on from your son’s point of view:

  • Is he feeling angry because he thinks he is not being heard?
  • Is he afraid that no one thinks the same things he thinks? Does he feel alone?
  • Does he believe he is a bad
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Shift Your Perspective on Screentime

Q. I don’t know what to do anymore about screens. My 9 and 12 year olds are not only on screens all day for school but then they crave playing their games and it’s all I can do not to just give up. I hate the way they behave when they get off and we end up in some kind of fight or argument because their attitudes are snarky and rude. What can I do to get a handle on it?

A. It seems that across the board everyone is hitting a Covid wall. Everything that is normally a simple problem turns into huge emotional upheavals. We all want to escape and feel normal again. For most kids, their escape—Covid or no—is into the world of gaming and watching gaming.

Kids who feel some level of incompetence at school, athletics, and/or friendships find solace and mastery in the video game world. With Covid, kids are stuck at home with parents who are always telling them what to do. Especially when school is online, they are less engaged than ever and

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4 Ways to Keep Your Teens Safe: Go for Connection

For any parent who fears the teen years—and who doesn’t—I can tell you how to make sure your teens will steer clear of all the horrible things you imagine. I know what you’re saying.

Obviously, I can’t guarantee anything. But if you fulfill the 4 steps below, I would put my money on it.

Studies have shown that the #1 preventive factor for all those nightmare scenarios is connection. It’s not the only factor, but it is #1. If you focus on and succeed at staying connected to your kids, your family will be in the best shape possible to weather any storm—even if something tragic happens. Connection means your child trusts you and feels safe telling you anything without fear of reprimand. It doesn’t mean you will hear everything, but it’s what goes on inside their heads that should be your concern. Connection means trusting that accountability is held for all through working problems out together.

Dr. Gordon Neufeld, founder of the Neufeld Institute and author of Hold Onto Your Kids, says that when your teen is faced with

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Aug ’19 Q&A – Teaching Your Child to Handle a Bully

Q. My daughter is 8 years old. She is quiet, honest, kind, diligent, and the “dream child to teach”, the teachers say. She follows every rule to the T. On the playground, one of her better friends is starting to bully her. She was crying as she was telling me about the girl telling her to go into a dark shed on the playground. My daughter said she didn’t want to as she was afraid of the dark. The girl teased her for being a cry baby and insisted. Last week this girl told her she couldn’t play with their group and pushed her tray away. My daughter is afraid if she leaves the group she will have no one to play with. What should I do? I encouraged her to say STOP! and that you don’t like the way she is treating you, but she says that is not kind and she doesn’t want to be like this girl. She ‘practiced’ saying it but sounded like a mouse. Do I speak to the girl’s parents? Embarrassing. Or directly to

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