My parenting career began with an education in parenting, early childhood development and interpersonal dynamics. My expertise includes 4 certifications in parent education, facilitating for the Cline/Fay Institute and Redirecting Children’s Behavior programs, the creator of the Proactive Parenting Approach and the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be.
I was blessed to have a college professor who was a student of Magda Gerber. She taught me to observe and support a child’s innate capabilities before interjecting any beliefs about a situation. For instance, observing a child as she climbs an object versus stopping her because you think she isn’t ready. If you stop and simply observe a child as she attempts a new action, you’ll notice that each movement she makes is in preparation to steady her body as she moves toward the climb. That observation leads to the awareness that smiling is the only option that won’t interfere with the innate confidence she’s using in that moment to be successful. This type of support is the loving guidance all children need as they attempt, and miss the mark, many times before reaching success.
After college I studied the work of Rudolf Dreikuer with Redirecting Children’s Behavior. This is where I came to understand that a child’s behavior is an expression of something he’s unable to articulate at the moment and his parent’s feelings are the key to unearthing what can’t be expressed. For example if you feel annoyed when your child is talking or acting out, then you know your child is seeking attention. However, if you feel anger instead of annoyance, you know your child is actually seeking power not attention.
All parents, myself included, want behavior to permanently change after one correction, but that's not realistic. Studying the work of Cline/Fay, of Love and Logic taught me the value of patience and teaching a child about their behavior versus punishing them for their behavior. I also learned what a child needs from their parents in order to change their behavior, and how anger and excessive talking while in the throws of “a behavior moment” cloud the teaching process.
All of that experience plus 25 years of working with parents is what gave birth to Proactive Parenting. Being “proactive” is about responding to a child’s behavior not reacting to it. Responding opens the door to many, many options versus being reactive which relies solely on yelling, punishing, threats and timeout.
Being proactive means incorporating all the facts, and all the players, involved in a situation before taking action. Being aware everyone’s feelings and teaching what’s needed for growth and change so better choices can be made next time.
Being a “proactive” parent means always having your eye on the future, on what your child will need in order to manage herself when you’re not around. It also means holding your child accountable for his actions in an honest, calm way so he grows to trust his instincts about himself and the world around him.
I am a mom, parent educator, coach, author, speaker and blogger. Parents in 96 countries around the world have enjoyed my book Stop Reacting and Start Responding. I’ve been on the Oprah Winfrey Show, done monthly parenting segments for Sac & Co, an ABC affiliate in Sacramento CA, and AM Northwest in Portland, OR. Done numerous local and national radio, newspaper, and online interviews including Parenting Magazine, CNN and CNN Health. I’ve been a weekly blogger for Circle of Moms, AOL’s Patch, Life 360, and am a frequent contributor to Ask Moxie dot org.
“Your tips were wonderful, delivered with such warmth, wit and earthiness.”
Linda Obele, President, MOMS Club Scottsdale NW
I smile proudly when I think and speak of my two children, but that hasn’t always been the case. I’ve lived what every parent is living, a real life, parenting real children.
I had my first child when I was 21; I thought I had it all together. I yelled, screamed and punished and secretly felt awful afterwards. I had achieved my immediate goal of stopping the unwanted behavior, but at what cost? One day my 3 yr. old backed away from me, assuming I was going to spank him. I was crushed. I had replaced my beautiful child’s trust in me with fear. I never spanked again.
But now I had a problem. How was I supposed to change behavior without yelling, punishing or spanking?
I found a lot of parenting theory, but the solutions didn't seem to address real everyday life. I needed answers! What I found were good answers, but they were hard to remember when I needed them.
Then I found what I was looking for! There really was another way to talk to and correct my kids.
A way to respond, not react. A way to discuss, not yell. A way to stay connected and teach, versus hoping punishment would do all the work for me.
I wasn’t perfect; neither were my kids. But the everyday situations that came up were handled firmly and respectfully, and didn’t pull us apart as a family. I teach parenting so I can share this knowledge with everyone. That's how Proactive Parenting™ was born.