It’s 2017...we all do this.
You’ve done it.
I’ve done it.
We Google our child’s problematic, annoying, and confusing behavior.
We put our best keywords in the search box, say a little prayer, and GO. We cross our fingers hoping that whatever Google delivers will help us resolve the issue quickly, and without having to see a therapist.
Our hope is that Google will magically find the resource with the very answers to our parenting dilemmas (and it better be on the first page or else!).
Of course, this does happen sometimes. But most often, I see parents becoming more and more overwhelmed with the sheer number of results they get online.
Go ahead and search how to get toddlers to listen. Google will show you 12,300,000 results in 0.77 seconds. How much time will it take you to filter through all those results? How do you know which ones are right for your child?
If your answer is "Holy shit, forget it!" you’re not alone.
Here is my guide to navigating parenting resources so you can go from feeling overwhelmed and helpless to empowered and knowledgeable!
Know the problem you need help with.
Saying “my child doesn’t listen” or “my child struggles socially” is not the problem. The problem that needs resolving is buried somewhere beneath that behavior. Understanding the emotions that drive our children’s behavior is a critical piece in finding answers. If you’re not sure what emotional challenge is creating the problem, consider seeing a therapist to help you gain clarity and learn tools to help your child (and yourself) at home. At the very least, you will walk away knowing the right words to put in the search box on Google!
Ask a professional for a recommendation.
The best therapists are highly knowledgeable on the latest research in their field of expertise. They spend lots of time outside the office staying up-to-date on newly published articles, evidence-based clinical skills, completing continuing education/training, and reading books so they can keep their skills sharp, and be a resource for their clients. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask! If they don’t have an immediate answer, they are typically happy to do a round of searching on your behalf.
Know the limitations of advice and the irreplaceable benefits of experimenting.
No matter what ideas you read about, be aware that “award winning advice” doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. There’s no crystal ball to guarantee what will work for your child and what won’t. Your child is unique, as are you and your parenting style. Be brave. Experiment with the suggestions you find, and be consistent enough to get a real measureable outcome of its effectiveness before moving onto the next idea. Good old trial and error!
When searching online, be wary of the opinionated “experts” that give advice purely based on their own personal experience.
There will always be a place in the world for the online mommy boards. But when searching for advice and guidance on a specific issue, sticking to resources that are written by field experts will always be your best bet. Read up on the author’s educational/training background and experience in their field. Decide for yourself if you feel confident enough to endorse their suggestions.
Be self-aware enough to admit that you may be part of the problem.
Come to the problem-solving process with an open mind. Oftentimes, we as parents unknowingly do things that worsen a problematic behavior in our children. We’re human, and imperfect, and it’s okay. Solutions are a team effort. A shift in perspective may inspire you to put different words in your search box that open more doors for solutions.
My favorite parenting books:
Dr. Laura Markham, psychologist and founder of www.ahaparenting.com
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to stop yelling and start connecting
Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to stop the fighting and raise friends for life
Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish, experts on adult-child communication
How to talk so kids will listen & how to listen so kids will talk
Drs. John & Julie Gottman, psychologists and founders of The Gottman Institute
And Baby Makes Three
Talia Filippelli, LCSW, CHHC, CPT is a licensed psychotherapist, certified holistic health coach, certified personal trainer, and the Chief Happiness Officer at Starr Therapy in Hoboken. She has been featured on CBS News as a mental health expert and was voted a Top Kids Doc by NJ Family Magazine in 2014, 2015 and 2016!
For more information on Talia or Starr Therapy, visit her website:
Starr Therapy, LLC