June 27, 2012

The Summer Series: Katie Hurley, continued

Today, I'm continuing my Q and A with friend and parenting expert Katie Hurley...

What issues do you believe parents find most challenging?

That depends on the age of the child!

In the early years: Sleep, tantrums, picky eaters, hitting and biting, social interaction skills, and listening skills. My inbox is filled with questions about sleep, tantrums, and listening!

School age children: Social skills, self-esteem, talking back, boundaries, bullying, sibling rivalry, and “fitting in." Hint: Don’t worry about your child fitting in… help your child build the self-confidence to stand alone.

The tween/teen years: Yikes! Drugs and alcohol, bullying, eating disorders, self-esteem, sex, future planning, identity formation, listening (revisited)… the list goes on here.

In your opinion, does the Internet help or hurt parents looking for solutions to those challenges?

Well I’m here… so that’s helpful, right?!

As I mentioned earlier, answers are everywhere. The trick is to take the answers that you find most helpful and use them as guides.

I hear from a lot of parents who feel overwhelmed and think they aren’t capable of solving these problems independently. They are capable. They just need some advice that works for their particular children.

I can fire off 15 sleep strategies for your preschooler who suddenly won’t go to bed at night, but all you really need is one strategy specific to your particular situation. You might find that from reading a blog post, but you might not. I do my best to respond to all Facebook messages and email from parents because knowing the backstory makes a big difference when it comes to providing help.

I worry about the sudden increase in “parenting coaches” out there. Being a parent doesn’t make someone an expert. And calling yourself a coach doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the skills to help a very overwhelmed parent. I have years of training and experience… that’s what makes me an expert. Not my two little cuties… although they are always willing to practice new strategies that I develop!

How has your professional training helped you in raising your own children?

When I’m with my own kids, I’m just their mom. But it does help to have many, many tricks up my sleeves.

I can diffuse a tantrum very quickly. That’s not to say that my kids never tantrum…all kids have tantrums. But I can remain very calm, have them blow up pretend balloons, empathize, and move on. I truly don’t sweat the tantrums.

When my daughter started to have some sleep issues when her daddy was on tour for a year, I was able to recognize the cause, find some solutions that worked, and help her re-learn how to self soothe. I also wasn’t afraid to pull her out of preschool and just let her stay home.

We all go through things. Parenting is a journey and it’s almost never dull. My tendency to assess the situation from a clinical standpoint does give me the advantage of problem solving each situation fairly quickly. And, again, I have those strategies at my fingertips….

And that’s why I’ve chosen to share them with all of you. When you know what to do when problems arise, parenting is considerably less stressful!

Final thought: Let the small moments of frustration go and focus your energy on the small moments of wonder instead. You will all be better for it.

As I said in my intro, I am a better parent thanks to you, Katie!

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