You are not mean, you are setting the limits!!

You are not mean, you are setting the limits!!

As we all know parenting has many amazing moments and some moments where you feel pretty crappy.

I really dislike being the “bad guy” but I do know that when I enforce a rule or expectation it makes life easier for us all in this house.

Some of you may have heard this analogy before but here it is as a reminder…

When we are watching or playing a game of football, we are excited when there is a touchdown and we know when the ball goes out it is out of bounds.

Imagine if there were no rules or expectations in the game of football. It would be confusing and not fun to watch or participate in.

This goes for being a child as well!

When your child knows what is expected they will know what has to be done and they feel safe/secure in their surroundings.

Yes, your job is like the one of a referee. It is your job to set the limits and expectations. Your child’s job is like the role of a football player, running around but pushing the boundaries as much as they can. It is your child’s job to push the limits.

So when your child is expressing their emotions remember that it is their way to check to see if this is really the boundary. If you stick within the limits you set your child will know what the expectations are. Children get very confused if the limits and boundaries are constantly changing.

“Set the Limit and stick within it”!!

It’s not you, It’s me!!!

It’s not you, It’s me!!!

 Does the following scenario sound familiar to you…

You are trying to interact with your child; but, your child is whining, complaining, not following the direction, dropping to the floor, etc. You begin to feel frustrated, your voice gets “sharp”, you are snapping or yelling. 

You are so not alone!!!!

There are often times when I am scratching my head going “why are you acting this way” then it hits me like a brick!

This is typically when the reality that my son is feeding off my emotions, frustrations, and energies kicks into high gear.

Time to reset!!

How do I go about resetting??

The very first thing I do is acknowledge to my son that I do not like the way I am talking right now.

Then I tell him I need to take a minute.  Typically, I just stand there and take some deep breathes. If I am really frustrated then I take a time out by going to the bathroom or walking to another room.

When I have my composure back I then apologize for my voice tone or behaviour. Then I take a couple of minutes to connect at my son’s level. (Stop, Drop, Connect) This is often enough to get his behaviour back in the desired direction. 

If things improve then I have to let the previous behaviour go (easier said than done). This is when I replay the song “Let it Go” in my head :). 

What do you do if your child has not been able to reset?

There have been many times when I have pulled myself together but our son is “too far gone”. He is immersed in his emotional release (aka tantrum) or undesired behaviour. Now it is time to help him.

I label his behaviour and talk him through his frustration or I give him the space to unload.

I will ask if he needs a minute or if he wants a hug.  He usually takes the hug and then he resets.

You may be thinking this all sounds great but how can it be that easy?

In all reality, it is not always that easy.

When you are in the midst of these behaviours over and over again (toddlers and preschoolers are famous for that) it certainly does not feel easy.

There will be times where the resetting can take place after an epic 30 minute emotional release. This is when it is really important that you remind yourself that the calmer you remain the easier your reset becomes.

The positive thing that can come out of you resetting like this is that your child learns how to reset by following your example. 

I have to admit the first time I saw our little man stand, take a deep breath and ask for a minute (“need break”) my heart swelled!!


If you have further questions I would love to hear from you. If you are a member of Parenting Foundations feel free to send me a private message or post in the private group. If you are not a member but would like to hear more about it, please comment below.

Connect then…



When your little one is displaying an undesired behaviour (whining, hitting, talking back, being aggressive, and so on) the first thing you attempt to do is connect with your child. What?

So my child just whacked his brother and I am supposed to Connect with him??? Yes!

You are letting your child know that the behaviour is not acceptable by first getting eye contact, getting down to their level or sitting with your child. This is the connection piece.

Then you redirect your child.


There has been a great deal of research into the power of connection and redirection. That is great in theory but how do we do this in real life?

When children are acting in a manner that is not desired they need our support to teach them how to act appropriately.

When you connect you are reaching the emotional side of your child’s brain (Downstairs Brain). Once the emotional part of the brain has been reached you can then help them use the thinking part of their brain (Upstairs Brain).

Here is a link to the article I wrote explaining tantrums which explain Upstairs/Downstairs part of the brain..

Now that you have reached the thinking part of the brain you can successfully redirect.

As explained by Dr. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson in the book “No Drama Discipline”, redirect means the following:

R Reduce Words (keep your words direct and to the point)

E Embrace emotion (validate the emotion)

D Describe, Don’t preach

Involve your child in the discipline

Reframe the No to Yes (Instead of no you can’t watch another show, yes you can watch another show tomorrow.

Empathize the positive

Creatively approach the situation

Teach mindset tools

Now, do you have to use each of the previously mentioned steps every time a behaviour occurs! No, just pick the relevant steps. See below for examples.

That is a great approach but give me some real life examples of this in action:

1. Your child is screaming because you are not giving him what he wants right now.

You could yell and ask him to stop screaming (I have done this and probably will a few more times in his lifetime 🙂 )

Real life REDIRECT: I ask him to look at me “eyes on me”, he refuses so I go sit close by. I hear that you want me to play with you right now. “You are frustrated/angry. I will play with you after supper.” “I want you to play with me now” “I have to cook supper you could play beside me while I cook”. This usually ends in him either playing close by after he has screamed for a few minutes and I repeat I hear you.

2. Your child hits you (toddler age)

You could do a timeout for your child.

Real Life REDIRECT: I gently hold my child’s hand and I sit my child on the floor and state “if you hit you sit”, “we use gentle hands” and then I move on.

If I still feel that a timeout is needed, I take the timeout!


There are many examples of how this works. If you are wondering how to use this strategy with your child, put a note in the comment section below this post. Describe a situation you would like assistance with. 

Separation Anxiety: When “I will be back” is not good enough

Does this sound familiar…

You are super excited to go out. Your little one starts to scream when you are getting ready. You begin to doubt yourself. You start to think it would be so much easier to just stay home.

Or what about this…

Your child is enrolled in a program or class that it just for them. Your child was pretty excited about it. The day comes when the program happens. Your little one is refusing to get ready, crying as you are going out the door or starts to cry when you get there.


It can be so hard as a parent when your child is struggling with separating from you. I understand this completely!! Our little man has gone through many times when he struggles with separating from us, especially me. I honestly have shed many tears over this.

The fact is, it is very normal for children to experience separation anxiety. If the anxiety seems to be constant then I would recommend involving a child psychologist to your team. You can also add some anxiety busting strategies that can be found in a previous article I wrote.

How To Help An Anxious Child

There are a few steps that will help your child with transitions and separation. The steps are as follows:

1. Allow your child to be upset.

We will often try to stop our child from being upset. If they are expressing their emotions we will ask them to stop crying. My belief is that the emotion is better out than in. Once your child is able to express their feelings it gives you an opportunity to figure out what is driving their behaviour.

2. Transitional Object

Giving your child a comfort object to keep with them. If your child already has a lovey this may work. I find that the best object is something of mine that my son really thinks I need. I used to give him my key ring and a business card. The key ring is something I always use. Whenever I came home or picked him up he would give it back to me.

Another really good item to use as a transitional object, especially for bedtime, is a piece of your clothing that has your scent on it. Our little man will go into my closet when I am not home at bedtime and help himself to a shirt of mine he wants to sleep with. He has even ended up with my pajama bottoms on more than one occasion.

3. Keeping your emotions in check

This can be easier said than done. When your little one is struggling with the separation it can be heart-wrenching. It is not the end of the world if your child sees you cry; however, it is important for your child to see you express your emotion while you move forward with the plan.

4. Practice

This means that you keep going out or you continue to bring your child to the program. Over time the separation anxiety will reduce. If there are still issues than I would look at the program to make sure it is a good fit for your child. I would do this after 8 weeks. All behaviour can take up to 8 weeks to see a complete change.

5. Be Present

When you return to pick your child up or when you see your child after you return from your outing, make sure you pay attention to your child. Spend lots of time connecting and playing with your child.


As with all things parenting there is no one solution that is right for all children; however, these tips should help get you on your way. If you have any questions about what is written here feel free to send a message to me or ask on the Facebook Group.

Why is my Child Biting People?

Why is my Child Biting People?

biting childA very common but not enjoyed behavior is when children bite. This can happen in a very predictable manner for some children and completely out of the blue for others. The age of the child is a major factor in deciding how to address this issue.

Infants and toddlers will often bite when they have just got a new tooth or if they are teething. This can be due to the pain of the tooth or swelling of the gums. In this case, I would recommend following your doctor’s recommendation for medication for teething pain; offer a cold cloth to chew on, offer a toy that is appropriate to bite, or offer the child a food that is safe for them to chew (if solids have been offered).

Older infants or toddlers will also bite if they are feeling frustrated or are excited. If your child is going through this stage I would highly recommend that you stay in close proximity to your child when around other children until this phase has passed. Your child will be very impulsive and it will take some time to break them of the habit. The best thing you can do is be patient and as soon as you see them going in for a bite, stop them and calmly state “no biting people”. When you see your child is getting excited or frustrated you may have to remove her to a different area to calm or engage in some play that can help her calm.

A strategy I have had a great deal of success with for toddlers and preschool aged children is to offer them an object that they can bite. This gives the child the physical outlet they get from biting which can help calm her. There are a number of places you can get wearable chewable jewelry or toys strong enough to bite.

Pre-school aged children will also bite when they are frustrated or excited. At this age, you can help your child by talking about “calming their body”. Point out when she is looking frustrated and then give her alternative strategies to use to calm down. Teach her how to take a deep breath (smell the flower with your nose and blow out the candle), give her a calm down jar (jar you can make or buy that can mesmerize her for a couple of seconds), give her a bear hug (nice big hug and you will visibly see her melt into it), and also making sure your child has daily physical play time (outside is best).

If you are still not sure why your child is biting I would recommend that you keep a journal of the times she bites. I would write down what was happening before she bit the person, the time od day, how she reacted and what was done as a consequence. Then look to see if you see any similarities. You may find that she bites when she is hungry (Hangry is a real thing!). Being hungry may not be something you would think of until you see it in front of you.

Let’s talk more about this topic in the forums.