Parent Workshop


Once upon a time when I was a young mom and an ele­men­tary school teacher I felt pretty sat­is­fied with my abil­i­ties and accom­plish­ments. I was doing it all well. I was doing my best. But I was wrong. It was when I took a course to help stu­dents become more respon­si­ble that I real­ized how easy it was make things bet­ter. I was taught spe­cific strate­gies that impacted the qual­ity of my life in a huge way. I real­ized the impor­tance of par­ent edu­ca­tion and it was then that I started on this jour­ney to make par­ent edu­ca­tion more com­mon­place. In my expe­ri­ence, both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional, moms and dads who are aware of par­ent­ing strate­gies enjoy more peace­ful par­ent­ing and most impor­tantly, raise chil­dren that are bet­ter adjusted, resilient and inde­pen­dent.

I recently became cer­ti­fied to teach a par­ent­ing pro­gram called SYSTEMATIC TRAINING FOR EFFECTIVE PARENTING or STEP. It is well respected and evi­dence based. The train­ing I received reminded me of sev­eral strate­gies that I knew, but had for­got­ten. I have since employed some of those strate­gies with my cur­rent stu­dents and was very pleased with the results. Children became more coop­er­a­tive and worked with greater moti­va­tion. It’s just a reminder that we all need refresh­ers. Elevating our par­ent­ing skills needs to be a high pri­or­ity. I know you agree. STEP has renewed my pas­sion to edu­cate par­ents and I am thrilled to share this knowl­edge with you.

I will be host­ing work­shops on an ongo­ing basis. Exact dates and times will soon be announced and will be flex­i­ble to accom­mo­date busy sched­ules.

Beginning work­shops will meet in my liv­ing room so it will be an inti­mate set­ting. The cost is $250 for the entire 7 week pro­gram with a 30% dis­count for your par­ent­ing part­ner. The only addi­tional cost is the par­ent hand­book which can be pur­chased on Amazon or directly from STEP pub­lish­ers

Please let me know if you are inter­ested in attend­ing. We will then set a time that works for every­one. I promise you a most valu­able expe­ri­ence.


All For Your Family

new book

All For Your Family

The fol­low­ing arti­cle in Huffington Post high­lights 26 things good par­ents should not do to avoid screw­ing up their kids. Today’s par­ents tend to dote, con­trol and live through their chil­dren. I just hap­pen to have a new book, hot off the press, which explains how par­ents can make these changes and why it is so impor­tant. It makes a per­fect present for new and not so new par­ents. I think you will all love the cover 🙂 

All For Your Family, by Sharon Youngman

Available on Amazon


Learning from Mistakes



Learning from Mistakes

There is a fine line between pro­tec­tion and con­trol. As a new mom, I had this over­whelm­ing desire to shield my baby from pain, sad­ness and any­thing else that was less than won­der­ful. Babies require 100% pro­tec­tion, how­ever babies grow and our expec­ta­tions need to grow accord­ingly. As new par­ents, my hus­band and I catered to our child’s whims and wishes a lit­tle too much because we didn’t like to see him sad. Before we knew it, we were entrenched in bad habits that led to giv­ing in to their demands, help­ing too much and mak­ing excuses for bad behav­ior. We par­ented too much from our hearts.

A nat­ural con­se­quence occurs nat­u­rally. Touching a hot stove will pro­vide an imme­di­ate con­se­quence. That is guar­an­teed. Of course we don’t want to let our chil­dren get hurt phys­i­cally.  However, there are many sit­u­a­tions or choices chil­dren make that result in sad feel­ings rather than phys­i­cal injury. In those sit­u­a­tions, it may be wise to allow nat­ural con­se­quences to unfold

I can’t imag­ine a par­ent not show­er­ing their child with love and praise. There are many times that par­ents will con­sciously choose to pro­tect their child the con­se­quences of their mis­takes. When you are faced with a choice between pro­tect­ing your child and let­ting them expe­ri­ence the nat­ural con­se­quence, it is help­ful to think about what is in your child’s best inter­est in the long run. What would be gained from step­ping back as com­pared to shield­ing them? You want your child to feel loved uncon­di­tion­ally, but you have to be care­ful to clearly com­mu­ni­cate your expec­ta­tions for respon­si­ble behav­ior. A child that feels they are free to make mis­takes and get away with­out con­se­quence may not work hard for good grades, may not learn to be finan­cial respon­si­ble, and may also engage in activ­i­ties that are dan­ger­ous.

Allowing nat­ural con­se­quences to occur in every­day life can be far from auto­matic. It may actu­ally be more nat­ural for a par­ent to pro­tect their child rather than see them suf­fer. It is my phi­los­o­phy that there are many times par­ents should allow mis­takes in life to teach impor­tant lessons.  As a par­ent, you get to make those deci­sions as the sit­u­a­tions arise. While eval­u­at­ing your options, I encour­age you to con­sider long term rather than short term goals.


Parenting A Child With An Eye Towards Adulthood



My dar­ling daugh­ter sent me an arti­cle about par­ent­ing. She encour­aged me to write a sim­i­lar one. I read it and loved it. The author is a writer by pro­fes­sion and clearly has a gift. I wish I could write so well. The author admits that she is not a par­ent­ing expert but I was struck with how she zeroed in on some gems of wis­dom, most impor­tantly, the idea of par­ent­ing now for the adult you want in the future. She hinted at some strate­gies to accom­plish that goal. For instance, lov­ing our chil­dren but not to the point that you make excuses for bad behav­ior elud­ing to the ben­e­fit of let­ting chil­dren fail so they become more respon­si­ble. Another vari­able in par­ent­ing is the nat­ural instinct to see our chil­dren as exten­sions of our­selves. This is a deep, deep issue and rec­og­niz­ing that ten­dency in our­selves is huge.

In my book, “Strengthen Your Parenting Muscle,” I go into much more detail and pro­vide many strate­gies to sup­port fam­i­lies. It is avail­able on Amazon and is both worth­while as well as a quick read.







I am writ­ing this blog entry as I am liv­ing it. Most, really all, of my blogs speak from a place of expe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence. I have prac­ticed what I preach and know my insights and strate­gies can be very help­ful and effec­tive.

Today I am inspired to dis­cuss an issue that has long eluded me and it’s time to deal with it.


Ahhhh, I even love the sound of it. A per­fect evening, per­fect weather, a per­fect career, and of course per­fect chil­dren.

How crazy is it that I would strive for per­fec­tion in my chil­dren? How crazy is it that fam­i­lies live in an envi­ron­ment where chil­dren are com­pared and judged. Is my child pop­u­lar, are they smart, are they ath­letic and how beau­ti­ful are they?

Clearly no per­son, young or small can be per­fect. Perfect doesn’t even exist. But striv­ing for that goal, or want­ing that life, dimin­ishes the life we have.

At the Emmy award this year some­one and I can­not remem­ber who, thanked their mom for not wor­ry­ing about him. Imagine what that means.  Think about why we worry about our chil­dren. Do we want them to be dif­fer­ent? Does our worry impact them in a neg­a­tive way? Does it detract from their con­fi­dence level because clearly mom or dad may be con­cerned?

My goal these past years is to have patience and con­fi­dence. Set aside worry and live in the moment. It is huge for me as I tend to worry, and often need­lessly. But giv­ing up the idea of per­fec­tion and accept­ing what­ever it is I have, that would bring me peace of mind and that would be much bet­ter than per­fec­tion.




Parenting Styles



Parenting styles are as diverse as peo­ple. Our atti­tudes about par­ent­ing are often affected by our par­ents in that we either repli­cate or go the other way. New par­ents may eval­u­ate par­ent­ing styles in a more aca­d­e­mic fash­ion and choose a phi­los­o­phy based on research and per­sonal deci­sions.

As a par­ent edu­ca­tor I respect all par­ent­ing styles and only help par­ents learn strate­gies to help with goals they desire to reach. If some­one were to ask me my opin­ion I would rec­om­mend par­ent­ing less from the heart and more from the head.

I was struck today by the con­trast of par­ent styles I wit­nessed. One dad told me that his pol­icy is Get Over It.  When his chil­dren whine about their feel­ings being hurt or a dis­ap­point­ment he says: “get over it!” This is not a com­fort­able way for me per­son­ally and I am not sure he responds in that fash­ion as often as he states, but the effect of not rein­forc­ing a child’s sad­ness may indeed be that the child learns to be strong and less sen­si­tive. It could also result in neg­a­tive per­son­al­ity traits. On the same day a fam­ily came to see me for tutor­ing. The child was famil­iar with me and our activ­i­ties but decided not to coop­er­ate and would not even resign to come into my home. Trying to be a sen­si­tive and under­stand­ably alert to some warn­ing signs, the mom stayed with her son as he tantrumed for a pro­longed period of time. I sug­gested that the mom cease pay­ing atten­tion to her son and that she and I engage in con­ver­sa­tion. Five min­utes later the lit­tle boy stopped cry­ing, engaged with me and was able to sep­a­rate from mom and par­tic­i­pate in our tutor­ing ses­sion.

Paying close atten­tion to a child’s feel­ings is an approach I per­son­ally feel com­fort­able with. In this sit­u­a­tion, how­ever, it was clear that the child was seemed scared but was really act­ing the part. Reinforcing this behav­ior would even­tu­ally lead to more of the same. Trusting that he was in no dan­ger and that he was in capa­ble and car­ing hands dimin­ished the power of his manip­u­la­tion. If the mom had not respected my opin­ion she would have ended the ses­sion and never come back. The child’s behav­ior would become more pow­er­ful and destruc­tive.

As par­ents learn to address their child’s needs it is help­ful to get in touch with their own moti­va­tions and the ulti­mate effect on their child. Perhaps send­ing a mes­sage to a child that their feel­ings don’t mat­ter, in the case of the get over it dad, is a bit heart­less but allow­ing a child to con­trol the entire fam­ily because their feel­ings are of pri­mary impor­tance can be just as dam­ag­ing.

The answer; par­ent con­sciously and notice what you pay atten­tion to. Your child looks to you as they learn to nav­i­gate their world. 


Calm Down



Teaching Self-Calming Skills

by Jessica Minahan on January 30, 2013
The fol­low­ing was an arti­cle directed to teach­ers to help chil­dren calm down. This is a noble goal but con­sid­er­ing all that teach­ers must do these days it is highly unlikely that a teacher can use this tech­niques as often as it may be needed.
Parents, how­ever, could cer­tainly ben­e­fit from this approach. I espe­cially like the ther­mome­ter strat­egy. Becoming more self aware is a highly effec­tive tool when prac­ticed at times of calm rather than dur­ing an inci­dent. 
The fol­low­ing was taken directly from the arti­cle so you can pick and choose what makes sense to you.

You need to calm down.” This is some­thing I hear a lot in my work as a behav­ior spe­cial­ist when a stu­dent starts to get agitated—answering rudely, refus­ing to work, mak­ing insult­ing com­ments or whin­ing. A teacher might tell a child to “go sit in the bean­bag chair and calm down” or sim­ply “relax.”

The prob­lem is, many stu­dents don’t know how to calm down. This is espe­cially true for chil­dren who dis­play chronic agi­ta­tion or defi­ance.

File 1947When a child behaves inap­pro­pri­ately, I find that it’s almost always due to an under­de­vel­oped skill. Recognizing and teach­ing under­de­vel­oped skills is one of the key strate­gies Nancy Rappaport and I talk about in our book, The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students.

All chil­dren will ben­e­fit from learn­ing self-calm­ing skills, but for some chil­dren, learn­ing this skill is so essen­tial to their suc­cess at school that it’s impor­tant that class­room teach­ers focus on it as well as spe­cial­ists, such as coun­selors and spe­cial edu­ca­tors.

What’s the best way to teach self-calm­ing skills to an indi­vid­ual child in your class­room? Here are three sim­ple steps to take:

1. Teach the student to identify emotions.

Students who exhibit anger in the class­room are often described as “going from 0-to-60 in a split sec­ond.” In real­ity, how­ever, the student’s emo­tions prob­a­bly grew more grad­u­ally from calm to frus­trated to anger, but the teacher (and the child) didn’t notice the build-up.

Teaching a stu­dent to iden­tify this esca­la­tion is essen­tial if she’s to learn how to catch her­self on the way up. A help­ful tool to use is an emo­tional ther­mome­ter. When the child is calm, share the graphic with her, explain­ing how emo­tions often grow in inten­sity from calm to frus­trated to angry. Give the child a copy of the ther­mome­ter and ask her to pay atten­tion to where she is on it at dif­fer­ent times of the day over the course of a few weeks, check­ing in with the child as needed to dis­cuss what she is notic­ing.

Another way to teach a stu­dent to iden­tify emo­tions is to do a “body check.” When you notice signs of frus­tra­tion first begin­ning, label it for the child and explain how you know: “Your shoul­ders are hunched and your fists are clenched, so I can see you’re frus­trated right now.” Over time, the child will learn to iden­tify when she’s frus­trated with­out your cues.

2. Teach the student self-calming strategies.

Once a stu­dent can iden­tify when he’s frus­trated or angry, he can then make use of a calm­ing strat­egy. However, find­ing the right strat­egy for a spe­cific stu­dent is like find­ing the per­fect pair of shoes—you may have to try a few out before find­ing the right fit.

Also, stu­dents who are just learn­ing to iden­tify their feel­ings of frus­tra­tion may need fre­quent reminders to uti­lize a par­tic­u­lar strat­egy. The calm­ing strate­gies I have found to be most use­ful with ele­men­tary school stu­dents include:

  • Reading a book
  • Deep breath­ing
  • Listening to music
  • Drawing
  • Yoga stretches
3. Practice with the student.

Like any skill, prac­tice is key. Each day, at a time when the stu­dent is calm, ask her to role play what she looks/acts like when she is frus­trated or anx­ious. Then ask her to prac­tice her self-calm­ing strate­gies.

To make the prac­tice most effec­tive, have the stu­dent do the role-play in the area of the class­room she’s most likely to go when she’s actu­ally upset, such as the read­ing area or bean­bag chair. Then when she goes there in a moment of frus­tra­tion, she’ll be more able to use the cor­rect strat­egy in that space.

Some stu­dents will learn these skills quickly, and oth­ers will need con­tin­ued sup­port over time. Self-calm­ing train­ing takes only a few min­utes a day but it’s impor­tant that you focus on it daily with a child until you see the child begin­ning to take hold of the tech­niques. Not only can it pre­vent chal­leng­ing behav­ior moments in the future, but it is an essen­tial skill for suc­cess at school, at home and in social set­tings.


Show Faith and Increase Independence

Another gem from Jane Nelson.…my hero 🙂 

One of the biggest mis­takes some par­ents and teach­ers make, when they decide to do Positive Discipline, is becom­ing too per­mis­sive because they don’t want to be puni­tive. Some mis­tak­enly believe they are being kind when they res­cue their chil­dren, and pro­tect them from all dis­ap­point­ment. This is not being kind; it is being per­mis­sive. Being kind means to be respect­ful of the child and of your­self. It is not respect­ful to pam­per chil­dren. It is not respect­ful to res­cue them from every dis­ap­point­ment so they don’t have the oppor­tu­nity to develop their dis­ap­point­ment mus­cles. It is respect­ful to val­i­date their feel­ings, “I can see that you are dis­ap­pointed (or angry, or upset, etc.).” Then it is respect­ful to have faith in chil­dren that they can sur­vive dis­ap­point­ment and develop a sense of capa­bil­ity in the process.

Have faith in chil­dren to han­dle their own prob­lems. (Offer sup­port through val­i­dat­ing feel­ings or giv­ing a hug, but not by res­cu­ing or fix­ing.)


It is also impor­tant to take time for train­ing. Adults often expect chil­dren to accom­plish tasks for which there has not been ade­quate train­ing. This is more typ­i­cal in homes than in schools. Parents may expect chil­dren to clean their rooms, but never teach them how. Children go into their messy rooms and feel over­whelmed. It may be help­ful to clean the room with your chil­dren until they have more train­ing. This is also a great way to cre­ate con­nec­tion.


Be sure and use “Curiosity Questions.” (We will be cov­er­ing curios­ity ques­tions in a later blog post.) Instead of telling chil­dren what to do, ask curios­ity ques­tions. “Where do your dirty clothes go?” “What do we need to do before we can vac­uum the floor?” Children are great prob­lem solvers when we give them a chance.


Patience is prob­a­bly the most dif­fi­cult part of show­ing faith in our chil­dren. It is almost always more expe­di­ent to solve prob­lems for our chil­dren. This is par­tic­u­larly true when we are under time pres­sures.   In these cases we can take time later to explore solu­tions for the future. Ask your chil­dren exploratory ques­tions. “What hap­pened?” “What caused it to hap­pen?” “What did you learn?” “What can you do in the future?”

When time pres­sures are not an issue, prac­tice hav­ing patience with your chil­dren. Allow them to prob­lem solve on their own. Allow them to feel a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ment. Allow them to work through their feel­ings. They will need these skills in the future.

It may help to remem­ber that who your chil­dren are today, is not who they will be for­ever. Someday they will be nag­ging their own chil­dren to put their dishes in the sink and to clean their rooms.  Remember that exam­ple is the best teacher. Model what you want for your chil­dren, take time for train­ing so they learn skills, have reg­u­lar fam­ily meet­ings, and then have lots of faith in them to become the best they can be.


How We Encourage Arguing


How We Encourage Arguing

Ever see par­ents going back and forth with their chil­dren about the impor­tance of some­thing?

The par­ent comes up with all sorts of log­i­cal rea­sons why the child should do some­thing and the child responds with their own rea­sons why they don’t want to. Very often and clearly depend­ing on the age, the child’s ONLY rea­son is:

 I     DON’T     WANT TO

which is usu­ally accom­pa­nied by a well refined whine and those hard to resist sad eyes.

The other day a par­ent was telling me how their child wasn’t so into being tutored any­more, yet her tutor­ing was super impor­tant as she almost had to repeat a grade and was just reach­ing grade level per­for­mance. Giving up the tutor­ing was not an option.  The mom, try­ing to change her daughter’s mind, kept on point­ing out the impor­tance of read­ing and how much she will love get­ting lost in books. The daugh­ter had her own set of argu­ments which included……I don’t want to. The dance con­tin­ued. The mom, when asked if she were will­ing to stop the ses­sions, said no. I explained that by respond­ing to her daughter’s protests she was indi­cat­ing a will­ing­ness to change her mind.  I advised her to stop engag­ing in the argu­ment and repeat clearly and firmly, I love you but the answer is no.

I, as an adult had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence when I was forced to stop my own argu­ing and coop­er­ate. We were stand­ing in line for a play at Delacourte Theater in Central Park. The tick­ets are free and the rules are clear. Get in line, friends may not join you, do not leave the park. It is not unusual for peo­ple to begin lin­ing up for these won­der­ful free per­for­mances as early as 5 AM.

My friend and I got in line at 6:35 AM and were fairly close to the front. At 9:30 AM we took a walk in the park, leav­ing our chairs and bags to be watched by the peo­ple in front of us. Upon our return we were told that the employ­ees guard­ing the line were ask­ing where we were. About an hour later they returned and ques­tioned us about our dis­ap­pear­ance. When I finally asked what they were get­ting at, I was told that we would have to move to the end of what was now a very long line. As ridicu­lous as this was, they made it clear that this ver­dict was not chang­ing. Once I real­ized that my fate was sealed I did what they asked. Was I angry? Sure. But I stopped argu­ing. The deliv­ery of their deci­sion, the tone of their voice and their body lan­guage, sent the mes­sage that noth­ing I could say would change their mind. By the way, we sucked up our indig­na­tion, were relieved that we still got tick­ets and saw an incred­i­ble show later that evening.

Discussing pros and cons with your chil­dren are part of the daily con­ver­sa­tions that teach val­ues and encour­age inde­pen­dence. They are valu­able. But when a par­ent makes a deci­sion the child will ben­e­fit from the clar­ity that no amount of argu­ing is going to change the sit­u­a­tion. The child can move on with respect for their parent’s author­ity. Once the pout­ing if over a more pleas­ant con­ver­sa­tion can be enjoyed.



Increase Responsibility Using A Checklist

There’s A Checklist For That

Everyday rou­tines can be exhaust­ing.

You know the kids are going to:
Ignore you
Put up a fuss
Do it slowly or poorly

You are tired of get­ting aggra­vated so you:
Give up and do it your­self
Or learn to let them do it it their own way

Many sit­u­a­tions fall into this dance of par­ent and child:
Getting ready for school
Coming home from school
Helping with chores
Cleaning room

Though there are many things that we try to ana­lyze and per­fect, for many rea­sons par­ents often resign to the stan­dard
prac­tices that come nat­u­rally but may not be effec­tive. When we take the time to eval­u­ate we can make big changes. A check­list, com­bined with bet­ter under­stand­ing can pro­vide har­mony in the home and more respon­si­ble chil­dren.

Sarah was a mom of 3 dar­ling girls ages 2, 4 and 6.
She fre­quently com­plained that the girls ganged up on her and it was espe­cially ter­ri­ble at bed­time.
Gymnastics in the bed­room includ­ing jump­ing on bed and using the win­dow sill as a bal­ance beam was their rou­tine. Once in bed the party con­tin­ued, start­ing with soft whis­pers and soon esca­lat­ing into wild laugher. Often the girls would sneak out of bed and get mas­sive amounts of food with­out the par­ents hav­ing a clue, only to find the remains under the bed the fol­low­ing day.

1- Examine and trou­ble shoot
What might be inter­fer­ing with your intended goal?
      When we exam­ined the sit­u­a­tion we saw that the girls had got­ten into a rou­tine that needed to be stopped in order to see change. The 6 year old, deprived of night time rest had resorted to tak­ing a long nap in school which made it harder for her to be tired at night.

The plan was to cre­ate a new look to bed­time. The fam­ily, includ­ing the girls and I made a check­list of what needed to hap­pen once the bed­time rou­tine was ini­ti­ated. Since one of the prob­lems was the amount of time mom spent talk­ing and read­ing at
bed­time we added a time com­po­nent so cud­dling and read­ing was rea­son­able. Talking would be saved for day­light hours, at least till things fell into place. I took pic­tures of them to fur­ther invite buy in. The neces­sity of sleep was explained. They knew that most flu­ids would stop after 6:00 and the restroom would be used prior to bed­time so access to the bath­room was not going to be granted. They also knew.…..and this was super impor­tant.…. that mom would be sta­tioned out­side their door and would know if there was any talk­ing or whis­per­ing.
2- Create a check­list
Think about what it would look like if your child inde­pen­dently, or close toin­de­pen­dently, began and fin­ished the cho­sen rou­tine. A bare bones approach is just as effec­tive as one that gives lots of details. Logic and the par­tic­u­lars of your sit­u­a­tion will guide your deci­sion. Do a run through to check for accu­racy.
• Let your child be involved with the sequence of events
• Have your child pose for pic­tures for each step. iPads make insert­ing pics very easy
exam­ple for Going to Sleep:
Take a bath
Put on paja­mas
Eat a snack
Brush teeth
Story time:15 min­utes
Cuddle time: 5 min­utes each
Close eyes, think of some­thing nice

The reward for a suc­cess­ful bed­time would be a prize that they had already picked out.
After many suc­cess­ful bed­times the girls tran­si­tioned to a star chart which trans­lated to a fun fam­ily trip. Now it’s just their rou­tine and rewards are unnec­es­sary.

The day we began mom and dad made sure the girls were tired out from the day. The check­list was brought out and the girls coop­er­ated. Once they got into bed the lights in the entire apart­ment were turned off.
Mom made sure they could clearly see her right out­side the room tak­ing away the temp­ta­tion of get­ting out of bed to assess the sit­u­a­tion.
They had rel­a­tively few issues and after only one bath­room request (which was ignored) and one warn­ing about whis­pers, they fell asleep
within min­utes.
Mom kept expect­ing the drama to start but the evening was unevent­ful, with the excep­tion of the silent cheers of a relieved mom and dad.

As the days unfolded the girls con­tin­ued to embrace this new rou­tine. The effect of har­mony at bed­time had pos­i­tive effects in the day­time as well includ­ing increased respect and coop­er­a­tion. School time naps ended and the teacher reported bet­ter focus.
I know that this sit­u­a­tion was extreme but the same process can be applied to more mild issues.
A mom I worked with was mis­er­able about how her child kept com­ing home from school and dropped their stuff all over.
She said she’s tried every­thing but a con­ver­sa­tion with her child which resulted in a jointly cre­ated check­list solved the prob­lem.