Latest Articles from the Blog

The 2 Kinds of Limit-Setting

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Practical Parenting | 0 comments

Limit setting comes in two major flavors: everyday limit setting and limits that reset the emotional system.   Let me help you find your way, my love.   Everyday limit setting has many faces such as Distraction — “No, no…(as you take away the coin your baby is about to swallow). Look at this (handing her a teething ring instead).” Giving choice within the limit — “Do you want to wear the red pants or the blue pants?” (Hidden boundary: you are going to wear pants to the park) Providing reasons for the limit — “You can’t go to the park with Doug because I am worried about the busy road you will have to cross.” (And then you may engage in negotiation to find a “win-win” that meets both of your desires) The majority of the time we will engage in everyday limit setting where we say something like, “Hey Bodhi, please don’t grab the doggies nose like that. It doesn’t feel good to her. Did you see her pulling away?……..Yeah, she doesn’t like that so much. Thanks buddy.” Having been given the information in a non-threatening and non-shaming way, this guideline of ‘not grabbing Smokey’s nose’ can sink in. Now of course, because he is two, he will have years of still being impulsive from time to time and go back to grabbing Smokey’s nose. But with time and patience, his prefrontal cortex will get stronger and stronger and he will become more responsible for acting in kind […] Read more…

The Deeper Meaning of Respect

Posted by on Oct 11, 2014 in Practical Parenting | 1 comment

What is respect? What behaviors are respectful and which are not?   When we see the depths of another being, our heart moves us to bow   As most of you know by now, Essential Parenting is not an authoritarian approach to parenting. I believe parents do need to embody a natural authority in their homes. But I also believe that true authority arises when the people who are being taught or guided feel seen, understood, and loved. This brings us to the roots of the word “respect.” Respect comes from the latin root word, spectare — “to look.” So re-spect means “to look again.” Often times our first reactions to a situation are narcissistic or self-absorbed: we are only seeing it from our perspective. But when we make respect our practice, we stop to look again. How does my daughter feel about this? How does she see it? What does she think is important? What does she want? At least in part, being respectful is taking a moment to see the situation from a wider perspective. Especially respect is seeing more deeply into the inner experience of your child. But respect does not equal “giving her everything she wants.” Another meaning of the latin word spectare is “spirit.” So from this angle, respect can be thought of as “the act of seeing the spirit inside a person or thing.” This approach to being respectful can fundamentally change the way you parent, and the way you live. When we see […] Read more…

Are Limits Really Necessary?

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Practical Parenting | 0 comments

“I want my kids to remain authentic and free. Won’t limits constrict and diminish these gifts of childhood?”   The (not so) unbearable lightness of Being   Children bring us the gift of their vitality, spontaneity, and wildness. As adults, we know all to well the deadened feeling that can come with growing older and becoming more patterned in mind and body. We can become thick with habits and defendedness, living lives that are overly structured and excessively focused on “getting things done.” I don’t know about you, but I want to preserve some of the best parts of childhood for my boys. I want them to be as free and alive as possible. And yet the research on this is quite clear: children who do not experience appropriate boundaries — set in a loving way with a good bit of autonomy sprinkled in — do not fare well on average.   “Discipline leads to freedom.” The Buddha   Researcher Dianne Baumrind found, after looking at many studies of parenting styles and the general outcomes of their children, that children who do not receive reasonable guidance and limits on their behavior tend to Be more self-centered Have less impulse control Have poorer capacity for self-regulation Have more difficulty with social relationships And have less motivation to become more competent So just like the Buddha said over 2000 years ago, “discipline leads to freedom.”   What do I mean when I use the word discipline? As we detailed in Mindful Discipline, discipline […] Read more…