Tag Archives: connective parenting

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 left for anything else. 

You will no longer spend time and energy arguing over what you will and won’t give them money for. When you hear, “But Mom, everyone else has one,” you can say, “Great. How long do you think it will take to save up for it? Let’s figure it out.” When they beg for more money, you can say, “You’ll have it with your next allowance. I know it’s hard to wait.”

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Is It Ever Effective to Take Away Privileges?
Child yelling

Q. I know you don’t believe in consequences, but is there ever a circumstance where a consequence is effective even when knowing the root cause of the behavior? Example: My 10-year-old son expressed this morning that he wished he didn’t have to go to school. He was moody and angry. I did some digging and turns out he hates music and it’s his first class of the day. I get it. I said missing school isn’t an option and asked if he could think of anything to make the day bearable. He was super angry and wasn’t open to hearing me and started to call me vulgar names/swears. I told him that calling me names is unacceptable—something I’ve told him many times. He stormed outside to ride his scooter for a bit, and I was left wondering if he should lose YouTube after school. Will it make him remember or think twice when he is in the red zone swearing at me? Is it just a thing parents do to feel in control when the situation feels so out of control? Can I do both? Does it make sense to say, “in our home when you call me vulgar names you lose privileges”? 

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The Powerful Meaning of Play

Q: Our bedtime pattern seems to be my 4-yr-old daughter pushing limits until there’s a consequence; then she sulks. Two nights ago, for example, she had a couple of little stuffed animals that she was giving voices to that kept interrupting story-time. I said she could hold onto them as long as they didn’t interrupt but they’d have to go downstairs until tomorrow if they couldn’t be quiet. Of course they weren’t. Last night she got a balloon out and was playing with it and wouldn’t put it away. Same thing until I raised my voice. She is getting very silly and defiant around bedtime, often with her older sister’s encouragement. Any ideas?

A. It’s your interpretation that she pushes to get you angry or until there’s a consequence. Almost all kids push or act out to be heard and accepted. Nothing she is doing here is wrong. It’s simply an inconvenience—but it is unacceptable to you.

Read over this question and see that your daughter is being reprimanded for playing. Yes, it’s disruptive to what you want, but it is play. And she wants your engagement in that play.

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Basic Trust: Seeing All that Glorious Light
New Parents

As I sit blissfully holding my infant grandson, I am struck by his fragility and vulnerability. He is dependent on us, his caregivers. And we in turn look to every possible behavioral sign to determine what needs caring for. Is he hungry, tired, does he have an internal pain, does he need a burp, a suck, a bounce, a diaper change? We rotate through the possibilities hoping to land on the right one, thrilled when we do, worried when we don’t. 

When he’s content, he coos and looks around curious about all he sees. When something is wrong, he makes a pained face and cries. We answer those cries. We will do so for a good long time to come. 

Caregivers must pay attention to behavior that signals a problem the child is having—a need that must be met. As he grows, his cries turn to whines, hurts to frustration and anger. Sensations of discomfort, pain, and hunger get complicated with jealousy, confusion, shame, fear, embarrassment, anger. As he learns he is a separate entity, he understands that he can be left alone, yelled at, and made to feel bad. He learns he can be a problem to those he loves and needs the most.

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28 Reasons to Be a Connective Parent
Connected Parenting

Q. I am really trying to parent my two kids, 5 and 7, differently than the way I was raised. I am good at telling my husband and my friends that I want to parent with connection. But when they say what does that mean, I’m lost. I get about as far as – ‘Well, it just doesn’t feel right to parent the old way.’ And of course I have my days when I lose it and do everything wrong. I wonder if you could help me think thru why I want to do a connective approach and what I can say to my naysayer friends.

A. This is a common conundrum for many parents who want to parent differently but who haven’t yet absorbed the principles of why or experienced the results of a connected relationship yet. It takes time to incorporate a new method before you can explain to others why you are doing what you’re doing.

It also requires a certain amount of child development knowledge not well understood in traditional parenting to know what can be realistically and appropriately expected for a child to succeed at meeting those expectations. As well as a trusting understanding of your child’s unique temperament.

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Chores and Other Distasteful Words
Child Doing Chores

I hate the word chores, and I can guarantee your kids do too. Asking kids to do chores is like saying I want you to take on this drudgery, this burden. And then when the expectation is that they should do them willingly because of all you do for them—that’s a catastrophe waiting to happen.

First, think of another word. I have heard them called contributions, which has exactly the right intention behind it. Jobs can feel a bit more important than the onus of chores. Do your chores sounds like an imposed sentence.

Second, set your expectations of your kids appropriately. Do not ever expect that your kids will be happy to help. Wanting to help out and having consideration of all you do, comes with maturity. Children are naturally egocentric and care only about their own happiness—frustrating, yes, but developmentally appropriate. They grow into being considerate when their needs are considered.

Third, set your expectations of yourself appropriately. Expect that from a very young age, your children are going to do tasks to be helpful. Just don’t expect them to like it or to think of their jobs without reminders and prompts. The important thing is that they do them, so they learn they are important contributing members of the family. A family is a team. When you are on a team, every player is important to its success.

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Feb ’22 Q&A Hitting a Wall? (Revising a conversation from May ’20)
Emotional Exhaustion

Q. I’m utterly overwhelmed. I’m resentful of those who have support from a partner and grandparents and guilty for feeling resentful. Frustrated that there’s no end in sight. Exhausted, emotionally and physically. Sad. I miss my family and friends. Lonely. 3 kids 1, 4 and 8 entirely on my own. Working 60 hours a week. Trying to be grateful I’m employed but there is no balance possible when you have 3 kids in tow. I don’t bathe or sleep without them and if I try, they scream or immediately ‘need’ me for something which is their anxiety showing up. It’s endless. How do I stay sane?

A. We’re on year three of a global pandemic and all of us, especially parents with young unvaccinated children or families with unpredictable child education schedules due to positive COVID cases, are still very much in the throes of it. If we thought we were exhausted in May, 2020, it’s certainly not gotten better for a lot of people. Maybe we’ve become more accustomed to our reality, but emotional stress among our hardworking families is very real and present.   

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Willful Defiance: A Lesson for Parents and Teachers

Defiant Child

We live in a school culture within a parenting culture that expects its children to fit in and embrace that culture.

For many children acculturation happens seamlessly. But for at least 1 in 5 children*, it requires giving up oneself, shifting off base, and surrendering to a non-nurturing authority. In other words, understanding that you are wrong and the other is right. Parents are expected to take on the role of enforcer using consequences, threats, punishment, withdrawal of what is most cherished—coercive tactics to manipulate children into being who they are expected to be. 

These are the children we see as defiant and oppositional. The square pegs society tries to fit into its round holes. And if they don’t adjust enough, they become the troublemakers, the problems, the ones we fear our children will grow up to be. These are the children who are tough to raise and who cause problems in classrooms. 

At home, they fight the rules and argue every direction given. Parents complain they never listen, won’t do as they’re told and refuse to comply. At school they are considered disruptive, attention-seekers. The problem worsens with reprimands, isolation, and punishment. Counselors are brought in but counseling that typically focuses on training the child to self-control, keep emotions in the “green zone”—messages that unintentionally say You’re not right the way you are. This “help” further identifies the child as the troublemaker, the one who can’t get along, the one who isn’t like the others who don’t need a counselor’s help. 

The message is loud and clear to all the “normal” children—this is the child with a problem, the one not to trust, to stay away from, to tattle on, to make fun of. All children are harmed in this process of coercion by isolation.

Why do we think making children feel alone and wrong is going to motivate them to do what we want? If they acquiesce, it is out of fear which leads to stress and anxiety. 

What we miss seeing in these children is their intense awareness of justice, of knowing what is not right for them, that they can’t, not won’t fit. These children have a sensitive litmus monitor to anything that does not feel fair to them (to them being the operative words). They tend to be smart, easily bored, charismatic (class clown), extremely loving, highly sensitive both emotionally and physically (too light, sound, smell, clothing, stimulation) and fiercely loyal. They want desperately to do the right thing, but they can’t do what someone else thinks is right if it doesn’t fit who they are. They have a strong sense of personal integrity. We miss these aspects because they can be so hard to get along with since their idea of what is right doesn’t fit with what is needed to maintain acclimation both at home and in the classroom. They resist, they fight, they cannot acquiesce.

I believe these are the potential leaders of the world when given the chance. But we do our best to censor them at every turn, so they are rarely able to meet their potential.


  • First, we must acknowledge and support their “squareness” seeing it as different, not wrong. These children are often trouble-seekers, not trouble-makers*. They shine a light on hypocrisies, wrong doings, unreasonableness, and inequities in our culture. They are the canaries in our coal mines. Unfortunately, when we don’t listen to them, they can no longer listen to us. When we try to force them to change, they wither and become the real trouble-makers of society.
  • Instead of sending them off to therapists (although this can be helpful), we need to better support parents in doing the work that therapists do. Parents, therapists, teachers, principals all need a new mindset through which to view these children.

  • We need new and different schools in every community that are project and exploration based made just for square pegs. They need an environment that serves their way of thinking, that fosters their unique creativity. That square peg when supported, seen and heard for that unique perspective, could change the world.

  • This is hard for parents schooled in the I’m the parent and I know best philosophy when their behavior is not what is expected. Parents and teachers must step across the gap to stand shoulder to shoulder with these trouble-seekers so they learn to trust themselves and the authorities in their lives. Parents and teachers need to see the disruptive, attention-seeking behaviors as signals of their pain, frustration, confusion, powerlessness. They must learn how to connect with that emotional level, leaving the behavior aside. Punishing, reprimanding, threatening undesirable behavior denies everything that provokes it.

  • We must learn to address the child’s experience rather than insist the child understand and be considerate of ours. Once children feel accepted, consideration becomes easy. Acceptance doesn’t mean allowing all behavior. It means, I accept that you are feeling in a way that causes you to behave in this manner. Their emotions must be allowed as uncomfortable and inconvenient as they are, so we can learn from them, not shove them back inside to fester.

  • Instead of denying their emotions with There’s nothing to be upset or scared about or You’re fine or Calm down, we must help them feel okay by naming emotions, sharing our own, letting them know they are gotten. And not make them feel that the “green zone” is the only good place to be.

  • Their unacceptable behavior must be interpreted as cries for help, not as evidence for admonishment. Disruptive, provocative, rude, angry behaviors are the child’s attempts to be heard. Instead of ignoring, punishing or silencing that behavior, connecting with the need to be heard and understood will eventually calm the child. But when they are given the chance to be heard only under certain circumstances determined by the authority—using the right words and tone, at the right time, on the right topic, they are not usually cooperative because they still cannot trust themselves. They need to be heard even when what they are saying is inconvenient, angry, troublesome and provocative.

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    6 Warning Signs You Need to Empower Your Harmony Child

    Harmony Child with Mom

    Harmony children* are just what the name implies — they thrive on harmony. They hate fights, anger and tension and will do what they can to avoid it. Unlike an Integrity child*, Harmony kids can easily comply with your wishes and back down when faced with anger. Similar to the Dandelion child* who does well in any environment, your Harmony child is likely to be flexible and can transition well.

    Whereas an Integrity child has you tearing your hair out, Harmony kids make you feel like a great parent. They will work hard to meet high expectations. This child can get very upset and angry but gets over it pretty quickly. Things that stick to your Integrity kid like Velcro, roll off your Harmony child like water off a duck’s back. This child is easy to live with and doesn’t often stress you out or give you reason to worry.

    They make great friends and generally have lots of them. They are easy to like as they are good at understanding all points of view. They can move from group to group with their chameleon-like qualities and rarely cause discomfort or discord among friends. They generally fit well in school because they are malleable and work diligently. They make great mediators and can stand up for the kid who gets bullied.

    Whereas an Integrity child has you tearing your hair out, Harmony kids make you feel like a great parent. But they also make it easy for you to be lazy at parenting.

    Problem: These kids can be easily manipulated into doing as you say. You think time outs and groundings are working but in fact they shove a Harmony child’s voice — her opinions, desires, and upsets — down deep inside. She will easily back down in shame believing she’s bad or undeserving. It looks like the punishment is effective but in fact, if used enough it may be weakening your child’s sense of self and damaging her self-esteem.

    Key: Become versed in problem-solving methods to use with behaviors you don’t like. Problem-solving not only gives each of your children their voice and opinions but uses fair and balanced agreements so everyone feels heard.


    Problem: Your Harmony child is likely to back off when bullied or teased. You might worry he will never learn to stand up for himself and fight back.

    Key: Remember this child does not like fighting. Don’t try to get him to fight back or meet aggression with aggression. Empower him to feel good about himself by role playing and allowing him to come up with his own way of defending himself. If supported, he will be able to teach you about non-violent communication.


    Problem: If you are stressed by work or other children, your Harmony child can suppress his problems to keep from adding more stress for you. It’s easy to take advantage of this compliant quality. Harmony kids hate to disappoint or cause problems so will work hard to meet up to parents’ expectations that may be inappropriate for them. You can tell a Harmony child that she is making you upset or angry and she is likely to shut down. If this happens enough, you may start hearing, “Are you happy, mommy? Are you mad at me? Am I good? Am I bad?”

    Key: If you notice this child holding back, being quiet, give devoted one-on-one time to provide opportunity for him to speak up. Ask his opinion on family situations or what he would like to do for special occasions. If you hear, “Are you happy, Mommy”, know that it is not enough to say, “You’re not responsible for how I feel.” Take is as your cue to look at your expectations and ask yourself if you take advantage of your child’s willingness to back down or give in.


    Problem: Because Harmony kids want to please and gain the approval of others, they can become people pleasers by trying to be the person they think they are expected to be. Pressure is on to get approval and look outside themselves for value. Whether it is the approval of parents, peers, or authority figures, seeking outside validation can become a debilitating endeavor. They can get into trouble when influenced by tempting peers to do what they know isn’t right.

    Key: Put effort into allowing this child to speak her mind. Never get anger if she argues with you or raises her voice. If you don’t allow her to say/scream ‘no’ to you, how will she learn to say it to her peers? It’s so easy to shut her up because she can. It’s not so easy to shut yourself up when she needs to yell.


    Problem: You have less opportunity with your Harmony child to be held accountable for irresponsible parenting. You can use authoritarian tactics you may have been brought up on to get the obedience you want without the push back from an Integrity child. It’s easy to shame Harmony kids for their emotions with gaslighting, guilt-tripping them to do your bidding by playing the martyr or the victim, tiger-parenting them to prove your worth as a parent, fixing and controlling so they remain dependent, and preventing their natural drive toward independence.

    Key: Make sure you never expect your Harmony child to make life easier for you. Take full responsibility for your own emotions and behavior and never blame them on anyone else. Use your children as mirrors to look at yourself and what you are bringing to parenting from your past. Choose what is best for each child rather than being persuaded by others.


    Problem: Harmony kids can easily give in to a strong-willed sibling to avoid arguments and fights, especially if he sees tension between his Integrity sibling and his parents. He does not want to add more conflict and can remain quietly in the shadows to protect himself from more discord or do what he thinks will make his upset parent happier.

    Key: Never praise your child for keeping quiet or backing down to make your life easier. Instead talk to him separately to find out what it’s like when his sibling grabs from him or yells and screams. An Integrity child can take up a lot of space. It’s important to provide space for your quieter child. Give every opportunity for him to complain. Never ask him to compensate for your Integrity child by asking him to just let her have it to avoid a meltdown. He will learn to resent his sibling and find ways to get back.

    Your Harmony child is most capable of rolling along through life quite smoothly and is great at getting along with others. Once you ensure she knows how to be heard and go after what she wants, you can sit back and enjoy.


    *Integrity and Harmony are my terms. They are based on the 30 years of scientific research done by Dr. Thomas Boyce and many colleagues culminating in his book, The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive. The Orchid is 1 in 5 children. The Integrity child is not quite as extreme and is more common. The Harmony child is similar to the Dandelion.

    Read about the Integrity child here. read more

    9 Signs Your Defiant Kid is Actually an Integrity Child

    Family Fighting

    Are you exhausted and overwhelmed by your clever little manipulator who fights you every step of the way, won’t take no for an answer and will not be told what to do? Do the words stubborn, demanding, disrespectful, disobedient, and argumentative come to mind? My guess is you have an Integrity Child* as opposed to that delightfully easy Harmony Child* who makes you feel like the best parent in the world.

    In my humble opinion, understanding your Integrity child could be the most important job you will ever do. Orchids* (1 in 5 children)—my term is Integrity to incorporate a broader range—have the potential of becoming the brilliant revolutionaries of the world when given the nurturing their extremely sensitive natures require. When misunderstood and pressured to be different, they can become burdens on society as the very troubled and often addicted young people we fear raising.

    As I see it, your Integrity child is born with an internal core of a sense of rightness and justice that drives his every mood and behavior. These kids try our very souls. And while we think they will never learn and we fear for their futures, what they are doing is demanding our personal responsibility and integrity. But it’s hard to see that from the trenches of daily battles.

    Having both a Harmony and Integrity child myself and counseling parents of Integrity kids for many years, I have learned what these kids need to thrive.

    Problem: Your young immature child’s sense of rightness does not mesh with what it will become as an adult. He seems defiant and willful and does not hesitate to lash out if he feels wrongfully treated. It seems only right to a four-year-old who just had his Lego building destroyed to slug the perpetrator. While you argue, yell, threaten, and punish to get him to do as he’s told, you get screams of It’s not fair, I hate you, and You’re mean or stupid. After the 5th power struggle of the day, you throw in the parenting towel and declare failure.

    Key: Know that he cannot, not will not, capitulate to a request that counters what he believes right—his sense of integrity. Integrity kids work by a their own set of rules. Your power struggles will stop when you understand that. You don’t have to follow his rules, or even agree with them. Simply understand and acknowledge their importance to your child. You worked hard on that lego building and felt furious when it got knocked down. He will not be forced to listen and obey. When you try to get him to see it your way, he argues and resists. When he feels understood and connected, he will work with you. Next time that happens what could you do instead of hit?


    Problem: You think you must break down that hard shell that continually fights back. You think what she’s doing is trying to get control, and you fear losing control over her as her words get louder and more dramatic.

    Key: The fights and meltdowns are your Integrity child’s way of demanding your respect—what she doesn’t get when you yell, threaten, and manipulate her. In fact, that hard shell is the suit of armor she puts on every morning expecting battles. Her extreme sensitivity requires the defense she puts on to protect herself. When you change your perception of her from rude and obstinate to defending her pain and switch from anger to compassion—the nourishment she demands—her defenses can melt.


    Problem: There are times when he says the most amazing things, when his wisdom seems beyond his years. Integrity kids are deeply perceptive and intuitive. Sometimes his immature intuition will become a tirade on something that makes no sense to you, and you struggle to get him to understand your explanation. But he will dig in his heels and argue with an energy that either exhausts you or catapults you into a rage.

    Key: Mirror his logic. Get into his head. Oh, I get it. You think I’d rather be with your brother than you. So of course you get angry when I do something with him. Mirroring does not mean agreeing. It enables him to hear himself think, to bounce ideas off the sounding board you provide. It’s got to be hard to have a brother who seems to have such an easy time. Your acknowledgement normalizes his feelings so he can relax. Then he can hear your side.


    Problem: She can fight with a fury and then fall apart when getting out the door in the morning. Transitions can be hard. Remember her sensitivity in all situations. She may have a heightened sense of smell, taste, hearing and texture that can cause havoc around food, clothing, and stimulation.

    Key: Never pressure her to eat something she doesn’t like. Let her pick out new clothes as fabrics can feel like rough sandpaper. Loud noises may dysregulate her. Understand how hard it can be to switch internal gears to leave home, leave you, and get herself into a new environment. When pressured she can become anxious. She may be nervously anticipating the unrealistic expectations of others.


    Problem: You have answered his ridiculous request with a perfectly logical ‘no’ and he erupts.

    Key: Remember your Integrity kid will not take no for an answer. Find a way of saying ‘no’ without saying ‘no’. He will not hear any explanation that follows a ‘no’. Sounds like you really want me to play that game. I can’t do that now but let’s look at the calendar and mark a time that works for both of us. Acknowledge his wants even if it’s candy. Of course you want candy. Why wouldn’t you? I’m not going to give you any now but let’s decide when you can have some. You don’t have to fulfill his wants but let him know there is never a problem with the wanting.


    Problem: Telling your Integrity child what to do or say will never work.

    Key: She has to feel she belongs. Start by giving her choices so she has some power. Use problem solving to work out any issue as it is all about fairness and logic. You want x, I want y. How do we make it work for both of us? Involving her opinions, even if she doesn’t get exactly what she wants will go a long way towards compromise and cooperation. Never say, You can’t do that, which is a threat she will fight. Instead, That doesn’t work for me or I don’t like that calls on your integrity.


    Problem: You feel disdain and disrespect from your Integrity child.

    Key: Your Integrity kid is hypersensitive to anything that smacks of dishonesty or illogic. He wants the truth and can see through platitudes and false praise like, I love that. It’s beautiful or Good job. Be clear, factual, and responsible with your words and behavior. Never try to hide or sneak to avoid a meltdown. Integrity kids want honesty and authenticity even when it hurts. You can usually get away with We can’t afford that with a Harmony child. Don’t even try it with your Integrity child. I don’t want to buy that for you is better, especially if you have validated his want first. Finishing with…so how can you find a way to get one? poses a challenge, which he loves.


    Problem: This is the child who pushes your buttons again and again.

    Key: Holding strong boundaries is imperative. Being responsible means standing in your own integrity. Don’t ask her to take care of your problems—Just stop would you? Why can’t you ever think of anyone else?—and do not try to fix her problems. Once she gets that problem solving never means losing, guide her with questions that put her decision-making into play. What is it you want? How can you make that happen? What do you think will happen then? She is likely to disdain and thus say disrespectful things to a parent who backs down, gives in, and is always walking on eggshells—and then exploding. She will keep on pushing your buttons until you get that those buttons are yours to heal, not hers to leave alone. If you can take ownership of your buttons and work to defuse them, you will emerge a far better person. Your Integrity child is the best teacher you will ever have.


    Problem: His behavior has gotten out of hand. He is angry and retaliatory most of the time. Your home has become a war zone. He may scream and swear at you, and even threaten hurting you. Integrity kids can throw barbs that cut deep. He resents his Harmony sibling to the point of cruelty. You have gotten into a pattern of only yelling, taking things away, or ignoring him.

    Key: Understand that unacceptable behavior is your clue that he is in pain. He has come to believe he is unacceptable, bad, wrong, and unloved. All he can do is demand in a loud and dangerous voice because he feels so powerless. Don’t take his behavior personally. Learn to interpret words and behavior by looking beneath the surface to the emotions that provoke behavior. Find compassion for the pain. An environment of anger, threats and punitive measures is not supportive of any child, but due to his sensitivity, the Integrity child can be quite damaged and suffer greatly under punitive methods. NEVER punish or threaten an Integrity child. He will punish you back. It is the most unfair, illogical thing he can imagine. Your work at this point is to admit your mistakes, acknowledge that you have misunderstood him and want desperately to change your relationship. It will likely take time and consistency for him to learn to trust you.

    When your Integrity child feels understood and supported; when she feels “gotten”, not necessarily agreed with; when she is spoken to from a place of your honesty and integrity, she will respond cooperatively. She may always be frustrating and argumentative, but when she is launched feeling confident and comfortable in her own skin, you will be dazzled by her capabilities.


    Read about the Harmony child here.

    *Integrity and Harmony are my terms. They are based on the 30 years of scientific research done by Dr. Thomas Boyce and many colleagues culminating in his book, The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive. The Orchid is 1 in 5 children. The Integrity child is not quite as extreme and is more common. read more