parenting, Support


While spring is an exciting time of year for our kiddos in and out of school, it is essential to know it also creates increased stress for many. We often think of stress as resulting from challenging things like struggling in a class or relationship troubles; however, even fun things happening in our lives like traveling or reaching a milestone, such as graduation creates stress as it takes us out of our comfort zone and routines.  When under stress, we often return to old coping strategies such as avoidance or burying feelings. So, keep an eye out for natural opportunities to build your kiddos skills.

When we listen to our kiddos often, we kick into problem-solving mode. Remind yourself to slow down and take notice of your own emotions that may drive your response. Actively listen to your child and remember it is frequently not about the content on the surface (“she was mean” or “that was unfair”). It is more helpful to respond to the emotions underneath the surface so we can help the kiddo identify their feelings, learn to sit with them and use some strategies to manage.

Some potential discussion starters could be the following:

It sounds like that was upsetting.

I’m sorry that was frustrating. What did you do or what could you do?

That sounds rough. I know you can handle it.

It will also be important to practice new ways of thinking about things such as learning to expect change and know it will take you out of your comfort zone. Talking about what to expect, including discomfort, and normalizing it will be key to building more successful coping.

Some potential discussion starters could be the following:

What felt hard today?

Did you expect that to be so easy or hard?

I never like it when that happens to me. What did you try to do?

Happy Spring! Embrace change and time for new growth. 🙂


Allowing Kids Privacy Gives Them So Much

Much is being said about the topic of privacy and children/teens these days. To be sure this is not a simple issue as parents work to balance letting their kids be and working to assure their safety. The expanse of threats has grown as parents must now worry about more than the neighborhood in which their children roam. However, while parenting concerns have indeed shifted through the years and care is required, it should be balanced to allow kids as much privacy as possible to develop their own abilities to manage their lives.

I have listened as parents share their many techniques of keeping tabs on their children, some of which include the use of trackers and access to their child/teen’s text messages. It is stunning to hear parents share how they use this information to interject themselves into situations that have the potential in which their child may make a poor choice large or small. I find it concerning those children and especially teens are not being allowed to navigate these conditions independently. These are valuable opportunities that offer our kids chances to practice skills such as managing awkward social dynamics, speaking up for themselves, leading others in more positive directions and most often, making the right choice. By anticipating and jumping into a variety of situations, we are communicating they are not capable.

We should be mindful that we need to allow kids to learn to deal with the thoughts and emotions that arise when they are uncertain of what to do next. It is part of their development to navigate the many challenges of growing up with limited input from parents when possible. Most children are able to manage playground disagreements independently, and most teens can figure out how to leave a situation they feel might not turn out well. Allowing kids the chance to trust their own instincts is critical to learning to manage more challenging moments in the future. Trusting them to do so means parents must learn to step back. If we do not allow kids time to foster these skills, we will run out of time to parent them, as we have allowed them to become overly reliant on adults to support and rescue them.

When possible let your kids fail while they have you as a safety net. Let them learn for themselves. Continue to give them time to practice learning about responsibility, making good choices and problem-solving in your home. Trust that they will learn to navigate challenges, make mistakes and recover from struggles big and small. Messing up is part of growing up and should remain so.


Parents Need Practice Too

We teach our children to be kind, inclusive and stand up for others, but far too often parents let teachable moments slip by instead of modeling these same skills. We all have heard the stories or read the articles about the small number of friends who show up at a birthday party for a kiddo with special needs. Many times, the adults in the community step up and save the day, which is heartwarming; yet, I cannot help but think about all the discussions in the homes of the kiddos who were invited. I wonder if these kiddos expressed ambivalence about going and parents validated those thoughts as they too may have some unexpressed discomfort. Is it possible some parents simply rationalized the party of a non-preferred peer to be unimportant and not a priority for making the family calendar? Did parents take the opportunity to talk with their children about the situation and how things may be similar or different than past birthday parties and then make their decision to attend?

Whatever the reason, I want to encourage parents to be more mindful about these moments. Most families these days are very busy and certainly prioritizing time for family and activities is essential. Yet, this does seem to be a missed opportunity to talk with children about the differences of others which includes the critical skills of learning to think about others.  These skills must be nurtured and practiced if they are going to become part of who we are and hope for our children to become.

As parents, we need to not shy away from things that make us uncomfortable or come up with excuses why we cannot do something. We need to view these moments as an opportunity to educate yourself about a condition or struggle someone at our child’s school, or community may be having. Many times, misinformation leads us to avoid the potential awkwardness of unchartered waters. We may find ourselves rationalizing how not going to an activity/event is the polite thing to do. If we are honest, we learn that many of the decisions we make for ourselves and families are linked to maintaining our comfort. We gravitate toward what and who we know, however, when time and energy allow, gift yourself with the opportunity to learn more and grow. Take these opportunities to learn about another family’s story that may be out of your usual circle. These moments are precious with the potential to build kindness, empathy, resilience, and perseverance.