The two most important factors in reaching kids

Happy Thursday!

Two stories today, as I’ve been thinking back on some of the successes I had as a preschool teacher.

I once helped a selectively mute girl find her voice.
(Selective mutism is when a child can speak, but only chooses to with trusted people.)
She had literally not spoken for six months in our classroom at that point, since the beginning of the school year.

I helped her find her voice with puppets, and the Three Billy Goes Gruff story.

Wendy really, really wanted to play with her friends! She wanted to be part of this puppet show.
But she was so scared.
Finally, drawn on by her own interest in being part of the story and playing with her friends, Wendy decided to give it a try.
It felt good to help her put on one of the puppets, be there with her to say the lines and to hear her repeat them.As I say she had literally not spoken for six months in our classroom at that point.
And she found her voice!
After that puppet show, Wendy opened up to us.

She often giggled, spoke with friends. She began sharing her thoughts with both children and adults in our classroom.
Each time she did my heart would sing.
I once helped a little boy come out of his own world and enter ours.

Continue reading “The two most important factors in reaching kids”

Helping kids love themselves and their bodies

A favorite band of mine, The Samples, has a song called Could It Be Another Change in which they sing:

You can’t love no one…
You can’t love something…
You can’t love nothin…
You can’t love anything
Till you can love yourself…
You can love yourself.

This has been on my mind a lot recently. I’ve been thinking about the messages we give our loved ones based on how we feel about ourselves.

I think in part it’s been on my mind so much because recently I was invited to be an expert speaker in a conference, Kids’ Healthy Bodies, hosted by Sarah Scheldt, M.Ed. (The series begins February 15 and will run for 14 days; click here to get your free ticket!)

My friend Sarah has pulled together a list of impressive speakers to share real-life strategies on how you can have empowered conversations with your kids around their bodies, health, and so much more! Continue reading “Helping kids love themselves and their bodies”

356: The consequences of pushing ourselves too far – Talking with educator Sarah Scheldt M.Ed. today!

Due to the content of our conversation, today’s episode is going to be a good one to listen AWAY from sensitive ears… I think you’re going to love today’s conversation, I know I did! But some topics may be a little intense for, well, littles.

Greetings! I am super excited to bring today’s guest to you, educator and parent coach Sarah Scheldt, M.Ed.!
In today’s conversation I’ll introduce you to Sarah, so you can come to know her and the incredibly helpful, giving person she is.

Today Sarah discusses:
– How to handle your kids’ toughest days and biggest feelings
– How to take care of yourself in the midst of everything going on in your life
– Handling when we do push ourselves too far

Early on in the pandemic Sarah wanted to reach parents outside of her classroom of kids. So she created an amazing free Virtual Summit on “empowering kids.” I felt so honored to be included in the expert speakers for that summit!
Sarah’s second free online series, Kids’ Healthy Bodies, starts on February 15!
(Yay! Click here to sign up!)

In our conversation today Sarah shares on how this upcoming free Virtual Summit will help you get a handle on talking to kids about potentially tough topics like their own bodies, sex, consent, and stopping child sexual abuse.

I’m honored to be a part of this series as well, talking about what to do if you have been the victim of sexual abuse… and you are now raising kids. Continue reading “356: The consequences of pushing ourselves too far – Talking with educator Sarah Scheldt M.Ed. today!”

355: Five ways to help you keep going right now

Greetings! Today I’ve got five ways that parents I work closely with are keeping going…

Because even though we can see some hope on the horizon, circumstances on the ground are, shall we say, not ideal.

So if you need a little help getting good behavior from your kids, feeling seen and heard and cared for in your life, or feeling happy inside, here are five ways you may not have considered yet to accomplish those tasks.…

Plus the Parenting News Segment returns today, with reports on how to not use social-emotional learning for evil, and also something called “toxic positivity.”
Join us!
Here are the links that come up today: Continue reading “355: Five ways to help you keep going right now”

Setting an intention for the new year

I think best when I do not feel cluttered.

(Not that I have a super clean house or anything! When children share the chores, I believe it’s best to set expectations a little lower. We make sure the house is tidy and sanitized, and that’s good enough for us.)

I simply notice that when there are fewer books on the shelf, clothes in the closet, or mustard types in the refrigerator, it’s easier for me to make choices about what I’ll read, wear, or eat.

In this is a time of year when we can look around, take stock, and decide to make some changes.

It’s also a time when we can feel overwhelmed, very easily.
By our own expectations or someone else’s judgment of something we care about.

Only recently have I realized: I’ve been judging myself on several different kinds of clutter. Continue reading “Setting an intention for the new year”

354: Goals and Words and a “kind 2021”

Greetings and best wishes for 2021!! This is my annual goals and sharing of the Word of the Year. (Last year’s: ENOUGH. I apparently was really prescient in January 2020… This year’s: EXHILARATED. Should be fun!)
As with everything in the pandemic, it’s different from other New Year’s episodes that have come before. But I hope it’s helpful for you as you create a good life, and a good year, for your family and yourself.

Some of my goals last year I completely, epically failed at bringing about.
Some of them I did a little bit better with.

One of the most important things I learned was to make a goal be “a place to come from,” rather than something to work towards. Seriously, this has been a huge game-changer for me.

I share about that process and give you ideas for trying it out yourself today.

Finally I read you one of my most recent newsletters, “Hello 2021! Please be kind to us.”
You can get these newsletters delivered for free right into your inbox just by signing up for one of my free guides available at… Or go to

Key Links:
Click for last year, January 2020’s Goals and One Word episode. Listening back I was such a pre-pandemic naïve little baby then! I’ve grown a lot in 2020. I bet you have too. Ultimately this is a good thing, I think. We are such badasses now!

Click here for a book I am loving, 100 Truths You Will Learn Too Late by Luca Dellanna

Click to see the parenting books I have written

Click here for my most recent newsletter, “Hello 2021! Please be kind to us.”

Click to watch the video of today’s episode.

Cheers! I hope 2021 is REALLY kind to you <3


Get my best advice for handling the challenges that come up on your parenting journey, through the We Turned Out Okay podcast:

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Hello 2021! Please be kind to us.

On Tuesday of last week – in other words, the day before the attempted coup on our federal legislature and national election process – I drove around my town to do a few errands.

It was a new year; I had a bunch of books on knitting socks that had just arrived for me at the library; I had the bandwidth and hand strength to knit something as ambitious as a pair of socks.

I had lots of hope for the future.

Driving to our library, I passed the senior center in my town and saw the following words on their sign:
“Hello 2021! Please be kind to us.”

I smiled and drove on, with hope in my heart.

The town I live in has done an absolutely wonderful job in helping its citizens through the pandemic. Continue reading “Hello 2021! Please be kind to us.”

353.5: What your child needs from you today

Hi friends! This is a bonus episode that I recorded to help you in the wake of January 6, 2021’s storming of the United States Capitol Building by domestic terrorists, or (as you’ll hear in today’s episode) people that featured WTOO guest and NYT best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson calls “known jackasses.”
I want to give you some resources to help you remain calm – because that is what your kiddo needs from you today.
I am more grateful than I can say that you are listening, I can almost feel us holding hands and standing together today…
I will have links posted (at ASAP, but for now I just want you to be able to hear my words and know that you can remain calm, for your child and for yourself. No matter what is going on in your world, or in the wider world.
And I am here with you.
xoxo, Karen

Links… Thank you for your patience! Here they are finally : )

My conversation with former assistant secretary of Homeland security Juliette Kayyem:

My conversation with licensed mental health counselor and coping skills expert – and also one of my favorite people in the whole world – Janine Halloran on managing the biggest feelings:

My conversation with Dr. Laura Markham, all around feelings and (childhood and grown up emotions)…

My conversation with NYT best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson, who wrote one of my favorite books of all time, The Almost Sisters, and comes on the show to talk about empathy, the hope that writing can bring to even the darkest places, and so much else:

My conversation with Ingrid Alli and Hamilton Graziano, the biracial couple who were having their honeymoon in Puerto Rico, staying in the same B&B Ben and I were staying in for our second honeymoon. Ingrid and Hamilton shared so much of themselves in this conversation, more than three years ago now, and it really helped me understand how to be good ally in dismantling racism:

Lessons I learned and resources shared during the amazing Julie Lythcott-Haims’ post-election Office Hours… Julie has also written one of my favorite books ever, Real American, about her experience growing up biracial in affluent white American society, and the energy she brings to help solve the challenges we face here in the US keeps me going!

The Veterans Administration has a wonderful mindfulness app, called Mindfulness Coach, which you do not need to sign up for or enroll in. You just put it on your phone and have access to all the resources there. It’s awesome.

If you’d like to get tools and resources to help you raise kids and stay sane:

Thanks for reading!

353: Challenges with reading, ADHD meds, kids trying their best, and more: Ask the child development expert

Greetings! I’ve got a whole slew of awesome questions for you today (you can read the questions in their entirety just below : )

Here are the Key Links that come up in today’s episode, located at
You should go to that link above if you would like to see the video of this episode (instead of just listening in audio)…

Cheers and thanks for listening!

Links that come up today:

My free guide to raising happy readers:

If you’d like to get useful tools and parenting ideas in your inbox each week, without the guide to happy readers:

Click here for one of the many wonderful Elephant and Piggy books by Mo Willems

Click here for a book that your family might enjoy with new readers, You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You

How NOT to teach your child to ride a bike:

Click the following link for one of the very early episodes I did, about how kids develop grit:

Click the following link for my conversation with Amy Anderson, about how to know if your young child is consenting:

Click the following link for my conversation with Carey Andersen, sharing her story of her child’s nonconsent to a bad kindergarten situation and what they did about it:

Click the following link for my conversation with Debbie Reber of the TiLT Parenting Podcast:

Okay, just below are the questions!
Thanks for reading and listening! Cheers!

Tish: What do I say to my 6 year old who can’t seem to keep his hands out of his pants?

How do I win when trying to get 2 6 year old(s) to practice reading and not lose my mind?  It’s a nightmare everyday. I’ve tried to bribe, threaten, prayed loudly, and I can’t seem to find anything that works. It’s not as bad when they are out of school and we can do it in the mornings but the evenings are a nightmare every. single. day.  Not doing it is not an option.  We’ll be further behind than we are now.
Whether we think this is “right” or not doesn’t mean they will change their policy.  We are on Book 4 out of 12 we have to read to go the 2nd grade.
Surviving… because this too will pass.
Anonymous: We are in the midst of struggling mightily on [my five-year-old’s] second med trial for ADHD.
This one is not making any difference at school except he’s even more talkative and then he’s having a huge emotional crash and sobbing meltdowns in the evenings.
Working with the doctor to figure out a new plan this week! Other than that just powering through end of year work chaos.
Trying to stay positive as I hear this is so common to have to try a few meds but it’s hard!

So we are in survival mode but going to make the most of the holidays!

[Karen:] FYI I have discovered some biases in myself, and as a result I’m going to do some more research into this whole issue – meds, ADD, ADHD, coping mechanisms both for kids and parents. This deserves at least an episode, and possibly a series. Stay tuned <3


Jen: My daughter, age 8 already, wants to ride a bicycle again. She had a typical bike fall a year ago (a scrape on the knee, just a run of the mill slow-speed fall that comes from learning how to balance) and has been avoiding the bike ever since. Typical for her high anxiety. She tells me she’s afraid of falling again and she wants to ride on the school running track, which we did one time when she was 5, before we knew it wasn’t allowed. She is also concerned that the training wheels send an unpleasant rumble into her body when she rides on asphalt. Uneven pavement or rocks or sticks make her afraid of falling. My concerns are the school rule, and driving 15 minutes or less. Our rural home has no paved areas at all, and so any riding involves packing up the car and driving to a safe place. But every time we talk about biking, and try to work out where we might go, she gets frustrated that nothing meets her criteria. We simply can’t use the running track. She understands that intellectually, and she isn’t asking me to break the rule. She’s hoping, I guess, that I have some amazing cushiony place where she can fall without risk of hurting herself. Since I don’t, she gets frustrated and cries that she’ll never be able to ride a bike. She wants to get good enough to remove the training wheels, because she sees her 6yo sister without training wheels having a ball, and she doesn’t want the unpleasant rumble that comes with leaning onto the training wheels. I’m at a loss here. How can I support her desire to practice, when the practice itself is too scary for her?

Mumma Bear: What’s in my mind is more emotional development tips and techniques. Im  still battling with somewhat ‘explosive’ outbursts from Lil Bear and I’d like a bigger range of tools for this moment in our lives. I feel like I’m pretty emotionally immature (although my best friend says, No way – listen to yourself!) and that I wasn’t really taught to process my feelings  (not a top priority  in the 1970s!) or really ‘deal’ with them. So I most frequently find myself thinking, “Just get a grip, kiddo!” So, for me, just keep those tips coming.
Celia: Once we can start doing “stuff” again, how do we make sure we don’t overdo it and still hold onto some of the unity and rhythm we’ve found as a family while we were isolated from other forces?
And… this year E turns 5 and “should” start kindergarten. She turns 5 in late august and our cutoff is sept 1. She’s already the “baby” in her preK class and I am assuming a lot of parents held their children back in 2019 since our district was virtual, so she’ll be likely joining kids who are already 6 and maybe even close to 7. How do we know if she is ready for kindergarten???

Thanks so much for all of your support this year! I have high hopes for your 2021 🙂


Q: “Perhaps we should be instilling resilience by still expecting them to try their best. Because being emotionally healthy and trying one’s best are not mutually exclusive during Covid.”



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How it feels to put yourself first

Spoiler alert: it feels really scary to put yourself first.
But it feels worse to do the alternative.

I know this from personal experience.

When I have put myself last – in other words when I’ve been in what I think of as “typical parent mode,” denying myself sleep or food or exercise because of all the stuff my children and family need – I’ve suffered.

So have they. One of my sons told me yesterday that he felt personally responsible for my being depressed when he was young. (I was depressed because I had developed a tendon disorder that meant, for part of his childhood, I could walk no more than a few steps; and for another part of his childhood I had 5% use of my hands. My depression had absolutely nothing to do with my boys.)
We had a wonderful conversation about it, and he understands now that he was not the cause. But I wish I could have spared him those feelings in the first place.

More recently I put myself last in both a personal and professional sense. Continue reading “How it feels to put yourself first”