On being with judgment

My definition of judgment: noun judg·ment \jej-ment\: thoughts and words chuck full of all the many things I am not in this world, some justified, and some (most) not so much.

As moms, hearing and/or even just sensing judgement from friends, family, and strangers can sting, with perhaps the harshest variety of judgment originating within ourselves.

If you have four minutes, I want to lead you through an exercise on judgment that helped me transform the way I respond to judgmental people and thoughts. To things that want to cut me down to size. To the things that want to hold me back. To my doubts and all the many ways life tries to tell me that I am not enough (a belief I now call “BS!!!” on every time I hear it.)

I’d love to hear your response to the question I ask in this video in the comments and the ideas and experiences you have with judgment.


I want to let you know about a NEW playground I’m playing on that’s built for more than just mommy’s. It’s called GENERATION MINDFUL and I hope you’ll join me there. We have some work to do if we’re going to usher the next generation into a more compassionate world. But our love? It’s powerful stuff. Strong enough to make even impossible dreams come true. I hope to see you there.

Let’s connect on instagramtwitter, facebook and pinterest too. The manual is ours to write, but we don’t have to write it alone.

When I Stop Trying So Hard

rear view mirror

I’m sitting in my car, fumbling for the clasp.

It’s the om necklace my husband gave me days after our first child was born, and I can’t get it to hook.

Four kids and a decade and a half later, this necklace remains my favorite. I’ve put it on a million times and though the chain the om pendant hangs on is on the short side, it has never been difficult to fasten. So there I sit, fumbling with the thing, already running late and wondering to myself, ‘Why am I having so much trouble getting this thing on?!’

I can see my hands working the small hook close to the chain just under my chin in my rear view mirror. Small-metal-ring, heading towards open-silver-lever aaaaand…

it’s a miss. And a miss. And another miss.

“I. AM. SO. LATE!” I think-yell at myself for encouragement.

I miss again. And again.

My shiny ohm necklace glares back at me in the mirror, mockingly.

“This is RIDICULOUS!” I lower my tired arms, hands dropping into my lap with defeat.

I stop. I take a little breath and I sit still for the first time that morning. And then it dawned on me. I hadn’t sat still all morning long. Not even for three seconds. My mind had been jumping from one thing to the next from the second I woke up (ten minutes late).

I’d rushed to get my kids out the door to school. I’d rushed to get home, pick-up from the tornado that had surely hit our kitchen that morning, shower, dress and get back out the door to my next thing.

Sitting in my car, going over the morning, I take a deep breath, and just like that, some internal reset button is pushed and I know what I need to do to get this necklace on.

I turn away from my car mirror to have another go at the necklace.

Immediately, things felt different. I feel different. My mind is settled. I’m breathing. My hands move the way they want to move. There’s no reflection staring back at me to confuse things— just my hands, going the way they know to go.

Three seconds later, wa-la.  My necklace is clasped.

I sit in the front seat of my car, close my eyes and laugh.

This moment. This lesson. How is this my life?

What happens when I force things? When I hold too tight or push too hard? When I’m too busy to pause?

What happens when I soften? When I breathe and trust? When I hold on to letting go? When I allow myself a moment (like, literally, as few as 10-15 seconds) of stillness and silence?

“Ommmmmmmm” my mind teases me. I open my eyes and see the shiny pendant in the mirror, at long last, hanging from my neck. I breathe deeply and say ommmmm again, this time out loud. And as I get my purse and move slowly to open the car door, the place I’d been rushing too next feels far, far less important.


ps: I’d love to hear of a parenting moment and/or new awareness about yourself that helped you feel more present, even admist the chaos of everyday life. xo


I hope you walk with me and other moms here because we are not alone. Let’s connect on twitter, facebook and pinterest too. The manual is ours to write, but we don’t have to write it alone!

Related Posts:

A Curvy Road
Connection and Baby/Kids

You. Are. Awesome.

You Are Awesome

Yesterday in positive parenting class, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears — (shocker, right?). Ten moms were back for week four out of our six week positive parenting class, and with littles on laps and running around, we settled in to listen and share about our week.

How had it gone? Where had we broken through? Where had we felt stopped?

The moms in this sacred circle of mothers listening to other mothers told story after story of life with littles.

  • Of trips to the zoo with the kids where the zoo turned out to be closed.
  • Of cooking with a two year old and wanting to let them scoop up the flour by themselves but at the very same time, NOT wanting to let them scoop up the flour by themselves.
  • Of couches jumped on, limits tested and words that seemingly fell on deaf ears.
  • Of meltdowns managed and high emotions that were hard to be with.

And in story after story, though most were sharing moments they thought they’d failed or needed help in managing a different way, all I could hear were moments to to be CELEBRATED.

Kids were crying. Life was messy. These were challenging moments to be sure. But here is the thing, these parents were ROCKING the challenges before them.

Unknowingly, as these moms were sharing their struggles, they were also sharing their successes.

They shared about letting go of perfect and accepting instead what life delivered — the moment that was right in front of them.

They shared about patience. Of deep breaths taken. Of yelling avoided and of yelling not avoided and even some apologies that followed.

What brought me to my emotional knees was the idea that these parents did not know, really KNOW, deep in their hearts, how truly awesome they were.

How brilliant.

How loving.

How brave.

(How perfect?!? No, but thankfully, perfect is not in our parenting job description.)

I remember this place. This “I’m not enough” place. I parented from it for many years. It’s a place healing inside of me just a little bit more every day. It’s the place that propels me to remind you of one very important thing in case you too have forgotten.

You. Are. Awesome.

That’s it. Period. End of story. You are.

Be gentle with yourself on this parenting journey. As gentle as you hope to be with your kids.  Be encouraging. Give yourself props for being the parent you are. Today.

The greatest gift we can give our kids is not to be perfect. It is to be NOT PERFECT, and to love ourselves anyway.

When it comes to your kids and to your parenting, know this single thing deep in your heart.

You are enough.

Just keep showing up – for yourself, for your kids, and for your family – and remember to celebrate you.


PS: If you liked this post, please click “like” above, share it and/or join our community of mindful parents. You will receive gentle parenting tips as well as a free gift direct to your inbox — Hug Each Moment Kit, a journal for you to keep, helping you to write love notes once a year to each of your children from birth to ten. (And a promise – I protect your email with my life — no spam allowed!)


Support for the journey.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too.

greatest gift not perfect

Suzanne Tucker, CEIM, Parent Educator:

In over two decades as a physical therapist and parent educator Suzanne has help thousands connect on a deeper level to themselves and their families, teaching Infant Massage and Positive Parenting to organizations and individuals all over the world. Creator of My Mommy Manual, a website/community inspiring parents to “look inside (yourself) for instructions”, author and co-founder of Brentwood Center of Health, a holistic rehabilitation center, Suzanne lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with her husband, their four children, and far too many pets to mention.

Good? Bad? Who knows?

Let’s face it. We all want our kids to be good. To do good things like listen, share, help and wait their turn. To be cooperative, responsible, kind, empathetic, capable and more. What parent doesn’t want these things?!

And so it is that by ages one and two, many of us begin to label things for our kids as either good or bad. It’s meant to be helpful — a way of bottom lining things — teaching our kids the ways of the world. Hoping to see more of the good and less of the bad, we parents say things like:

“You used the potty. Good boy!!!”
“Stop being so loud! It’s bad to yell/whine!!!”
“You shared your toys! Good girl!!!”
“You are so bad at listening.”

But unfortunately, the practice of labeling things as simply good or bad can create more problems than solutions for our young kids, failing to do the very thing we want it to do, namely, to help our kids learn to manage themselves and follow the golden rule.

fishing meme

To examine labeling as a parenting strategy, let’s look to the following famous parable for insight.

A farmer’s only horse ran away. The neighbors, trying to console him, said, “What terrible news about your horse. What will you do?” But the farmer said, “Bad news, good news… who knows?”

A few days later, the horse returned, leading an entire herd of wild horses. The neighbors exclaimed, “How wonderful!” The farmer replied, “Good news, bad news… who knows?”

The next day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the new horses. The horse threw the son, who broke both legs. The neighbors said, “What a misfortune! Your son won’t be able to work on the farm.” The farmer stood still and said, “Bad news, good news… who knows?”

Within the week, news of a war had broken out.  Soldiers arrived in the village, taking new recruits.  All the young men were drafted to fight, except for the farmer’s son.

Good news? Bad news? (Good behavior? Bad behavior?) Who knows?

Good/bad statements are by definition, dualistic, rooted in the notion that people and things are one way or another — black or white with little room for gray.

The gray of life, where things like intuition, empathy, passion, spirit, gut feelings and the permission to follow one’s bliss live. Permission to tune into one’s self for guidance, to trust what’s there and to follow it — not only living from the head and what is ‘right’, but from the heart and head in balance, comfortable with the nuances and the many interpretations the moments of our lives bring.

Do we really want our kids to feel comfortable in the gray? I do… and here’s why:

Because sometimes, not listening is the thing to do.

Because sometimes, going for what you want, even when you meet resistance, is the very thing that will bring you into the fullness of life.

Because sometimes, taking risks and having the strength to fall flat on your face and get up again, dusting off the dirt to have another go, is what it takes to break through in this world.

When children repeatedly receive good/bad labeling, over time they can deduce that things are only one way or the other… and that they are their actions. “If I do a good thing I am good. If I do a bad thing I am bad.”

Over time, with enough good/bad labeling, the mounting evidence before our children can tell a very different story than we would have it. Stories like:


But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have the power to change this, starting today, when we choose clear, firm, respectful parenting practices and words that allow for the gray.

In those moments when all hell is breaking loose in your home and you think to yourself, “I have the worst child(ren) in the world!!!”, perhaps this is your very moment. Teach them another way. Let go of “no” and “don’t” and “can’t” and “need” and use words and actions that model and explain what it is you are wanting.

Even in the face of misbehavior or great achievement, encourage the process rather than praise the outcome alone, teach what you want to see rather than punish for what you don’t. Here are the examples from above, reworked:

You used the potty! How does that feel?!?” (encouragement) Instead of “You used the potty. Good boy!!!” (praise)

“I know it’s hard when you really want something and it doesn’t happen. It looks like you are feeling ________ (however you imagine your child is feeling)? Can I give you a hug?” then offering ideas to the child for what they might do instead. (teaching) Instead of,  “Stop it. It’s very bad to yell/whine!!!” (punishing/shaming)

“You shared your toys! Did you see the smile on your friends face when you let him play with your truck? How did it feel to share your toys?”(encouragement) Instead of, “You shared your toys! Good girl!!!”” (praise)

“Can you turn on your listening ears?” or “Look me in the eyes (for just before you ask your child something)” (teaching) Instead of “You are SO bad at listening.” (punishing/shaming)

Moving past good and bad. It’s not easy. While I have never been in the habit of calling any of our kids good or bad, I still catch myself using a hefty amount of duality when it comes to everyday things of life.

Just today I said “Oh GOOD, the frig is working again!” (which I just said 3 minutes ago ’cause – happy-dancing- it is. Spontaneously! With no repair man needed. Boom!) and “Oh no, I burnt the toast!!!”, among a zillion other good/bad implied statements, I am sure. And while the zen-mommy in me wants to say “Good broken frig? Bad broken frig? Who knows? Good burnt toast? Bad burnt toast? Who knows?” I’m just not fully there yet. Still, even if we as parents cannot always model an acceptance of ‘what is’ at the level the farmer did when life seemingly delivers lemons, we can begin to let go of good and bad as it pertains to our kids- their very being and their behaviors. And for me, it’s been eye opening to simply notice which things in life I do label as good or bad.

Fortunately, letting go of good/bad and shame-ridden judgement goes for ourselves and our parenting as well. We don’t need to fully master the art of non-duality for our kids to get a healthy taste of the gray — we get to start where we are, letting go of labels when we can, leaving shame and blame in the dust as we go.

Last summer, my husband took our four kids fishing.

As the sun began to set, our four year old son, Colin, caught by far the biggest fish of the day, measuring in at just about half his height. As his dad helped him hold the fish up and examine it, another fisherman came by to praise Colin. He said, “Wow, that’s a BIG fish. You are a BIG BOY!!!”

My son paused to consider this. He looked at his dad, at the fish and then back at the man as he thought this statement over. Then, with a matter-of-fact look upon his face, he replied,”We’re fishermen. That’s what we do.” The man smiled, nodded and agreed. “We ARE fishermen. That’s what we do.” he repeated before he walked away.

Colin had reshaped the man’s comment, meant as praise, in a way that made sense to him. Catching the big fish didn’t make him a bigger boy than he already was — it didn’t make him a “good” boy either, or better than his dad or his sisters. He had simply caught a fish. It’s what fishermen do.

What stories do you want your children to know about themselves? I invite you to join me in moving past good and bad and telling our kids THOSE stories instead. In the way we teach. In the way we encourage. Every. Day.

(((I’d love to hear your stories below!!!)))


PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas. You’ll receive weekly (errr, almost weekly. I’m a mom of four first so, yeah… if I don’t have anything to say worth saying, believe me, I won’t be saying/sending anything) gentle parenting tips as well as a free gift, a Hug Each Moment Kit via email today, direct to your inbox. (But sorry, I don’t do spam.)


Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo



It Is Not Your Job

Our children want to be seen, to be known and to be loved. They do not need us as parents to feel responsible for “making” them. Our children already ARE. Our job is to support and guide them.

As I watch my four kids growing into the tots, tween and teen that they are today, more full expressions of the unique individuals I’ve known them to be since first breaths, first words and first steps, it is just that much easier for me to believe this very important concept:

It is not my job to make my children (fill-in-the-blank).

This frankly FANTASTIC revelation comes to me after years of parenting from a very different place. For years I parented believing it was my responsibility, nay, my duty and my moral obligation, to make my children a sometimes short and sometimes rather long list of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS depending on the moment.

Creative. Driven. Sensitive. Smart. Polite. Focused. Funny. Humble. Responsible. Outgoing. Patient. Kind. Generous. Empathetic.

My very important things list and yours might differ based on our upbringing, experiences, faith, age, cultural biases, education, gender, etc, but rest assured, if you know what it is to feel pressure from both inside and outside of yourself to make your child (fill-in-the-blank), then you know what I’m talking about.

Our very-important-things-place or VITP, is a not so fun, pressure-cooker like sort of place we parents go when we feel put upon by ourselves and/or society to MAKE our children something, especially when it is something our children are so very clearly NOT by their very nature. It’s a confusing and often self-contradicting place we drag our children when we fool ourselves into believing that as parents we have the power to MAKE THEM (fill-in-the-blank) by withdrawing our love, removing our favor, and resorting to tactics like shame, blame, bribery and manipulation.

Hadley bedtime poem

Some confusing messages that derive from this place might look like this:

“Be sensitive… but also be outgoing and fearless.”

“Dream big and think outside of the box… but also fit in with your peers, be compliant and do-as-you-are-told (i.e.: hug your grandma, put on your coat and go to the bathroom when I tell you to even when you say you don’t have to go or don’t “want” to… even when it goes against your intuition.)

“Be strong and lead… but also be passive, stop bossing your friends around and for God’s sakes don’t ask so many question or challenge the things we, your parents, tell you to be or do (or other authority figures for that matter – how could you embarrass us like that?!?)”

After 14 years of striving to catch my VITP in action, I’ve gotten better at recognizing it for what it is. When I feel the familiar tentacles of fear and not-enoughness taking hold, instead of surrendering to my VITP’s power, feeling off center, defensive, and blaming my kids for it, instead, I’m gently reminding myself to drop the chalupa. To step away from the wormhole sucking the whole-hearted love I have for my children out of me, a wormhole that would like to leave me with conditional love based on my approval/disapproval of my kids actions and beliefs.

we belong to each other

When I can catch my VITP at work these days, I say to myself:

“I can support these very-important-things I’m wanting to see within my children, but I cannot make them these things. My children’s true-est, most-powerful gifts already ARE. It is my job to love and guide my children such that they recognize and strengthen the already beautiful and intact attributes they already hold within themselves.”

Parenting in this way involves setting clear, firm, consistent limits when I see my kids moving off track (messy bedrooms, rude statements, mismanagement of time, etc, etc) but not from the angry, judgmental place my VITP wants to take me. If I truly want to lead and guide my children, I get to discipline them from my center. And yes, this entails saying “no” even as I craft my words to say YES— explaining what I want to see from them over what I do not. This entails being selfish if by definition “selfish” means my needs and wants are held right along side the needs and wants of every member of my family. This also entails letting go of the idea that I can love my family in a “perfect” way such that they will be happy and instead, embracing the truth that happiness is not the goal of parenting — my love and more full presence is. My willingness to grow right along side my child is. This road involves some NOT “happy” moments and that’s okay.

We ask our kids from as early an age as 2 or 3, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Instead of “A doctor/nurse”, “A baseball player” or “A ballerina!”, I imagine a world where our children reply instead, “What about who I am NOW? What about the things I love to do and be NOW? What about the things I think I’m good at doing and being TODAY?!?”

If we asked our children these three things daily in the way we parent, we just might get a closer look at each one’s very nature and stop deluding ourselves into thinking that we are MAKING our children (fill-in-the-blank).

In this new year, I hope you will join me in letting go of the notion that we MAKE our children (fill-in-the-blank) and instead, declaring the following:

“My job as mom/dad is to SEE my children – to know them and to love them – as they come to better know and love themselves.”

love imperfections


PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas and receive a free gift, a Hug Each Moment Kit via email today along with weekly positive parenting tips and inspirations direct to your inbox.

Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo


Not Perfect Parenting

not perfect parenting

Give your family the gift of YOU. 

Imperfect, wonderful, awesome-sauce YOU.

Because when we do this.

When we let go of perfect…

Everything is possible.


ps: Have you ever felt yourself letting go of “perfect” in one way or another and felt the DEEPER CONNECTION possible with your family/mama friends on the other side of perfect as a result? Tell your story in the comments below.

When we tune in and trust, everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because mom-hood is BETTER when we’re holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well, because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!


How Parenting Helps Me Grow

How to Accept the Un-Acceptable

More Posts on Being a NOT Perfect Parent and Forgiveness

Suffering From the Terrible Two’s? Remember to BIRP

Taking Love Off The Line




You love your child. Period.

I know this the same way YOU know this.

It just is. A nearly universal thing we moms all relate to. A mother’s love for her child is unconditional — the sort of love that suspends all logic.

So why?

Why do we as parents act like our love is negotiable, putting our love on the line when we’re upset?

Why do we say things to make our kids think there is any possible way that we could love them less because of their flaws? Because of their human-ness? Because of the dark, scary places that live inside of them? The places they love and trust us alone enough to show? The places they hide — from their teachers, from their friends, for fear that they’d no longer be worthy of love if someone found them out.


We do it for that exact reason it was done to us. Because it is what we know. It is hard-wired into us. It is our knee-jerk reaction when things don’t go the way we’d like them to go. When our kids misbehave. When our kids are different. When they don’t fit into the square hole their school is pushing for them to fit into. When they don’t fit into the round hole our (generally well-meaning) parents, in-laws, friends, neighbors, doctors, etc tell us they “should” fit into.

We get triggered. We snap. We “lose it” on our kids.

It’s what we know.

But don’t we remember how it felt? That look from a parent (or a teacher or any other person of authority in our short little lives) that told us we had just completely let them down. The look that said “You, my friend, are a disappointment.”

Don’t we remember feeling the not-enoughness? Feeling, deep, in the pit of our stomachs, the I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not organized enough. I’m not sporty enough. I’m not social enough. I’m not outgoing enough. I’m not quiet enough. I’m not pretty enough… And on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

The beating ourselves up for our challenges, so much so we lost sight of our gifts?

“I can’t remember things like other people can. I don’t pay attention like other people do. I’m broken.”

Not only seeing it in their looks, but hearing it in their words.

What if, instead, we remember? Breathing. Clearing. Coming back to love.

Remembering that day when first, we locked eyes with our little one. The way we loved them then. Unconditionally. With our entire selves and everything we were. Love. More than life itself. Love.

Remembering. Our child’s innate goodness. Innate wholeness. Innate deservingness of love, not for anything they did or DO so much as just because THEY ARE.

Letting go. When old hurts creep up from the past to make their way into our ways of being today. Feeling for these moments. Watching for them. Sensing when we are about to move, are moving or have already moved off our center, triggered by something our child has said or done.

Catching these moments quicker as the weeks go by, quicker because of our growing awareness. Quicker because of grace and our breath and the support of a circle of other loving parents, equally committed the healing, growing journey that is parenthood.

Taking our love off the line.

Holding misbehavior as a sign of an un-met need and not a broken child. Using responsible, respectful, clear, consistent and firm words with our kids when met with a “teaching moment”.

“I love you but I do not love your behavior today.”

Connecting before correcting.

“Can we talk? I’m feeling very far away from you these days.”

“What do you think we could do to make mornings gentler/smoother/etc…?”

“I feel like I’m yelling at you all the time. I’m sorry I get so anxious when we’re running late. Do yo have any ideas that could help us here?”

Because really, you and me? Us — all of us — parents. We are on the same team as our kids. We’re not playing tennis, one on one, on opposite sides of the court as our children. NO. We are playing DOUBLES. TRIPLES. QUADRUPELS even. And there can many, many, many people on our same side of the court: husband’s, partner’s, teachers, doctors, etc.

We are all on the same side of the court.

The balls are flying at us, coming over that net at lightening fast speeds, and there we are, side by side, playing this game of life together… with our kids. Those balls, they’re not our kids. They’re life. Our pasts. Our fears. Other’s fears.

Tell this to your child today: “You and I? We are on the same side of the court.”

In the words you use. In the actions you take. Tell your child. Your love is theirs. Unconditionally.

It just is.



PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas and receive weekly notes of inspiration and support for connecting with your kids along with a Hug Each Moment Kit direct to your inbox.


The journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo


Suffering From the Terrible Two’s? Remember to BIRP

How Parenting Helps Me Grow

Parenting and Discipline


Embrace the Chaos

Want to help yourself AND your kids feel less anxious? Stop saying “oh no”. Where do these two words get us anyway? When mom-hood doesn’t go the way we’ve planned for it to go, we have a choice.... (click to read more) #positive #parenting #mindfulness #yoga #acceptance

Want to help yourself AND your kids feel less anxious? Stop saying “oh no”.

Where do these two words get us anyway? When mom-hood doesn’t go the way we’ve planned for it to go,  we have a choice. We can either go on being surprised by the chaos or we can learn to expect it.

My three year old child just cut her own hair. Today. The day before we are set to take our family Christmas photos. An ideal day for her to give herself bangs? No. But the end of the world? No again.

Did I yell at my daughter or want her to feel miserable about cutting her hair in fear she might do it again? No. Thankfully there were no tears (for her or for me :O). Did we talk about it? Sure. Do I hope she’s learned from the experience such that it doesn’t happen again (and have we cut enough paper snowflakes with safety scissors for the week?!?) You bet ‘ja.

We are not perfect. Our kids are not perfect. NO ONE IS PERFECT.

When motherhood offers up the unexpected there is really only one thing left to do.

Embrace it.



When we tune in and trust, everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because mom-hood is BETTER when we’re holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well, because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!

Related Articles:


How To Accept the Unacceptable

Self Love

Gentle Baby Sleep Support



Praise Or Discouragement

It might sound like I’m splitting hairs here… but the way we encourage our kids MATTERS.

My daughter stood on the podium marked 3, smiled and waved at end of her first ever gymnastics meet. Was I happy for her? Sure. Did I praise her as being an amazing gymnast? No.


What did I tell her when she walked up to her dad and I after the meet, four shiny metals around her neck, trophy in hand, beaming ear to ear? I hugged her and said with an equally large smile, “I LOVED watching you out there. You had this big smile the entire time. It looked like you were having a blast. Honey, we’re so proud of how committed you are to your team. You are learning so much…”

Why didn’t I gush over her getting to stand on the podium? Why not go on and on about the shiny new metals that hung around her neck? It’s because when we praise the child (or the outcome like the “win”) verse praising the child’s effort, their brain holds onto our  praise as conditional and in the end, our praise becomes discouragement.

I think of it this way: praise the child/win/outcome and the brain thinks: I AM GOOD WHEN I DO GOOD. So what happens when our kids face something new and hard? Something they are “bad” at? Their brain is left to conclude: I AM GOOD WHEN I DO GOOD AND  I AM BAD AT THIS… I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS HARD THING. I AM NOT “GOOD” AT IT.

But praise the effort and waaaa-laaaa, you have a child whose brain is being incentivised to face challenges.

The real win, I want my ten year old to know deep in her heart, is the person she is. The love and respect she shows her coaches. The encouragement she gives her teammates and the girls on other teams, clapping for and watching them attentively. The commitment and focus she exercises, day in and day out, in getting her mom and her twin three year old brother and sister motivated to GET IN THE CAR NOW that she might get to practice on time (where early is on time and on time is late!). The patience and care she shows her body when she decides to sit a practice out because she is hurting even though it kills her to sit on the sidelines and watch.

Understanding the full impact our words as parents have on our kids takes time —but given the research, it’s time worth spending. There is power in the way we praise.

  • Praising the child: “Man you are smart.” Praising the effort: “That was a long assignment, but you stuck to it and got it done. That’s great!
  • Praising the child: “You are an amazing artist.” Praising the effort, “Wow. Look at all the different colors/techniques/materials/etc you used to make that picture.” or “What was your favorite part of making that?” or “Can I hang this in the kitchen?”
  • Praising the child: “You are such a great soccer player” Praising the effort, “You worked really hard today at soccer practice.” or “I love to watch you play.”

None of this sort of praising comes easy or naturally to me. After thirteen years of thinking about process over outcome, of working to praise the effort not the child, is it still hard for me?

YES. I do it “wrong” all the time. But that’s okay. I love a challenge.

Food for thought:

  • Are the things we’re saying to our kids inspiring them or discouraging them?
  • Are we helping them take on a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?
  • Are we preparing them for the challenges life will surely hold or are we not?
  • And finally, how do we, their parents, respond to challenges? Both ours and theirs.

Praise the effort, not the child. I’d love to hear your thoughts.



When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:

A Curvy Road
Connection and Baby/Kids

Helpful Resources:

Effective Praise

Effort, Praise and Achievement

Children and Praise: Why Certain Types of Praise May Backfire



“How to explain the inner workings of a mother’s heart who just knows there is another child waiting to be born to her?”


Waiting from Generation Mindful on Vimeo.

You do not need to have lost a child to know what it is to question, to doubt yourself, or to hope against all odds for a miracle.

This is my story from the magical day I presented it live in front of hundreds in my home town of St. Louis Missouri, and on Mother’s Day no less. I hope it speaks to your heart in some small way. More than anything, I hope my story encourages you to ask whatever it is that is on your heart, to listen, and to follow — even if (especially if) it doesn’t make “sense” to your head.

What is on your heart today? Do you know what it is to wait? What questions have you been asking and what, if anything, are you hearing in return? I know it takes something to share, but I’d love to hear from you below.



I write here and on My Mommy Manual‘s Facebook page about the connection we are, reminding myself and others to look inside for instructions. I also write about the spiritual journey that is life after loss at In The Face Of Loss and Pinterest as well. If you are a fan of conscious parenting and education, please join me and others at Generation Mindful and here on Instagram where we advocate for PLAY, and helping the generations to slooooow down and to simply connect.

Related Posts:

Time to Mourn

I Don’t Want to do Something Wrong

Growing in Motherhood

Rainbow Babies

photo (3)