Tag Archives: peaceful parenting

FREE Ebook – Expand Your Parenting Toolbox

I am excited to announce that my ebook, Expand Your Parenting Toolbox, will be free through Amazon from December 11-15, 2015. Click here to purchase this common sense approach to peaceful parenting. Also, if you would like a one on one consultation or a speaker for your group meeting or event, please contact me here.

Expand Your Parenting Toolbox

Happy Holidays! May your winter be stress free!

Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Photograph by Alexandra Islas

What to do Instead of Punishment: He Called a Runner Fat @ss


I recently noticed the following screenshot in my Facebook newsfeed.

(Take it with a grain of salt since anything online could be real or a lie.)

I would feel angry, vengeful, and embarrassed if my child did this.

I would feel angry, vengeful, and embarrassed if my child did this.

Many people congratulated the mother for punishing the child. I can understand this opinion. Many said it was a good strategy to make the child run with the person he bullied because he will be in the runner’s shoes. Many said it was good not to hit the child, but that he needed punishment.

Unfortunately, this type of parenting behavior often comes from shame, anger, and embarrassment rather than from evidence-based information. Punishment is either what we think we ought to do or is our way of seeking revenge against those who upset us.

My question is this. What if you prevented this type of behavior? How can you do that? How can we avoid punishments, but foster a respectful environment?

By creating a peaceful, respectful environment from birth, you get a head start in fostering positive behaviors in children. They may stray from time to time due to influences like friends, bullies, and others. However, it is easier to lead them back to kind, safe, wise decision-making if the groundwork is paved at an early age. Use strategies like discussion, modeling wise choices, talking through your choices in the child’s presence, acting out concerning situations, and practicing decision-making skills in safe environments before heading out into environments with more variables.

What if my child does what this child did? I am a peaceful parent, but that deserves punishment!

girl megaphoneA

I agree that this behavior is not appropriate. If punishment is not an option, what could a parent do? First, forced apologies really do not foster a true feeling of remorse. Instead, stop the vehicle and have a chat with the runner if at all possible. If willing to wait for a few minutes, you can get the runner’s information in case your child chooses to apologize or, perhaps, be a workout buddy later. Feel free to ask the runner to explain how it feels to be called such a thing and make sure your child is present to hear the entire exchange even if refusing to speak or address the situation.

angry teenA

Then, take the time to address the social and emotional issue at hand. Why did the child yell this insult? Perhaps your child feels low self-esteem, heard a bully do this, or saw a television show that put down those who work out. If you find out why, then you are halfway to a solution.

Once the why is known, you can work as a team to come up with other ways to filter such thoughts so they are not expressed in a way which others find insulting and harmful. Sure, you can think anything, but acting on your thoughts is the issue at hand. Though I prefer that my children do not think of others in an insulting way, there are going to be times when they DO think this way. Feelings are okay. Thoughts are okay. Actions may or may not be okay.

I realize that many people think preteens and teens should behave as adults do. However, they often learn their negative behaviors from us. They also do not have fully developed brains, in most cases, which means they are more impulsive.

Remember, peaceful parenting is not permissive parenting. The issue absolutely needs to be addressed and follow up is necessary. Part of going out and experiencing the world is knowing society’s basic rules for behavior. I am not a huge conformist, but insults are not okay in any situation even for those of us who are non-conformists.

Be kind. Be safe. Be responsible.

The New Spreadshirt Shop is Open!

I want to take a moment to thank clients, friends, and family for their continued support.

I couldn’t run this business without your support and encouragement. Thank you!

You are the inspiration for the newest addition to Intuitive Strategies.

I have opened a Spreadshirt shop.

There are shirts, mugs, and other items available which encourage peaceful parenting.

Currently, there are two basic designs available. I will add more options soon.

Click HERE to view the Spreadshirt shop.

Than you, again, for all that you do!


He Bit Me! What to Do About Biting

crying biting graphic

Biting is a common behavior among young children. When teaching in public schools I noticed that some of my students living with special needs also exhibited this behavior. Every parent, teacher, and relative seems to have advice about how to stop a child who bites in her tracks, but does the advice help? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.

Here are some of the helpful comments, paraphrased, from friends of my Facebook page. Thank you to all who spoke up. I didn’t plan to add your information, but you had a lot of wisdom to share!

The child needs positive attention so notice when he is doing good things.

Spend time one on one together.

The child needs more autonomy and choices.

I wouldn’t react to it, but end play date or activity if it happens.

I would state expectations ahead of time.

Why is this happening? Find out why.

Pick up the biter and move her from the area. Tend to the hurt child.

Try to mediate the issue once all is calm if both parties are capable and willing.


Below is a list of additional strategies which may help when children bite.

Role play before issues occur and also after emotions have calmed.

Practice using replacement behaviors.

If the issue occurs because the child needs to chew or bite a certain texture, look into other things he can safely bite, for example Chewelry like these.

Have a continuous dialog with the child.

When children harm each other, separate, but do not punish. If you punish, that will encourage sneaky retaliation rather than in the open communication and problem solving.

Make sure there is an enriching environment.

Encourage peaceful communication even if it is nonverbal.

Make sure there is plenty of space for opposing priorities and personalities.

Healthy foods that are not processed tend to help lower the chances of behavior issues.

Avoiding triggers like hunger and being tired can help with behavior issues.

Stay calm. It is not because the child want to upset you.

It is because the child I feeling a large emotion.


Remember, it takes time and patience, but you and your child can

get past biting!

What is Gender Neutral Parenting?


Image courtesy of sixninepixels at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My son chooses his clothing and shoes, as do his sisters. Years ago we went to the shoe store and he chose Dora the Explorer shoes that were brown and pink with some sparkles. The shoes came from the “girl” section, but children’s shoes are for all children so I purchased them. A week after the Dora shoe purchase, I was at a store looking at mattresses when a salesman told my, then, three year old son that he should stop wearing Dora shoes because they have some pink and he will be made fun of once he is in school. I responded by saying, “Oh we homeschool so that is not an issue. Our group has parents who teach children to be kind and respectful instead of bullying others because they do not go along with social norms.” I got a weird look, but the man needed information. That was the kindest and quickest way to give the information and move on with the conversation.

Not long ago, a friend told a story about a son and father she observed while shopping. She said the little boy wanted a water bottle that had flowers on it. The father said no and told the boy it was because the water bottle was for girls only. My friend was upset because she feels men tend to be repressed due to situations like this one. I have to agree. Gender roles are a societal constraint, not an innate necessity.

Gender neutral parenting is parenting that focuses on the child as an individual rather than on societal norms. If a child wants to wear a pink tutu, that is fine. If a child prefers to wear pants and build forts, then that is okay, too. It does not matter if the child is a boy or girl, the individual is honored. To deny children the opportunity to be themselves is to deny basic human rights. Are we really saying to our children that their brains will be harmed by playing with toys that are for children? What a ridiculous concept.

Part of gender neutral parenting is realizing that genitals do not determine clothing, toy, and activity choices. Another part of gender neutral parenting is being aware of, and explaining to our children, that society tries to label us from birth and we may be pressured to choose an activity or clothing option because we feel we must. Opening up this dialog helps both children and adults to think critically about why we make the choices we make. Gender neutral parents encourage their children to ignore societal limits regarding who they are and give children permission to be individuals who are true to themselves.

I have not discussed gender versus sex or the fact that both are on a continuum, but you may want to research these topics further. Several helpful and informative links are below. These topics are extremely important with regard to autonomy and peaceful parenting.

Gender Neutral Parenting on Facebook

Let Toys Be Toys

5 Myths About Gender Neutral Parenting


This blog post is an excerpt from the new ebook Expand Your Parenting Toolbox: Create a More Peaceful Home which can be purchased on Amazon.com.


Whining. It’s the thing many parents’ nightmares are made of. It’s annoying, people stare, and the child keeps whining. We just want it to stop. Maybe we give the child everything he wants. Maybe we yell. May be we ignore. Whatever we do, we know one thing. It HAS to stop!

I have news. (I’m not sure if you will call it good or bad news.) Children whine to communicate. It can be difficult to handle this type of communication, especially when children are older and society expects them to communicate without whining. It is easy for a caregiver to become frustrated or angry.

Remember that this is not about you or your ego. It is about your child. Make sure you are calm. If your child needs hugs, for you to listen, or to step away from the area where a trigger may have occurred, then do what is needed. If your child feels the need for space, honor that request as long as she is in a safe situation. You do not have to give the child an object he wants, but you do need to address his concern in order to help him move on with the day and calm down.

Your whining child is not what many people are worried about in a store. Most people, in my experience, are more worried about how you will react to that child because most people do not want to see a parent hit or yell at a child. If someone does tell you to hit or yell at your child, that person does not have your child’s best interests at heart and should be ignored.

Parenting Tool: Wait

This blog post is an excerpt from the new ebook Expand Your Parenting Toolbox: Create a More Peaceful Home which can be purchased on Amazon.com.

 FINAL Cover

I know, this seems strange, but I’m serious.


If no one is in immediate danger…


Wait for your child to think, then respond.

Wake up a few minutes earlier and wait while your child dresses herself or toilets himself.


When calling your children inside for dinner, wait. They may be wrapping up a game or saying good bye to friends.


They wait on us quite often at the store, at appointments, while we are at work.

It’s our turn to wait.

Leave long pauses so your child can think and respond.

Leave the pauses so your children can bring up difficult topics they want to discuss.


Sometimes we are so busy talking, rushing, or yelling that we forget that patience can help de-escalate difficult situations and help us to better understand our children.

Take a moment.

Take a few breathes.


It’s their turn.


Listen and wait.

Teens’ Movie Theater Behavior Goes Viral

Recently, a post from a mother regarding the suspected behavior of her children became a big internet talking point. I can understand where she is coming from. She may feel sad, worried, embarrassed, or angry due to the reports of her children’s behavior. The post didn’t sit right with me, though. After a couple days I realized why.

mom worry edit








The mother does not mention getting the daughters’ side of the story. She clearly doesn’t trust them, though she trusts the brother. I have no idea if the children did what they are accused of or not, but how sad that trust is not strong in this relationship. What if this is a tiff between siblings and the brother was trying to get the sisters in trouble? Hopefully he was being honest, but since the parents don’t trust the girls, why trust the boy? Maybe this behavior has occurred before in other places. In that case, why are the daughters going to a movie unsupervised?

Let’s assume the girls did what they said, the brother was honest, and this event did happen. How sad that a movie, which tends to be expensive, was ruined for those in the theater. Regardless of one’s personal situation, this is not okay.

The question then becomes, how did we get here? Why are teens acting in this way? Maybe the parents needed to spend more time modeling wise choices and supervising. The parents appear to be authoritarian (just read the post about forced apologies and punishments). The authoritarian model never works well long term. When using the authoritarian model, kids often begin making unwise choices the moment the external rule-maker is gone. It’s better to foster an inner compass so children make wise choices regardless of external pressures, not just when “the boss” may catch them.

Was the mom wrong to want to fix it? Nope, not at all. I think most people with a heart would want to help set things right. I will say that apologizing for our children’s mistakes isn’t necessary. Teaching our children through modeling, discussion, practice, and being available as they work through their mistakes is necessary in parenting. Keep in mind that being compassionate and respectful towards our children teaches them to be compassionate and respectful toward others. Punishing does the opposite. Punishing teaches that retribution is acceptable and that power is more important than being kind and thoughtful.

Let’s Talk About Name-Calling


Over the past month I have noticed many people calling their children names out of frustration or anger. Not in person, mind you, but online or in the company of other adults. That’s not so bad, you say? I agree. This definitely isn’t “as bad” as yelling insults directly at a child, but there are still issues surrounding name-calling when not in the child’s presence.

  1. The child may find out what was typed online or said to someone in person. Once it’s said or typed, you cannot take it back. What will you say or do, then?
  2. Your friends and family may wonder what you do in private if you will say or type those things in a public forum.
  3. Isn’t there another way to express stress without resorting to a childish behavior like name-calling? Maybe we can agree to use terms like “I’m frustrated because…”
  4. Will those who wanted to work with you professionally still respect you if you name-call? It can be quite easy for a potential boss to find your online accounts.
  5. Some name-calling includes slang terms for special needs. Do you mean your child has a special need? Are you marginalizing people living with special needs by using their need as an insult and possibly using a slang term that is looked down on?

If we want our children to respect us and respect others, we need to set a positive example.

Let’s find ways it express ourselves that don’t hurt others.

Parenting Tool: First, Then Statements


First, then statements can help clean up messy situations.

This blog post is an excerpt from the new ebook Expand Your Parenting Toolbox: Create a More Peaceful Home which can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Have your days ever been filled with whines, cries, and complaints? Do you ever feel like you may lose your temper and shout, hit, or go hide while eating some chocolate bars? I think all parents have moments of frustration. After all, we cannot control others 24/7. We are bound to have differences of opinion or differences in priorities from others in our lives, including our children.

The good news is that there are peaceful parenting tools that we can use when working through disagreements and conflicting priorities. One of these tools is using first, then statements. A first, then statement is a basic statement that is clear and guides you or others through immediate goals or events. It is important to follow the steps below when creating your statement. A well thought out statement can work wonders.

Keys to a First, Then Statement:

  1. Think it through. There is no shame or harm in thinking about it before proceeding with a statement and solution.
  2. Be sure the statement follows a logical thought pattern regarding why the first issue must be resolved in order to proceed to the second issue (which is often getting the next thing the child wants or needs).
  3. Be clear and make the statement short.
  4. Repeat if necessary.
  5. Answer questions as is necessary, but stay on topic.
  6. Do not attach a punishment.
  7. Help with the task if necessary. It is okay to be your child’s partner or ally. You can always back up and help less, or not at all, as the child learns to help and follow through.

Below are a few examples of first, then statements in use.

“I wanna go to play lego blocks right nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, moooooom!”

“First we must clean up the marbles, then we will have room to play with the lego blocks.”

“Whyyyyyyy do we need space to do that?”

“If we put the legos beside the marbles, we won’t have enough room to sit and build plus we may step on a toy and get hurt. Do you remember how much you cried when you stepped on a lego last week?”

“Oh, yeh, okay. Time to clean up the marbles. Watch how fast I can clean!”


“I don’t want to go to the store!”

“I hear you. I don’t want to go, either, but if we stay home we won’t have food to eat next week.”

“Well that’s okay with me!”

“First we have to pick up groceries, then we will have all afternoon to play with toys and computer games. If we stand here and spend a lot of time complaining, then there will be less time for toys and computer games. First grocery shopping, then home to play.”

“I don’t like it, but I will do it. I want to play later and we DO need food.”

“Okay, how can I help you get ready?”

“I have to brush my teeth, then I will be ready. I can do it by myself.”


“Park days suck!”

“First we have to get ready to go to park day, then we will see our friends.”

“Oh, right, my friends said they would be back again this week. I don’t feel like getting dressed plus I want to stay home and read, but I also want to see my friends and run.”

“So what should we do?”

“We should get ready for park day and play! I can stay in my pajamas and read on Saturday, instead.”

While these are only examples and do not scale the entire range of possibilities, you are able to get a flavor for the first, then statement parenting tool. If your family has a specific issue that comes up often or if you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact me via comments or email. I am happy to incorporate your everyday concerns into blog posts or help you brainstorm in private.