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Fear based parenting… it’s damaging to you both

Fear based parenting drives you to be controlling, to pull the reins in, to be that “proactive” parent who’s making sure their toddler/child/teen isn’t going to grow into a drug addict or drunk like your mother/father/grandarent/brother/sister did.  It’s attaching another person’s story to your child that looks at what’s happened in the past or a worry about the future.  It completely ignores the present moment, the child and their needs.  It pushes you to take control in a way that disconnects you from your child.  It leaves you doubting yourself and worrying about what’s going to happen next.  

Will it get worse?  Will they be more angry at you?   Manipulative or defiant?  Yes, they will.  Your controlling is creating that.  Your anger pushes them away.

 You’re missing the cause of the behaviour and instead treating the symptom.  So your child’s need is still unmet, still ignored, because you haven’t liked how they’ve gone about getting it.  As you continue to treat their behaviour as sign of future problems or worse, a personal attack on you and everything you’re trying to do for them, you continue to miss out on finding the real reason why they are behaving this way.  As you continue to use power to control or defeatism /victimisation as a way to manipulate them into your idea of what they should be, you shut them down and create a place of distrust between the two of you.  You resent them, they resent you. 

This esculates for a number of years as you try to mold them and then, come teen or tween years, they begin to lie more elaborately and hide their behaviour from you… 

until one day… 

you get the biggest shock of your life…..  

Your child either lashes out at you or someone else or themselves (self harm) or worse, they get themselves into a situation that you have no control over, no strategy to avoid it, and they are hurt badly.

If you’re on this bandwagon, I hope that you read this and stop.  If you’re that controlling and fearful parent, who maybe sees the worst in their child, or imagines because your child acts or has mannerisms of another family member (who has anger, drug, alcohol or other issues) that your child will too… then stop.  

Stop controling behaviour and start connecting to your child.

Parenting programs that focus on behaviour modification are based in fear.  Fear that they child is out of control and needs to be reined in.  They focus on the behaviour and not the child and don’t strengthen the connection..  Unfortunately this form of parenting/behaviour management has been encouraged for years and it’s wrong.  

Even the child protection services know that now.  Recently I met about 50 of them at a training intensive and they told me that there is a swing away from behaviour management because it damages the relationship even further and creates a manipulative, angry and avoidant child.

We need to focus on the child, the present moment and build connection.  It’s only through connection, seeking to understand their needs, that we can help the child learn natural consequences and ways to meet their needs that work for the whole family.  It’s also a way for you to truly see and appreciate your child as an individual and not a mini you/other parent/other relative.  It’s a way for you to appreciate their strengths and not focus on your fears around their potential flaws.

When you’re in connection with your child you don’t take their behaviour as a personal attack, you see it as a way to seek what they want and an opportunity to teach them about relationships, empathy and problem solving.  When your child is in overwhelm, you can remain connected and help them to calm down instead of isolating them in time out.  You can help them regulate their emotions because you are right there with them and being calm, kind and yet stronger and wiser.  You’re being the adult, the parent and the teacher.

Initially it may take some time and loads of unlearning and some learning more effective strategies to help you.  It will also take self awareness to notice when you fall back into fear based parenting.  The more awareness, the more conscious efforts to understand their needs, your needs and how to meet them, the easier this job of parenting becomes.  You will find your family dynamic will change, flow naturally and support and connection will be used daily, minimising the out bursts, meltdowns and push backs.  Your children will want to naturally help you, without coercion.  They will come to understand you more and even empathise with you when you need it.

You just need to get past your fear.  

Fear of change…

Fear of the lack of control (which was always an illusion)…

When you’re ready, you can learn how to do this…

Become a conscious parent

Understand a child’s need

Understand how to lead, model and teach them how to be in this world.

It’s so satisfying, loving and amazing when you’re in that space.  Trust me, I’ve tried both…. I’m not going back to controlling… ever! 


All emotions are just a call to action…

The are also unconscious, part of our emotional brain, and drive you to meet a need.

You can’t talk your way out of an emotional need, because the emotional brain hijacks you.

It’s easy to meet that need when you’re in a good mood.

It’s harder when the negative emotions overwhelm you or your child…

What are the drivers behind your negative emotions?

anger emotionsAnger and rage is a way of protecting yourself and rises when there is a threat to getting what you want (think tantrum). [click to continue…]

Food for moods and behaviour

I thought I just had a high spirited energetic little boy, one that I could handle but it seems others struggled with. It was when I moved him to a new daycare lady (the previous one asked me to find a new one) that I first heard about the impact of food on children’s behaviour. I was a single mum struggling to make ends meet and this home daycare lady gentle encouraged me to stop putting certain things into his daily food and to get him tested for ADHD. My whole family were perplexed because Ben was the first grandchild and the first boy in my family too so we just naturally thought that all little boys ran everywhere and were bold and strong willed.

It seems not. So rather than lose another childcare place I began to take certain foods out of his diet and began to see that he wasn’t such a strong willed devil child at all. He calmed right down! He could be reasoned with! He could listen to me and actually follow through on instructions. When I finally got him into the local child and adolescent assessment unit, sure enough he had ADHD but by that time the psychologist advised it was quite mild. Then again, she met a much calmer child than he was just weeks before! [click to continue…]

Raising Resilience in children is not assured if you just do this…

I’m in the throws of preparing for my FREE Webinar next week  (June 23, 2015) on 7 ways of growing resilience in children and wouldn’t you know it, someone else wrote another blog on the subject.. “18 ways to raise a resilient child“.   I do like reading other parenting blogs as there’s a lot of good information out there that helps all of us and I love working with like-minded parenting coaches and counsellors.

sad child - emotions - resilienceI thought this particular blog was OK… but missed the mark a little…

It talked about listening, tuning in, staying calm, spending time with a child and so forth but to me all the suggestions should be applied in general everyday parenting and didn’t address the issue of resilience.

What is resilience and why has it become such a buzz word?!

To be resilient means to have the capacity to bounce back without symptoms (see below) after an adverse traumatic event.

It is far too common that we, as a society, miss the obvious signs of trauma in children and don’t give them the opportunity to integrate emotionally and logically what they have seen and/or experience in a healthy way (and avoid the long term impacts).

It’s so important because of the long term of trauma impacts on all of us. [click to continue…]

3 reasons why you can’t both have the same parenting style…

AND… when your parenting style becomes an issue

It’s one of the biggest myths around parenting… that both parents must have the same parenting style and be consistent.

It totally gets in the way of your relationship with each other and for really good reasons too.

Let’s look at  3 reasons why it’s absolutely impossible to expect both parents to approach parenting their children the same way or even consistently!

1 – Different background experiences and expectations

parenting styles even differ for twinsUnless you married your identical twin (which is pretty illegal the last I heard) then both of you have sprouted from two very different sets of parents, parenting styles and childhood experiences.  One of you may have had very authoritarian parents who were strict, “let them cry” kind of approach and tough on “dishing out the love” (a “toughen them up!” approach).  Perhaps the other had more laid back parents who didn’t yell or use their power to control, maybe they even gave you free-rain.

[click to continue…]

Preparing for school… from starting to changing

Wow, how quick and yet how long do these school holidays seem?  At this time of the year you may have experienced a crazy mumma or pappa period… having to expend a lot of energy keeping young ones amused, calm or helping them to return to some level of calmness.

Or you may be chilled out and cruising (way to go if you are)!

preparing for schoolWhat today’s writing is about is managing transition!

Transition to school

Transition to big school or a new school

Transition to high school and even senior college

They are all new experiences, new fears around finding their way, finding their people.

And we can help them prepare for school emotionally … or we can leave them floundering (sure way of getting a stressed out, cranky and emotional child at the end of the school day).

It can be scary walking into a new school environment especially after 6 weeks at home with their siblings – a safe, normal environment.

Suddenly everything is changing and often there’s not a lot of discussion about it.

To prepare for school, I suggest you start talking… [click to continue…]

Youth Suicide and Self Harm – How to help a child

I am heart broken and disturbed by the news that a girl as young as 10 years of age felt there was no other option but to take her life this week.

I was horrified to hear that over 50 young people present to hospital with self harming injuries in Australia each week.

Holy cow! That surely cannot be right?!

I totally want to be sensitive to each and every case here… I want to acknowledge that we just don’t have the whys and the story for each person, or have the time to pick it all apart..

However, we, as adults, parents, teachers, doctors, carer(s), grandparents, coaches and community members need to stop and take a look at the kids we are sharing our lives with and start looking for signs of distress because clearly some young people find it hard to ask for help

or perhaps they just have stopped asking… [click to continue…]

If they are an @#$!! then what does that make me? Single parent mistakes.

single parent

My family is blended.. I have an amazing, loving boy from a previous… ummm hiccup.  It’s hard for me to even call it a relationship as you can see because at the time it happened, it wasn’t.  I was in a dark place in my life.. I felt abandoned by love and this young man offered me some solace for my hurt ego.  I was only 18 and yet to begin healing myself.

Needless to say that joint parenting didn’t work for me.  I wanted stability in my son’s life and yet despite all my efforts, I made some huge mistakes that I’m hoping to help you avoid.

So you don’t do what I did.

So you don’t inadvertently hurt your child…

And unintentionally send the message that they are not good, worthy, loveable.

There’s a natural order to love in families and when that order is honored then we give our children the opportunity to grow and thrive and a solid sense of themselves.  When we don’t… we create unconscious disturbance and issues within our children around their sense of worth. [click to continue…]

The art of happiness.. Why don’t we teach this at school?

In my (dream) ideal world children would have an understanding and a language around both the facts of the world and also the emotions of the world…

The inner and out world that is… what is happiness, what is frustration, what is grief and so on.

We teach our children academic subjects and some creative subjects but we don’t focus a lot on our emotional well being.

Why not?  It’s what makes or breaks us in the end.  It’s where we find happiness and how we get it, that drives happy people!

There are very rich people in this world with many emotional and mental health problems that make them unhappy.

There are very “poor” people in this world that have very little in the way of possessions and yet happiness in abundance.

So money doesn’t equal happiness.  And yet schooling can focus a lot on academics and getting a job/career for life.

Children need a language around emotions and they need to also identify what makes them happy.

Then they need permission to go after happiness… instead of marks that mean nothing once you leave school.

Showing them the art of happiness and why it’s so important for them (shown with loads of empathy and consideration of others around them of course.. but you’d teach them that, right?) means you’ll be setting them up for happiness in their life.

The art of happiness


MUDY.. My Ugly Duckling Youth & Beauty Redefined

Beauty Redefined

There’s an empowering movement, one I’m quite passionate and grateful for and it’s called Beauty Redefined.  It calls to light some of the hideous cultural messages we send girls and women and sets girls up to feel less than worthy based on just their looks.  It’s time to stop it because it is an insidious and harmful message that females are just objects that need to look pretty in the landscape of life to be of any worth.

My own experience began in my own family.  Being the youngest of 4 daughters (no boys), I chose to take the role of the tomboy and was by my father’s side at every opportunity I could. I also had a preference for short hair, pants and clothes I could get messy and run around with the other kids in.  Dresses weren’t my thing until I hit my teenage years and the hormones helped me reconsider.  Then I started developing breasts that could not go unnoticed and along came with that was the attention from the boys in a way I’d never experienced before because I always had played invisibly in the crowd or on the edge.  My first dance and my mother took my sister and I shopping and we got very similar clothing, a dress shirt and skirt and we got dressed up and put on make up.  My father was over the moon and dragged us out for photographs (a painful slow experience as he was not great with camera’s).  It was during this experience that my father decided to share with me why I had the nick name of “Mudy” most of my life…. it was because it stood for My Ugly Duckling Youth.  BANG!  I remember the shock I felt hearing that… my own father had thought I was ugly…  my own father only equated my value with being beautiful (as I was now with my new clothes, my hair done and makeup plastered on my face).  From that day forward I wasn’t seen without makeup and I took  greater attention to my clothing.  I even began working part time jobs to fuel my clothing purchases.  It took me years before I was comfortable being seen by my husband without makeup.  I never missed a day of work without it on… not one day.  And I grew into a parent showing this belief to my own children.

Now I don’t hate my father, I loved him (he passed away 8 years ago) and I know he believed in me an a strong capable person.  He was just brought up in the era where women were valued for their physical looks and not their abilities.  This belief was instilled by his culture, his upbringing and by the media that has fed this to him from an early age.

Now I want something different for my daughter.  However, it’s really been only the last 8 years that I have steadily realised how hard we, as women, have to overcome the belief that we are not valued if we don’t have the right body, hair style, looks, colour, skin type or any other physical attribute.  I just haven’t really stopped to take stock how much it has affected my life and yet it has… I have fought tooth an nail to prove my worth in male dominated environments and even female environments.  I’ve fretted, like most women, over the smallest of details of my physical appearance, struggled with diets and had to wean myself off treating myself as the own worst enemy (thankfully I found tapping and other modalities to help heal me). I don’t want that for my daughter and yet I know it’s already happened.  I don’t women’s magazines or even watching shows that promote the physical is more important than your ability, strengths, character and whether you’re a nice person!  And yet, just recently a new layer of awareness came up when the Twitter’sphere of #AllWomen went crazy in response to a young man killing young women (and other men) because women wouldn’t sleep with him… like it was his right.  I read some of the most amazing tweets about how women coped with unwanted attention from men, how they reduced the likelihood of attack and also how culturally it’s accepted to harass women and girls.  One tweet really shocked me saying “Because men never have to text their friend to say they got home all right”.   That’s so true… culturally we set our girls up to fear and protect themselves from the actions of men… we blame the girls for the attack… what she was wearing, why she was their in the first place.  It’s crazy!  We set boys up to be perpetrators and girls up to be victims culturally.

It starts early… even with a simple book like “The Ugly Duckling” which teaches our children that you can only fit in if you have the right look…

It’s time to have our Beauty Redefined

So what’s the answer?  Education!  Open discussion!  And we need to do it from a very young age.  Beauty Redefined helps give women and parents the tools to raise the discussion with our children (boys need to be educated too!) and to help women also rediscover who they are beyond the physical, objectifying media that is pushed into our faces everyday.  So I’m urging you to support the movement and begin helping your children (from as young an age as possible) understand that women and girls are more than decoration.

A fantastic talk highlighting some of the issues up for discussion is below: