June ’18 Q&A – Refusing the Toilet, Unrealistic Expectations and Huge Feelings

Refusing the Toilet

Q. My 3 yr old daughter goes to a small home daycare and uses the toilet there without accidents but refuses to use the toilet at home. I understand that it’s more of a control issue than a potty training issue. I have been letting her wear pull ups at home as long as she puts them on herself. She still refuses to try the toilet. There hasn’t been any event that I can think of that would have scared her. She is very verbal and will tell me that she just doesn’t like to use our potty. She won’t poop at daycare either. She holds it until she gets home and gets a pull up on and then she goes.

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When Do I Draw the Line?

Parents who want to leave the reward and punishment methods behind often have a hard time letting go fully and embracing a truly connective relationship with their children.

When my child won’t do what has to be done, I have to draw the line, don’t I?
I try to be empathic and listen, but where do I draw the line?

What does “Drawing the line” mean? Making your child stop? Not being empathic anymore? Maintaining your authority as a parent? I think it’s worth figuring out what this phrase means as it runs endlessly in the minds of well-intentioned parents trying their best to change old ways.

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May ’18 Q&A – Confidence, Empathy and Shopping

Is it lack of confidence or too much control?

Q. Our 5-year old boy is struggling with confidence. He has difficulty focusing at school and we don’t want him to get behind. There are 22 kids in his class and the school has an expectation of work. Also has trouble focusing at soccer practice/games, anytime things are going on around him. He has no issues interacting with people, kids or adults. I believe he lacks confidence because he is afraid of trying new things. He doesn’t like to fail and gets frustrated easily when he can’t learn fast. He also gets very embarrassed when things don’t go as expected.

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Getting Your Kids to Listen to You. Could There Be Anything Better?

When your kids don’t listen, how long does your patience last?

You think you’ve tried everything. You ask nicely, you keep asking nicely until you explode, you lecture about all you do for them, you give them consequences for not listening, you give them extra privileges if they do — but your kids still won’t listen.

You can’t seem to get them do what they should: brush their teeth, go to bed, get off the computer, quiet down in the car, eat a healthy meal, pick up their dirty clothes, etc. What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with you?

What if: They do listen, but they don’t like what they hear? (That’s not okay, is it?)

Now ask yourself: Are you asking them for cooperation or obedience?

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April ’18 Q&A – “Bad” Preschool Behavior, Racism and Screentime

“Bad” Preschool Behavior

Q. Our 31/2 year old grandson just started preschool, and has already gotten an email (in 6 days) about how bad his behavior is.  Not listening, not being nice with other kids, etc.  I don’t think he is old enough to verbalize what is bothering him, so how do we figure out how to help him? I remember your story about your child when she was young and even now you said it almost breaks your heart because she couldn’t say what was bothering her.

A. If your grandson’s preschool is complaining about his behavior,

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Music and ADHD: A Quick Guide for Parents
Music and ADHD

We all love music. Now we know it can help attention span for kids with ADHD.

Bono once famously said, “Music can change the world because it can change people.” This sentiment is true on a number of levels, including helping people with attention deficit disorders control the symptoms of their condition.

According to Psychology Today, music may be used to help people manage ADHD. In a recent article posted online, Larry Maucieri Ph.D, ABPP-CN reports that people trained in music have an overwhelming tendency to perform better in many areas, including attention span and memory. It is theorized that part of the reason music affects ADHD in a positive way is because it increases dopamine levels, which, when deficient, may cause or contribute to ADHD.

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Taming Your Gremlin ®*
We all say and do things we don’t mean. How many times have you screamed or slammed a door or hit a child and moments later regretted it. You knew better, right? So how come you didn’t do what you wished you had in the moment? Because your fears and assumptions got the better of you, provoked your emotions, and your reactions were automatic.

Most of us get our buttons pushed. Maybe we forgive ourselves, maybe we don’t. So if we react more often than we’d like, why don’t we cut our children some slack? Children don’t have the benefit of adult reasoning or self-control. Wouldn’t it be smart to expect that your children will behave impulsively, even when they know better?

Of course you want to guide your child toward gaining self-control. Here is one method to reign in impulsivity with no more blame and lecturing.

Ask your child to tame his gremlin

Begin by asking your child if he ever thinks there is something inside him that makes him do things he doesn’t mean to do, i.e. hitting, kicking, screaming, throwing…. Something that takes control of him. If he doesn’t seem to know what you’re talking about or is not interested, let it go. Try another time with different words. If he says, Yes, continue.

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March ’18 Q&A – Getting Choices to Work, Getting a Spouse On Board and Swearing

Getting Choices to Work

Q. What is the next step after saying, “You can either pick up that toy you threw and put it in the box or hand it to me. Which do you choose?” and the child refuses to choose or states they refuse to do either? I frequently find this with my 3 year old daughter. We either end up in a power struggle or I end up letting it go and the toy is left or I pick it up. 

A. I would add, “If you can’t make the choice right now, let’s take a break and do something else and then come back to it.” If you put it to her the moment she has thrown the toy it is too soon because she is deep in her anger. Next time give it time for her emotions and yours to calm. I might also start with “Do you want to…” instead of “You can either…” which sounds a little more threatening. If your anger is behind your words, she will definitely not respond. Take a break, do some calming down activity, then acknowledge the anger that made her throw the toy – “You were very angry when I asked you to put your toys away. You didn’t want to do that so you threw one of them because you felt mad.” You then normalize her feelings and let her know she is okay. Then say, “Are you ready now to make a choice? Do you want to bring it to me or put it in the box?” Once feelings are calmed, she is more likely to want to make amends.

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What Your Teen Wants to Hear From You


Parents of teens tear their hair out wondering what happened to that child who cooperated at least some of the time, listened once in a while, and adjusted to the limits set some of the time. Now an attitude seems to replace that child and an alien has taken over.

The thing is, your child is the same child, but she is growing up and pushing out. She must separate from her dependency on you. She must make decisions on her own, take responsibility for herself, and navigate among her world of peers.

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February ’18 Q&A – Handling Big Emotions, When Anger Gets Physical and When to Negotiate and When Not

Handling Big Emotions

Q. My 4-year-old son still has very intense fits/tantrums. He has an older brother who is 6 1/2. A lot of the time we try and ignore his fits, and usually he will go to his bed and get his loveys and cry. Sometimes his fits can be more than 15 minutes. But the times when I’m struggling with how to deal with them is when we simply can’t ignore and wait—when he does not want to leave the house. I had to literally drag him kicking and screaming into the car. After 10 minutes of him standing in the car (unwilling to get in his seat) and screaming, my husband took him out and hugged/held him and tried to connect with him. We brought him back to the car and the same thing ensued. At this point, we forced him into his chair and buckled him and went to the park as planned, as our older son had been very patiently waiting. He cried the whole 10 minutes there, and refused to get out of the car for a while. Eventually he did get out, and of course he had a fabulous time riding his bike and playing at the park for the next hour. The same thing happens often.

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