One Word for 2020

Happy Wednesday!

This is the last in my series on “exercises to help you overcome feelings of failure;” click here for last week’s installment, debating between two words for 2020. Or, read on to find out which word I chose : )

Each year, for the last three years, I’ve chosen a Word of the Year:
2017 = SERVICE

For weeks, I’ve been trying to decide what 2020’s word would be. Here are my two candidates:

2020 = ENOUGH

I thought of 3 possible ways it could be used. Here is what I wrote about that in last week’s newsletter: Continue reading “One Word for 2020”

Only one of these two words

I’m doing a year-end series on how to overcome feeling like a failure; click here for last week’s installment, in which I share my Reverse Bucket List – and how it made me remember all the good in my life.

Each year, for the last three years, I’ve chosen a Word of the Year:
2017 = SERVICE

I’ve chosen them based on how I wanted to live my life… But they’ve ended up largely being about what I do, as opposed to who I am.
(Yes, even THOUGHTFUL – it’s been all about ways I can be thoughtful, as opposed to how I could be thinking.)

When I read Audrey Monke’s fabulous blog post, “5 Simple Year-End Reflection Activities” (this week’s exercise, and also last week’s, are based on Audrey’s year-end activities), I was excited to read that Audrey chooses a word of the year too!

Audrey’s words are different from mine – not a surprise, as Audrey and I are different people.

But they are fundamentally different in an important way: Audrey’s words are not about what she does.
They are about who she is.

In her version of the exercise, as Audrey puts it, “your one word isn’t a constant reminder of what you “should be doing”. Instead, it stands to inspire how you want to live. Think about who you want to be, and choose a word that will help you become that.”

Her rules:
“Focus on being rather than doing.
Be authentic.
Don’t overthink it.”

As I went through this exercise, one word bubbled up to the surface immediately.
Continue reading “Only one of these two words”

An exercise in gratitude

I’m doing a year-end series on how to overcome feeling like a failure; click here for last week’s installment, in which I share 4 ways to overcome those feelings of failure.

A few newsletters ago, I shared my own feelings of failure, professionally, personally, and in my family life.

I shared one thing that was making me feel so much better: bringing my feelings to a very positive and wonderful group of friends.

And I shared about how they made me feel SO much better.

One of those friends is Audrey Monke. Not only did she share words that made me feel so loved and supported, she shared a blog post she had recently written containing some positive and fun year-and family things to do.

Audrey discusses an exercise that has to do with gratitude, which dovetails nicely with one of the four ways I shared last week in this space, on overcoming feeling like a failure:

Name five things you are grateful for.
Whenever I’m feeling down, this is my go-to.
I do have so much to be grateful for!

“What better time than December to reflect on things that make us feel happy and end the year feeling positive and grateful?” – Audrey Monke Continue reading “An exercise in gratitude”

The turn around the bend

Happy Wednesday!

This is part two of a two-part series I’m doing on feeling better when all we can see are our faults; click here for last week’s, called Feeling like a Failure.
Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter, where I put one of the ideas I talk about today into practice. 


“Be proud of yourself and keep the faith – I believe in you and you do too – there is
a turn around the bend when the sun will come out again.”

When a friend wrote those words to me, last week, when I was feeling so down, they really hit home.

I felt the impact of these words in my heart and in my soul, from all across the world (my friend lives in England.)

They gave me hope. Paradoxically, it was only while reading them that I realized how far away from hope I had been feeling.

I felt like she gave me a place to start, and a destination: the “turn around the bend when the sun will come out again.”

Now, I feel like I’m on a quest. (I absolutely love quests : )

And, I want to bring you along with me!

So let’s explore: how do we get to that turn around the bend? Continue reading “The turn around the bend”

Transition times

What comes to mind when you think of the word “transition”?

It’s one of those words that, in the early childhood biz, gets referenced quite a bit.

But to people who are not early childhood teachers, or experts in child development, transitions can look totally invisible.

In fact many parents that I work with will come to me with a major, massive struggle in their lives – being unable to leave the house because of their child’s temper tantrums (which started when they offered their kids the wrong shoes), for example – and it turns out to be a transition issue.

Transitions show up in the following ways: Continue reading “Transition times”

Gifts to be thankful for

Happy Wednesday!

It’s almost here!… NPC Cyber Monday special: 30% off of annual Ninja Parenting Community membership… Get on the waiting list (and get 7 amazing parenting resources) by clicking here.


“You can tell that you are very passionate about what you do and genuinely care about helping parents be the best versions of themselves. I was able to see that in all the emails you sent, as well as your welcome videos, and in your podcasts that I listened to over the past year.
“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for putting yourself out there to help others. This is truly YOUR gift, and it’s awesome to see you use it to better the world!”

I teared up reading this email, from NPC member Kathleen.

Her letter dropped into my inbox on a particularly frustrating day, one in which it seemed like there were fewer gifts in my life, and more struggles.

But reading this letter, I felt my challenges recede, and my feelings of thankfulness and gratitude come forward.

Longtime readers/listeners to the podcast might know that I have a tendon disorder.
My tendons develop scar tissue extremely fast, relative to (likely) yours. This is because of an ingredient in a lifesaving course of antibiotics I needed 8 years ago.

My life is completely different now, from before I developed the tendon disorder. Continue reading “Gifts to be thankful for”

When your child isn’t kind about a mistake you have made

Happy Wednesday!

We are getting close! Cyber Monday special: 30% off of annual Ninja Parenting Community membership… Get on the waiting list (and get 7 amazing parenting resources) by clicking here!

We had a really interesting question in the Ninja Parenting Community recently, and I wanted to share about the question, and my thoughts on how to handle it, with you this week!

Mama Llama asks: “how should I handle my 4-year-old realizing that other people get things wrong and how to handle it kindly?
“For example, this morning I asked if you wanted to take a certain car to play with in the sand and he reminded me those cars can’t go in the sand (which is true – we don’t take pull-backed cars in the sand so the gears don’t get messed up) and I said “oh, you’re right, that’s a good idea to leave them out.” And he delightedly yelled “You were wrong!!!”
“This has come up a couple times already, but I definitely don’t want to continue. Any thoughts? Thanks!”

I share, first of all, that this is a marathon-type of thing. It’s not a sprint.

The work of childhood is to understand how our words and actions affect other people.

We obviously do not want our children to the wandering through the world, smugly pointing out when someone else has made a mistake.

And of course we all know what it’s like to be teased in this way, when we’ve gotten something wrong.

The way I see it, we’ve got 3 options to help our kids see how their actions can affect others, when they are not being kind about a mistake that somebody makes: Continue reading “When your child isn’t kind about a mistake you have made”

The parent lottery

Happy Wednesday!

Recently a parent I work closely with mentioned:
“It would be interesting to hear some data/facts on how harmful NOT disciplining your kids can be.
So many times we focus on the negative effects of discipline – spanking, timeouts, etc., but what’s easy to forget is just how dangerous it is to take a backseat to parenting your children.”

(NPC members: click here for the video training module I just posted in our community, in direct answer to this member’s comments and questions. If you are not a Ninja Parenting Community member but would like to become one, click here.)

The short answer is, NOT disciplining your kids is every bit as harmful as using negative discipline (spanking, verbal threats of aggression, etc.)

Both are forms of neglect.

Not disciplining – failing to establish any boundaries or communicating any behavioral expectations – is neglectful because the parent fails to share a clear understanding of what behavior is okay, and what is not. This is frightening and makes the child feel unsafe.

Negatively disciplining – implementing the rule of law, without taking into account any of the child’s thoughts, abilities, or preferences – is neglectful because it contains no warmth or loving kindness.

There are three styles of discipline:

  • Passive, in which there are no boundaries and no expectations
  • Authoritarian, in which all is cold control, with no sense of loving or acceptance, and in which the child has no say in their own decisions
  • Authoritative, also called Wise, which sits somewhere between the poles above, bringing in loving/acceptance, and firm limits/behavioral expectations

Which was used most by the family into which you were born?

To me, this is the absolute bedrock basis of whether a child wins “the parent lottery,” or loses in that lottery. Continue reading “The parent lottery”

How I frightened my 3-year-old

Happy Wednesday!

I’ve been enjoying diving into the world of Fred Rogers recently.
I watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the documentary about Mr. Rogers’ life and work, helping children confront the problems of childhood – and feel valued – through his television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

When the movie started I noticed it was rated PG-13.
Why, I wondered, would a documentary about the guy who created Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood be a PG-13 movie?

It was not long before I discovered why.

I was thinking of this show as “for kids,” and therefore dismissed it as being light. Or unserious.

But it was the exact opposite.
In the first week that the show aired, in 1967, Mr. Rogers and crew dealt with the topic of war, extremely apropos as the country was steeped in the Vietnam conflict at the time.
The show incorporated guns, paratroopers, the closing of borders, and many other concepts that children might be hearing about in their lives, as their parents watched the news or talked about it.

So we see King Friday, decreeing that he was closing the borders of Make Believe, and that he would exert total control, and that he was “against change.” We see Henrietta Pussycat and X the Owl discussing guns. X says “there’s nothing to worry about until they start shooting!”

Interspersed with scenes like these, the documentary placed footage of real war. Footage of what young children might catch in the news, and almost certainly heard the grown-ups in their own homes discussing.

It is downright chilling.
It made total sense that it would be PG-13!

Why would Mr. Rogers DO this? Continue reading “How I frightened my 3-year-old”