Holding hands

Monday, October 10, 2016

Top 3 Strategies For a Peaceful Bedtime

Are you frustrated and exhausted by the end of the night after hours of dealing with your child's bedtime stalling, resistance, and not listening.

Do you find yourself thinking, "Bedtime shouldn't be this hard, should it?"

The problem is that bedtime is not as easy as it might seem! If it were, you wouldn't be having power struggles every night! And you're not the only parent struggling!

Bedtime is a big transition in the course of your child's day. Even more, it's made up of many small transitions, each one potentially adding stress and overwhelm to your child.

Using this definition of transition, "Passage from one place or state to another; change or process of change," how many transitions can you identify that your child has to deal with in a given night? A few that come to mind are: Going from time with family to time alone; going up or downstairs; ending screen time, or playtime; doing homework; getting undressed; turning out the light; etc. What else comes to your mind?

The National Sleep Foundation's 2004 Survey in America Poll found that 27% of school aged children get less sleep than their parents think they should get. Parents reported that 70% of school aged children experienced one or more sleep related behaviors at least a few nights a week...Left unchecked, poor sleep effects high school students with academic performance dropping almost 2 grade levels!

In my 30 years of parenting and helping parents, I’ve learned three essential tools to reclaiming your child’s bedtime routine (and your sanity!):
  1.  Your child's behavior is how they communicate their state of mind. Once you build the skills to "listen" to what their behavior is really telling you, you can help your child de-stress and have an enjoyable bed-time. 
  2.  A good bedtime routine starts way before bedtime. Having an effective plan for homework, dinner and screen time can set your child up for success when it comes to bedtime. 
  3.  Knowing yourself – how you reflect stress, how you relax and how you communicate – are essential to customizing a bed-time routine that works for your child and for you.
Peace at bedtime is possible!

What are your biggest bedtime challenges?? Tell me below or email me at parentcoachkathy@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Try Using Your Imagination

One of the concerns I often hear from parents is that their child doesn't seem able to understand how other people feel. Do you worry that your child won't have empathy? 

The good news is that 80% of communication is non-verbal. The bad news is that 80% of communication is non-verbal. This means that most of what our children learn is based on what we model by who we're being, not what we tell them!

I'm guessing that many of you grew up in families where your feelings (or at least certain ones - say anger, for example) weren't OK for any number of reasons.

My No-Yell Parenting approach teaches that:

  1. Behavior is a child's language to communicate feelings and needs. 
  2. One of your jobs is to help your children feel safe with their feelings and learn to express them in healthy, acceptable ways. 

The challenge is - how do you make space for your child's feelings when it can be hard to even get in touch with your own feelings - never mind be OK with them?

Use your imagination!

Next time your child acts out or is mean or disrespectful, PAUSE...BREATHE (that always comes first, unless someone is getting hurt. See Stop, Drop & Breathe).

Then imagine what your child might be feeling at that moment based on what's going on for them or what just occurred, etc.

As a matter of face, take a second to imagine what YOU might be feeling in the face of your child's behavior. If you have trouble figuring out what you feel, I and many of my clients have found this list very helpful - Feelings Inventory

Imagining what your child is feeling will shift your response from your head to your heart. It will give your child the EXPERIENCE of empathy which is the experience of feeling understood. Then, when you use words to try to teach them about other people's feelings, those words will have so much more impact.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Work Your 10 Minute Warning So It Works!

How's it going with your 10 minute warnings? Do they lead to better cooperation or long, drawn out battles to simply get your child to do what you want? If you find yourself arguing with a child who's not listening more than 50% of the time, this is for you!

Next time you want your child to take a bath, brush teeth, do homework, eat dinner, or anything else that gives you that "here we go again" feeling, picture them on their own little train heading somewhere totally different than where you want them to go next.

How are you going to get them off the train effectively with love?

I invite you to try this strategy in 10 simple steps.
  1. Give a 10 minute warning. In 10 minutes it'll be time to _______. Please begin to finish what you're doing. I'll be back in 5 minutes."
  2. Stop talking! If your child starts arguing, says, "No!" or ignores you, exhale a couple breaths and calmly walk away. You can say, "hmmm", or "I hear you," if you want, but DON'T ENGAGE! Don't take the bait! Stop, Drop & Breathe. 
  3. Set YOUR timer for 5 minutes. 
  4. Return after 5 minutes and GET ON THE TRAIN* with your child. Join your child in their activity or just sit by them. After a pause say, "We have 5 more minutes together to finish doing (what your child is doing) _________before (what you want your child to do next) _________. Breathe and be as present as you can for those 5 minutes.
  5. Set a visual timer for 5 minutes where you can both see it. I recommend Time Timer.  
  6. PAUSE AND READ #4 AGAIN. I cannot emphasize enough (though I'm clearly trying) how profoundly different it is to BE with your child during a transition than to try to get your child off a moving train and onto your train!!
  7. Talk less, breathe more and enjoy the next 5 minutes with your child like it's the special time you've been longing for.
  8. Gently slow down the "train"  in the last minute or so as you help your child complete their activity, if they need.
  9. Get off the train WITH your child when the timer goes off. "It's time to ____________ now.
  10. Together, move toward the next activity. For a 3 year old you might scoop them up into a hug or a tickle. For an older child you might count steps to the kitchen, or engage them with a choice of 2 good options. For homework, you might decide how long to work before a 5 minute break.
In order to begin to change your distressing "here we go again" scenario, a new understanding is required. Whatever you're wanting your child to do - take a bath, come to dinner, do homework - causes an increase in your child's anxiety because it is a TRANSITION. Increased anxiety leads to increased negative behavior. 

Warmly in support,

PS: I suggested just a couple ideas for step #10. I'm sure you have a ton of great ideas I haven't even thought of! Please share them below. We want to hear!

PPS: If you could really use some help, just reach out to me at kathy@parentingbeyondwords.com and we'll set up a time to discuss what's going on at home. 

*This metaphor of getting on the train comes from Bob Ditter, through my son who took a camp counselor training. The interpretation is mine.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

5 Quick Time-Change Tips for an Easier Week

Setting the clocks back an hour can wreak havoc at home while everyone is adjusting! Your kiddo will probably wake up early but get over-tired at night (and as you know, that doesn't equal falling asleep easily!). Set yourself up for success by EXPECTING:
  • sleeping and eating patterns to be out of whack
  • more power struggles, meltdowns, arguing and yelling
This extra stress can last for a few days or even a week or more, but it WILL pass - think jet lag! 

Here are 5 quick tips to help make this transition week easier:
  1. CLEAR YOUR PLATE! Eliminate or re-schedule all unnecessary activities for both you AND your child this week.
  2. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Order in food, leave a chore till next week, or 1 email unanswered.
  3. HAVE DINNER EARLY! Your child's tummy still wants to eat when it's hungry even though the clock now says it's an hour early. Move dinner forward gradually over the week until it matches the clock. Help your child understand that his or her "inside" clock is still adjusting even though the "outside" clock was changed already.
  4. PULL OVER! When things melt down, Stop, Drop & Breathe! Then say with conviction, "We're all dys-regulated right now, but it's going to be OK!" (Say it even when you don't believe it!)
  5. SMILE FOR NO REASON! Smiling will shift negative energy and help you feel better. You might even end up laughing with your child.
LET GO OF PERFECTION! (Just a little)  It's going to be OK... 
and as always, KEEP BREATHING!
Choose 1 tip to try TODAY.
Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below...



Friday, June 13, 2014

Your Summer Success Plan Starts Now!

Warm summer greetings!

With the end of school upon you, are you holding your breath and wondering what you’re going to do with the kids home for the summer?

I really want to make sure you’re set up for a successful summer with your family! So what would a successful summer look and feel like for you? Other parents have shared that it would mean:
  • being able to really enjoy their kids
  • creating special memories for their kids
  • being able to do things for themselves without guilt
  • less fighting between sibs
  • being able to relax
  • family time

What’s on your list? Share it in the comments below.

Then create your intention for the summer - something that contains qualities you desire and choices you have control over. My intention is…

Or you are welcome to share this intention:

“I will make room for peace and play at home”

Write it on a sticky note and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day.

To help you promote peace and play at home this summer, in July, I'll be posting a 3 part Summer Survival Success Series. It is designed to build on this intention and prepare you to handle the challenges of summer vacation with:
  1. effective and empowering stress-reducing strategies
  2. relationship-nurturing skills
  3. positive parenting tools to promote peace and play at home.

In addition, I will be giving several 1 ½ hour class/playshops entitled Stressed Parents’ Summer Survival Success Plan for Peace and Play When the Kids Are Home From School, in the Metro-West Boston area at the end of June! Get all the details at http://parentsforpeaceandplay.com/

In warm summer support,



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Being A Parent Your Child Comes and Talks To

Happy Spring!

I’ve heard the words, “I just want my son or daughter to be able to come and talk to me…” from almost every parent who has consulted with me.

Can you relate?

Imagine being that parent whose child feels like they can come talk to you about anything - what they’re feeling, what’s going on at school, with friends, with drugs…

In my experience both with my own children and the families I’ve worked with over the past 5 years, there are 3 requirements for that to become even more possible:

  1. Learn your child’s language 
  2. Make a space for connection to happen 
  3. Listen more, talk less.
Learn Your Child's Language

Did you know that you and your child speak different languages? You might be saying the same words, but your child is also speaking the language of behavior. Your child’s difficult behavior (including hurtful, triggering words) is not an attack on you - it’s actually an SOS! If you can learn to understand it as such, your child will feel heard. That will open the door to more open, honest communication.

Make a Space For Connection
I know you already spend a LOT of time with your child, but this is different! Find a consistent, predictable time when your child can “plug in” to you and have your undivided attention, for even a few minutes, with no agenda - a special time they can count on every day or every week, depending on their age.This space will nurture connection like nothing else I know and encourage your child to talk to you more.

Listen More, Talk Less!
This is HARD...but magical!

What one helpful bit you are taking away from this post? Let me know in the comments below. It's enough to simply practice that one awareness or action this week...

In this month’s Tuesday Toolkit teleclass on April 8th, I will be delving more deeply and practically into these 3 requirements so you have the opportunity to:
learn to understand the message behind your child’s behavior
nurture and support your connection with your child.
receive simple, concrete tools to take with you after the call which you can use to practice what you learn.
enjoy more peace at home

Should you choose to receive this $17 class either live or via audio, just click here: http://parentingbeyondwords.com/tuesdaytoolkit

I welcome all your questions, comments, struggles and stories here with open arms.

Warmly in support,


Monday, March 11, 2013

5 Quick Tips To Sail More Smoothly Through Springing Ahead!

Setting the clocks ahead creates a double whammy for you and the kids!
  • Harder to get up in the morning 
  • Harder to go to bed "on time." 

This extra stress can last for a few days or even a  week or more as your bodies adjust - think jet lag! Sleeping and eating patterns get thrown off, often resulting in shorter tempers and more power struggles. Here are 5 quick tips to help you sail more smoothly through this week until everyone gets adjusted...
Just choose ONE tip and try it TODAY.
  1. CLEAR YOUR PLATE! Eliminate or re-schedule all un-necessary activities for both you and your child this week.
  2. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Order in food, leave a chore till next week, or 1 email  un-answered.
  3. EASE UP ON BEDTIME! Adjust back to "normal" little by little as you help your chid understand that his or her "inside" clock is still adjusting even though the "outside" clock was changed already. Explain that everyone is a bit dys-regulated but it's going to be OK.
  4. GIVE YOURSELF A HEAD START! To have a winning morning get up 10 minutes earlier.  I know that seems difficult, but it will be WAY easier than battling your way through the morning from behind.
  5. SMILE FOR NO REASON! Smiling will shift negative energy and help you feel better. You could even get silly with your child..you may both end up laughing.
FOCUS ON CONNECTION...LET GO OF PERFECTION! (Just a little )  It's going to be OK...
Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below...

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             You'll also receive timely parenting tips via email!