Posts tagged Stop Yelling

Discipline Without Guilt??!! Really? How Does That Work?


Discipline is the part of parenting that parents hate most. If you read my last blog post, about how much control you “should” have over your child, you’ll see the first reason why parents hate discipline so much – it’s because they don’t have clarity around what they do have control over, and what they don’t.

But the biggest reason that parents hate discipline is that our culture is not good at conflict. We think everything should always be nice-y nice-y. We don’t get passionate about what we believe or how we feel because we don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t want to be perceived as trying to control anyone else. AND since we think discipline means punishment, we don’t want to be seen as the big meanie, so we feel resentful when our children push us to “have to” punish them.

What a mess.

First, we need to rethink that whole discipline-punishment thing. (Go HERE to find out more or register for my upcoming Discipline Without Guilt class.) What if, for a very young child, discipline just means that the child hasn’t developed the internal discipline to control his or her own impulses? Well, then, if we feel peaceful about being there to clearly show them where those impulses need to develop, and to be those impulses for them, aren’t we HELPING, not hurting? Punishment is when you hurt your child, ON PURPOSE, to teach them a lesson. What if, for an older child, discipline means supporting the child, in a less and less overt way, to determine what matters to them, and where they want to develop inner discipline, and to take the steps to help them develop that? Since we know that punishment doesn’t work to do this, anyway, what if we just dropped that mindset and focused on our actual goal?

Second, we need to develop clarity around what things, FOR US, are important enough to justify stepping in to consistently help our young child see clearly where those impulses need to develop, and readjust this yearly, as our child grows.

And, more and more, especially for an older child, we need to develop skills around understanding, problem-solving, coaching, and ***advocating for our own needs***.

“Oh, shit,” I hear you say, “I’m bad at that.”

Yeah, I know. Me, too.

But, here’s the thing. When you practice, you get better. You stop being afraid that someone else will flip/tantrum/be sad/meltdown, and you start standing in your own power (such an overused phrase, but exactly what I need to say) and declare what matters to you, while still respecting what’s going on for them, AND doing what you need to do to be the parent your child needs, from a place of heart, clarity, purpose, and love.

I’d love to help you bring this all together!

Discipline Without Guilt starts April 11th, 2015. Find out more HERE.

Here’s to you. Here’s to your child. Here’s to peace in your parenting, and solutions that work for both of you.


Lisa Kathleen

I would love to share Discipline Without Guilt with you, and help you find a new groove. Check it out here. 

How Much Control Should You Have Over Your Child?



In the Big Picture Parenting class today, we had a great conversation about control. The question goes something like this: “How do I make sure my child is doing or not doing Certain Important Things while still respecting their autonomy and independence?


It’s a darn good question, because at the end of the day, the only thing we really have full control over is ourselves.


Our children, when small, are within our control to some extent. But they still cry when THEY choose, pee when THEY choose, sleep when THEY choose, and eat what THEY choose. (Many power struggles develop, in the long term, around sleep, potty training, and food – so if you’re trying too hard to control in these areas, listen up!)


The more time we spend in a power struggle in the short run, the less influence we have over our child in the long run. 


And in the long run, ALL we have is influence. So the sooner we figure out that working WITH our child, respecting our child’s autonomy, while still providing clear limits around the things we can control (ie ourselves, our actions and reactions), is possible, the better.


As a single mom, I had to figure this out early. My daughter would head off to her dad’s house and I had NO control. I no longer got to decide what she ate, or what she was exposed to on TV, among a myriad of other things. After a few years of trying to control HIM (you can guess how that went 🙂 ) I concluded that the key was to build my relationship with her, NOT so that I could control her, but in such a way that she would respect me enough to consider my ideas and opinions, in the short term and in the long term.


So, how do we stay out of the power struggle, and stay in the game?


First, remember that it’s only a power struggle if YOU make it a power struggle. Your child is just doing what children do, trying to figure out how things work in the world, and doing exactly what she needs to do to learn what she needs to learn to move through her current developmental process.


Second, do what you need to do without feeling guilty. If you must stop the behaviour, stop the behaviour, support your child as she moves through the disappointment, and move on. Don’t get all in a knot about your child’s autonomy when you need to do what you need to do. Self-doubt helps no one.


Third, accept that some things aren’t in your control, and let those things go. When you are not all charged up about something your child is doing, your child won’t be as interested in doing it anyway. I was visiting a wise mama at dinnertime once, and her daughter wouldn’t come to the dinner table. She eventually chose to let it go, saying with a sigh, but obviously, no attachment and no intention to make her child feel guilty, “Well, I’m disappointed.” When you can’t control it, support yourself through the disappointment, and move on.


Fourth, give your child information so that he can make good decisions about the things that he has control over, and then let go of your attachment to which choice your child makes, whether it’s the colour of the sippy cup he chooses or whether to pay attention in class. Over years, your child will practice exercising that decision-making muscle, and will make better and better decisions about bigger and bigger things. (This is a key area of building influence – when you give your child the information she needs to understand her world and feel good about her choices, she will come back to you for more information.)


Fifth, decide what you believe is “basic respect”, and start young with creating clarity. Children raised with age-appropriate autonomy and your focus on building influence will figure out basic respect/social etiquette eventually, but you can decide what behaviour you’re comfortable with at what age in a restaurant, for example. This is up to you – an area you have control over. If you are not comfortable with your child’s behaviour in the restaurant, either don’t take them out to the restaurant, or remove them if things get out of hand.


So, how much control should you have over your child? Enough to keep them and others safe. After that, it’s all about having control over yourself, building connection, and developing respect-based influence. And here’s what’s amazing. When we lovingly focus on what WE have control over – our child’s behaviour will change, too.


Any insights? Questions? Post them below!


And consider joining me for the Discipline Without Guilt class coming up in April/May 2015. I’d love to help you find ways to manage your triggers, build influence, set your child up for success, and build connection with your child at the times when it’s hardest to do. <3 Register HERE.

Does Your Child Push Your Buttons?


Chances are, your child is an expert at pushing your buttons. Here’s how to short circuit the button, so that you can stay in that loving Zen place and stay connected, instead of pushing the disconnection even further along.

If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know that connection is big for me. Parents tell me ALL the time that what they want most is to know that their child can share things with them, and will come to them when they need support – they want to stay connected, and they want to be trusted. Is this you, too?

When our children get good at pushing buttons, it drives DISconnection and weakens trust. Here’s what to do…

First, remember what I said in my last blog post (read it here): Your child is doing exactly what he needs to be doing to learn what he needs to learn in order to become the person he’s meant to become. Read that again! It’s a BIG concept. Your child MUST push your buttons. He’s learning SOMETHING from the process. So, you may as well use the same process to learn something awesome, too.

And here’s the awesome thing that you can learn from it. (And, happily, a beautiful thing for your child to learn, too.) Your child does not control you. You get to decide how you will react when your child pushes your buttons.

Sorry if that sounds patronizing. You’re a smart person, and of course you know that you have control over your own emotions, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’re having a tough time accessing, or acting on, that knowing in the moment.

First, I’m going to increase your motivation to learn this. Your child needs to know that he or she does not control you. Being in control of a parent’s emotions is a BIG responsibility for a little child. Your child needs to know that YOU are in control, that he or she can trust you to handle stuff. When your little person pushes your buttons and sees you react, that is scary stuff for her. She needs to know that she does not have the power to throw her whole world out of kilter. If your child is older, or a teenager, your peace, your ability to stay calm, gives him or her a safe place to land.

So here’s the magic move. It’s incredibly simple, and it’s much more powerful than you may know.

When the button is being pushed, breathe UNTIL your brain turns off and your heart is speaking clearly. Breathe UNTIL your love for your child bubbles up and overtakes whatever ego-driven, power-focused thing you were about to say or do to your little person. Breathe UNTIL either the moment passes completely, and you can’t remember that the button was pushed, or UNTIL you know exactly what loving thing you can do instead of reacting from fear or anger. Keep breathing.

Breathe into the crunched-up, angry part of yourself that can’t seem to let go of the crunched-up, angry thought that you are holding (see my last blog post to understand where that thought came from ). Breathe into the tips of your toes and the bottom of your belly. Feel and follow your breath into the spaces between your ribs. Breathe with ALL of your attention. Breathe with ALL of your power. Breathe with ALL of your heart. And when your attention shifts back to those crunched-up angry thoughts, breathe louder and deeper.

If your attention is 100% on your breath, your mind will shut off, and the crunched-up angry thoughts will float away.

What will your child do while you are doing all this breathing?

First, he or she may just stop doing whatever he or she was doing that was pushing your buttons, because broken buttons are no fun to push. Second, he or she may try harder to push your buttons, because broken buttons can also be frustrating. That’s okay, chances are you can out-breathe your button pusher. If you can’t, that’s okay, too, because you can always start again. Third, your little button-pusher may get a little worried about you. You are behaving in a way he or she is not used to, and it may be a little disconcerting. Keep breathing. Breathe as if you are eating chocolate, enjoying every single melty bit of it in your mouth, down your throat, in your belly. Breathe joyously. Breathe determinedly. Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Remember that breathing does not mean that you don’t DO anything else. It just means that you don’t do anything IN ANGER. And that is the ultimate key. You may still not know what to do (if this is you, join us for Big Picture Parenting 2015 and learn What to Do Instead of Rewards, Punishment, Praise, and Shame) but there’s a good chance you’ll come up with something much better to do than what you would have done otherwise. And you’ll do it from a place of peace, a place of understanding, and a place of kindness.

Start breathing now. The more you breathe, intentionally, every day, all day, the easier it will be to breathe in the moment. The more your mind is used to existing without thoughts, the easier it will be for your mind to go there when your buttons are being pushed.

Your child will thank you for it.

If you need help short-circuiting your buttons, check out Big Picture Parenting 2015 or call me for a little coaching… 403-607-1463. I’d love to support you!









Why We Get Mad at Our Kids (& How to Stop)


Okay, I’m just going to blurt it out.

The bottom line is, we get mad at our kids because we think they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and because we think that, if they are doing what they are doing, it means that we are bad parents.

Here’s how it works:

The child doesn’t listen to us. We think they should, and we assume that since they didn’t, we have done something wrong – we are bad parents. When the thought arrives that we must be bad parents, we resent our child for making it so clear to us that we are bad parents. Finally, we get mad and lash out at them, because if they did what we want them to do, we wouldn’t feel like bad parents. Then we feel guilty for lashing out, and we backpedal and cater and fix it for them – to convince them that they aren’t bad, and to convince ourselves that we aren’t either. Often, it all happens in a split second, and by the end of it, EVERYONE feels bad.

The problem with this whole vicious cycle is that it is based on faulty logic in the first place. When your child does whatever he does that you don’t like, it does not follow that someone has to be bad.

Most of us grew up in cultures that evaluated, judged, compared, and rated us, all the time. We were told to be “good” and most disagreements between children ended up with a good guy and a bad guy. So, it’s not surprising that EVEN THOUGH we know in our hearts that our kids aren’t bad, it’s hard to get our heads around the idea that we aren’t bad, either. Because the culture we grew up in taught us to choose: “Someone has to be wrong here, and someone has to be right.” When we’re upset, our thoughts run wild, and we waffle back and forth between, “He’s bad,” and “I’m bad.”

Let me hold your hand and tell you something, straight from my heart.

You are not a bad parent when your child doesn’t listen to you. Your child is not a bad kid, either.

Now, let’s reframe this whole situation starting with a different basic premise.

Let’s start from the truth – that your child is doing EXACTLY what he needs to be doing in order to learn what he needs to learn to move successfully through his current developmental process, with his or her personality.

Your two year-old MUST resist and say “no” as she discovers that she is not you. Your 3 year-old MUST experience overwhelming emotions, in order to learn how to manage those big feelings that come in life. Your 4 year-old MUST intentionally not listen, in order to find out where he has power to choose and where he does not. Your 5 year-old MUST experiment with saying Really Mean Things in order to discover his own power to hurt, and to heal, another.

“But,” you say, “My friend’s 2, or 3 or 4 or 5 year-old doesn’t do those things!!”

Not every child is alike. The developmental processes are the same, but every personality experiences those developmental needs differently. A more outgoing personality with a need for intensity and leadership potential will explore with power differently than a more introspective personality with a need for quiet and a love for being part of a team.

Your child, in order to develop his or her potential, strengths and self-knowledge, MUST do EXACTLY what he or she does to test hypotheses and to learn, whether you like it or not.

So, what to do with this information? Does it mean that, since we don’t get mad, we just let the child do whatever and walk all over us?

No. But whatever you do, if you keep in mind that your child is doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing, and that nobody’s bad, your actions will no longer be laced with anger and designed to punish your child.

You will still sometimes need to pick your child up and leave the birthday party amidst screams and misery. But you won’t blame your child or yourself, you won’t feel the need to stay mad or punish your child, and you won’t deem the situation a failure. Nobody has failed.

Instead, your child has succeeded in discovering one more thing about herself in the world, and you have succeeded in helping her learn, compassionately.


I’d love to help you identify how your child’s behaviour is reflecting his or her developmental process, and help you figure out what to do instead of rewards, punishments, praise or shame. Check out Big Picture Parenting 2015, or call me up for some coaching!

We can coach by phone, by Skype, no matter where you live, or in-home (if you live in Calgary, Canada). Call me to find out if coaching with me might be a good fit for you…403-607-1463.

I’d love to connect!

With love,
Lisa Kathleen



Love is a Choice

So, here’s the thing. Love is a choice. It’s not something that just happens to you.   

You may be a parent who feels naturally loving and giving with your children, or you may be a parent who wonders where this cheerful, happy love is, whether your kids even like you, and why you don’t feel more loving towards them, more often. Chances are that you relate to both, at different times.

There may be times when you are overflowing with love and goodness, and times when you feel like an empty well, dry-heaving up tiny bits of love, in whatever form you can, to share with your ever-needing children.

And here it is. Love is love. The vomit-love may even be a more pure and real form of love than the icing-on-the-cake kind of love. That vomit-love comes from the moments that you are digging so deep to find the little bit of love that you can offer.  It comes from your commitment to staying as peaceful, kind and loving as you can, even in the hardest times. Love in those moments may feel strained, uncomfortable, or not-good-enough. It may feel like one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.  

That kind of love comes when you feel you have nothing left to give, and when you’ve CHOSEN to ACT lovingly, anyway.    

That kind of love comes when somewhere inside of you, you know that love isn’t just a feeling, it’s an action and a verb.
Here’s what I believe. Love is the energy of life force. If you are alive, you ARE love. When you think you have nothing left to give, love is ALL that’s left. It’s at the bottom of the pit of despair, it’s at the core of your humanity.

For me, choosing this way of thinking means that when I’m not feeling very loving, I know I’ve just forgotten who I am, and I need to reconnect. It means that I believe, in the hard moments, that digging a little deeper will reveal little chunks (no pun intended) of gold.   

It also means that when I find myself in an unloving cycle of unloving actions or words, I start digging. I dig through my beliefs and thought-patterns. I dig through my layers of feelings. I dig through my history and the hurts I’ve experienced as a child. And eventually, as I dig, I find gold.    

Sometimes, I dig in the moment, and sometimes, I dig when I can set aside time to explore. It depends on how deep I think I need to dig before I can find love. 

And, always, inevitably, I find it. Glittering and shiny, bright enough to make me smile and cry at the same time. Somewhere, underneath the anger, stress, frustration, sadness, and fear, is love, love, love.  

And then, once I’ve found the path to love through that particular maze, it’s a shorter journey next time. I can systematize the process! I can make a plan to follow that path again next time I need to dig!  

And I can show my children, over and over again, with my actions, my choices, my attempts, and my learning, that they are worthy of love. 

Each hard choice, each forced word, each new path, is a gift to them that they will always hold in their hearts, year after year, for a lifetime. 

If you want to reframe, prepare, and practice for the hard moments, my upcoming Preemptive Discipline Class might be just the thing.  I’d love to share it with you.
Click here to register, or for all the details: Yes! I’m ready to dig deep for love!

I promise you’ll leave the class feeling more confident, less likely to do the things you don’t like doing (ie yelling, spanking, or being mean), and more loving towards yourself and your children.  
I think you’ll love it!  And I’d love to see you there! Give me a call with any questions you have, or to register for the class. If finances are a barrier for you, please consider Full Circle Parenting’s pay-what-you-can program. 
Here’s what one parent said about the class:
“I feel like I finally have a plan to raise our happy, healthy children in keeping with our family’s most important values.  Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Lisa Kathleen!” ~ C.B. (mom of 2 boys) 
You can register HERE to have fun, understand your children better, and learn to handle your triggers in the hard moments, or call me to chat and see if the class is a fit for you!
In joy,
Lisa Kathleen

How To Stop Yelling



It’s amazing how we can completely lose our cool with the people we love the most. We KNOW they’re innocent, and littler than us, and we love them more than anything, but sometimes they push every single button, repeatedly, without mercy.  

And sometimes, we yell. Or say mean things. Or even spank, or hit.

And then, inevitably, we regret it, resolve not to do it again, and try to do better next time.

Here’s what I know: There are ways for you to harness the power of your love for your child to change your behaviour!

Here’s what else I know: There is no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all yelling solution or parenting plan.

Here’s one more thing I know: There are a few things you can do that WILL create permanent changes in the negative dynamic that you’re stuck in.

Here they are:

1) INCREASE UNDERSTANDING: The more you understand WHY your child does what he or she is doing, the more patience you will have with the behaviour. Learn about developmental stages, observe your child closely, and be curious about what your child is expressing, learning or exploring with the behaviour. Formulate a clear understanding of your child’s reason for the behaviour and the pressure will instantly decrease.

2) HAVE A PLAN: Know what your triggers are, and proactively plan to avoid them. When it doesn’t work to avoid them, refer to your back-up plan for stopping yelling immediately. Your plan can be simple, or it can be more complex. Even something as simple as “Take ten deep breaths, and go into the next room for 30 seconds,” will shift your energy around the situation. 

3) KNOW YOUR FEARS: There’s a good chance that your fears are triggers for your anger at your child. If you’re afraid that your child will be like you in some aspect of your personality that has caused you pain, or if you’re afraid that you’re a bad parent unless you can somehow “get” your child to behave better, or if you’re afraid that your in-laws will criticize your parenting if your child whines, then work with those fears. Reframe them, address them, and acknowledge them in the moment. “Yes, I’m afraid that it means I’m a bad mom if my child doesn’t listen to me. I still love myself and my child, and we will get through this.” 

4) HAVE HUMOUR: When your plan isn’t working, compose a funny blog post in your head about the situation, imagine telling your friend about it, or imagine yourself in a cartoon.  Do whatever you can to get out of the emotion and into your head, so that you can THINK instead of acting on the negative feeling. (See “have a plan” for another example of getting into your head.) 

5) FOCUS ON GRATITUDE: Over and over again, come back to gratitude.  The more times in the day that you express gratitude for your child and the relationship, the easier it will be to get past your upset in the moment, and even to access that gratitude in the moment. 

6) DO A PLAY-BY-PLAY: Describe what is going on for you, out loud. “I am so mad that I want to yell and scream and throw stuff. I want to say mean things and I’M NOT GOING TO because I love you so much and because I want to live in a peaceful home! I’m having a tough time, and I want to cry and stomp and do all kinds of stuff!” 

7) IF YOU MUST YELL, CHANNEL MARTIN LUTHER KING: Share your inspiring vision with your children. “I see a family where we all speak kindly to each other and we cooperate to get things done! I see us working together, being a team, and loving each other, even when we’re driving each other a little crazy!”
8) GET IT OUT: At any point, feel free to stomp, cry, or even yell, as long as you are not directing these behaviours in an intimidating way AT your children. Expressing yourself is important, and letting off a little steam in a positive, non-coercive way will help. Yup, that’s right!  Maybe a step in not yelling AT your children is yelling, just to get those big feelings out of your body. Eventually, when you don’t stuff the feelings, you’ll become more and more comfortable expressing them, so the charge won’t build up and cause the hurtful explosion. 
Please comment and let us know your top tips for stopping yelling!  We’d love to hear.
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