The ONE thing your child needs to make changes…

I recently wrote about how focusing on your child’s feelings rather than what they’re upset about helps you grow their ability to solve their own problems over time. Today I’ll be sharing about how this builds in your child the one thing they need to be ready to take that control over on their own.


A sense of self-worth, self-respect, a positive self-concept all give our children the confidence to choose positive behaviors when they have been engaging in undesirable behaviors in the past. Change cannot happen without it. With January over, think about the recent goals you may have set for yourself. If you did not believe you could reach them, would you have set them at all?

The same goes for behavior change in children, but the catalyst for change is in the relationship. Children respond to the therapist or parent’s faith in their ability to change and this supports their tip-toes in the right direction. In my vlog this week, I likened the growth of children/teens to that of growing a plant.

Take Action

This week notice what your child CAN do in a neutral time. Pro Tip: DO NOT use this time to ask them why they can’t do it all the time, or when you’re rushing out the door. JUST NOTICE that they are able to do it.

Praise their effort (“you worked hard to get your shoes on when it’s time to go”… or “it was hard to put down your cell and pack your bag so that we can be on time”). Keep your evaluation (“why can’t you do this every time we’re rushing out the door?”) to yourself. Parents often think it stresses the importance of the child’s consistency to this task, but it actually undermines the importance you’re placing on their ability to comply.

Try this out this week and see if you notice an improvement over the course of the month on one behavior you are trying to tackle.

For those of you who would like to learn more about using this positive behavior change strategy more effectively, click to apply to the ONLINE parent group starting this Friday 2/16/18! Registration closes Wednesday at 10PM!

*This post was originally sent in my email newsletter. If you’d like to receive these tips and more straight to your inbox, fill out the form below!

Solving the Problem Doesn’t Really Solve the Problem ?

Time and again I have parents wanting to dissect a certain event that happened this week with their child, trying to figure out WHAT they were upset about.

News Flash: that doesn’t matter as much as having their feelings heard. For general every day stressors, your kid does not need to tell you the minute details of every challenge so that you can offer suggestions for what they can do next time.

They can do that themselves!

Where they get tripped up, and their brains trick them into thinking they can’t do it, is that they are not able to decrease their big emotions on their own unless they can name them. 

We cannot move to problem solving mode on our own (whether that means asking for help from mom or dad or not) if we don’t feel our feelings, name them, and tame them first.

Take Action

So, this week, instead of going on a mission to find a solution, play detective with your kiddo about what feeling they are expressing that day. Use the feelings posters I have on my site, or pull up the tablet to find your own. Ask them where they feel this in their body. For teens, figure out if they can name 3 physical signs of this feeling so they know what it is next time.

THEN, here’s the tough part… let them know if they need help to come up with a solution to the problem, you’re here, but that you want them to do something to help themselves calm that feeling first.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the idea of letting your kiddo figure it out on their own, or you’d like more support putting that into practice in group; click here to apply.

To watch more about why it’s important to set this skill up for your kid now, watch this week’s video here.

*This post was originally sent in my email newsletter. If you’d like to receive these tips and more straight to your inbox, fill out the form below!

English is not your child’s first (or second) language

I recently vlogged about using toys to help your children express their feelings to you more accurately. My hope with this tool is to give you an effective means to check in with your child when they are in distress. This works because play is the child’s language.

We don’t fully develop the skills to communicate our feelings verbally until about age 25 (and some adults never do!), so why are we so often asking our children to tell us how they feel with words?

More often than not, I hear from parents that they have no clue what feeling their child is experiencing. You have a hunch it’s not just the turkey sandwich you packed for lunch, but they just won’t stop fussing about that! So, you ask them, is it this? Is it that? By the end you can both end up guessing, and neither of you walk away sure that you understood what the deeper issue was.

How can we support our kids in decreasing their anxiety, meltdowns, or behavior problems if we can’t speak their language?

By offering children the opportunity to perceive the picture of a feeling on a toy’s face, or in the body language of an action figure, we get down on their level to help them communicate. Just like I practiced ‘dove ir al bano’ before I went to Italy, to meet those basic needs we need to recognize that English is not a child’s first language.

To learn more about play therapy, click here. If you’re a science geek, or just want to know more about why play therapy is effective, read more here.

For those of you interested in learning the language, you can apply to participate in my online parent group where you will learn the basics of play therapy, and hold sessions at home with your child. You will gain the same skills a master’s level student in play therapy is taught. These skills will give you the lasting capability to speak your child’s language throughout their childhood.

Apply now, as space is limited!

*This post was originally sent in my email newsletter. If you’d like to receive these tips and more straight to your inbox, fill out the form below!