I am a parent coach, and a parent… here’s what I learned

Learning to coach was exciting to me. I had a child that was 18 months old at the time, and was really motivated to learn more about parenting and helping other parents. I have a background in training resource parents to take in the foster child population, but having my own child rocked me to the core.
I wanted to coach because I wanted to share pain and bring relief to the issues I too shared with other parents. I had just learned the “ins and outs” about a very diverse and sometimes difficult population for parents to connect with, and conveyed it through college course venue. At the time, I held meetings and classes, and then took it further into being a professor of psychology at Azusa Pacific University. Despite the education and research, despite the one-on-ones with parents and the outpouring of emotions from them, despite working in depth with foster kids for parts of my career, my small baby boy changed everything. I was tested by his behavior, and my emotions began to spiral out of the control I once had over them.
Now as I coach and counsel, I have a new understanding of pain and guilt, balance and emotional charge. The investment I made in learning how to get more from my relationship with my son was priceless. While coaching at 7pm at night, I had just put out 10 fires that day to pull from ( not all well I might add). During my business calls, I was muting myself because of the meltdown in the background over not being able to get a car to run on the carpet. Upon coming to his aid, he bit me and I had to discipline him. Boop! Unmute! And I’m back on the line.
Intentional parenting is difficult. As we say in resource parent training, it is exhausting. But investing in our kids is worth it because of the relationship that you can have later. What amazing humans these kids grow up to be! Nothing is perfect but I learned that in the muck and mire of parenting, there are resources to help us. Your family’s health and story is important and I want to listen!
Take the next step and call today for a free discovery session. Go to http://www.murrietachristiancounseling.org for all the info!

helping get over the hump of slump…

Need ideas for getting your kids out of the covid blues? Distance learning from home is difficult, for parents and kids! How do you be a parent and teacher??

Try these ideas, day by day, and add on as you go. Let me know if you see a change!

DAY 1. If your child is back to school, but doing school from home, help today by getting them some time outside for 20 minutes. This not only relates to school aged children, but also children 2 and up! Fresh air and breaks from the computer, will not only keep your child’s heart rates up, but it will help their brain to be able to focus. If you see your child’s behavior become more negative, exercise is proven to help the brain exert neurotransmitters and hormones that will better balance your child’s behavior.

DAY 2. Get your child outside and moving today, no matter how old they are. In addition to this, make a point to monitor what your child is eating, and try for foods that will nourish their brain. The motto, “you are what you eat” is no joke. If you are realizing your child may need new snacks, lunches and breakfasts, try these:

Fruit, granola bars with less fat or sugar, yogurts low in sugar, vegetables and peanut butter, cheese and meat rollups, nuts, eggs and toast, eggs in a tortilla with cheese, and the list goes on. Shoot for low sugar foods that are nutritious and healthy.

DAY 3. Today get your kids outside, and feed some healthy foods. Add to your intentional parenting today by implementing a way to get out into the public. Have your child  say hello to the people at the store, find some of the groceries you need, pay for items, order some food, or go to the park for a picnic. Try to get out in public with a purpose, while distancing. Just because you’re distancing doesn’t mean you can’t make a concerted effort to be friendly and warm to those you see. Try to get your little ones involved in conversation with others outside your home or call up some family or friends for some Facetime. Of course, bring your sanitizer and masks, but be creative for ways to expose your child to things they need to learn for development. Get creative here!

DAY 4. You guessed it! Implement days 1-3, and add having a talk with your child about emotions. Your child, ages 2 and up, may have thoughts about what has been going on during Covid-19 and the reality is that all of us (including the parents) are grieving the many things that we’ve lost over the past 6 months. They may have fears, or disappointments, and for some, they’ve enjoyed the extra attention they’ve received from mom/dad. Get into their world each day, and realize that their behaviors come from somewhere. “Children show behaviors as a means of communication. Children are trying to communicate with us the best way they know how.” So, if a child is throwing himself on the floor, or slamming the door in your face, that is communication the child is trying to express, but doesn’t know how to express in a healthy way. Peel back that onion and see if maybe the child does not feel understood during this time, or maybe is frustrated that he has to do school online and can’t see his friends. Maybe that 4 year old misses his playdates, and needs more individual attention. Here are some ideas for helping kids to feel understood, appreciated, respected, and boost their moods:

go on a date with one child, talk one on one in the car while driving, ask the child what you can do better (I know, scary), have family meetings where all kids can be heard and get on the same page, facilitate game nights where all are included and serve some good food, tell a child “good job, when they do something without being asked, tell them you are proud of them, give them responsibilities with a mean to teach and be tender- not to reprimand.  

Day 5 is here! Implement 1-4 and try engaging in less technology today. Kids view technology often, especially now with school starting. If a TV show or two is how they enjoy down-time at night, (or while you get dinner made) that is fine. But hours of television limits social skills and actually can bring on negative behaviors because technology can be addicting. Too much screen time is also proven to overstimulate some kids, resulting in negative behavior. Replace technology with play time where you get on the floor and play with your child, do a craft with any age child, play a card game, send the child outside, or Target used to have a “bored buster” game in the dollar section that was great to get kids thinking of things to do! 

It’s DAY 6. Implement 1-5 and add being together. If you have found ways to be together this week through the ideas given on other days, great! If not, try to spend one night a week where you are able to play with toys, build, walk, ride, hit the ball, play a game, or watch a movie together. The ideas are endless, but make sure to actually get to talk for part of the night, interacting socially. You will see behaviors change, and trust start to build for your child. Do not pick apart the things you see in your child. There is plenty of other time for constructive criticism. 

DAY 7. This day is for you! Things described above will become more normal the more you do them. It is proven through much study and research that the ideas implemented by you each day will change moods and behavior, along with core beliefs children can develop that are harmful during this trying time. Intentional parenting is tough, so take today and make sure that you get some time with your family to talk and play, but also to do something that will build you up and fill your tank. Take a bath, go get coffee and read a book, drop the kids at mom’s, shop online, or even exercise. Try to pull one thing from these areas to fill your tank:

What do you enjoy socially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally? 


Kranowitz, C., & Miller, L. J., (2006).  Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder (The Out-of-Sync Child Series)

Lia, A., & Speake W., Triggers, audiobook

Siegel, D. J.,  ( 2012 ). The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. 

To the mama who is giving up.

mother’s day card

Your life is so much more important than you can see in this moment. 

You need to hear that. People do not say it enough to you. 

The diapers you empty out of the diaper pail, the rooms that are covered in toys or technology, and crumbs you pick up by hand because the vacuum is too daunting, is not your identity. 

The smells that come from your home are not what you wear. 

As you read this, your child may be interrupting you…and that’s okay, come back to it.

You feel empty. Who is filling you up when you are pouring yourself out (and over and over again) on tiny beings that seem to need you for their very existence? They need you for every. little. thing. As you pour yourself out – you pour milk, laundry soap, apple sauce – you feel empty. You need breathing room, alone time, and a few moments to smell the grass outside. 

But the grass reminds you that it’s not cut and AGAIN you feel not only empty but overwhelmed. Maybe the smell of dish soap will do.

So you wait on children, and are not waited on in return. Your days are long, unpaid, and tiring. This is not what you thought being a mom would be. 

You have been cooped up like a hibernating bear (without the sleeping part) during the last 4 months and have either been homeschooling or entertaining. After all, you are your child’s best friend when he can’t be with his friends. 

You want to give up. No one notices what you do. Your child always wants more. What’s the point? 

You, mama, are your child’s role model and safe place. If you aren’t yet, you will be.

You are intentional, the kind of parent that raises tiny humans that are going to build a better world! Your children would not survive without you. Your identity is mama, but also woman. You do not lose yourself because you become a mama. 

You are a Mama with a capital “M”. Seer and doer of all, and you are better than you think! Do not compare, find friends that will build you up and help you come out of this hibernation. 

You need a break, so find it! Take room to breathe even if that means putting your fussy baby down in a safe place and turning on some music. Make some coffee and enjoy the first few sips before it gets cold.

When you are empty, remember that we were not created to be a funnel of never ending flow, but to ask for help and to take a minute. Take two minutes. Give yourself permission. Remember God, who IS Love, sees you and loves you! 

Because you, Mama, are the man! 

“I said now!”

After 15 minutes of changing diapers and clothes, cleaning up toys, and getting 2 year old Tim to stay in his bed, a pregnant mom says,

Mom: Good night Tim!

Tim: Hey mom! Can you get me some water?

Mom: Here’s your cup I got you earlier

Tim: Mom! Can I play cars with you?

Mom: No Tim, it’s time for night night, lay down. (Covers him up)

Tim: Mom! (Starts to cry) I want to play cars.

Mom: Tim! Stop milking it and lay down!

Tim: Mom! Can you lay in my bed?

Mom: No Tim, it’s time for you to listen to mom and be quiet. I don’t want to hear another word! Good night! ( mom leaves and closes the door as Tim cries. Mom feels horrible about leaving this way again, but she is tired and wants to lay down. She listens to Tim cry on the monitor. Then, turns the sound down. It’s only 8pm and she is exhausted, just like every night).

According to the John Gottman’s ”raising an emotionally intelligent child”, if we are attuned to our kids, we may find less fatigue. Now, don’t get me wrong, pregnant mamas are working hard to parent and are growing another human at the same time. This is difficult and exhausting. Intentional parenting is also something that is exhausting. In our example, mom may feel that she has given the child the necessary items and fulfilled needs for bed, but it is clear the child is not secure yet. The child is finding ways to keep the connection going. The child in our scenario is trying to get the mother to stay in the room. What could the child be thinking?

In these instances it is good to recognize the emotion the child has, and coach the child on that emotion. Maybe something like, “ are you feeling sad that mom is leaving?” And the child will respond. Maybe he will say “yes, I want you to stay! “  mom could reply with, “well sweetie, I love you and would love to spend time with you, but we have to go to bed too. Mom is going to bed and Tim is going to bed.” If the child is crying as talking because he understands the sadness and that you may not have the ability to stay a while longer, listen and empathize. “ I know sweetie, It’s hard. I will try tomorrow night to lay with you and in the morning we will get to have big hugs. Right now lay back and let me cover you. “

You may find that the connection with a child will change when you are less angry, more willing to listen, and consider how the child feels while providing a solution as the parent. If a child learns that you will not dismiss them regularly or get angry, the child may start to change behavior because of the connection. This is not to say you are not able to set limits and call your children out on their mistakes. However, being respectful and teaching them how to do things instead of “just stop that” is key.

Schedule a discovery call today to discuss your child and the disconnect and exhaustion you may feel. This free call can help determine if you are ready for coaching in a while new way than you thought possible!

what is the difference in guilt and shame?

Shame is a subject that like TED talk speaker and researcher, Brene Brown, I have come to appreciate. Dr. Brown has done much research on the subject and found that vulnerability is the core of feeling like you can belong and can have meaningful relationships.

Shame is the when a person feels they cannot be vulnerable, because they may be seen as unlovable, disgusting, or even unaccepted. Instead, we have become the most in debt, and self- medicated society in all of history. We are trying to be what we are not.

Guilt is the sense of feeling remorse or “bad” for a behavior, but overall believing that you are a good person and can rectify mistakes. Shame in a person gives the message, “I am the worst. I am a terrible person”, instead of the action was a mistake.

To really grip this, let’s look at a scenario. Let’s say I leave a family waiting for me to come write their homestudy for adoption. I had an appointment at 6pm, and I arrive at 6:20pm. Now, if I do not text or call them to let them know I will be late, it could be because of shame. Maybe they will say something mean back to me, and I already do not like myself. If I do text them, I would also apologize when I arrive, saying something like, I want you to know that I know our time if valuable, and I appreciate you waiting! Then, in guilt, I can let it go. In shame, I am kicking myself the whole time and feeling like the family hates me.

Shame is debilitating to some, and extremely lonely to many. It keeps us in secret and feels that we can drown in it. It is important when parenting your kids that you steer clear of trying to get wanted behaviors out of guilt and shame. In my years of counseling, I have concluded that perhaps your child will grow up much closer in relationship to you and their future spouse if they do not feel shamed by the people that are going to love them the most!


Soul Story

Soul Story.

“This is the story of your soul evolving through the act of parenting, and qualities evolve through it.”

The “act” of parenting is none like any other act. The feelings, thoughts, connections and actions come about in a variety of reasons as you parent, making it a difficult task to maneuver through well.

In private practice, I heard parents talk about how disappointing their relationships with their children are, because the connection they wanted with their children did not happen and now the children are 18 and over. Some parents feel they tried very hard to help their child succeed, become ‘something’, and are feeling distant today.

Some of the qualities that we think will help a child, or makes sense, actually can harm your relationship. I like the saying, “we can learn to CONNECT with our children while correcting them”- Karyn Purvis. This makes sense because there is a way to grow with your child while showing them what is appropriate or helping them to understand their behaviors. Once I grasped the concept of trying some new strategies instead of using power and thwarting out ‘bad behavior’ I felt much more peace in parenting my son. Working with foster parents in my past, I saw peace in their eyes as well.

One quality in my soul story is that feeling that I will never be old enough to help or teach, or that my child will not listen to me, (as I mentioned in another post,) and that belief has gradually changed. A second one that may relate to some of you is that feeling of not being chosen. So many adults feel this way and try to ring the necks of their children, thinking they are owed it from them. The thought here is that ‘my child will love me and choose me, be loyal to me, and if not I will demand it.’ Parents are trying to fill a hole in a way that seems to end many relationship in some sort of failure or another. Do you want a child to be loyal to you because of the fear and guilt in what you say to them? I would think not.

Being chosen needs to come from and be processed by the parent in other means, not being fulfilled by the child. Decipher why you think this way, and where it comes from. Then, remember your child is his own person and may have interests that could pull him away from you and your bubble of safety of feeling chosen. As an example of this, my belief is to remember that my son is not on this earth to love and care for me, but for me to raise him up in the words and ways of the Holy Spirit. So, if my child acts out or does to want to give me a kiss, I do not need to take it personally. I remember he is making his best effort to get a need met. It is my job to find out what his need is, and see if I can meet it, not to fill my own need.

There will be more to come on what needs you can look for in your child in future posts.

Emotional coaching for kids…

Being an “emotional coach” for your child is very important. If you have ever stopped in a moment to help your child through a negative behavior and turn the situation around, you have just become and emotional coach. I think you would agree that it is worth it, and necessary to keep doing too!

There is something called the PEACE process, which essentially means, letting go of how things are supposed to look, and just give empathy. Feelings are messy, but we can try this PEACE process every day as a means to feel emotions ourselves, and empathize with kids during outbursts.

Now, this is not to say that we let kids be disrespectful, or ‘have their way’ as some parents have coined the term “empathizing for their kids”. It is showing up with your kid daily, and helping them to work through feelings. For example, we can stop in the moment and just assess and observe. You do not need to speak yet, just observe, so you can be aware of what your child is feeling. You do not need to sugar coat feelings, but instead name in your head what you think the child literally feels. Is the child tired, uncomfortable, nervous? Next, allow yourself empathy to the means of feeling how you feel, and do not judge yourself. For example, ‘man! this kid’s behavior is making the car ride terrible right now! I’m getting angry.’ Then, see your child’s perspective and reassure him that you see him and his feelings. You could say, ‘I know this car ride is getting long for you.’ Or maybe, ‘I can tell you are tired, it’s going to be okay.’ Finally, make a solution for the issue. It could be that the child is kicking you and pulling your hair as you are trying to put him in his car seat. Maybe after he is still for a moment, maybe not buckled in yet, you can run this process through your head and understand that the child does not want to be locked down, or leave the store. The solution could be, ‘I know this is not fun right now, but would you like a snack while we drive in your seat- or, we cannot hit when we are mad because that hurts mom, but we can sit and play with toys while we drive.’

Instead of hitting your child or screaming because she hurt you while putting her in her car seat, or perhaps giving a teenager silent treatment which can translate as shaming after an argument, we can build connection. By making a shift to having beliefs that a child can do things well, or maybe did not understand how an action can hurt someone, we can build connection. If a child feels heard, he or she will grow to want to hear others and feel confident in communicating emotions. Children from 0-18 (and up to 24) have developing minds that need our guidance as an emotional coach.

Try this on and see what happens!

shifting limiting beliefs…

“Is it possible to shift a limiting belief and why?”

This question is one that I discuss with clients week after week, in differing ways, and also bring to parents of children 0-18. Why is this important to discuss?

I remember being stuck in a belief that would semi-paralyze me for years to come. It was the belief that I would never be “old enough to understand.” I feel that this belief needed to be removed, or shifted, in order for me to overcome the limit it drove within me.

I decided that I would look at the feelings I get when I thought about this concept, and how much hardship it brought me. I tried not to have judgement for myself, as I thought about the subject. I decided that in the emotion, I would let it be and not think of things such as ‘I shouldn’t feel this’ or ‘I need to just let this go’. I let it be what it was.

Trying to change, and believe in a different core belief is like running uphill, on ice, with no shoes in the winter. It’s difficult! But it was amazing when I stopped to just observe how I feel and then decided that I could overcome this belief, that things went into motion. For years I felt that I would always be inferior and people would not take me seriously. Maybe although I have great training and life experience that I would not be enough for clients. I have come to terms with this limiting belief and have started to shift that mindset.

The freedom that can be had in working to change how we think in turn comes out in our actions. We also feel a sense of peace. In parenting, be mindful about what emotions you have and what core belief they may come from. This could really help you to understand your type of parenting and the strategies you use.

This concept only scratches the surface of the healing that can come from shifting beliefs, but I wanted to get some of you thinking a little more in depth. It is amazing what YOU can do.

thoughts of a parent coach in training…

When asked “how does your child experience his/her strongest emotion and how does the shift of emotions happen for your child and how do you as a parent react?” I thought of my son and his reactions to not getting something resulting in anger or frustration.

In saying this, it was easy for my son’s “strong willed” reactions to run my emotions. Over the past year, it was a struggle for me from his tiny age of 10 months until about 19 months, to understand that this was happening. My son started throwing tantrums, putting all his dead weight into me and on the floor, from 10 months old. It was dangerous because he still did not have control of his body, and was hard on my back and psyche. I was puzzled about how to “teach” a nearly one year old how to behave.

I recently found that he was trying to tell me things, or maybe was frustrated that he could not communicate like he would like, and was acting his age. After learning more about the brain from Dr. Dan Seigel, I realized that while I have to stimulate him for his brain to grow and neurotransmitters to fire correctly, I also have to help his brain emotionally. With this said, I needed to realize that he will act his age and not understand how to handle emotions for a bit, and I can just try to figure out what he needs. Sometimes, it is okay to allow a child to tantrum, and they will feel a little better.

My response in the past toward my child has been to be angry with him when I am bit, smacked in the face, or pushed. I feel so much more freedom in trying this new idea of looking for what the root cause is for the behavior and seeing that my child is using “his best efforts to fulfill a need.” He is using the behaviors he feels would work best to get what he needs. As the adult, I gain freedom in having empathy for my child, instead of being quick to squelch the behavior. I am not saying that we should not correct our kids, as this is vitally important in teaching them boundaries and respect. But, respect can also come from treating them as little humans with needs and emotions.

There are also parts of the brain that are clearly different in boys than girls, but I will save that for later 🙂

expressing emotions and self-regulation as a part of a parenting pattern

Generational expressing of emotions and the cause/effect in the aftermath is quite interesting when looking over one’s childhood. Many parents feel they are not connecting with their children and are puzzled as to why. My interpretation of some of this could be related to parenting styles based on that parent’s past.

Upon looking at their own childhood and discerning what was appropriate in parenting patterns, and in expressing their emotions some adults found they are parenting based on what was appropriate to THEIR parents. In other words, their parents’ view of what is appropriate shaped the ways they themselves parent. If your parent was powerful in discipline and dictated how you need to feel and process emotions, maybe you felt that you needed to process that way in order to please your parent.

Sometimes the parenting pattern does not fit the child, even though it is done with ‘good intention’. In turn, the child does not feel heard or able to fully be himself emotionally. This can be problematic to a parenting situation with your own children in the future, if you follow this same strategy. It is important to look back over your life and decide how you were parented, and if some things could be changed according to what your child needs from you. For example, if it was not acceptable to display emotions in your childhood, are you able to teach your child about self-regulation when anger emerges? Can you help to discern where the anger comes from? Maybe your child is really feeling embarrassment that she just fell in front of other people, or fear that another child will make fun of her for the shirt that is just a little too tight? If you meet that child with words such as, ‘get over it we are late,’ or ‘you have to wear that because you shrunk it and I’m not wasting it’, or ‘get up, you don’t need to cry’, your child can feel that they need to listen to please you even though they are feeling something different. Maybe that anger comes out of your child no matter how hard you are trying, because your parenting style is not fitting the situation.

Helping a child to express emotions appropriately, and to also recognize why they are feeling something needs to start with the parent, and being insightful and intentional about reading the child. It is never too late to do this, but it starts with the parents being intentional to understand their childhood. Decide if some of your parenting comes from your own parents, and whether you are basing things off of what you saw or feels normal. Maybe there is a better way?

Daniel Seigel, in his book, “Parenting from the Inside Out”, discusses the brain functioning that goes on inside a child. The emotion that comes from explaining an experience comes from the right side of the brain, the emotional and creative side. The words and story line comes from the left side, the logical and straight forward side. When a person tells a story with no emotion, it can be because it was processed well.  When the story is told and the person breaks down in tears and cannot go on, it is because the story may not have been processed and right brain is taking over.  Something else that can happen in adults due to not processing your past is called ambivalence. What this means is, sometimes parents have great thoughts and intentions, but their emotions and thoughts inflict them into opposite behaviors.

                        Seigel says “Our automatic adaptations to earlier events become ‘who we  are’ and our life story becomes written for us, not by us…Unresolved issues  can directly influence how we know ourselves and interract with our children. We are no longer making thoughtful choices about how we want to parent our children, but are rather reacting on the basis of the experiences of our past”

An example Siegel gave was shocking to me. He said when he was in medical school part of his job was to take blood from children. He would hear them cry and a part of his brain was mechanically shut down so that he did not feel emotion. This was just his job and he had to get through it. Then, upon the birth of son, he heard crying everyday and began to dread the crying and was not able to soothe his son. He looked into his past and felt that his medical school history was the culprit. He then was able to pick up his son and think to himself something like, ‘I am being emotionally hijacked by my past, this is not about my son”. From there, healing started, and deep connection was built that may not have been there had he continued to let his wife do the soothing.

My challenge for you is to think about how to help your children by looking at your own history. Sometimes being willing to look at parenting styles and trauma not only helps you, but also helps your relationship with your children!