108: How Our Parenting Style Affects Our Kids: A Your Child Explained Episode

To hear today’s episode, scroll to the bottom of this post and hit the triangular “play” button. Enjoy the show!

About episode 108:

During my recent conversation with American Academy of Pediatrics president Dr. Benard Dreyer, about the key role that parents play in preventing their kids from getting something scary called toxic stress, different parenting styles came up.

Today, in this Your Child Explained episode where we are always figuring out what’s going on inside our kids heads, we take a closer look at the different parenting styles and what each looks like from our children’s perspective. We also dig into the idea of grit, why it’s important and how our kids can get it.

Click weturnedoutokay.com/108 to read more about the three different parenting styles and the promotion of grit, view a great TED talk, and to listen to today’s episode!

In the child-development biz, we think of 3 kinds of parenting:
– authoritarian, where we parents demand obedience but without a lot of support for our kids
– permissive, where we support our kids in everything but fail to provide structure through high expectations and discipline
– authoritative (often called “wise”), where we combine the best aspects of authoritarian and permissive parenting

Guess which of those three we are aiming for?
Yep, we want to be wise parents, giving our kids tons of support – and combining that with high expectations, reasoned discipline (no hitting!), and structure.

Today, we carry the idea of wise parenting one step further by talking about mom and researcher Angela Duckworth’s amazing book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Way back in episode two, called Foster True Grit and recorded more than a year before I’d ever heard of Angela Duckworth, I share about how to figure out what motivates your child to work hard at something (listen by going to weturnedoutokay.com/002).

Grit, the book, shares Duckworth’s extensive research and insights into the characteristics of people who finish what they start, who stick with something despite adversity.

This is definitely a quality we want in our kids!

Looking through our children’s eyes, we parents can help them have grit, Duckworth writes, in a really cool way:

By possessing grit ourselves.

By following through, not giving up, powering through setbacks – and doing this in front of our kids. When kids see us being gritty, they emulate that.

Isn’t that cool?

Key Links:

Listen to Tuesday’s guest episode with American Academy of Pediatrics president, Dr. Benard Dreyer, by clicking weturnedoutokay.com/107.

Learn how true grit helped my Max become a snowboarder – and how it can help your child – by clicking weturnedoutokay.com/002.

Click here to check out Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit.

107: Toxic Stress, Child Development, and Your Questions – American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Benard Dreyer Joins Me Today

President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Benard Dreyer
President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Benard Dreyer

To listen to today’s episode, scroll on down to the bottom of this post and hit the triangular “play” button.

About today’s episode:

With the school year starting, a contentious election giving the feeling of continual hate and negativity in the air, and reports of yet another thing for parents to be worried about – toxic stress in their young children – I knew we needed some voices of reason in our lives.

This conversation marks the beginning of a series of interviews I’m offering this fall called Voices of Reason, where we hear from well-known and influential people with something to say that will make you feel better about the world you’re raising your young children in.

I hope this series helps you get through the next few months with less worry and more hope in your life!

Today’s guest is the head of an organization with many voices of reason…

In all likelihood your child’s pediatrician is among them, because the organization is the American Academy of Pediatrics, and today I have the privilege of bringing you my conversation with the AAP’s president, Dr. Benard Dreyer.

Over the summer I started to hear about this scary thing happening in younger and younger kids, called toxic stress. What I read chilled me to the bone: exposure to violence, deprivation, and neglect can affect kids’ development in a lifelong way, both physically and mentally.

In his capacity as President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Dreyer is working to raise awareness of this condition, and to help parents combat it.

But our conversation brings up much more than that.

We discuss the holy grail of parenting styles – the authoritative, sometimes called wise, style – and the kind of traits authoritative parents exhibit; Dr. Dreyer answers your questions about toxic stress, how to get kids to eat healthy foods, and the problems of antibiotics resistance; and Dr. Dreyer gives his three most important things parents can do each and every day to raise happy, curious, and resilient children.

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/107 to listen, for detailed notes about our conversation, learn about the AAP’s campaign against virtual violence,and to find out how to contact Dr. Dreyer!

As soon as I heard his voice, I knew that this was going to be a special conversation. Dr. Dreyer is warm, passionate, and driven – he starts his day at 3 AM – to help young children and their families live good, happy lives.

Toxic stress, Dr. Dreyer shares, happens especially in places with lots of poverty and violence. When parents have continual stress on them, with limited or no food or money and other problems that many people face, the children in their lives cannot depend on food when they are hungry or sometimes an adult to comfort and care for them. Days and days of it, over an extended period of time, create the toxic, chronic type of stress that is most dangerous, the kind that affects not just these kids’ childhoods but their whole lives, too.

Listener Michelle asks: what, if anything, can be done to counteract the effects of those negative childhood experiences?
– Dr. Dreyer responds by saying “what I would say to a parent is: so, tell me about your stress.. because toxic stress in children is almost exclusively happening in families where the parents are totally stressed out.”

Listener Sabrina asks about kids and food: “how do children’s palates develop and is there a range of development? For example, do most kids not like broccoli (and many other veggies) because their palate just isn’t developed yet? Do some kids have more sensitivities in sight, smell, and taste of foods?
– Dr. Dreyer responds that really, it’s up to us parents to help our kids’ palates develop; often, parents will try a new food once or twice and conclude that their child just does not like that food. But it turns out that regular exposure to fresh, well-prepared foods over time expand a child’s palate. (I love this answer, because it’s such gentle, common sense advice 🙂

My good friend and listener Adele had a question about antibiotics: so many young children get your infections each year, and it seems like some pediatricians are quicker than others to put the child on antibiotics… What are your own opinions on antibiotic use, and what is the official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics on this topic?
– Dr. Dreyer shares that the Academy recommends what he calls “judicious waiting” in most cases before putting a child on antibiotics. He goes on to share that antibiotic use in children isn’t really the biggest concern with antibiotic resistance, that in fact antibiotics prescribed to adults are bigger issue and the biggest issue is when animals are fed antibiotics to help them grow bigger on their way to becoming meat for our consumption.

Towards the end of our conversation, I ask Dr. Dreyer:

There’s a lot of clutter out there in the world of parenting, lots of competing messages, fear, and crazy busy-ness in parents’ every day lives. If a parent could do just one thing each and every day – make a habit of just one thing as they raise their young children – what would you recommend as that one thing?
– I loved this answer too, because he can’t whittle it down to just one; but the three Dr. Dreyer come up with make so much sense:
1) Love your child
2) Talk with your child, no matter how young, and try to answer questions and include your son or daughter in your world
3) Read to your child

The simplicity of this answer seems so beautiful to me, and really sums up our conversation well.

I’m so grateful to have had such a nice long chat with a man who has spent his entire adulthood working on behalf of children, and who is doing so much good in the world today!

Key Links:

Dr. Dreyer shares the book that first drew his interest to a career in pediatrics: The Magic Yearsby Selma H. Fraiberg and T. Barry Brazelton.

We talk at the beginning of our conversation about virtual violence, the images children cannot avoid daily because of news in places like doughnut shops and doctors offices – and their parents’ smart phones; click here to read about the AAP’s policy and recommendations to keep virtual violence out of your young child’s life.

I share one of my current favorite books, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth.

If you have a follow-up question for Dr. Dreyer, contact him here: (to prevent crazy spam, I’m spelling this out and asking you to substitute the necessary characters for my substitutions) bpd1 atsign nyumc dot org.

106: Join the Homework Revolt

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll on down to the bottom of this post and hit the triangular “play” button.

Notes on today’s episode:

Do you worry that your child is getting too much homework for his or her young age?

Do you stress out over the nightly fits as said homework is being accomplished?

Then, you’re going to love today’s episode – it turns out that homework and young children do not mix, and this fall people are standing up and saying “I’m protecting my kid from the scourge of homework!”

For key links and expanded show notes about how to join the revolution, click weturnedoutokay.com/106!

Recently I read a news story about Brandy Young, a second-grade teacher in Texas who sent a wonderful letter home with her students their first day. In part it reads:

“There will be no formally assigned homework this year.… Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner together as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

For my oldest, homework in kindergarten and first grade caused a huge amount of daily stress. Max lost twenty percent of his body weight in first grade, was diagnosed with migraine by six years old, and had the most horrible night terrors most nights of the school year (if you’ve listened to my show for more than three minutes, you know this… You also know how painful it was to watch him go through this, and how helpless Max’s dad and I felt during those years.)

I wish I’d had the guts to stand up and say “no.”

Today, I’m encouraging you to take a stand for your child.

In Ms. Young’s letter, she encourages parents to eat dinner together, read together, etc. – because those activities are “proven to correlate with student success.”

And I agree, student success is important. But it’s not the most important reason to reject homework and do these other things instead.

The most important reason, I think anyway, is that spending time with our kids and supporting them is fun! It helps everybody be happier, it helps the family unit be more cohesive.

So, how do you join in, how do you tell your kid’s teacher that you reject homework?

The news story that I read quotes a personal hero of mine, Alfie Kohn, early childhood expert and a man who hates homework so much he wrote a book about why it stinks.

Mr. Kohn states: “talk to each other and organize a group of ten or so parents. Walk in with a story about your child and say, “I’m very sorry, but we will not be participating in a homework program.” The bottom line is – what happens in the evening is for families to decide, not schools. Respectfully, we say no, and we opt out.”

How does homework affect your life and the life of your young child?

Please share – go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact – or comment, or ask questions, about this all-important issue that affects so many young children.

Key Links:

Worried about how to bring that all-important reading time into your busy week? Click here to grab my guide to creating happy readers!

Click here to read the Boston Globe article about the homework backlash.

Check out Alfie Kohn’s book, The Homework Myth, by clicking here.

105: When Screaming is Your Child’s First Reaction – A Your Child Explained Episode

Today, Ninja Parenting Community member Sabrina Rizk – the very same Sabrina from Tuesday’s guest interview #104 – gets help solving a problem that plagues many parents: when your child’s first reaction to something negative is to scream.

When I asked Sabrina what aspect of parenting she wanted our parent-coaching call to be about, she said “I want to talk about how to get my six-year-old to have different strategies beside screaming as her first response.”

Young Amy struggles when her cereal bowl isn’t the color she wanted; when the Lucky Charms don’t have enough charms; when Sabrina needs her to complete a chore before watching a show…

I’m sure you know the deal and have struggled through this in your own home. I know I have!

Listen in as Sabrina and I figure out how to alleviate the screaming – and read about some of the solutions we come up with – by going to weturnedoutokay.com/105!

We discuss several potential solutions to this pervasive problem, including:

1) Working hard to not react with anger or a raised voice when our child directs his or her raised voice at us

2) Deliberately lowering our voices as we get angry; often our kids will quiet down because they want to hear what we are saying, plus this tactic helps us remain calm

3) React with sympathy when natural consequences, such as “there’s not enough charms in my Lucky Charms,” occur; this way, we stand united with our child against this upsetting thing rather than being the object of their anger

Because Sabrina is a Ninja Parenting Community member, not only did we get to have this parent-coaching call but I’ll get to help her with follow-up questions in our community forums!

Click here to learn how to become a member, so I can help you with your biggest parenting struggles too!

104: “Selective Mutism Is Not a Choice” – A Conversation with Mom and Globetrotter Sabrina Rizk

What if your child, while perfectly capable of speech, simply can’t speak in certain situations, like at preschool, school or daycare?

That’s the situation that Sabrina Rizk and her husband, Anthony, found themselves with their now-nine-year-old daughter Hannah was entering preschool.

My conversation with Sabrina starts off in another really cool direction: we get to talk about the round-the-world trip Sabrina, her husband, and their two daughters took during the 2015 academic year!

Sabrina shares about the trip, how Hannah and younger sister Amy adapted to the traveling, and how Anthony got a six-month leave of absence from his software development job for the trip.

Sabrina kept a blog – and is writing a book series for children – about their trip; visit weturnedoutokay.com/104 for podcast notes about selective mutism and traveling around the world, links to the book series and Sabrina’s blog, and to listen!

Kids with selective mutism can talk. But in certain situations, they become too anxious to effectively get any words out.

Sabrina tells that selective mutism affects about the same amount of children as does autism – but selective mutism is less well-known. Less is known what to do about it as well.

Over my near-decade teaching in a public preschool program, I worked with 3 selectively-mute children, and over time learned how to draw them out (hint: a safe, comforting, and joyful classroom which included the chance to be one of the Three Billy Goats Gruff in our dramatic play area worked wonders 🙂

Sabrina shares the process she and her family went through in order to be able to travel around the world together while the kids were still young, long before retirement: she says it helps that her husband’s company has a “forward-looking employee retention policy.”

Sabrina gives great advice for both traveling with young children – and for confronting a special need in a child.

I hope our conversation helps you, whether you’re planning a trip or learning to deal with a special need!

Key Links:

After today’s conversation, Sabrina shared that the first book in her series of children’s books about her family’s trip around the world is coming out soon! Click here to read about the series on Facebook 🙂

Sabrina’s lovely and fun blog, natureadventurersblog.com, is a great read and will inspire you in planning your own trip around the world.

103: Alleviate Autumn Anxiety

To listen to today’s podcast, scroll to the bottom of this post and click the triangular “play” button 🙂

When our oldest, Max, started kindergarten, he morphed from the enthusiastic, curious, good-natured boy we had known since the day he was born, and into a truly anxious child with frequent night terrors; in first grade he even sustained the loss of 20% of his body weight and was diagnosed with migraine at age 6.

Do you have an anxious kid, who’s worried about starting preschool or kindergarten, or a higher grade?

Have you been told all about the dangers of “summer slide,” the idea that it’s more important for kids to store facts from last year than to have a relaxed and enjoyable summer break?

Today, with the learning year just getting underway, we dig into why autumn anxiety beats out summer slide – at least, in these earlier grades when our kids are very young – as what to concern ourselves with as parents.

I share two ways to alleviate your child’s autumn anxiety; click weturnedoutokay.com/103 to listen and read more about those two ways!

We say that he was “allergic to school,” but now we see the bigger picture; in those early elementary grades, school could not provide Max what he needed to thrive.

In today’s episode I share two ways that you can alleviate your child’s autumn anxiety:

– recognize that you are in an equal partnership with your child’s teachers; don’t let them bully you into believing that your son or daughter is the problem.

With Max, I made this mistake for his first years of schooling – and I have a master’s degree in early childhood education, I truly was on an equal footing with his teachers, but I didn’t feel that way. As a result, I didn’t speak up for Max and his kindergarten and first grade years were years of true suffering for him.

Don’t let that happen to your child! If you need help figuring out what to say, go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact and I’ll help you out.

– treat your child with empathy, saying that you understand how hard it is to start school, be a steady presence for him or her.

It’s very tempting, as parents, to tell your child “it’s no big deal,” to belittle their feelings (we parents do this for a variety of reasons, but one that often comes up is because it is hard for us to open ourselves up again to the kind of pain that those early years bring on; it feels easier to tell your child “you’ll get over it” because to empathize means remembering our own first school experiences.)

Again, if you have a question about how to handle your child’s anxieties, go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact and ask your question – I’ll help explain what is going on inside your child’s head 🙂

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Want to know: how to make daily life with a young child less of a struggle? How to make your child more self-reliant? The #1 mistake parents make? Sign up for my FREE online class by clicking the big question mark in the image below!


Sunday, September 18, 2016, 8:15 p.m. EST