prevention is more effective than punishment

While doing some research online I came across this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

I think there's some wisdom in this for parents. It's not uncommon for us to notice the telltale signs that our child is about to act out -- the arm slowly rising, the fist clenching, the tight-lipped frown or furrowed brow, the verbal and manual attempts to clear a space around himself that often precede a bite -- and yet instead of stepping in to help by restraining him from committing the injurious behavior, we expect the child to stop himself upon our request or reminder.

10 year old who cries at everything

Q: My ten year old daughter cries at everything and is not very good at sharing. She's not as emotionally mature as her 8 year old sister. Every time they are in a conflict, my younger one gives in so that her older sister won't cry. 

Also, she has friends but is always being left out. Every time there is a group activity, she is the one without a group and has to be assigned. She is very sad about it.

Do you have any suggestions?

A: With just this little bit of info to go on, the best I can do is offer a hunch for you to consider, and perhaps some ideas for you to experiment with.

on the radio

I was interviewed on The Stacey Stern Show today! We discussed how to communicate with angry or defensive people, including our children and teenagers. Here's the link to the archived recording if you'd like to listen or share:

For more information about Karen's parenting consultations, click here or visit

a few thoughts on truth, lying, and teasing

A conversation with a friend today inspired me to search the archives of my old website for an article I wrote about ten years ago after seeing a father teasing his young son. Here it is:

Do you tell your children the truth, and model congruence between your words and behavior?

In other words, are you trustable? Examples:

Not trustable: Telling a toddler "No more . . . juice is all gone. All gone," as you are hiding a half full juice pitcher behind your back.

Trustable: "We're all done with the juice for now. I'm going to put it away and you can have more at snack time."

Children are biologically programmed to look to their parents and elders as reference points. Ideally, they will have their perception and experience of the world validated.