Ask the child development experts! Your questions answered on today’s Your Child Explained Episode | Podcast Episode 248

This time of year, kids have lots of opportunity to misbehave. This episode gives you tools to get good behavior from your littles, enjoy regular family time – and extended-family time too.

I am SO excited to bring you today’s show!
I have good friend and colleague, Tricia Tomaso, a veteran preschool teacher and holder of a master’s degree in special education.
And she has graciously agreed to come on the show and answer YOUR questions.

So! Today we take questions on:
– What to do if your child hits you, especially repeatedly
– How to handle it if you are a relatively low energy parent, and your child is a high-energy kid
– If you’re worried that you are overinvolved with your kids
– And more!

Buckle in, this is a really fun and useful ride today!

Go to for:

    • A summary of each “ask the expert” question and answer
    • What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay universe, including tons of free resources : )
Today’s show is all about getting to moments like this, where everybody is smiling.
  • The video of the week: “I’m exhausted from doing too much for my kid”

And thank you so much for listening!


Video of the Week:


Ask the Experts Q&A Summary

1) NPC member Jen asks: How do I manage my high-energy child from my low-energy comfort zone?

We recommend: Tricia, who has also raised a high-energy daughter, recommends having some special “high-energy” time. This means you get special time with your child, and crucially it has been an point where you know you’ll get a rest.


2) NPC member Mama Llama asks: The hitting is all day every day when frustrated, mostly when I am physically helping him with something (pants on and off for potty, shoes on for school) when there is not an immediate “we’re leaving” from something fun like the park option and I have no idea what else to do. It is so disheartening, we discussed later “hands to yourself” and using hand in gentle ways but it is only getting worse.

We recommend: Helping your child express feelings with words, and keeping your words and body language tightly neutral when he hits. Encourage him to say what he’s feeling: “I’m frustrated,” “I don’t want to do this,” “I don’t want help,” etc. Kids need help saying what they’re feeling instead of expressing negative emotion with hitting, and we get best results when we keep a poker face as we are helping our kids through this stage of life.


3) Stephanie asks: “catching up on magic words… What if you can’t tell which kid is the one provoking the other… My girls are both very tricky at this!!”

We recommend: Don’t worry so much about who provoked whom. Instead encourage the kids to use words in expressing what happened, what is going on. Also encourage them to work it out between themselves, and suggest some time playing apart so they can cool off if necessary.


4) Sabrina, kids are eight and five… “I love being with my kids, playing with them, teaching them and so on. They are super great kids.
The problem is me. Stepping back I realize I smother them, with love, but it’s smothering. How do I learn to tone this back?
I try so hard not to interfere with their interactions but it still like I live, eat, and breathe my kids. Any advice?

We recommend: Ask yourself, who is determining if you’re smothering or not? Are you feeling this within yourself, or is it an outside influence making you worry about smothering your kids?
If they are being smothered, it will show up in their behavior… You may see temper tantrums as they fight for independence, or a withdrawal from you, or assertions like “leave me alone!”
If you’re not seeing anything negative, and you love being with them – maybe it’s not smothering, just great parenting : )
You get to decide for yourself, based on your children’s behavior.


5) Meredith asks: “My almost 3-year-old has been doing great with potty training. She will try every time we take her and pees almost every time. She has been in big-girl undies for almost 2 weeks at daycare with only 3 accidents. Here is our issue… She will not poop on the potty and will hold it until she is crying from being uncomfortable and trying to hold it. She tells us “I need to go poop. We rush to the potty and within seconds of sitting down she hops off crying and saying “no no I don’t wanna”… This could go on for hours.
I’ve taken to just putting a diaper back on her, just encouraging her to poop (and still sometimes a diaper won’t do the job, she still won’t poop).
What can I do to get over this hurdle? She knows how to use the potty and how to tell us. I know she’s ready! I’ve also offered rewards as well.

We recommend: Take a step back, and a deep breath. Often kids learn to go pee before poop on the potty, and taking all the pressure off your daughter as she is figuring this out may be all that is necessary.
The great thing about pull-ups: she can pull them down and up herself when she is successfully using the potty, and if she poops in the pull up, you can get it off of her and teach her to clean herself up.
Social stories, a very specific kind of story which we get into detail about while answering your question Meredith, can be very helpful here.
Above all, celebrate the successes and remain neutral in your emotions during the not so successful parts of potty training.


6) Maggie: “Separation anxiety – my kiddo cries whenever I leave him at drop off playgroup or with a nanny or when I have to go to parent education during our co-op preschool class.
He will stop after about 2 to 5 minutes as long as he’s entertained.
What is the best way to do goodbyes for kids around age 21 months?
I keep it brief, or sometimes even sneak away when he’s not looking. I’ve been told by our parent educator not to say “I always come back” but rather “I am always with you
any tips?

We recommend: Tricia and I both feel that 2 to 5 minutes for a two-year-old to settle himself down after saying goodbye is actually pretty great : )
We also think that, rather than saying “I am always with you,” which a young child might struggle with because they are so literal in their thinking, that you should find out the last thing kids do at playgroup before pickup, and tell your child “I’ll see you after x.”


7) Andrew:  I have a question after listening to one of your podcast episodes about spanking. I believe it was titled “Is Spanking Ever Okay?” You certainly convinced me. My wife and I typically use spanking as a last resort, but you hit the nail on the head with the idea that we feel like we are out of options. We feel like there is no alternative. I’ve started using the “it’s time to” phrases, and trying really hard to not add “okay?” to the end of my sentences. Our biggest struggle right now is bedtime. Our middle child will not stay in his bed no matter how many times we sternly tell him “it’s time to lay down” and no matter how many times we take him back to his room. What typically happens is I will end up laying with him (otherwise he’ll keep getting up) until he falls asleep. This is draining all of our “mommy-daddy time” at the end of the day. How do we get him to “just stay in there” as Jim Gaffigan would say?

We recommend: Emphasize the positive here. Say to your child “we’re going to have this time together, tonight we’ll read one story, and if you stay in your bed after I say good night, tomorrow night you can have two stories.”
That way, he always gets at least one story, or with whichever number you establish as your baseline, and he’s always got the chance for bonus time with you tomorrow night – but that time still ends when you need it to end.
Tricia and I spent a long time discussing this one. The way you handle it could go a lot of different ways, and as long as it works for your family every single one is right : )


Thank you for listening!

Just a few links:

Click here for Dr. Catherine Pearlman’s conversation with me, episode 197 of We Turned Out Okay.

Click here for episode 223 of We Turned Out Okay, “Is spanking ever okay?”

If you get good value from We Turned Out Okay, please rate and review the show! That helps others find us, so they can get good help too.
Click here to give us a quick rating and 1-sentence review in Apple, and thanks!


In the WTOO Universe

Awesome FREE Resources…

If potty training is getting you down, let me send you – completely free – the first lesson of my course on how to potty train successfully, even under pressure!
Click here to receive Lesson 1: How to Make This Take the Shortest Amount of Time Possible.

Click here for the free 5-part podcast series on how to get good weeknights with kids.

Join the private WTOO Facebook group… Click here!
The Facebook group is where I do our Magic Words for Parents Facebook live every Monday 🙂

Click here for the We Turned Out Okay Facebook page.

Click here for the Karen Lock Kolp page in YouTube, where you’ll find helpful videos (like this one on what to do when your child is jumping on the couch for your attention, at the worst possible time.)


… And some mind-blowing (if not free) resources for you:


Potty training little kids is never easy. That’s why I created a complete course, Successful Potty Training Under Pressure, to help!
This course gets you ready for potty training with:

  • Gear recommendations, both essential and nice-to-have
  • Scripts so you know exactly what to say when your child has accidents or other struggles
  • Fixes for common problems – like if your child doesn’t care about sitting in a wet or poopy situation, or if you’re struggling to work well with your child’s school or caregiver

I created this course to give you everything you need to successfully potty train your child.
Click the link below to check it out!


What’s frustrating you right now in your parenting?

Kids cut us in so many ways. If yours make you want to scream with sibling fights, embarrassing outbursts, and not respecting you, get help in the Ninja Parenting Community!

NPC Parent Coaching Community Membership helps you through:
– Live, members-only calls where you get solutions to your toughest parenting challenges
– Courses on everything from stopping sibling rivalry to what to do instead of spanking, and including Successful Potty Training Under Pressure
– Parent Coaching Calls that members call “the most helpful part of my Ninja Parenting Community membership

With all that and more, we have got you covered!

Join the Ninja Parenting Community today and make the time you spend with your young children your favorite time!
Get Help in our Private Coaching Community Today