The Best Question to Ask When You Don't Like Your Kid's Behavior

A couple of weeks ago, a mom whom I had the pleasure of working with years ago, wrote me about her daughter being bullied, and how she remembered the skills and the Hand in Hand tools she had learned in our class, and was able to handle it with tremendous insight and grace, thanks to this different way of thinking about parenting and our kids' behavior.   
At first she found herself doing what so many of us do - something I call "behavior chasing." Her daughter had developed this habit of screaming a lot and she just wanted it to STOP. 

Until she remembered... the behavior is just a marker. 

A signal. A communication of a deeper need. She shifted her focus, and found the answers her family needed. 
I loved her story so much, I asked her if she'd be willing to let us share her story on the podcast, and she also offered to write it up for you all.

So here you go, in Nina's own words...



Kid Behaving Badly? Use It to Your Advantage!

Sometimes our kids are just... well... awful. 

It's ok. We parents can be too. 

The good news? Sometimes that big giant steaming pile of yuck can bloom some pretty nice flowers if you know how to till the soil. 

Let me explain:

It's a Saturday. My husband has been out running errands all morning with my older son. They get home around 3. At 3:30 I have to leave with both kids to go pick up the car from the service center and then take them to a music lesson they never really want to go to at that hour on a Saturday. The lesson is demanding, and it's a Saturday and while the experience is actually great, they would always prefer to do NOTHING. It's tough on a good day, and on a day when my oldest has been out all day, this is like trying to get the Grinch to decorate a Christmas tree for an orphanage. 

Oh and on this day, in this moment, he's busy playing drums...


Healing from Trauma: Reframing Our Stories of Hurt

*This article originally appeared on The Hand in Hand Parenting Blog:



Ugh. The mere word can cause us to tense up. Many of us have strong associations with that word, and for some of us it even has personal reverberations. Perhaps we experienced it first-hand and long desperately to put it behind us, and yet we feel unsure of how to move through it. Is it even possible to heal from it, when you can’t change what actually happened?

I am speaking here not as a psychiatrist or psychologist, but rather as a human being who has spent her life fascinated with human emotions, resiliency and wounds of all kinds. And while there are some who may find this next statement surprising, I think there is tremendous hope to heal from trauma, and even to heal fully. I believe this hope lies in the ability to be truly seen and heard by those who know how to listen, and also in our ability to proactively...


My boys have spent the whole day building paper guns. Here is how I feel about it.


It is late summer, and the days of doing nothing all day will soon be replaced with schedules and stricter bedtimes. But for now, we milk the last few drops of utter lazy freedom. 

It is in this spirit, that my boys somehow woke up today determined to build themselves some paper weaponry. Not just a measly little sword or two. No, instead they are obsessed with building replicas of some vintage (and to me still absolutely terrifying-looking) guns. 

Just the mere mention of the word gun is so - pardon the double entendre - loaded these days.

My mind flashes to headlines and school shootings and ballot boxes. To the bill of rights and what did it all mean way back then? What should it mean now? What is freedom and how do we balance it with responsibility? Why do so many boys like guns anyway? Will my boys know the difference between play guns and real ones? Can I trust them to turn out ok, to never hurt someone?

But these are my adult thoughts....

How I Became a Mother - Two Years AFTER I Had My Kids

This is a true story. (I hope you will forgive my honesty as I tell it.)

It is the story of how I became a mother - two years AFTER I had my kids. 

Winter, early 2009: I was a new mom. Twice over.

One baby who was almost two years old. The other only two months old. A dream come true.  The only problem: I had children I loved, but I didn’t yet know how to be a parent.

The first few years had been rough. No sleep – ever. My first born needed multiple heart surgeries. My father had just died. My career - and my whole prior life - was over. Not to mention, these kids. They had feelings that I just didn’t know how to handle. Who was handling all MY feelings? 

I wanted so badly to be a good parent. No, a great parent.

I thought love would be enough, but all the love in the world did not prepare me for the frustration I would sometimes feel when the toddler hit the baby, or they would wake up for the 12th time that night, or my husband would...


Hello Homework!

Click PLAY if you want to get to know me. Want to go straight to thoughts on homework? Read below!

It's the beginning of fall, and as surely as leaves will drop, so will the homework. Pages and pages of it. Sometimes whole binders worth. Homework can be the source of many arguments in the home and I wanted to take a look at why, and what we can do about it. 

In order to really understand what's going on, it helps to look at what's happening for both the parents and the kids, because homework is challenging for both of us in ways that are diametrically opposed, and this is how we so often wind up in conflict.

AS PARENTS, we may be feeling:

  • a very understandable desire for our child to "do well." We may even be concerned that if our child can't do homework well, they won't do well in school, and then they won't do well in life.
  • Sometimes our own bad memories about school may be getting unconsciously stirred...

5 Games You Can Play with Your Kids in 5 Minutes or Under

Let's face it. Some of us feel like we don't have time to play. 

But not our kids. No. It's like they are made for it. 

Well, actually, they are. Play is one of the ways they learn. And they LOVE IT. If KidLand were a country, play would be their currency. And their language. And their national flag. 

So why is play so hard for US?

Well, one of the reasons is that we legitimately have a lot to do. We get sucked up into our lists of important tasks that need to get ticked off. First things first: Look at that list and ask yourself "Does this thing actually need to get done?" And if it does need to get done, does it need to get done now?"

Would it be okay if it waited five minutes? And yeah, I really mean 5 minutes.



* While most of these games are meant for kids 10 and under, they can be modified for older kids too. See my suggestions at the end.



An Unusual Mother's Day Wish

This mother’s day, I’d love to reach out to all the moms out there who maybe didn’t have a mom. Or at least not the kind you’d ever call Mom.

You didn’t have a Mom who would put a band-aid on your knee when you fell skating, or maybe you never even got to skate with her. You didn’t have the kind of Mom you could go to when you broke your ceramic candlestick in second grade, or when your friend didn’t invite you to her sleepover party, or when you got your period. She wasn’t there for you – at least not in the way you needed – when you got married, and she certainly wasn’t there for you when the baby came helping teach you how to nurse, doing the extra laundry and getting some groceries.

And yet, here you are, grown up, with a family all your own. Now YOU are Mom. And maybe sometimes it feels confusing. How do you lead someone down a path on which no one ever led you? It can feel like you are carrying the weight of...


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Welcome. I send good things only.