How to Deal with Family Stress

Today’s blog is brought to you by Jenny Wise, creator of

Family Stress

Every family has its ups and downs and at some point at least one person in the group is going to experience feelings of stress. It is only natural, but it is important to resolve the problem before it becomes a bigger issue. We know what it takes to work through the tough times and create a happy family unit, so we have some advice on stress and how to deal with it in a healthy way.

What Causes Family Stress

Even though stress is inevitable, it should not be allowed to fester. The longer tension exists, the more problems arise. If unresolved, stress can lead to broken families or it could negatively affect the jobs of mom or dad. The financial problems that result could cause even deeper issues.

So how do you resolve a stressful family environment?

Talk About It

The first step you should take when stress starts to develop within a family is to sit down and talk about it. Ask the person why they are upset and figure out the catalyst so you can create solutions that will put them more at ease. Communication is always the key in a healthy family, so to prevent stress in the first place, consider having family meetings every week to talk about new developments and bring up potential spats so a minor disagreement doesn’t turn into a major fight down the line.

Fix the Issue

Once you get to the root of the stress in your particular family, you need to work to resolve it so it cannot escalate. For instance, many families worry about money, so working on a budget and cutting out unexpected bills can make things less tense. If it is the stress of moving that is causing problems then you may have to reevaluate your relocation strategy so the process is not as stressful.

Sometimes, stress at work can have an impact on your family life. If you have already spoken to your boss and you still come home miserable, it may be time to consider going back to school so you can learn new skills for a different career. You can earn your degree while still working and putting food on the table by obtaining your online degree in a field where you can achieve great success.

Professional Help

If you are working on your family stress but you either cannot find the root of your problem or you cannot find a way to solve it, then it may be time to bring in a professional. A therapist can work with the entire family or one-on-one to get a better understanding of your issue and provide exercises that can help to put you all in a better place. 

Perhaps you’re asking, but how much are therapy sessions online? At $149 for weekly sessions or $169 for a single session, it’s actually a pretty manageable investment in your own mental health and wellbeing. Also, in many cases this therapy can be at least partially covered by insurance.

Whether you decide to get therapy or you are able to resolve that stress by talking it out as a family, it is important that you take action now. Doing so is the best thing you can do for your family and your future.

Practical Parenting Advice gives parents factual information that will allow them to be more confident in their decisions, and to feel not so alone in their fears.

How to Practice Self-Care When You Have a Child With Special Needs

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Today’s blog is brought to you by Gwen Payne at

When you’re a parent, you devote most of your time and energy to caring for your kids. The demands on you increase drastically when you have a child with special needs, and it’s important for you to find a way to practice self-care so that you can be the best parent possible. Here are four tips from Practical Parenting Advice that can help develop a self-care plan to make you a better parent to kids with special needs.

Assess Your Fatigue Level

Before you can successfully implement a self-care plan, you must determine your level of fatigue. Parental fatigue varies each day, but if you find yourself more irritable and feel like your parenting style is not effective, you may be in the beginning stages of burnout. It’s important to recognize the signs and start taking care of yourself before your fatigue reaches this level. Analyzing four factors can help you determine the true level of your fatigue:

  • The amount of time you dedicate to caring strictly for your kids with special needs
  • Your satisfaction with your relationship with your spouse
  • The amount of anxiety and depression you feel
  • The quality of your social support

Assessing your level of parental fatigue is important for forming an effective self-care plan. If you are not aware of the true state of your fatigue, you could end up undertreating serious health problems or burdening your support network in an effort to take care of yourself instead of your children. Being a good parent requires you to find the right balance between caring for your children and yourself.

Set Personal Goals

Being a parent becomes part of your identity, but it shouldn’t take over your entire life. It’s important to set personal goals so you can better yourself as a person. Whether you choose to go back to school, start a business or improve your exercise routine, it’s important to grow yourself as a person by setting goals.

Starting a business can be a great way to revive a long-lost passion, and at the same time allow you to adjust your work to support your personal life as needed. Think of a way to turn a passion into something marketable, and then research how to start an LLC. Each state has different requirements, so look into what you need to get established where you live. You can file yourself or work with a formation company. Either way, you’ll know you’re on your way to fulfilling a dream and doing what you love.

Improve Your Nutrition

The type of food you consume has a direct impact on your fatigue and overall mental health. If you eat a lot of processed foods, you probably feel more fatigued than if you consume a diet of mostly whole foods. While you can indulge in your favorite foods occasionally, if you improve your eating habits by introducing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your diet, you will likely feel less fatigued during your daily routine.

Make Sleep a Priority

According to one survey, only 5% of new parents get enough sleep at night to feel well-rested. While many kids start to develop better sleep habits after their first year of life, sleep problems often plague children with special needs. This means that parents of kids with special needs often do not get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. Taking the following measures to improve your sleep habits can help your fatigue levels:

  • Set a time to go to bed and wake up
  • Avoid screens before bed
  • Try a sleeping aid
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature

Parenting is never easy, but it can be particularly challenging when you have one or more children with special needs. Using these tips is a good way to build self-care into your routine so that you can be a better parent.

What To Do if Your Child Can’t Poop

Today’s blog was written by Dr. Prakar Poudel, MB.BS, Medical Graduate, Future Pediatrician!

Is your child not passing stool ?

Many parents just like you visit the doctor when their child doesn’t pass stool for many days. But how many days are too many? How hard is too hard? How large too large? Should it hurt? Bleed?

You should suspect constipation if your child does not pass stool for about 5 days (unless they are a breast fed infant – they can average 2 weeks!). Constipated stool should be large and hard, sometimes painful, and sometimes have a little bright red blood from splitting the skin at the anus.

Around 30% of children below 5 years of age will experience constipation at some point, especially during their pre-school years. The causes of constipation in children can be confusing, but you can rule out a few common causes before a doctor’s visit.

Common Causes:

If your child drinks little fluid or a lot of milk, eats a lot of cheese or loads of highly processed foods, or eats few fiber rich foods, they can have difficulty passing stool daily.

Sometimes, they may also be hesitant to pass stool in a public toilet. Because of this nervousness, they also may not want to go at day-care or school. He or she may need patience and encouragement to ease their hesitancy in public toilets.

What is constipation?

So, how do you know if your child is constipated? The list below can help parents like you identify the problem. If:

  • they pass stool less than 2 times in a week
  • the stool is hard and thick.
  • they cry while passing stool
  • they take a long time in toilet
  • the passed stool has bright red blood on it
  • their belly hurts and is relieved by passing stool
  • their belly is distended
  • they pass foul-smelling gas

What to do?

All these signs are concerning, but can usually be resolved at home by giving your child an adequate amount of fluids and fiber-rich foods. Highly processed food should be minimized at this time, and limit dairy products. This is the only time your pediatrician will recommend sugary drinks, because sugar will draw water into the bowel. (White grape juice will match most carpets.)

As a parent, you should also be aware that children (and puppies!) will generally pass stool soon after they eat due to the gastrocolic reflex. This is very helpful in toilet training or with mild constipation. It is suggested that you keep your child for 5-10 minutes on the toilet after meals, even without any urge to pass stool. Keep special toys or books nearby that can only be played with while on the potty. We want this to be fun!

When to worry

Besides these common causes, medical causes like hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease will always need a pediatrician visit. So, when should you visit a pediatrician with your child? Below are of some signs to guide that decision:

  • If your baby does not pass stool within 48 hours after birth.
  • If the baby is less than 1 month old
  • If the stool is ribbon-shaped
  • If a child is not gaining weight and height as per the growth chart
  • If your child is also vomiting
  • If a hair tuft or dimple is seen on the back of your child
  • If your family history has Hirschprung disease or cystic fibrosis
  • If the belly of your child is grossly distended
  • if he or she is leaking liquid stool
  • if they pass stools so large they clog the toilet

As always, if you have any questions, call your pediatrician. They love this stuff.

Pediatricians are weird.

Why I Care About Women’s Reproductive Rights

Practical Parenting Blog

Young Teenage Girl Standing And Looking On Empty Picture Frame

My grandmother came to the United States from Ireland as a young woman in 1911. She was already married with five children, my mother two years into her future, when women got the right to vote in 1922. She worked her entire life and everything she worked for – her money, her home, her children, even her own body – was owned by her husband.

My mother was born in 1924. The youngest of six living children, she was expected to become a nurse so that she could care for her parents as they aged. Her older sister had taken the Nun option, so her choices were nurse, teacher, or wife. She ran away and married a young man in the Army Air Corps in the middle of World War II, and was promptly disowned by her family for a decade.

She gave birth to three children in the first…

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What Does that Growth Chart Mean?

Today’s post is brought to you by Prakar Poudel, International Medical Graduate, Future Pediatrician!

Growth is what makes children unique.

Everyone from Grandma to your neighbor watches the growth and development process from the moment your child is born until they become a fully mature adult. Natural laws dictate that the growth of each child is a unique, continuous and orderly process, although the different parts of a child can grow at different rates!

It is essential for your pediatrician to monitor the growth of your child until they are through adolescence, because changes in growth could be a sign of medical illness.

The most common measures to track are weight and height. However, the eruption of teeth and measurement of head circumference, chest circumference, mid-upper arm circumference and body mass index are other measures for tracking growth.

In general, a child:

  • doubles birth weight by age 6 months
  • triples birth weight by 12 months
  • quadruples birth weight by 2 years

Similarly, a child’s height:

  • will be around 50 cm (~20 in) at birth
  • will gain an additional 25cm (~10 in) by 1 year
  • 12.5 cm (~5 in) by 2 years, and
  • 10 cm (~4 in) by 3 years of age

One important note is that if growth in height is less than 4 cm (~1.6 in) per year after the age of 4 years, this suggests the child has a poor growth rate and needs a pediatrician’s visit.

The head circumference of a baby also increases at the rate of 2 cm (~.8 in) per month until 3 months of age and 2 cm per 3 months until 12 months of age.

If the measurement of the mid part of the biceps (upper arm) is below 12.5 cm in a newborn, the child also needs immediate medical attention. Average biceps size is in the graph below:

Lastly, teeth can also be considered a vital measure to track the child’s growth. As the child grows, primary (temporary) teeth erupt and fall in synchrony with the eruption of permanent teeth. All the temporary teeth fall and get replaced by permanent teeth by the age of 12 years.

Each child’s growth rate and velocity will be different and unique, so the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has created growth charts for weight, height and head circumference for each sex and age to monitor the overall growth of your child. The charts shown below are an example of growth charts of weight for age in boys and girls. All other kinds of growth charts can be found in your nearby children’s doctor.

A single appropriate growth chart is used for each child. The important part of plotting in these charts is that your child should be following a consistent percentile for it to be considered adequate growth. If your child’s weight crosses at least 2 percentiles – say falls from 75th percentile to the 25th – your child may need to see a pediatrician.

Any worries? Pediatricians love this stuff – call yours!

How to Help Children in Times of Trauma

We try to protect our children from as much as we can, but sometimes life has other plans.

The murders in Uvalde have taken over our thoughts, our conversations at home and with friends, the internet, and the television waves. Our children are being bombarded by the nightmare in front of the TV at home, in conversations with friends, and with questions asked by their peers. It can be too much for a child to deal with.

Your child’s experience

Your child’s experience of an event will vary depending on their age,  personal style,  life experience, and  closeness to the disaster. A toddler will only care that his or her parents seem to be upset. Older children will hurt for the people involved, worry about friends and relatives that are not within their sight, and worry that it could happen to them sometime, at some other event. One child asked her mom, “What picture of me will you show?”

What seemed exciting to discuss with friends during the day becomes frightening after the lights go off.

Listen to them

Listen to them talk, and be patient when they ask you the same questions over and over. Reassure them, let them know that such things are extremely rare. Answer questions truthfully, at their own developmental level. Never lie.

Monitor what your child sees and hears

Monitor what your child sees and hears – adult conversation and the media can magnify fear and confusion and increase their trauma. Repetition can intensify anxiety; pictures can get locked in their heads.

What to watch for

After the event symptoms of post-traumatic stress may appear, even in children not directly involved. They may be sad or moody, easily angered or irritable. They may be afraid to go to public venues. They may have trouble sleeping or sleep too much. Appetites may suffer. Your child may be anxious when his or her people are not all nearby, and wake from nightmares.

Children frequently have concentration problems after a trauma, and their grades will suffer. They may regress developmentally: your independent youngsters may become clingy, or need help doing things they had been able to do on their own. They may avoid activities they previously enjoyed, and withdraw into themselves. They may become anxious at the thought of going to school, or of being separated from mom or dad.

They can also develop physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches. They may try to exercise more control on their environment, setting up their toys in a particular way, wanting their schedule to be predictable, or demanding activities they find reassuring. Teens may act out or try alcohol or drugs in an attempt to feel better.

How to help

Helping them may be as simple as listening. Be available and receptive but don’t push. A younger child may open up and tell you his story when you break out toys or art supplies; an older one may talk if you tell her a similar story about yourself, when you were scared or worried. Schedule time for just the two of you, and wait.

Children may try to hide their symptoms: they think they should be stronger, they don’t want to be a burden, or they think they are abnormal for having the problem. They may even feel that the disaster was their fault; children are not always logical. Allowing them to bury their symptoms will only erode their spirit from the inside.

Also, be a good example. Take care of yourself, eat healthy food, sleep, and discuss events calmly. Turn off the TV and stay off the web. Exercise. Take breaks to play, read a book, and do something unrelated to… it.

Keep to recognizable routines– routine is reassuring and safe. Require reasonable behavior: if they still get in trouble for using that bad word, then everything must be OK. They may test you with bad behavior just to get that reassurance. Don’t spoil them with extra treats, because it will frighten them. Things must be really bad if The Parent gives me toys or lets me eat candy.

Lend a hand to other people. It will help to know that you have the power to help and comfort.

The traumatic symptoms may last quite a while. Triggers like parents going out at night or a security guard at a local festival may bring everything back. Fear of it happening again may linger. An anniversary will renew their anxiety.

If time passes and stress is affecting their lives, think about having them see a counselor or getting them into a peer group with similar concerns. We all need a little help sometimes.

My mom also used to say, “Time heals all wounds.” And with a little help from their guardians it always will.

Words on Guns: A Pediatrician’s Perspective

As a pediatrician I have been fighting for sensible gun law for a while. I lost 3 of my small patients to gun violence. So, useful info on how to discuss guns with gun fans:

An AR 15 is an “Armalite Rifle,” after the manufacturer Armalite. Gun nuts will ask you what AR stands for. Don’t say assault rifle or they will dismiss everything else you say.

The problem is the high velocity bullets (they go through a child’s body so rapidly that they destroy tissue 6 inches around a bullet entry), rapidity of fire, and high capacity magazines (more than 10 bullets in a magazine is not necessary unless you want to kill humans). Use those terms.

If they talk about there already being background checks? Only licensed gun dealers are required to do them, and reporting is not mandatory. We need universal background checks with mandatory reporting.

They talk about how Chicago has gun restrictions but still has gun violence? It is because Indiana, across the road, has no restrictions. Easy to cross a road.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”? That’s why we want background checks on the people, not the guns.

“Car accidents kill kids too”? Yes, that’s why we require driver training, a license, registration, and liability insurance. Also why we have traffic law to regulate their use.

We need:

  • to require safe storage of guns.
  • to keep bump stocks and kits that change semiautomatics into automatics illegal.
  • either magazines that cannot be exchanged (rather, need to be reloaded), take more time to replace, or take 2 hands to replace.
  • to limit the amount of ammunition people can buy, like we do pseudoephedrine.
  • to require licensing, registration, and liability insurance. Let the insurance companies pay for the mental health check and decide which guns are too dangerous to insure. The gun lobby and the insurance lobby can have a conversation.
  • red flag laws, the same in every state.

It is generally impossible to sue shielded gun manufacturers (although one case recently did succeed), and was previously against the law for the CDC to fund any research into gun violence – very unusual restrictions passed purely to protect gun manufacturers. The Dickey Amendment, passed in 1996, was recinded in 2018, but we lost decades of research.

The NRA funnels money from gun manufacturers to politicians on both sides – mostly Republican, but some Dems. There is dark money given that is untraceable, so we really don’t know who is on their payroll. The NRA actually supported Bernie Sanders when he first won office because he promised to never vote for any law that put in a waiting period for hand guns (and he never has).

The top ten traceable donations:

  • Mitt Romney $13,637,676
  • Richard Burr $6,987,380
  • Roy Blunt $4,555,752
  • Thom Tillis $4,421,333
  • Cory Gardner $3,939,199
  • Marco Rubio $3,303,355
  • Joni Ernst $3,124,773
  • Rob Portman $3,063,327
  • Todd C Young $2,897,582
  • Bill Cassidy $2,867,074

We need to educate ourselves to even begin the push for change, because what we are doing now is not working.

Gun lobbies only care about sales, while kids are dying.

Lets do this.

The Science of Learning – 5 Research-Backed Techniques that Work

Today’s blog is brought to you by Russell Michelson, the Director of Outreach for Better I thought it wold be especially useful since many people are learning at home these days! Here goes:

The modern world we live in is a continually advancing sphere with new skills becoming available all the time. To keep pace with rapidly evolving technology, you must upgrade your skills and abilities from time to time. Although learning at a younger age is more effortless, picking up new information is equally easy for adults. The human brain is an incredibly complex organ capable of great things. With the right learning techniques, you can accomplish just about anything. Here are some of the most effective strategies that have been scientifically proven to work.

  1. Practice and Repetition

Practicing a skill over and over again or trying to remember information trains the brain to perform better. Studies conducted by neuroscientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. have noted that when a person makes an effort to learn new skills with practice and repetition, the activity fires up brain cells. 

These neurons communicate with each other via electrical and chemical messages passed through axons. Each time an action is repeated, these axons are strengthened, and they become more efficient at relaying signals. After adequate repetition, the brain can perform the moves without consciously thinking about them. That’s the reason why the world’s best athletes, musicians, and experts in any field give flawless performances that are so impressive.

  1. Concentration and Intense Focus

Yet another technique for firing up neurons is concentration. If you focus intently on the materials, the brain has a higher probability of retaining them. Distractions like taking calls, responding to texts, and letting your attention wander divides up the brain’s attention. For this reason, you’ll take longer to retain a particular topic. If you can eliminate all distractions and concentrate entirely on a specific concept, you’ll have better retention after studying for a shorter time. 

Effective learning techniques are about avoiding any kind of multi-tasking, including study-related emails. If you find your attention is breaking or thinking of something else, make a conscious effort to focus on the task at hand. 

  1. Repeating Aloud to Ensure Understanding

Trying to learn by rote is one of the most ineffective methods. Cramming is essentially memorizing without understanding the concept. The chances are that you’ll forget everything soon. But, if you can actually make sense of the text, it’s easy to develop an in-depth view of how the idea functions. Committing it to memory will be a lot easier, and that’s where language skills come in. 

Talking about what you just reviewed helps you retain it better. That’s primarily why many students seem to perform better in group studies where each learner presents their version of the concepts.

Students should be able to read, comprehend, and repeat back what the material is all about. The inability to express and communicate is a critical issue that gets in the way of learning. Students who find language skills to be challenging can benefit from the therapy of a certified speech pathologist. In person or online speech therapy can help learners develop proper language skills for more effective study habits. 

  1. Retrieving Information by Testing

Testing and exam-taking are viewed negatively by many students who dread having to take them. In fact, asking questions trains your brain’s ability to retrieve the information it has memorized. If you cannot come up with answers, that’s an indication that you need to go back to reviewing the material and trying to remember it. 

Taking practice tests relevant to the coursework helps identify which concepts are not entirely clear. Or that you have trouble recalling them. You can go back to relearning them until retrieving the information is smoothly done. Practice testing has another crucial advantage. The brain transfers the materials from short-term memory to long-term memory. In this way, you’ll ensure retaining the skills for life. 

  1. Interweaving or Distributed Practice

Adopting this learning technique is ideal for students who find it hard to concentrate on a single concept for too long. If you develop a mental block after an hour or so, refresh the mind by switching to another unrelated course. For instance, if you absolutely cannot review another chemical reaction, move on to solving math problems for a while. Giving your brain a break after short sessions is a perfect strategy for improved memory.

Adopting the right learning techniques that work best for you provides that all-essential edge when picking up new skills and courses. Choose the method that helps you retain materials and stay with it.

A Guide to Self-Care For Breastfeeding Moms

Today’s blog was written by Leslie Campos at

Image Credit: Photo via

Breastfeeding is meant to be a positive experience for both mother and baby. However, in my years of working with families, I’ve seen that the physical and emotional exhaustion of breastfeeding can interfere with what should be a joyful experience. It’s important, therefore, for nursing moms to invest in their own self-care. Here are some simple yet effective ways to do so.

Make your comfort a priority.

Whether you’re pregnant or already nursing, comfort can be hard to come by. This is why you need to take extra measures to allow yourself this kindness. Case in point, as you get ready to give birth, you want to be sure that you come prepared with a comfy delivery gown and a robe. Nursing pajamas and nursing bras will especially come in handy as you and your baby get into the groove of nursing. You’ll be surprised at just how much these simple pieces of clothing can ease the process. 

As you nurse, you will find that breast care is a must. Again, wearing a breathable and supportive nursing bra is necessary, as is the use of breast pads. Good hygiene is definitely a given. Above all, make sure that your baby latches on properly as this will help prevent pain on your breasts and, in turn, keep you less stressed and more comfortable.

Focus on nutrition.

For the first few months of your baby’s life, you are their main source of nutrients when you breastfeed. Needless to say, you need to watch what you eat, drink, and take for your baby to receive the nutrients they need to grow and develop. The good news is, breastfeeding nutrition is also just as good for you, too, as you work on getting your health back, going back in shape, losing weight, etc. 

Fundamentally, it’s ideal to consume around 300 to 400 more calories a day. But before you reach for that candy bar, it’s only smart to make the most of this by choosing nutrient-rich food items. Foods that are rich in fiber, protein, and other minerals are highly recommended. Meanwhile, sugar should be minimized, while it’s best to avoid caffeine altogether.

Staying hydrated when breastfeeding is also crucial. Essentially, you need to replace the fluid (milk) that your baby consumes, so drink a bit more water than you need to quench your thirst. And while a bit of lemon or lime in your water is fine, fruit juices are highly discouraged for the sugar content, which can contribute to weight gain.

Get some sleep.

A new baby comes with a multitude of demands, which leaves moms exhausted and overwhelmed. You need to rest more than ever. However, this is often easier said than done, but the reality is, sleep deprivation can affect both your physical and mental health negatively.

It’s important, therefore, to grab every possible opportunity to rest when you can. If the baby is sleeping, for instance, you will be better served by skipping the laundry and taking a nap instead. 

Be kind to yourself. 

Yes, the pressure of taking care of a little human being can be great. Know that you will need to work hard at not expecting perfection and avoiding self-blame when things don’t go as planned. Live in the moment with your baby. Instead of being frustrated after being woken up in the middle of the night or having your ‘me’ time disturbed, touch, breathe in, and look at your baby to remind yourself of this miracle. It helps to let go of some control, too, so accept help from your partner and loved ones. You also don’t need to do everything by the book.

Ultimately, there is joy in breastfeeding, which you’ll find far outweighs the pain, frustration, and exhaustion. I invite you to ask me questions and follow my blog for more Practical Parenting Advice.

How to Fight with Your Child: Quarantine Edition

The most basic principle of conflict resolution, that both parties in the conflict have to be treated as equals, flies out the window when that conflict is with a child or between children.

Equality is a tricky area in parenting. Yes, this child is in every way your equal in humanity and way ahead of you in potential. He or she is undeniably not your equal in size, power, or – for a while – intelligence and experience. If we allow a child equal power in a conflict what we get is a spoiled, obnoxious child who will put his or her own future in jeopardy by making bad decisions.

Equality is likewise tricky between two children, because we cannot count on children not to take advantage of their greater size, intelligence, or experience. A referee is needed.

When we are in conflict with our children, or they are in conflict with each other, we must treat them with respect as the complete human beings they are, while we decisively withhold the power they are grasping for.

The standard steps to conflict resolution apply, but they must be adjusted for the relative sizes of the combatants:


First, listen.

It is all too easy to dismiss a child. You are the parent, you know what they are going to say, and you know what your decision is going to be, so why waste the time, right?

How did that attitude make you feel the last time you were on the receiving end of it?

Take a moment to listen to their side, even if it is ridiculous, because just knowing they are being listened to is a win for a child. This is much easier to do when your 4 year old is explaining to you why she thinks she should have ice cream for lunch, than it is when your 13 year old is explaining why it is not a problem that you caught him smoking. Give them the time to speak, no matter how tempting it is to cut them off.

Actually focus on them and pay attention to what they are saying. Don’t let your mind wander into thinking about what you will say next, or the errands you have to run.  The prize you get for listening is a better understanding of your progeny; as a bonus, they then have to listen to you, to be fair. Another win!

Sometimes it helps to set a timer prominently between you and give each person a minute to speak without interruption.

After one contender has their moment to speak, their opponent should repeat back what they heard. Sometimes what we mean to say is not what comes out of our mouths, and sometimes what we hear is not what was actually said.


Communicate, and insist that they communicate.

Don’t fling insults and accusations. Don’t bring up past history. Don’t yell, because yelling looses it’s power quickly. Don’t threaten with ultimatums – they backfire. Never denigrate your child and never label them: labels stick, and children sometimes try to live up to them.  Sit down at their level, look them in the eye, speak at normal volume, and stick to the subject.


Don’t make assumptions.

Or jump to conclusions. Slow down and give yourself the time to fully understand, or mistakes will be made.



After everyone has had a chance to make their points, sum them up. Name the problem, list the arguments on each side.


Start with areas of agreement.

In every discussion there are points of agreement. Start with those points, and work from there. We agree that ice cream is delicious, and it does have calcium in it for your bones, but…

In the end, you are the parent and must make the decision that you feel is best. Listening to your children along the way does no harm, strengthens relationships, will make them feel valued, and will nourish their self esteem. Understanding their thought processes and point of view may also help prevent later conflicts. Avoid the pitfalls – jumping to conclusions, towering over your child, name calling – and you will not have damage to repair later.

The experience of being treated fairly and with respect will carry forward and encourage your children to demand respect as they become adults. And learning how to argue without destroying a relationship? Priceless.