About Sharon Silver
I have a very clear memory of the beginning. It began when my sister came home from the hospital, I was three. My sister was a crier. She cried and cried, and it broke my heart. So much so that one morning I snuck into her room and climbed into her crib to soother her. My mom found me holding her; giving her what she needed. The ability to see what a child needs has continued throughout my life, and I turned it into my career.
One of the most powerful lessons in my life occurred when my oldest son was 3½. That day was shaping up to be just like every other day had been that season, filled with boredom, negotiating, begging, pleading, tantrums, crying, all ending with some form of punishment.
However, on this day I decided I’d had enough. I reached out to give my oldest a hug to reconnect—but he backed away from me. He was afraid I was going to swat his behind—I was crushed. I had replaced my beautiful child’s trust in me, with fear of me. I began to cry. My mind began filling with the memories of what it felt like to be yelled at and spanked when I was a child. This was the moment when I knew I had to change what I was doing. I had to change the direction my parenting was headed.
But now I had a problem.
How was I supposed to correct behavior without yelling, punishing or spanking? I knew there was another way, I’d learned parenting theory in college, but the theories didn’t feel realistic enough to address my everyday life. I read developmental and parenting books, and I did find answers, but most were complicated and hard to remember. I wanted to parent in a way that felt intuitive, mindful, practical and just firm enough to enforce the rules and boundaries so my kids would learn.
After much searching, I found solutions that allowed me to respond, not react; teach, not yell and punish. I wanted every parent to know there really was a way to stop repeating the same circular behavior of yelling, shaming, threatening, and punishing. There was a way to be mindful, calm, aware, empathetic and just firm enough to create the type of corrections that teach, versus relying on punishment, which wasn’t working anyway.
I wasn’t perfect; neither were my kids. But the everyday situations that came up were handled calmly, peacefully, firmly and respectfully, and didn’t pull us apart as a family. That’s how Proactive Parenting was born.
Founder of Proactive Parenting
My parenting career began with an education in parenting, early childhood development and interpersonal dynamics, resulting in 4 certifications in parent education, training from the Cline/Fay Institute, INCAF, and the Gesell Institute of Child Development.
I was blessed to have a college professor who was a student of Magda Gerber. I learned to observe and support a child’s innate capabilities before interjecting my influence into a situation. INCAF, based on the work of Rudolf Dreikurs, taught me that a child’s behavior is an expression of something (s)he is unable to articulate, and the way a parent feels when their child misbehaves is key to unearthing what’s going on with a child. Studying the work from the Cline/Fay Institute, founders of Love and Logic, taught me the value of guiding and teaching a child about their behavior, as opposed to punishing them for their behavior. The Gesell Institute taught me the little-known attributes of development that parents often mistake as misbehavior.
All of that, plus raising my two amazing sons, and 29 years of working with parents, is what gave birth to my book, Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Transform Behavior into Learning Moments, enjoyed by parents in over 96 countries around the world.
I have been on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where we spoke about the effects of spanking, on Sac & Co, an ABC affiliate, and AM Northwest. I have done numerous local and national radio, newspaper, and online interviews, including Parenting Magazine, Parents Magazine, Yahoo Parenting, Your Teen, CNN, and CNN Health. I have been a writer for PopSugar, AOL’s Patch, Life 360, and a contributor to Ask Moxie.
I’ve been a recurring speaker at Intel, eBay and PayPal, helping parents manage daily life with kids so they are prepared to be fully focused when they walk in the door at work.