Giveaway: Parenting Advice You Actually Want

I think my son is possessed and I’m not sure I’ll survive the toddler years.

This was a text I got last week from my friend D whose son is 3.5.

Quick on the heels of that, I got this email from L, whose son just turned 2:

It seems we have fully entered the so-called Terrible Twos (also terrific twos, at times, but…) We both brought up your name during our “we should get edu-ma-cated about how to HANDLE THIS SHIT” (not that it can necessarily be handled, but maybe more-to-the-point: how we can endure it while maintaining everyone’s sanity?)

After reading both of these, I breathed a massive sigh of relief that Jo has emerged out of his Most Difficult Stage. And then I felt extreme compassion for these gals, because I know how effing hard it is (Cal has taken to Hulking Out when I tell him he can’t open the refrigerator for the 103rd time). And then I sent them both to Angela and Niels and their website, Parent Connect East Bay, because they are the people who taught me the magic that has helped my relationship with my boys the most.

It’s no surprise that the most popular blog post I’ve ever written was inspired by what I learned from Angela and Niels. I think it struck a chord because parenting is often a lonely and desperate enterprise. We all have different kids and lives and treats that we hide for ourselves in the top corner cupboard, but we all find ourselves in the weeds. And we need resources we can come back to again and again to help us find our way out.

The thing I love most about Angela and Niels is that they teach for Real Human Parents. Parents who lose it sometimes, who don’t have the energy to do the best thing all the time, parents who are routinely judged and stressed and do their work in isolation. Parents who fail and love and try again. Down at the foundation of every tool or strategy they teach is the glorious option to not do it. I hear Angela’s voice in my head on a daily basis, “Check in with yourself first. Do you have the bandwidth to listen to Jo as he screams and throws matchbox cars, or do you just need to plunk him in front of a video and go drink some tea and breathe?” The joy of her question is that EITHER OPTION IS FINE. Her point is, do the hard work of listening and connecting with your kid when you have the time and space and energy. And if you don’t, which sometimes you wont! that’s no problem.

Angela and Niels teach classes in Berkeley, and I’m delighted to say that you can now learn their stuff from ANYWHERE because they’ve created a video series that you’ll want to watch because the videos are like this:

Don’t you already feel about 6 million times better after watching that?

The videos teach the same content they cover in their local classes including (but not limited to!) the stuff that still helps me everyday:

  • Understanding kids’ brains and how they’re totally like ours and also nothing like them
  • How to get the support you need as a parent (!!!eureka!!!)
  • Setting limits for your kid without turning into a dictator or a robot or both

So now for the giveaway part! Anyone care for some free online coaching from these two brilliant, kind, experienced teachers? Angela and Neils have generously offered to answer a parenting question from one of you. They’ll put their minds to a question that one of you raises in comments section of this post, and in a week or two, they’ll coach you here in the form of a guest post reply.

And the secret bonus of leaving a comment with your parenting dilemma? There’s nothing quite like hearing other parents talk about their unique, real, gritty parenting problems. Sigh. We are not alone.

To get you in the mood, I’ll leave comment numero uno, where I fess up to a nasty little habit I have when Jo, say, throws the lemon squeezer across the yard after I ask him to please bring it inside.

So get to it. Lay your parenting question on us in the comments to this post. Tell us where you’re stuck. You can comment anonymously if you want.

Don’t just do it for the killer coaching you’ll get from Angela and Niels. Do it for the greater good of all parents everywhere. Don’t we all need to know we’re not the only ones?

I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

20 thoughts on “Giveaway: Parenting Advice You Actually Want

  1. Sometimes I use threats to get the behavior I want. Earlier this week, Jo and I were in the process of making blender ice cream (an easy treat I’ve posted a vague recipe for here) and he grabbed the lemon squeezer and started squeezing the leaves of my potted plants. I asked him not to two times and he got his sadistic grin on and kept doing it. I was exasperated, and told him that now I couldn’t let him use the lemon squeezer anymore. I reached out for it and I got the sadistic grin again and he hucked the lemon squeezer into the grass as far as he could. I told him that I was sorry, but we weren’t going to do ice cream anymore. He immediately crumbled into a cry. And I went into the kitchen to have some deep breaths. Nothing triggers me more with Jo than when he doesn’t listen and purposely does something he knows will piss me off. In the end, I sat with him and listened to him cry and talked to him about how I need him to listen. We wound up having the ice cream.

    But what is the best I could do in these moments? When I’m seeing red and he’s in that horrible grinning place? The threat feels very appealing because it gets results. But it also feels very childish because of the you-hurt-me-so-now-ill-hurt-you element. Any ideas?

  2. I feel so much better after watching the video! I’m not a parent yet; I might not qualify to be the first one to comment. I’ll let others start. But, Thanks for sharing:-)

  3. OK! Here goes. And I should say, first of all, that I too use threats, and I wish I didn’t. (Though to me, taking away ice cream seemed a little like a healthy limit? Or is that punishing? Anyway. I might well have done the same.) I should also say: I loved that video and am trying not to feel bad about how I sometimes get mad and holler when L. loses it, though I try to connect etc.

    Now: here’s my question. It feels exceedingly boring, but it’s killing us at home. L is 5. And INCAPABLE of following directions. In the morning, particularly. It’s “please brush your teeth” and “please do first pee” and “please get your clothes on” and despite many calm talks, and a chart we made called “L’s Morning,” with fetching pictures of what he needs to accomplish, AND with the sometimes-threat (delivered kindly, in my defense) that he will lose the privilege of watching Wild Kratts later if he can’t help out more, he dilly-dallies like no other. I sometimes have to ask 5 or 6 times for each of the three things he needs to get done. We help more and more (pick the clothes, cue up the toothbrush), and that’s fine–we just want some ownership over the activities and a little frigging help around here, please. Often, he completely ignores us, not in a willful way exactly, but in a “I’m-spaced-out-and-am-going-to-pretend-I-don’t-hear-you-so-I-can-play-animals” way. It is SUCH A BEAR to get out of the house, and it often results in yelling or tears or drama that none of us wants. My patience has worn thin. I’m over it. THANKS!

        1. Me too! It’s like you described my everyday experience with our 4 year old. Makes me INSANE. I try so hard to remain polite and calm, but after making the same request 5 or 10 times, I often snap at him to get him to finally listen. Help!!!

    1. I have the same problem with my Four year old twins! Getting out of the house takes all our effort! And I often end up crying in the car because I am so, so angry and I don’t want to throw it at them- so I end up crying. I also often have to bring their breakfasts (my husband cooks) and clothes in the car to get out on time. Once we get to school, they’ll let me dress them quickly in the car. (Unless they decide they’d rather wear their pajamas, which has happened a few times!) I am so exasperated!

  4. Nothing pushes my buttons more than when our toddler decides whatever meal is in front of her would be better off smeared on the wall or thrown on the floor. I have so far been unable to crack the code to get her to eat rather than redecorate. Her ideal meal would be served one bite at a time, while she races through the house leaving a trail of crumbs in her wake. How do I teach her to eat when it’s time to eat?!

  5. Rewards and punishments. Such a mixed bag! I don’t like them and, yet, sometimes they might just be absolutely ok, no? This morning N pushed her younger brother to the ground and stepped on his back. I had a Mama tantrum because I am so so so tired of her hurting her brother and I have been so so so patient and even understanding until that moment. I have been enduring lots of “shut ups” “you’re ugly” and “I don’t like you”s. Anyway my tantrum happened. It wasn’t pretty. But this is about them right now. 😉 So moving forward everyone calms down, we’re all dressed and ready for the day and N wants to watch a show. My limit has always been that on school days she can watch a show if there is time once she is dressed, fed, and ready to catch the bus. This morning though I said no. I said she needed to earn it and that by hurting her brother she didn’t earn it. She handled this ok and went to coloring. AND I think this was an ok “punishment”. She’ll get a show after school if she wants. So, I guess my question is about consequences for negative behavior and being consistent with these consequences.

  6. I’ve been meaning to reply for a few days but could NOT find the time! One big issue we’re having with our 3 1/2 year old boy W is that we can’t get him to stay in bed. We’ve tried the technique of putting him back in bed without looking at him or talking to him, and he just thinks that it’s an amusing game. We’ve tried the sticker charts and rewards and he actually gets mad when we remind him he’ll get a sticker and tells us he needs to get out of bed. We’ve tried just ignoring him to see if he’ll go back to bed but he just follows us around and cries or yells at us. Even though he always goes to the bathroom right before bed, he uses needing to go to the bathroom as an excuse to get out of bed, which we don’t want to ignore for fear of causing potting issues. And he usually does go, which makes us less likely to want to ignore the request. It’s just a frustrating end to a already too long bedtime routine of dawdling on his part and failure on our part to motivate him. We’re open to suggestions!

  7. Great! Wonderful you are doing this! My new book is coming to print in a week or so, THE JOY OF RING FOR CHILDREN IN THE CIRCLE WAY or “It Takes a Child to Raise a Village”. It is based my experience of traditional ways my Native American heritage using the tools developed in Re-evaluation Counseling and in thirty years of family workshops and camps held by my wife and me, and I think writing it is the most important thing I have done. For anyone who wants it now I am offering to send it free by email as a pdf. send to

  8. thank you for offering this giveaway! I’ve been going back-and-forth with my husband about WHICH question to ask! (So many!). We finally landed on this one: what do we do about the self-injurious/property destroying Rambo behavior that happens during my 2 y.o’s mega tantrums? How do we stay present and connected with him (and keep him safe) when he throws himself into the ground and bangs his head on the floor repeatedly? He has also been known to bite himself and pull his hair. We’ve tried holding him, but he seems to get even more upset. A second cousin to the self-injurious behavior is the “fine, I can’t have my way? Well then I’ll knock over chairs and throw everything in sight onto the floor”… We are at a loss…

  9. These are SUCH great questions! Niels and I are just loving reading these… Threats (the kind and not so kind varieties), Rewards, Consequences & Punishments, getting out the door in the morning, the terrible grin (demonic, isn’t it?), violent thrashing outbursts, hurting siblings, refusing to eat, the “staying in bed challenge”– you, lovely readers of An Honest Mom, are dealing with it all, aren’t you?! Honestly, this is just classic stuff. These are The Issues that come up again and again in our work with parents. I can’t believe how hard parents work–you are all heros!–and you aren’t even getting the royal treatment for your labors in this world, which is the ral crime. Well, have hope, these are things that can improve! We’ve walked with countless families as they shifted these kinds of dynamics. We are going to take another week or so, and we’ll be back with more to say to help you get there. In the meantime, just know that you are AWESOME, and you deserve mucho kudos for your daily, moment-to-moments labors of live for your kids. More soon! Love and blessings heaped upon you, hardworking parents!! Love, Angela

  10. We’re pretty sure our son, three, is an introvert. When we’re home together (me, my husband, and our new baby), he is goofy, sweet, curious, and pleasant. But when we are out and about – play dates, parties, family gatherings, the park – he often becomes wild, aggressive towards others (hitting), verbally unpleasant (disagreeing with everyone), intensely possessive of toys or things he perceives as his (e.g. a particular swing at the park).

    Lately he has been able to occasionally verbalize these feelings (more than just saying he doesn’t want to go): “I just want to be alone with you,” “I want there to be no one at the park but us,” and the very weird “I don’t want people walking/driving down our street” or “I don’t want people to look at me/talk about me/talk about us.”

    I’m suspicious that the arrival of his baby sister has intensified his feelings on this front, though all these behaviors existed before she was born (and, so far, he LOVES her). But, how can we help make this easier on him – and us! – since a world empty of everyone but his select few favorite people isn’t exactly realistic? Would love some specific ideas on how to encourage him to stop being so physically rough with others, kids and adults alike.

  11. I have a one year old daughter that drives me crazy, and I was thinking how I would survive when she becomes older. Your post gave me hope that I need because most of the parents around me lose their temper when their children are overwhelmed and I was afraid to be like them. Thanks.

Thank you for commenting it up. I love hearing from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s