Parenting can feel so complicated at times.

You likely read conflicting advice from experts online and in parenting books, get different opinions from friends and families about the best way to handle things, and then have to take into account your own personal values and the unique needs of your child. When you add other complications, like trauma and adoption, it can feel overwhelming to figure out the right thing to do.

The “Rules of Connected Families” outlined in the book The Connected Child provide a great summary and framework for any parent to think about how they approach discipline, communication, and their relationship with their child.

The book The Connected Child is focused o...

Toddler emotions can be overwhelming and intense – for both your child and you. Learn how to handle these emotions as a parent.

June 19, 2016

This is the second post in the series about strategies to help kids to calm down. If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to read the post on Belly Breathing. This second technique is more helpful if kids can already do slow, deep breaths.

The second helpful technique for teaching kids (and teens and adults) to calm down is Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

Although I tell kids the real name of this technique when they learn it, we usually end up calling it “Tense and Relax.”

The idea behind progressive muscle relaxation is that anxiety, stress, and anger often lead to tight and tense muscles. Because the body and mind are so connected, activating relaxation in your body can help your emotio...

March 27, 2016


No child is born knowing how to self-soothe and calm down when upset. As they grow, kids learn to calm down through being soothed by their caregivers, watching the example of others, and discovering what works for them. However, for many children (and adults) calming down when upset continues to be a difficult skill to master.


This lack of mastery shows up in angry kids with explosive tempers, anxious children who can’t seem to face their fears or calm their racing thoughts, and impulsive or hyper kids who can’t seem to settle down.


Fortunately, there are many strategies and tools that kids can learn in order to better relax.


This is the first in a series of posts to help parents, tea...

Are you worried that your child doesn’t stand up for themselves when there is a problem? Or concerned about a kid that yells, bosses others around, or demands to get their way? Or have you wondered if there is more you can be doing to build healthy self-esteem in your child?


These are common concerns that a lot of parents bring up when they bring a child to counseling. Although there are many different possible reasons for these challenges, teaching your child to be assertive can help with all of these concerns.


Raising children and teens to be assertive is sometimes overlooked in favor of teaching kids to be nice, polite, and compliant. Parents and teachers often want kids to do as th...

As we enter 2016 and you’re thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, it can be a great time to consider your parenting and look at some strategies for a more peaceful year with your child. Here are five resolutions to consider making to be a more positive parent.


1. Focus on feelings: If asked whether they care about their child’s feelings, most parents would say that of course they do. But does this really come across in the way that you talk to your child everyday? Do you fall into the trap of encouraging your child to feel something different and thus invalidate their feelings. Notice the comments you make throughout the day that might invalidate your child’s emotions: “You can’t be h...

Parents frequently want to know how they can build their child’s self-esteem. Low self-esteem can manifest in different ways. It can look like the child that is constantly seeking praise and reassurance from you, showing off or asking if you like what they’ve done. Or a child that never seems to feel like they are good at anything, putting themselves down or comparing themselves to others. Or a child that has an extreme reaction and meltdown to any criticism or perceived insult, no matter how small. Or the child with a special need or diagnosis that can only focus on what is “wrong” with them. All of these children need extra help in building positive self-esteem.


Positive self-esteem...

Are you struggling with communication with your teenager? Do you have trouble getting them to open up or feel like they just withdraw when upset? Does every attempt to address a problem seem to blow up into a big argument? Here are seven things to try to keep in mind when communicating with teens.

Find the right time – Try to be aware of when your teen is the most receptive and responsive (e.g., in the car, during dinner, taking a walk together, or right before bed), and remember that talking with your teenager will be much more successful if you are not interrupting something or trying to have a conversation when they are tired or stressed. If you have something specific that needs to...

August 10, 2015

For many children, the end of summer vacation brings normal nervousness about the beginning of school. However, for some children, this anxiety can be more overwhelming and they may need some extra support from caregivers (and therapists/counselors). Remember that your goal should always be to help your child get through the situation that is causing anxiety; allowing them to avoid the anxiety trigger will only lead to greater problems later. Here are 15 strategies that may help your child better manage school anxiety at the start of school and throughout the year:


1. Talk about it: Start a conversation with your child about how they are feeling about school. Listen to what they are wo...

July 18, 2015


 I hope that you've had a chance to see the movie Inside Out (and if not, I definitely encourage you to see it soon). It does a wonderful job of teaching kids about their mind and their feelings. And most importantly, it teaches them that all of our feelings should be listened to and serve a valuable purpose. Parents can help to reinforce this and to build emotional intelligence in their child by helping their child label and express feelings, reflecting and validating these feelings, and then helping their child figure out how best to handle the emotions.


Inside Out gives kids a fun and accessible way to explore their feelings. Here are a few Inside Out activities that you can do wit...

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