How did you become a parent coach and educator and why is it your passion?
I knew from a very young age that helping others would be my calling – I was always told that I had a “gift” for listening in a way that allowed others to feel heard, understood and supported. After finishing high school, I went on to receive a bachelor’s degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in Family Studies. From there, I went on to pursue graduate studies in Social Work and received my Master’s Degree. The favorite part of my training was working with parents and families. I recall doing an internship at Rady’s Children’s Hospital’s Outpatient Department and realizing, early on, that the most effective way to positively change a child’s future was by helping and supporting the parents. My dream was to have my own private psychotherapy practice, which I built and maintained for many years.
What is your philosophy on parenting?
My philosophy of parenting is based on Positive Discipline, which is a positive parenting model rooted in Adlerian Psychology. This model highlights the notion that all behavior is a communication and that a misbehaving child is a discouraged child. Recent research tells us that we all have hardwired needs for belonging (connection) and significance (that we matter/are of value) as well as the need for attention and a sense of power/control over our world. When one or more of these core, emotional needs are not being met, we are likely to see misbehavior in the form of tantrums, defiance, back talk, aggression etc. It’s so natural for parents to focus solely on the behavior itself (we just want it to stop!), yet, when we focus only on the behavior and not on what’s causing the behavior in the first place, we miss out on the opportunity to effectively guide our children in learning valuable social and emotional life skills.
Positive Discipline is a non-punitive method, emphasizing mutual respect, which honors the notion that children don’t need to suffer (be punished) in order to learn. Limits are set with both kindness and firmness at the same time. At the core of the approach is the importance of building and maintaining the connection between parents and their children – children who feel connected to their parents, have much less need to misbehave! I feel so fortunate to be able to offer these practical, effective and wonderful tools to parents and their families!
What are some of the biggest challenges you hear from parents and what do you recommend?
The most important tool for parents to know about is that of “connection before correction.” When emotions are running high (either ours or our child’s), we can not think logically, rationally or clearly. When our kids are having a hard time, it’s important to know that yelling, nagging and lecturing won’t solve the problem. It feels like the answer in the moment, but in reality, our kids only tune us out when we lash out. In order to effectively handle those most challenging parenting moments, it’s important that parents first focus on centering themselves. Our kids learn how to regulate their emotions by how we regulate ours, so we want to model what rational behavior looks like, first and foremost. This involves self-care – taking deep breaths, walking away and responding, rather than reacting. Parents need to model the very behavior they want to see in their kids. Kids listen after they feel listened to.
4.) What are your favorite resources for parents?
My favorite books/resources are listed on my website and I regularly recommend that parents read anything by Dr. Laura Markham (ahaparenting.com), Tina Bryson and Dan Siegel as well as the Positive Discipline series by Dr. Jane Nelsen.