Topic: Parenting

Do Time-Outs Work? It’s Time to Reframe the Question

Are time-outs an effective strategy for parents to cope with children’s challenging behaviors? Before I studied early childhood development, I occasionally used time-outs with my own children because they were touted as an effective and appropriate discipline technique. Decades later, a debate is raging about whether or not this is true. A recent Time article tried […]

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Are Baby-Soothing Gizmos a Good Parenting Choice?

Years ago, as a sleep-deprived mother of a colicky baby, I once felt so desperate after trying every imaginable way to soothe my crying infant that I finally placed her in her car seat atop the washing machine, holding her in place with one hand as the washer rumbled below. After a few minutes of […]

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Top-Down and Bottom-Up Behaviors: Understanding the Critical Difference

Did you know that there are (at least) 2 different kinds of behaviors? Most people don’t. I didn’t, even after years of college, training, and earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Most graduate programs in mental health, education, social work, and medicine don’t yet consider this dichotomy important enough to teach or train about. But […]

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Why Being a Happy Mom (or Dad) is a Gift to Our Children

Mother’s Day always transports me back to my days as a young mom, juggling my psychology practice with the activities of our household: three young children, a wonderful husband, and a rambunctious dog named Lacy. With all three girls active on their soccer teams and their dad serving as coach, we sometimes needed a spreadsheet […]

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Challenging Behaviors: Why We Shouldn’t Expect Kids to Self-Regulate Too Soon

Five-year-old Nathan was excited about a family outing to the zoo, but his mother worried he would not be able to control his behavior. So she explained her carefully devised plan. She had ten gummy bear candies with her. If Nathan behaved well, she would give him all ten at the end of the visit. […]

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He’s Having a Meltdown! Four Possible Triggers—and How to React

In my last post, I suggested that we should appreciate meltdowns for what they are: a child’s way of signaling that he needs something from the adults around him—or from his environment.  When a child experiences a meltdown or tantrum or acts aggressively, he is communicating that he has exceeded his ability to intentionally control his […]

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The Body Tells the Story: The Promise of Sense Technology in Supporting Vulnerable Children

Improving the well-being of children and families is a priority for Dr. Rosalind Picard, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies “affective computing,” which uses sense technology to increase individuals’well-being using new ways to understand and respond to emotion. Dr. Picard has developed wearable sensors that reveal an individual’s level of cognitive, emotional, […]

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The Expectation Gap: When Do Toddlers Have Control Over their Behaviors?

Toddlers are wildly and wonderfully unpredictable. One minute, your little girl might be happily conversing with you, and the next, she’s out of control, rolling on the floor in agony because she can’t have that cupcake she just spotted on a TV commercial.  For parents, this seemingly unpredictable lack of emotional control can be exasperating […]

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The Essential Question to Ask Before You Discipline a Toddler

Susan was enjoying a weekend breakfast with her family when her three-year-old son, “Marcus”, suddenly hit his big sister. When Susan reached out to pick him up, Marcus abruptly threw his head back, knocking Susan in the mouth so hard that she bled. Susan was stunned, at once furious and confused. Why did her son […]

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