My Personal Parenting Philosophy

My parenting philosophy is an ongoing ever-expanding thing. As I continue to learn and acquire new understandings about children and family relationships, the tools I have to share with you grow as well.

Child Development

First and foremost, I started out a student of Child Development. I firmly believe in starting with an understanding of the capabilities of children according to brain development, social development, emotional development, and physical development. Parents need to get their level of expectation in alignment with what science has documented children are capable of. It is a set up for frustration or learned helplessness to have these out of alignment. For example, two years olds do not have impulse control and will go after that dog's tail again and again, so don't expect it them to stop just by your words. Five year olds can and should dress themselves so set this as an expectation.

Influence of Alfred Adler

I have been profoundly influenced by the Austrian medical doctor and psychologist, Alfred Adler who is considered one the greatest founding influences of modern psychology. Adler developed the notion that all human beings share the common need for belonging and significance. When children feel connected, loved, understood, and important, they will exhibit wonderful behavior. When they do not feel these things, they will exhibit challenging, disruptive, annoying behavior in an attempt to let you know they are hurting.

He also believed in a democratic family structure. Not one where everyone has the same authority, parents do need to hold the authorative role, but one in which everyone has equal rights to respectful and dignified treatment, and a right to voice opinions and feelings.

Positive Discipline

Rudolph Dreikers took Adlerian theories and developed a modern day application for parents to follow. Inspired by Adler and Dreikers, Jane Nelson took these idea and has written many Positive Discipline books and co-created the Positive Discipline Association. The Positive Discipline approach is one of which I have applied throughout all my years of teaching and parenting. (

The Positive Discipline model that I promote, teaches that parenting can be kind AND firm at the same time. We are familiar with the firm parenting style where the parent rules the house and we are familiar with the kind parenting style which can be overindulgent and lacks backbone. But mixing these two opposing ideas is new for many. Yes, you can smile and say, "No," at the same time.

Effective Long-Term Tools

The model of parenting I promote also lets go of the old ideas of punishment and rewards as the main tools to shape behavior. These two tools have short-term success at best and create more difficulties at worst. I support a host of other effective long-term tools, such as stating the expectations clearly, saying what you mean and following through with dignity, refraining from rescuing your child from natural consequences, using empathy and humor, forging agreements together, holding family meetings, allowing cool-off time and returning to the discussion later (as opposed to punitive time-outs), creating one-on-one time, listening first before telling/advising/lecturing.