Don’t Make It A Federal Case!
August 25, 2009 · Posted in Discipline, Education, Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Don’t Make It A Federal Case!

images-1Appropriate doses of embarrassment or guilt in childhood are central to developing self-control and morality. Take the example of the 6 year old who slips a candy bar into her pocket while at the grocery store. Many kids will do this at some point during childhood.  If her parent discovers her act and does not overreact the little girl can be told to give the candy back at the store and apologize. Will the little girl feel shame? Yes, of course. Healthy shame. She will learn an important lesson and most likely remember that experience with embarrassment. This will help her override the impulse if it arises again and the apology to the store owner with the return of the candy bar teaches her she can make amends for bad behavior.

What if this little girl is screamed at, called a thief and humiliated in front of the store owner by her parents? She will have an overwhelming sense of her own badness.  An over-reaction creates toxic or unhealthy shame. This may dissuade the little girl from stealing again, but the cost to her ego is too high. It is our job to teach our children right from wrong but we must strive to do this while protecting their sense of basic goodness.

To under-react or disregard the behavior for fear of hurting the child’s feelings is to miss the opportunity to highlight this important lesson.  Becoming overly incensed or ignoring the action sidetracks us from the simple lesson we are trying to teach–we don’t take things that do not belong to us.

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Soho Parenting’s Sleep Philosophy
August 24, 2009 · Posted in Discipline, Infant Development, Parenting, Sleep · Permalink · Comments (4)

sleepingbaby-main_FullFor over twenty years we have been counseling families on a wide variety of parenting issues, such as discipline, sibling rivalry, and toilet training. The vast majority of parents, however, seek us out for help with their children’s sleep problems. These parents, tense and bleary-eyed from their own lack of sleep, are in need of guidance, yet understandably wary of subscribing to a method that may be emotionally detrimental to their child now or in the future. Parents’ worries are often magnified by the controversy and misinformation about sleep circulating today. We would like to take this opportunity to clarify our ideas about children and sleep in the context of our Responsive Parenting philosophy.

We are often asked, “Do you believe in letting babies cry?” or “Are you ‘family bed’ advocates?” Although we do not ascribe to any one method of “sleep training” for all families to follow, we do hold strongly to some basic tenets about the importance of sleep.

•    Sleep is one of a child’s most basic needs. Parents should consider it primary fuel, as important as milk.

•    It is a parent’s responsibility, not a child’s, to ensure that a child gets the correct amount of sleep.

•    All children of the same age bracket require approximately the same amount of sleep.

•    Children vary significantly in how easy or difficult it is to get them the sleep they need.

•    Without the right amount of sleep, children are compromised in obvious and subtle ways that can be detrimental to their overall growth and development.

Keeping these important ideas in the forefront, how do we help parents to get their children the sleep they need? At Soho Parenting, counseling sessions are customized to each individual family’s needs. We take into account the child’s age, living situation, parents’ work schedules, child’s medical history, as well as recent events that may effect our discussion of how to proceed, such as the birth of a sibling or a recent move.  We then set up a step-by-step plan of how to implement appropriate routines and structures that will insure that the child will get the right amount of sleep and develop the ability to fall asleep with a sense of security and comfort. Parents can then be in touch by phone or by email as they proceed, to get support, report progress and make any necessary changes in the plan.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for parents is the fear of having their child cry. Crying is a very difficult issue for many parents and we often hear statements like:

“I can’t stand having my baby cry. She’ll think we’ve abandoned her.”
“He’ll stop trusting us and be insecure.”
“She’ll be afraid and all alone.”

It is understandable how this intense worry about crying has developed in parents. But in helping a child to achieve regulated sleep patterns some crying is often necessary. Crying is a natural part of the human repertoire; a certain amount of crying in the service of learning something very important will not harm children. There is even ample evidence that crying in a controlled way to learn to sleep as an infant helps with later sleep problems and reduces maternal depression.

We would like to put this worry into a historical and societal context. Parent-child relationships have been enriched immeasurably by strides made in the 1980’s and 1990’s in understanding children’s emotional lives. But there has been an unfortunate negative outcome as well − pervasive worry about emotionally damaging babies and children. Parenting advice from the previous generation was deemed old-fashioned and unsympathetic to children’s psychological needs. A mixture of popular psychology and influential childrearing advice has strongly advocated an almost constant gratification of children’s needs in order to promote “healthy self-esteem.” This has inadvertently put tremendous pressure on parents who then feel selfish and remiss if they frustrate and upset their child.

These ideas have had a tremendous impact on the arena of children’s sleep. Rather than allowing their child to be uncomfortable and unhappy or frustrated even for brief periods, parents sometimes opt instead for months, and even years, of sleepless or interrupted nights. This can deprive a child of a basic need, as well as compromising the entire family’s functioning.

At Soho Parenting we advocate responsive parenting, which we believe is a more balanced approach to childrearing. It takes into account the importance of connection and comfort, as well as the structure and limits that are essential for children’s psychological growth. Responsive parenting means that sometimes you will respond with comfort, sometimes with distraction, sometimes with explanation. Often though, it will be holding back from responding that will be the most appropriate action. Holding back can leave enough room for your child to develop a new skill of her own. Making thoughtful decisions about when to respond by comforting a child and when to respond by setting a limit is a critically important part of being a responsive and responsible parent.

We know from our own experience as parents and from the many hundreds of families we have worked with that regulated sleep habits for children makes the whole endeavor of parenting easier and provides an important structure that can carry through all of the school years. Helping a child learn the fine art of sleep is a huge gift to him and his entire family for now and years to come.

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A Funny Spoiling Post
August 18, 2009 · Posted in Discipline, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Play, Preschoolers, Pressure on Children, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments (1)

We thought this was very, very funny!

Fussy’s Five Ways to Spoil Your Children

1) Spend more money than you make to give your children everything their hearts desire. Tell yourself that you do this because you want to give them a happy childhood. If all their friends have it, it would be wrong not to give them the same things. Even though the more you buy for them, the more they complain of boredom.



2) Schedule every free moment with ‘enrichment’. If they get bored, make sure to fill their time with every possible activity possible. You may also want to get a second job to cover the cost. Hey, it’s for the kids, right?



3) Give constant praise and compliments. Constantly work to reinforce your children’s self-esteem. Lavish praise and compliments of all kinds. Tell your children how special, smart and wonderful they are with out any effort put forth.



4) Always take your children’s side, no matter what. When any problem arises in your child’s life be sure to always take the position that your child is a victim of other’s misdeeds.

Childhood squabbles? Tell your child how awful the other child is and call the offenders parents and let them have it!

Teacher is mean? March up to the principle and file a complaint.

Be sure to disregard any evidence that refutes your position!

Let ’em have it, Mamma!


(stock xchange)

5) Take away all chances your children have for personal growth. Take away the opportunity your children have to overcome obstacles and for learning to tolerate frustration and delay gratification. Look at childhood as a time of pure bliss and without responsibilities. Give your child the childhood you wished you received.

The best way to remove all opportunities for growth is be a proud Helicopter Parent and hover above your children ready to take away all stress!



Enjoy the fallout from these tips!

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“Time-in” for “Time-out”
August 6, 2009 · Posted in Discipline, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments (5)

timeout The term “time-out” is so overused and the action so under executed that we decided to devote a number of posts over this summer to how, why and when to use “time-out” that will actually work.

“Time-out” is meant to communicate to your child that they are not allowed to do something and that there is a consequence for that action.  It is a time out from play, from interaction with others, and a physical separation from both. A” time-out” is meant to be a firm, calm and repetitive response to an action that your child engages in. It is instructive in that the negative behavior is stopped and the child is removed from the situation.  It is protective in that it separates parent and child from each other at a time when emotions and tempers flare.

Here is a blow by blow:

Your 4 year old knows he is not supposed to hit his baby sister. You have told him that, and you have told him that if he hits her he will have a “time-out”. You are in the living room, the baby is in the swing and the 4 year old is playing with toys on the floor. The baby is laughing and you are smiling at her. Your son comes over, to say hi and tickles his sister’s feet.  You say, “Look, she really likes that!”  He starts jumping and grabbing her feet.  You say, “Ok, buddy, take it easy..” and then he yanks her feet hard.  She starts to scream.

You say, “No hitting.” and take your son’s hand as you lead him to his bedroom. He pleads, “No, no, no time out, I wont do it again!”  You proceed by putting him in his room.  You make sure the door stays shut so that he cannot come out and run around. As you stand by the door, you breathe and try to stay calm. He kicks the door and cries out, “OK, I AM CALM!!!!” You say, “You are not calm yet, when you are calm you may come out.”

He settles down in a bit, you wait for an additional five minutes or so to make sure he is steady. He is still teary and sad, but says, “I am calm now.” You can tell that he is. You open the door and say, “Good job calming down.” And– this is the important part–let the “time-out” speak for itself.  No lectures, no reminders, no moralizing– just move on.

Physical separation says more than words, moving swiftly and repetitively shows your child you follow through on promises and staying calm shows him that he has not committed a horrible sin, just something he is not allowed to do.

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Land Your Helicopters: The End of a Parenting Era
June 2, 2009 · Posted in Discipline, Education, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers, Spoiling, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments (2)


Ahhh, thank goodness!  Lisa Belkin, writer and author of the blog Motherlode trumpets the end of an era of over-indulgent parenting. In her May 31st, 2009 New York Times Magazine article “Let The Kid Be” she writes, “It seems as though the newest wave of mothers is saying no to prenatal Beethoven appreciation classes, homework tutors in kindergarten, or moving to a town near their child’s college campus so the darling can more easily have home-cooked meals.” A sentence that warms my heart.

Not that we haven’t been railing against this for years but it’s nice to have some back up. This does not mean the end to being a responsive parent– one that thoughtfully decides when to move in and when to lay back– it just hopefully signals that parents will no longer believe they are handicapping their children by letting them hand an assignment in late or not being enrolled in gymnastics, soccer, ballet, painting, and mandarin–all by the age of 2.

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