Parenting Guilt!

Many working and busy stay-at-home parents feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children. The following article from the Chicago Tribune gives some good advice!


Stop Hovering You are preventing Your Child From Learning

After to working with families for more than 20 years I have noticed a steady increase in over- attending, otherwise known as hovering!

Parents feel compelled to help their child with everything, in many instances not even giving their child a chance to try.  A child may be exploring a new toy. They haven’t figured it out and immediately say, “I can’t do this!” The parent quickly works on the toy for their child.

What has the child learned? Have they learned to problem solve? Have they learned to explore the toy? What happens to the next task that looks too hard?

These are important questions to consider. Children learn about their environment by exploring. they learn about their capabilities by trying new things, figuring out how they work. This gives them the confidence to explore and learn.

I have seen many children who don’t even try to figure out how something works. They immediately begin to whine and say, “I can’t do it!” When the parent, helpfully jumps in, they are confirming for their child that they can’t do it? The parent has just reinforced what experts call, learned helplessness. This is when a child believes they can’t do things on their own. It happened with the best intentions. No parent intends to give their child a feeling of inadequacy. The parent jumps in to help their child and make them happy.

If you are this kind of parent I challenge you to sit back next time and wait a bit, after your child says they can’t do something. You may acknowledge your child’s feelings. “You seem unsure of how to build that tower.” Then I want you to wait. You will quickly see your child exploring the toy, trying to figure it out. After some trial and error, where you resist giving advice or doing it for your child, watch your child’s face when they figure it out. They beam with pride. They get an important message that they Can do things. They can figure out solutions. That’s what builds confidence in a child!

PCIT adapted for Depression in young children

Time magazine health section reported on a study on depression in young children. Check out how Dr. Luby is looking to adapt PCIT to work with this population.

Temper tantrums

Have you tried to discipline your child during a temper tantrum? Have you tried talking them out of one? Did you try explaining why they can’t have what they want during a tantrum? Were you successful?

It is the rare child who never has a tantrum. Some children have very few, while other children seem to have several a day.

There are several reasons why children have tantrums. For the young child a tantrum is a product of not knowing how to express themselves. It also may the way to assert their independence. A tantrum also might be a result of being over tired or hungry, or frustrated.

Whatever the cause of a temper tantrum there are strategies that work to settle the child down, and strategies that don’t.

What doesn’t work when a child is in a tantrum

  •  Trying to talk a screaming child into being quiet. They can’t hear you and may escalate to drown you out.
  • Giving in to your screaming child teaches them a tantrum is a good way to get what they want. Giving that piece of candy at the store ensures that next time you go to the store a tantrum is the way to get another piece.
  • Yelling at or threatening your child. Using intimidation may scare your child or make her yell even louder. Both are temporary and don’t fix the problem
  • Spanking a child who is having a tantrum doesn’t teach them anything good. Once again this may intimidate your child but won’t help them learn how to handle their frustration or disappointment.

Strategies to avoid a tantrum

  • When you notice your child getting tired move them to a more restful activity or put them down to bed.  Avoid going on one more errand.
  • Catching the signs of an impending tantrum, i.e.,  scowling, getting fussy, beginning to become argumentative, focusing on the small things. This is a good time to try to redirect your child’s attention.  Point out something interesting nearby. Give them something different to play with or offer them food (if you think they are hungry).
  • If your child is trying to do something beyond their ability help by making it easier or replace it with something they can do successfully. At the same time praising their efforts and empathizing with how frustrating the task is. Have you seen how hard it can be for a young child to put on their own socks for the first time? It takes a lot of work and can be very frustrating.

Once a child is in full tantrum let your child work it out. This means ensuring the child is safe. If your child is thrashing around make sure they can’t knock into something, fall from a chair or bed, etc. Work on modeling calmness for your child. This may take some acting on your part as you may feel frustrated, embarrassed or angry yourself. By remaining calm and talking in a soft voice, when it’s appropriate, you are helping soothe your child. Stay near your child but don’t give them any direct attention. This means, no eye contact, no talking. If your child is safe you can walk away and not respond at all. This can teach them that screaming and yelling won’t help them.

If you are in public, at a store or restaurant, pick up your child and remove them. Take them somewhere that they can have their tantrum without an audience.

A child who has had a tantrum may be worn out and scared of all that emotion.  Feel free to hug and cuddle them while praising them for settling themselves down. It’s an important message to give your child, to let them know they can settle themselves down.

Most children have tantrums at one time or another. The way your respond can determine how intense they get and how long they last.

What to do when your child argues about Everything!

So you have a child who doesn’t do anything you want her to do. You say,” don’t run!”, she runs!  You say, ” get into your bath”, she runs away yelling, No! You say, “No hitting!” She slaps you! These are just a few of the oppositional traits a child may show.

Some of these children seem angry all the time. They wake up with a frown and begin complaining about everything.

It’s too early to get up!

No, they don’t want to eat!

No, they don’t want to get dressed, and don’t try to help!

Things parents try that backfire

Parents  walk on egg shells to avoid the blow up. This gives the child the message that blowing up is a good way to get what they want.

Or a parent may give into the child’s demands to make the day go more smoothly (even though another demand is on the way).  This teaches the child that they can do whatever they want, when they want.

Parents may want to avoid being around their child.  It just feels less stressful to ignore this child.

Parents may be afraid to take their oppositional child to a  social event in fear of a scene-making tantrum.

Or a parent may find themselves losing their temper, trying to force their will onto the child. This entails yelling, threatening and possibly spanking. The result is the child does not comply and this parent goes to bed full of guilt and feeling like a failure.

There are techniques that work to help an oppositional child become more cooperative and fun to be around

1. Don’t join them in their cranky mood. Even if they wake up cranky you can still say, Good Morning! I love you. Telling an oppositional child to stop being grumpy is a waste of words. Modeling a good mood is a better strategy. Your positive mood may rub off on them.

2.  Limiting the number of commands given to an oppositional child.  By nature an oppositional child wants to do the opposite of whatever command you give them. Parents often have a lot to do to get the day moving. However, the more commands you give your child the more resistant they can become. Make sure every word out of your mouth is not a command to do something.

3. Find ways to provide positive attention. It can be difficult to find something to praise when you have an oppositional child fighting you on every front. If you make the effort to find things to praise or reasons to give positive attention you are no longer reinforcing that bad mood.

4. Expect your command to be followed. When commands are less frequent children have a tendency to listen better.  Don’t be tentative, waiting for your child to blow. That just gives your child the message you hope she’ll comply. Make sure when a command is given your tone is neutral, confident yet friendly.

5. Be creative. As I have stated the direct approach can often be met with opposition. Global statements can be interpreted as less commanding.

” When you get dressed I’ll make your breakfast”.

“I’m going to get my shoes on so I’m ready to go to the park.” Following these up with praise for any movement towards cooperation can reset the mood of your child.


Praise your child effectively

Some parents over praise their child. It may seem impossible to provide too much praise to your child. However, it happens all the time.

“That’s the greatest painting!”

” You are the best little boy!”

” You are so smart!”

If parents over do the praise they lose credibility.  The child begins to realize they can’t be the greatest at everything. They see proof they aren’t the best athlete or artist or student. So they begin to lose trust in their parents. They may begin to doubt themselves.

By over praising your child they may develop the need for constant praise and attention. This is the child who keeps asking,

“Do you like this?” ”

“Is this good?”

“What about this mom?”

These children aren’t developing an internal sense of competence. They are relying on external praise.

Using superlatives, such as, ” you are the greatest!”, “that’s the best!”, “you are the smartest!” gives your child an inflated ego. They may expect everyone to see them as the best, brightest, smartest. What happens when they realize they aren’t the best, brightest or smartest?

I recommend using mindful praise. This is praise that is specific, varied and conscious.

Specific means clear. When this is done your child knows  exactly what they are doing that you appreciate, approve of or may be thankful for.

When your child shares with a friend you can say, ” I like the way you shared your toy”. This can encourage them to continue sharing.

When your child plays quietly while you talk with a friend you can say, “Thank you for waiting while I was talking to my friend”. This can teach your child patience and good manners.

If your child cleans up their toy without being asked, you can say, “thank you for cleaning that up without me even asking!” Parents can say, thank you for being gentle with your pet, I appreciate you staying by the cart when we were shopping, good job brushing your teeth etc. Use variety with your children to really get their attention.

Being conscience means you realize what you are saying. You don’t just say,” oh yeah, good job “, to pacify your child while you are distracted with something else. Everyone gets distracted at times. If you want to be really effective think about what you want your child to do well or continue doing well and give them a specific praise!

How much time does your child spend using devices?

It seems every where you go children are on some kind of device. They may be watching a video in the car or playing on an IPad. It is common to see children on their parent’s phone or on their own.

It is the go-to when children need to be kept quiet or occupied. I was working with parents of a 2 year old in my office. While I was talking to the dad the 2 year old went into Dad’s pocket and took his smart phone. The child then proceeded to unlock the phone and locate videos of himself. He sat watching them while we finished our conversation. The father kind of laughed as he realized what his 2 year old had just done. I don’t think this is too uncommon.

It’s important for parents to be aware of how much screen time their child has a day. This would also include TV, computer and video games. Every minute your child is in front of one of these devices is a minute they are not using their imagination or getting physical activity. Even when a game has some physical activity it can’t replace running and playing outside.

An article on Child Mind Institute web site notes recommendations given by the American Pediatric Association related to screen time for children. The American Pediatric Association recommends avoiding screen time for children under two .This is when a child brain is growing rapidly. Children learn best by interaction rather than passive learning.  Without a device to rely on a child can to develop social skills, creativity and self expression.

Practice by leaving your device at home, the television off and video games unplugged. Your child may protest at first but will soon learn to entertain themselves and become more creative.



Hands On Parenting PCIT – TV Spot

Co Parenting after Divorce

shy child





I see children all the time who have divorced or divorcing parents. They are often hurt and confused. The best way to help them is to put their needs and concerns first. Parents don’t have the luxury of committing the 7 deadly sins of co parenting as described by Valerie Deloach in the attached blog.

Co-parenting with someone who you admittedly would rather not deal with can be challenging and exhausting. Avoid these seven deadly sins of co-parenting so that you can work through the conflict to successfully raise your children — together.

Wrath – This is a common feeling for one going through a divorce. Wrath is an uncontrolled feeling of hatred and anger that cannot be quenched. Because of wrath, many of the other deadly sins of co-parenting are committed. While most people going through it feel they are justified in their wrath, the only ones who really suffer are the kids. If you feel that you have uncontrolled anger, then seek help. It won’t just benefit you, it will benefit your children.

Greed – This is a sin of excess where you have the desire to possess more than you need. In co-parenting, this takes the form of trying to “win.” You may find yourself in court trying to get more custody or more child support, while putting your children through the contentious battle without thinking about what is best for them. As a co-parent, you must be willing to share the children and encourage their relationship with the other parent. If you try to keep the children from the other parent, then the kids will remember it as they mature and the plan will ultimately backfire on you.

Sloth – This rears its ugly head in the form of laziness or failure to do what one should. In co-parenting, this is most likely seen in the inability to follow the court order. There may be some things in the order that you don’t really see as important, but as long as there are little things to argue about with your ex, then you can never be the best co-parents that you can be. You must understand that you will be held accountable, do what you agreed to do, and things can slowly improve.

Gluttony – This is a sin of selfishness. If you choose to put your needs above the needs of your children, then you are being gluttonous. A glutton in co-parenting would be a parent who continues to fight. He/she can’t get enough of the drama and attention, so the fighting continues long after the conflict should have passed. These are the people who want to keep the divorce high conflict even when they are fully capable of working things out.

Envy – It’s easy to feel envy after divorce. You may envy your ex being in a new relationship or you may envy the fun trips your ex takes with your kids. Envy is being discontent with what you have while wanting what someone else has. Dante defined envy in Purgatorio as “a desire to deprive men of theirs.” Envy is difficult because it can cause you to make irrational decisions and can lead to depression through dissatisfaction. You have to focus on being happy with what you have.

Pride – This is the deadliest sin of all because it is the source of all the others. If you believe that you are better than others and you fail to recognize what benefit others may bring to the situation, then you are being proud. Ideally, when you are married, you discuss things with your spouse and make decisions jointly. After a divorce, you must attempt to continue to make decisions jointly, but the dynamics of the relationship are much different now. Don’t let pride get in the way. It is in the best interests of your children for you to swallow your pride and admit that your ex may handle a situation better than you. If it will benefit your child, then admit your weakness in that role and let your ex take care of it.

Lust – You may think of lust in a sexual way, but for the purposes of co-parenting I am referring to an intense desire for anything — power, money, time, control. Lust for control can ruin a co-parenting relationship. Co-parenting requires that you become business partners in an effort to raise your children. Just like in a business relationship, you cannot have a successful partnership if you are both fighting for control. A successful co-parenting relationship will require compromise and communication.

Read more by Valerie DeLoach on her blog, Life in a Blender.

Follow Valerie DeLoach on Twitter:

Children have to be the priority. It doesn’t matter what you may think or feel about your ex he/she is still your child’s parent. If it’s really a challenge don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Find someone your child can talk to and find someone you can talk to. There are many professionals who specialize in helping families navigate this process.




PCIT is in the news!

It’s been a while but I am here to share some recent articles about PCIT!

Studies show PCIT can help children who are experiencing depression.


In Baltimore this mom is learning how to more effectively discipline her daughter.


I am fortunate to be involved in helping train some of the new clinicians in LA to use PCIT with their clients.,0,5033592.column?page=1&track=rss#axzz2zuoNjRv9

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