Author Archives: Heather Maccabe

Kind and Firm Parenting

By Carol Dores

I remember when our kids were young, giving in to their begging.  We both worked more than full time outside the home, so I often felt guilty about not spending enough time with them.  When they would want things, I would give in. When they misbehaved, I would yell, threaten, and never follow through. “Wait till your father gets home” was often used when I was really fed up.  I’ll never forget when I threatened our younger son, and the older son said, “don’t worry. She will never do that.” I realized just how much of a pushover parent I was. When I got tired of being a doormat, I would get strict, and try to punish our children.  Then, when I couldn’t stand myself anymore, I’d go back to giving in?

Sound familiar? So many of us do the too kind – too firm dance.  While we are trying to do our best, we end up confusing our children.  They often don’t know what to expect. And, neither permissive parenting nor authoritarian parenting is best for our children.

Being kind and firm at the same time is the loving structure that can help children thrive.  Begin by validating feelings and/or showing understanding. Offer a choice when possible. Here are some examples:

“I know you want to play videogames, AND it is time for homework.  Do you want to turn it off or should I?”

“I understand you don’t want to brush your teeth, AND we can do it together.”

“It seems like you want to continue playing, AND it is time for bed.  Do you want to pick out the story, or would you like me to? You choose.”

At the beginning, it may feel uncomfortable or forced to say things this way.  Once you get in to the habit of kind and firm parenting, it becomes more natural.  

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#positivediscipline #children #lifeskills #kindandfirm #authoritarian #parenting #parents

Enjoying Adult Children

By Carol Dores

We are away with our adult “children” and their significant others for the week.  It is magical, and I am so grateful! They are responsible, independent, loving people that are fun to be with.  Just like when they were younger, we have played board games, watched movies, enjoyed the outdoors and food together.  We have had lots of laughs, and some great conversations. The difference is that they are now fully responsible for themselves, and we are much more relaxed.  

As I think back to the years that they lived at home and were children, there was a lot of joy.  We all remember family dinners, board games, and spending a lot of time outdoors. I also remember yelling a lot, being exhausted, and the stressful side of parenting.  For those still in the throes of parenting, it is amazing when they grow up.

In Positive Discipline, we make a list of life skills and characteristics we hope our children learn by the time they are 25-30 years old.  It feels so good when we are together, and they are most of the things on the list.

Parenting can be filled with joy and stress.  It is well worth all of the time, energy and love that we put into it.  

Want to learn more tools and strategies for encouraging our children to grow in to the best that they can be?  Visit our website

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#positivediscipline #children #lifeskills #character #responsible #independent #loving #compassionate #relaxed #parenting #parents

Focusing on Strengths

By Carol Dores

How many times do we complain that our children are stubborn?  That they won’t just do whatever we tell them? That they are so busy playing that they forget to do “the important things”?  That they are always needing our attention. And so many other negative things.

What about if instead of focusing on what we’d change about our children, we instead focus on their strengths?

The same child that is stubborn is persistent and determined.  The one that won’t just do what we tell them has thoughts and opinions of their own.  The one too busy to do what we want them to do may be creating the next masterpiece of art.  That they want to feel connected to us and special.

If we take a step back and think about each of our children, we often focus on what we perceive as their weaknesses, rather than their strengths.  If instead, we can encourage our children to use their strengths, we may find they will shine brightly.

One fun activity is to sit with each child and together come up with a list of what they are good at.  This can include sports, art, music, and academic subjects. Just as important is how they are with others – their character.  Being kind, caring for others, and being a good friend are all examples. Once you’ve come up with a list, make a copy for yourself, and ask your child where they would like to keep it.  When things are challenging, you and they can go look at this wonderful list. You can also do this as an annual activity, so you can both see how they are growing and developing.

We always will get what we expect to find.  Maybe we need to change our expectations. That shift in our view might change our child’s world.

Want to learn more tools and strategies for encouraging our children to grow in to the best that they can be?  Visit our website

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#positivediscipline #positive #strengths #encouragement

Understanding and Expressing Feelings

By: Carol Dores

Many of us were raised to hold our feelings inside, and not express them.  Feelings are really important to share, to express love, danger, and to help solve problems.  Feelings are one of the things that make us human.

Feelings can be expressed in just one word….more than one word is a thought.

Many of us don’t know how to recognize our feelings, nor can we express them in a respectable way.  Too often, we are in “flipped lid” when we are exploding with feelings.  Taking the time to help children understand how they are feeling inside and out is the first step to self-regulation and control.  Learning to express their feelings when they are calm, in an appropriate way, are important next steps.  And it all begins with you, the parent, modeling the behavior you want in your children.  “I feel mad.”  “I feel glad.”  “I feel scared.”  “I feel sad.”  Begin to share how you are feeling.

Openly.  Honestly.

You will be giving your children a huge gift if you can help them learn to express their feelings in a healthy way.  Imagine if your child has an “anger management” issue, and you can help them learn to say “I am FURIOUS!” instead of punching a hole in the wall.

Imagine if your child is afraid of spiders, and you can help them learn to say, “I am SCARED!” instead of running in the other room screaming horribly at the top of their lungs.

Imagine if your child learns to share their joy, by being able to say “I am HAPPY!” and “I love you”.  Wow!

Here’s a way you can help your children understand and express their feelings, and begin to self-regulate.  This is a real life story from a 5th grade class, and their wheel of feelings.

When I first said we were going to explore feelings, there were a few groans in the class, and one child said he was tired of talking about feelings because that’s all he did with his therapist.  They quickly forgot these feelings, as they began by exploring other words for the four basic feelings words of mad, sad, scared and glad.  They came up with the list on the outside of the feelings circle.  This is an important step in learning self-regulation, because if you can name it, you can control it.  

The next thing they were asked to think about is what is happening within their body as they are beginning to have different feelings.  So as they get mad, what is their body doing. For example, when they are becoming mad, some of them clench their teeth, turn red, or their hearts beat fast.  These are captured inside the feelings circle.  This is another important step in learning self-regulation, because if you can recognize the signals your body is giving you before you react, you can control it even earlier. 

The last thing they did was practice expressing feelings in an appropriate way, that others can hear you.  They used the sentence: I feel ____________  when __________________ and I wish ______________.  They then paired up to practice.  One of the things I heard was, “I feel sad when I’m made to sit at the Thanksgiving table alone, and I wish I was loved.”  While they couldn’t look each other in the eye, and many were uncomfortable expressing feelings, they clearly got in to it.  With younger children, they could use the phrase, “It bugs me when _______________ and I wish ______________.  Taking the time to help your children learn about their feelings is truly a gift to everyone.

Recognizing how you are feeling, and then expressing yourself is an important step towards self control.  And it can start with you!

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#feelings #emotionals #positivediscipline #teachers #parents #nannies #emotionalintelligence

Building Connections With Your Children

By Carol Dores

One of the most important things that we can do with our children is to build and maintain a strong connection and relationship.  Research shows that resilience comes from the deep belief that you matter to another human being.  These bonds can come from parents, caregivers, teachers, relatives or any adult in a child’s life. 

Here are ways that help build connections and relationships.

  • Be present.  Put everything away, clear your mind, and really focus on the child.
  • Non-verbal communication. 97% of communication is non-verbal. Maintain eye contact. Keep body open, with no crossed arms or legs. Tone of voice should be warm.
  • Listen. Truly listen and ask questions to insure understanding. Listen more than talk.
  • Show compassion and empathy. Express understanding of their feelings. Share when you felt the same way. Ask questions for understanding.
  • Safe touch. If they are comfortable and it is appropriate, hugs are a great tool.  Fist bumps or touching a shoulder is an alternative.
  • Special time. Set up time weekly (or daily if you can) to do something they like to do.  This can be 10-30 minutes, depending on their age.

Spending time to invest in the relationship and connection is so important.  When problems arise, they are more likely to talk to you about them.  One of our sons came to us to talk about birth control options.  After getting over the initial shock, we were delighted that we had built an open and trusting relationship so that he could have that conversation with us. 

Want to learn more about Parenting the Positive Discipline Way?  Visit

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#positivediscipline #connection #relationships #bodylanguage #nonverbalcues #listenmore #talkless #compassion #empathy