Before my first son became a full-blown toddler, I hadn’t done any research at all on child-care, children, or how they develop. I had my own experiences, a basic understanding of some human psychology, and a fairly decent instinct. But when my angelic baby turned into a strong-willed toddler, I was convinced that everything I was doing was wrong and that I was making him unhappy and ill-mannered. I couldn’t shake the fear that somehow I had ruined him already and that I was doing everything all wrong.

I quickly took to the internet in a desperate attempt to save my toddler and the relationship between us. I found some resources that really opened my eyes and I read and read until I felt like I had a decent understanding of different methods and mindsets on parenting. Then, I found Janet Lansbury and the world of Respectful Parenting.

I went into motherhood with a basic idea of what I wanted it to look like. It didn’t feel right to punish my kids for things that didn’t seem morally wrong. We knew for sure there would be no spanking or physical punishments of any kind. Mostly, I knew I wanted my kids to grow up unafraid and uninhibited by me and my expectations. I knew I wanted my role to be provider and caretaker. My only real job, in my mind, is to be there when they fall and help them get back up again. (I mean, obviously be a model for manners and stuff too.)

Despite all that, I had no idea how to execute these goals the way I wanted. Before I discovered Respectful Parenting I really had no idea how to implement my ideas effectively in a way where I was still in control. Now that I have these tools and the knowhow to really make this peaceful and respectful bond between me and my boys grow while still effectively parenting them, I’ve seen the benefits of this style of parenting. It truly changed my mood, my mindset, and my relationship with my kids for the better.


  • IT TAKES THE PRESSURE OFF | This may not be the best way to phrase it, given that Respectful Parenting does have a lazy vibe on the outside. With all the lack of punishment and safe places and everything. I can honestly say that when I first discovered it, I was a little unsure of how parents were still in charge of the whole operation. But as I learned more and as I introduce more of the practice into my own home, I am finding that my toddler listens better and I don’t feel as much pressure when things aren’t perfect.

    The part of peaceful parenting that takes the pressure off is that the first step is to accept that toddlers don’t listen. It’s not their job to listen. Children have lots of feelings, the same as you and I do. We feel like screaming when things get overwhelming. I’ve hit a pillow or two out of extreme frustration over things that, in hindsight, were really quite ridiculous to be so upset over. And I’ve done all of this as a full grown adult with that one little thing we should have that kids don’t: self-control.

    When I finally realized that my toddler’s outbursts weren’t the beginnings of a bad seed, but simply the perfectly normal and natural expression of emotion, I was less afraid. I felt so much less pressure to prevent negative feelings and extreme reactions. I finally realized it’s not my job to tell them how to feel or to make sure they’re feeling happy 100% of the time. It’s simply my job to allow my kids to feel what they need and help them find the self-control to expel their feelings appropriately over time.

  • IT’S FOR RAISING ADULTS, NOT KIDS | I knew before my sons were born that I was raising future adults. I knew I wanted to go into parenting this way. I had a good idea of how I wanted to parent, but it is really nice knowing that there’s a group of people out there who are parenting this way too. And it’s nice being able to find that community of people who have their own tips and tricks on how to foster our children’s childhoods to help them grow into happy and productive adults.

    It’s always been tricky for me to think of children as children. Mostly because I’m always thinking 1,000 steps ahead. I look at my toddler and newborn son and see them as very tiny men. Tiny men who need me to help them be the best men that they can be. But in order to do that, I have to respect them as whole human beings with rights and developmental stages that can’t be rushed.

    We’re only with our kids for a short amount of time. They will likely have their own families longer than they were ever a full part of ours. They will be responsible for themselves, and others, before we know it. We’re raising men who will need to learn to be good to women and women who need to learn to be good to men and people who need to learn to be good to people. Most importantly, we’re raising people who need to learn how to be good to themselves no matter what others bring their way.

    With Respectful Parenting, it’s not about fixing the toddler problem to make a better toddler. It’s about allowing the toddler to get as much as he can out now in order to help him to walk into adulthood feeling light. Not weighed down by all the emotions he had to bury because we didn’t want a screaming toddler.

  • IT’S JUST AS MUCH CARING FOR YOURSELF AS IT IS CARING FOR YOUR KIDS | The older I get, the more I realize I’m a pretty sensitive person. Marriage and motherhood are two things that definitely motivate you to knock down your walls so you can share who you really are with the people closest to you. In that, you learn about yourself. So I’ve learned I’m a big sensitive baby. I’m not the type to let things roll by unaffected. I’m the type to feel everything, deeply, until I’ve finished feeling it. In return, how I’m feeling can affect everything around me. My productivity, the clothes I choose to wear, the activities I engage in, and ultimately, how effectively I can parent.

    When I decided to approach parenting in a way that encourages feelings and expression within my children, I learned that patience (my worst quality) needed to be at the forefront of my mind at all times. In order to do that, I needed to take care of myself. My emotions, my problems, my stress, my insecurities; everything. It all needed to be addressed and maintained. Because, if I’m not happy, how can I help my children find happiness?

    One thing that’s strongly encouraged in peaceful parenting is addressing your own issues and I love that. So many parents will feel wrong with tradition punishments and attitudes towards kids but still believe it’s the only way because thats what they were raised with. It usually stems from their own childhood. It’s something they have to work to overcome within themselves before they can implement the practice effectively in their own home. People who were raised with their own feelings being punishable offenses, shamed, or ignored have a hard time feeling like it’s okay when their kids express the same extreme feelings they need to express.

    When you take a look at how you respond to your kid’s feelings, it can give you some perspective on how your own feelings were handled as a kid and how you learned to deal with them growing up. It gives you an opportunity to fix yourself in order to give your kids a better chance of learning and coping and feeling productive. And better yet, it’s very encouraging to make sure you never forget to take care of yourself through the process of parenting.



To preface: all thoughts in this post have been inspired by Kristin Mariella.

There’s an interesting theory flying around these days. It’s the idea that humanity, as a whole, is evolving right before our eyes. We’re seeing a shift in our understanding and self-awareness like never before. We have knowledge beyond any other generation. We have our own insights and practices, along with many years of documented experience to look back on and learn from. 

We’re at a place now where we’re all connected and we have the time to be aware of others around us in an open-minded, observatory fashion. We can see the cause and affect of our own actions more clearly than ever and it’s going to change the way we view children and parenting forever. 


So, we are human. We are ever evolving, ever growing beings. We started as animals and then became civilized humans. We’ve molded the world to meet our needs in order to live as comfortably and stress free as possible. We’ve made it to where most all us have our basic needs - food, shelter, health-care, etc. - met with ease. We mastered the art of maintaining our sustenance which gave us time to learn to build shelters that can protect us from most anything. With consistent sustenance and trusted shelter, we were able to create industry which brought us even more sustenance and shelter and then, luxuries like trains, cars, fashionable clothing, etc. We’ve molded our species to have some of the easiest lives in history to where our only true threat is the occasional natural occurrence (like tornados or hurricanes) and other humans who have not evolved enough to use brains over brawn. Because of all this, we have the time, freedom, and resources to learn about ourselves and the world around us.

I understand this may seem like a privileged view of the world, but my point is, those of us living in civilized societies have our basic needs met most of the time. This gives us more time to dig into the deeper areas of how we humans and the world around us work. We, as a species, have time to fly into space and look at people chopping up soap on instagram which, in turn, means we parents have time to learn about children and how they develop.


We have time to pick up a book and figure out when children develop certain abilities (like impulse control) in order to make sure our expectations are realistic . We have time to learn what emotions mean and where they come from in order to allow our children to have them without triggering our own. Most importantly, we are evolved enough to understand that our personal emotions are based on our instincts. They are the impulsive part of our brain that help keep us safe from danger . Unfortunately, they are also the impulsive part of our brain that tells us our children’s natural behavior is a threat and should be corrected at all costs, including the cost of our children’s potential and happiness.

This is what a lot of people like to call, “default parenting.” It takes no thought. You see your child doing something that triggers your brain’s reactors and you yell at them or hit them. You carry out an extreme consequence to do anything you can do to remove this “threat.” The problem with this is, in the reasonable, intelligent part of our brain, we understand children are not truly a threat. They are smaller and slower and in times of true danger, we are capable of being quick enough, aware enough, and strong enough to prevent that danger without igniting fear within our children. We are capable of being more evolved than our uneducated instincts, but it takes knowledge and practice to get there.

While our brains have not developed past the point of reaction, our society has evolved faster than our instincts. That gives us a choice to create an evolution within ourselves. To rise above our instincts and be the evolved humans our society allows for. Humans that don’t need to be afraid of their surroundings to the point of lashing out at the innocent beings around us. It takes practice. It takes rewiring your instincts and allowing yourself to think before reacting. To let yourself believe that inflicting fear and bad feelings on another human is not the only way to teach them. It takes effort and I’d hope we’re all willing to put in a little effort for the sake of our children, and ultimately, the sake of humanity itself.


Going back to theories: With all of this knowledge of evolution and the current state of society, there are many people who have had the time and resources to study children and their development. They study their emotions and reactions. How they learn, how they respond, and how many different ways a child may do each of those things. These people have come to the conclusion that children don’t truly need discipline. They don’t need us to teach them proper behavior. They simply need a good role model and an environment created to facilitate growth.

Because of this, it is believed that, not only are there truly no bad kids, but that every child is born perfect. Not perfect in the sense of, “doing no wrong,” but perfect in that they are born with all the tools they need to learn and function within society. Essentially, they are born ready to become the most perfect version of themselves without any of our help. In fact, when you see a child fall into a pattern of bad behavior, it is most likely because of an adult getting in the way of their process. One that they need to go through in order to fully develop to their full potential.

In short, children with bad behavior are not bad children, they are either in a stage of development that requires said behavior to move forward OR they simply have inadequate leaders.

To add to that, there are also behaviors that we perceive as bad because of our uneducated instincts and/or because we were taught as children that these natural developments within ourselves are bad. Children who appear bad are falling victim to uneducated, instinctual, default parents who let their ignorance propel these children into becoming bad adults. They have leaders who are unwilling to practice what they preach, unwilling to be better than the generation before them, and unwilling to evolve beyond their “default” primitive state.


This post is not to dive into the details of childhood development and proper parenting methods. I, myself, am still in the early stages of learning truly what all of this means. My goal with all of this is to spread the word that we can be better. We can learn and grow to become the parents that the children of the world, in every stage of evolution, have always needed their parents to be.

Throughout our own evolution, we’ve learned that people who look different are not always a threat. We’ve learned that people who are weak are not invaluable. We’ve fought so hard to give everyone rights through encouraging education on communities who have previously been discriminated against. I’m hoping that with the knowledge we can access in this stage of evolution, we can learn to trust that children are intelligent and equal. That they are deserving of respect. Respect that is necessary for them to grow into the perfect humans they are supposed to become.

Similar to the monumental moments where we fought for the rights of women, minorities, and LGBT communities, I believe this is a moment in history where we will see a rise in the rights of children. We will see a movement of better parenting and education practices that will end the days of physical and verbal abuse on any scale. A movement that will give every child the environment necessary to grow to their full potential.



I don’t know for sure, but if I had to guess this is the number one question parents have. What can I do to ensure my children will hear me and listen to me? The frustration of saying “no” and seeing a blank stare as your kid continues to do that thing you don’t want them to do is very real. It’s honestly infuriating and I completely understand why some will default to hitting, spanking, yelling, and severe punishment.

As if harsher consequences are what children need to obey.

So to start all of this, I just want to say, I understand the urge to create these extremes in your home. I have been in many positions where I thought to myself, “Man, I bet a spanking would make him listen to me right now and forever” or “if I locked him in his room” or “if I yell louder, just for a little scare.” It is extremely tempting to bring in those severe consequences because it really does feel like the only option sometimes.

But if there are any parents who feel that guilt, that sense of this is wrong, when implementing these extremes, I am here to say there is a better way to say no. There is totally a better way and it’s a way that you and your child can walk away from feeling proud and connected from any difficult situation that comes your way.

It seems impossible or gimmicky. On the outside, what I am going to tell you may sound like I am saying, “let your kids do whatever they want.” But I’m not.

In fact, setting boundaries, carrying out consequences, and being a leader for your children is so important for all of this. It is important that they learn to trust you to set these boundaries and stick to them.


This is not necessarily an easy step to take. Taking severe punishments out of your home and implementing more respectful and peaceful ways of handling the tough stuff takes a lot of work for us parents. There are some things we have to let go of, standards we have to change within ourselves, and behaviors we need to redefine. There are so many opinions around kids who don’t listen, kids who get upset, and kids who are not exactly “normal.” We think of them as bad. It makes us think we’re bad. It’s embarrassing and we’ve been taught that these things need to be nipped in the bud ASAP.

So before you can even begin to effectively say “no,” you first need to let go of a few things within yourself in order to find confidence and assurance in yourself and your choices. That confidence will help you maintain this connection with your kids even when people are watching or judging.


  • TANTRUMS ARE NOT BAD | A big thing people say no to are tantrums, crying, etc. Those yucky reactions that express pain, discomfort, or unhappiness. So many of us have been taught to hide those feelings and push them as far away as we can. In part, we were taught that by our parents because they would spank us, yell at us, or brush us off saying, “you’re fine” when we had any extreme emotions. If any of this happened in public, you were done for sure.

    I understand it’s stressful and it feels so wrong when your kid gets loud and upset. If it happens in public, in front of people looking at you and judging you, the pressure is on to quiet them down immediately, however you possibly can.

    But kids are going to get upset. They NEED to feel safe in expressing that. If you want them to trust you and listen to you, you have to trust that when they express their feelings, they are expressing them the only way they can and exactly the way they need to. Besides any physical responses to emotions (hitting people or destroying things), I encourage you to start letting your kids express their emotions as loudly and passionately as they need to whenever you can. If you’re in public, simply take them to a more private spot. But no matter what, your life will be much easier if you allow them to cry or yell or whatever they need until they don’t need to any more. (if they insist on hitting, give them a pillow and let them know they can hit that as much as they want)

    Their feelings may seem stupid or silly or so so small, but they are very real to our kids so please let them have them. Tantrums are really just the only way kids know how to express what they’re going through.

  • THEY’RE ALLOWED TO BE MAD | Similar to above, we also need to allow our kids to tell us when they are upset about a boundary we’ve set. If they want a cookie but you don’t think it will be good for them in that moment, definitely let them know they can’t have the cookie, but then let them be upset about it.

    If you’ve ever wanted anything in your life, you know it’s disappointing to not get it. What’s even more disappointing is not being able to vent about it. So let them vent. Let them be upset. It’s good for them to release those feelings. They need it. No, they don’t need the cookie and they’re not being bratty by getting upset about it. They need to be able to tell you they are upset about your “no.”

  • THEY’RE NOT ALWAYS GOING TO LISTEN | If you really think about, it’s not a kid’s job to listen. It’s their job to learn and with learning comes some falling. They are suppose to push you as hard as they can in order to gain that security that you’re in charge and that you know what you’re doing. They need this so that they can feel free to explore and learn knowing that you are there to set the boundaries they so desperately need from us. Their lives are in your hands and they are fully aware of that so they want to make sure they can trust you to keep them safe.

    So just know, they’re not always going to listen. They won’t always have the control to do so. They will sometimes have urges that are stronger than your rules and in those moments, they need understanding, compassion, and help to control those urges so they can learn to listen.

  • BUT THEY TRULY DO WANT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY | While I don’t condone using your emotions, approval, disapproval, etc. as consequences for a child’s actions, it helps to know that deep down, even when it doesn’t seem like it, they do love us and they want nothing more than for us to love them back and be happy with what they’re doing.

    Kid’s have very strong emotions. They have strong desires that drive them and these desires take turns at the forefront of their minds. They always have a desire to please us, but sometimes their desire to draw on the wall is stronger. In those moments, the worst thing you can do is make them feel like their actions can have any effect on your love for them. Showing them that you’re disappointed only send the message of, “it’s possible for me to love you less.” Which truly will only make them push harder or worse, shut down their own desires all together and submit to your every word.

    In every choice you make with your kids and how you handle them, always remember the number one thing they need from you is love and exceptence. This should never be a tool to use when they’re not listening. This should be a constant that never changes no matter how many boundaries they push.

I think changing your mindset towards certain behaviors is really what it takes. Realizing your kid isn’t a bad kid and understanding that these behaviors are normal and very expected helps to keep your nerves at bay when handling these tough situations.

All of that being said, here are some tips to saying “no” in a way your kids will listen.


  • SET YOUR BOUNDARIES BEFORE YOU GET FRAZZLED | I think a big issue when disciplining kids is that we wait until we’re angry to finally intervene. We say “no, no, no, no” over and over again until finally we’re mad enough to go over and take action.

    The reality is, we should be taking action the minute we say no and we should be saying no long before we’re mad. We should be actively involved in the interactions, not shouting half-heartedly across the room. If you can find a way to calmly put yourself in close proximity to your kid, it will send the message of, “Oh, mom’s serious. Maybe I should stop.” Without ever having to be harsh, create fear, or cause pain to communicate your boundary.

    So the next time you see your child doing something that is dangerous or that you simply just don’t want them to do, calmly walk over. Be ready to kindly and calmly hold their hands to help them from touching or hitting something or to remove the thing that is dangerous or off limits.

    This is the best way to not only effectively communicate what you want, but to also show your kids what self control feels like. To give them an example of how to stop themselves in the future.

  • TRUST THAT THEY UNDERSTAND YOU | No matter how old your child is, no matter how developed their speech may be, they get it.

    Something that I think a lot of people don’t realize is that their kids understand so much of what they’re saying. They understand when you’re telling someone a negative feeling you have towards them. They understand when you’re proud. They understand when you don’t want them to do something. They’re not dogs that can only comprehend simple commands. They’re human beings who are learning, but who know more than they can express.

    I encourage you to speak to your kids as if they’re five. Better yet, as if they’re another adult that you are asking a favor from. An adult who may be currently destroying your living room in a fit of extreme play, but still an adult who deserves the respect of full sentences. And as an added bonus, add a please and thank you. After all, your kids are learning how to talk by how you talk to them. If you bark orders and simple commands at them with no amount of curtesy, they are learning they can do the same in the future.

  • WORK ON YOUR PHRASING | The way you phrase your requests really can make or break how your child responds. It’s important that you are as direct, clear, and confident as possible. Thing’s like “we shouldn’t” “mommy doesn’t like” etc. only creates a disconnect in the situation. It gives them an out. With these types of phrases you’re giving them the opportunity to say, “maybe WE don’t but I do.” And saying “mommy doesn’t”rather than “I don’t” can create a divide where kid and mommy are two characters in a story rather than you and your child engaging in a learning moment together.

    Two things you can say to replace the simple “no” are:
    - “I won’t let you...”
    - “I can’t let you....”

    It takes emotion out of it, it’s not vague. It is a direct, realistic comment on what you can and can’t let your child do. Keep it simple and short while still giving them that respect of a full sentence. This along with being physically present and ready to stop a hand from grabbing or hitting will really go a long way. I promise, even if you don’t think they can, they will understand and appreciate this so much more than just saying, “no.”

  • DON’T ALWAYS ASSUME THEY HEAR YOU | Did you ever have a moment when you were young where you were fully engaged in something and all of a sudden your mom was in your face yelling at you, super upset about something? Odds are, she’d already asked you five times and you didn’t hear her.
    Not to say getting to that point of yelling is okay, but I’m just giving some perspective on the kid’s side of things.

    When kids get into something, they become completely engaged. Everything they see, hear, think, and do is all in the activity in that moment. So when you say across the room, “I need you to…” “I can’t let you…” There is always that chance that they literally don’t hear you.

    When you’re talking to your kids, the best chance of getting them to hear you and listen to you is to actually physically be near them, maybe lay a gentle hand on their back, and calmly say the thing you want them to hear. It will save you a lot of grief if you realize they’re not intentionally ignoring you, but that they simply don’t hear you.

    Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times a simple whisper has been far more effective than a distant yell.


If you try all of this and they still won’t listen, try and take a step back. Remove anything that could be dangerous, and then just step back and ask “why?”

Is your child hungry, tired, in need of a diaper change, overstimulated, under-stimulated, effected by a bad mood I may be passing on? Have you gone through a big change recently? What in their world could be causing this behavior?

Sometimes kids use their rebellion as a way to express a bigger emotion that they just don’t know how to tell you about. Kids don’t always know how to say, “I’m tired.” So instead, they’ll play with things that are off limits, throw food on the floor, hit you, yell at you, etc.

When you realize that the “why” is much more than a simple test of boundaries, you can start to try and determine what they need in order to give it to them. No, even when they are adamantly insisting on not listening, I still don’t believe punishment is the answer. Is it really fair to punish them for asking for something they need in the only way they know how to?

So when they’re truly infuriating, look around, look at them, look at the time and see what they’re really trying to tell you. Sometimes it’s as easy as handing them a cracker and sometimes it’s as tough as needing to have a big tantrum to get out some emotions they’ve been holding onto.

Boundaries are incredibly important, but a simple, “no” is never the answer.