Parenting on Purpose

Coaching and Ecourses for Parents by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur


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Exciting News for 2017

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on January 1, 2017 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

EXCITING NEWS: Instead of blogging in 2017, I'll be hosting live weekly video chats in the closed Parenting on Purpose FB group.

We meet every Wednesday @ 8 pm EST (and the recording of the video will stay posted so you can watch it again or check it out another time if you can't be with us live).

It's the same great parenting coaching in a new format and I'm loving connecting with all you mums in this way. Come on over and join us!

Create Big, Bold Changes in Your Life

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on December 21, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

If you think about it, growing up, being in school and even being at work is mostly about following other people’s rules and having someone else make decisions for you. Yes, I absolutely recognize that we all need these rules to teach us how to be safe, kind, contributing members of the community, but they can also leave us feeling overwhelmed, conflicted, resentful and burned out as an adult.

So now that you’re a grown-up and are parenting kids of your own, how do you switch gears from following the rules to creating and enforcing the rules? Not everyone makes this transition smoothly or easily. And if you’re not lucky enough to have great role models in your life, or to have found some in books or in the media (hello, Oprah!), you may be feeling all alone in this.

No worries! As we get ready to start a brand new year I’m going to share with you the 2 steps I use and teach to create big, bold changes: 1. declutter/simplify your life and 2. consciously choose what to bring back in (i.e. choose what to give your precious time, energy and attention to!).


Declutter cupboards and closets, clean out your car, your smart phone and inbox and clean up your social media. Fix, donate or toss anything you’re not currently using.

Simplify routines and regular tasks like meal planning and grocery shopping.

Learn to set boundaries and say no when people try to add things to your list or your list of things to worry about and take responsibility for.


Once things have been cleaned up and cleared out you’ll find you have so much more time and space to focus on the things that are truly important in your life. Like yourself and your kids!

Think about ways to bring in more self-awareness, mindfulness, gratitude, forgiveness, fun, asking for help, positive self talk and self-care this year!

Do Reward Charts Punish Parents?

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on November 16, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

I’m lucky enough to have two very helpful boys that participate in our chores and routines because they’ve been taught right from the start that’s what being part of Team Jolicoeur means. They get an allowance every week no matter what because I want them to learn about making choices and managing money.

This weekend there were some bad choices being made and I was struggling with the idea of having them “earn back” some of the extra treats I had planned (a video, etc.). But I found myself getting caught up in all the details:


What do I do if only one kid is trying?

How many “good choices” or chores equals a video?

And the icky feeling that they would only be trying to get a reward, not doing it because it’s the right/kind thing to do.

So in the end I decided to stick with what works for us…

I try to stay away from anything that looks like behaviour modification because it’s outside my comfort zone as a parent and my kids don’t respond well to it. Natural and logical consequences fit better for me and they make so much more sense when I say it out loud and explain them to my boys.


We also do lots of acknowledging, rather than punishing and rewarding which works well for my two. For example, we have a paper for each boy and they get stamps on it when they make a good choice. Nothing happens if they get stamps and nothing happens if they don’t. It’s just a reminder for me to catch them doing good things and a way for them to celebrate all their hard work (because, let’s be honest, making good choices and being healthy can be hard work!) They can ask me for a stamp, they can give themselves stamps and they can give each other stamps. Most often they do it for their brother, which I think is amazing and adorable, and then I get to remind them to give themselves some too.

We also acknowledge the good and not so good things about our days during our bedtime practice and that’s a super nice way to reflect (without shame or punishment) on everyone’s ups and downs.

What about you? How do you mums feel about reward charts?

6 Ways Parenting Healed My Childhood

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on October 19, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)



“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” – Eckhart Tolle


For better or worse, we’re all products of our upbringing and we all have things from our past that we’re trying to get over or let go of. I worked on my childhood stuff for years, I thought I had it all figured out and that I was ready to be a perfect parent…then I had kids. Becoming a mum broke me wide open and showed me how much I still needed to work on. This, of course, made me feel super anxious and unqualified to parent anyone. But it turns out that parenting my own kids is exactly what I needed to heal these old hurts and change my perspective.


Food and I had a love-hate relationship, but that had to change in a big way when I had kids. There were only so many times I could catch myself standing over the kitchen sink, stuffing my face with garbage food mumbling to my boys, “No, you can’t have any, it’s not a healthy food choice,” before I started feeling like a hypocrite.

Meal planning for my family and explaining healthy eating habits to my kids has changed the way I eat too: we talk about eating food in all the colours of the rainbow; the importance of balancing the different food groups; and that treats don’t always have to be food. And my kids keep me honest by calling me out when they see me eating too much sugar (“Mum, sugar is your bad habit, right?”) or if I mindlessly slip some junk food into the shopping cart at the grocery store.

Keeping mostly healthy food in the house and constantly asking, Am I really hungry? Would I feed this to my kids? has created big changes for me. It helps me have fun with food, eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full and pay more attention to what I actually feel/need.

Body Issues:

I got pregnant with my first baby after years of dieting and being unhappy with my body. And suddenly, my body wasn’t my own anymore – I was sharing it. I was so preoccupied and excited that I didn’t even bother worrying about the numbers on the scale. I focused instead on staying healthy and fit and calm.

Now, after years of being pregnant, nursing, baby-wearing and being used as a human jungle gym, I have a new respect for the strength and endurance of my beautify body and everything it allows me to do in a day. And then there’s my boys, who tell me they think I’m beautiful all the time and they hug me, smooch me and pet my face. That’s some powerful body-positive messaging!

Feeling Like Enough:

I grew up thinking that other people only wanted to be with me if I had something to give them. So I tried really hard to be nice and funny and generous, to listen and give good advice. It was never enough and it was exhausting.

Truth: no one wanted anything from me. They probably just wanted things for me, like happiness and success and hoping I would calm down a bit.

I know this. I’ve known this for years now, but I still forget sometimes and go back to trying to please everyone so no one will notice that I’m not enough. Even though I go back to visit this place, my kids don’t let me stay there for very long. When I’m trying to be a perfect parent and exhaustedly sigh, “What do you neeeeeed?” I get the sweetest, most loving answers that make me feel all warm and fuzzy and complete: “I need you, mum,” or “I just need a hug.” In those moments I truly know, I have enough, I do enough and I am enough.

Feeling Understood:

When I was growing up, I remember feeling very misunderstood. There wasn’t much communication, so I often got what I didn’t want and didn’t get what I really needed. This made everyday stuff challenging and I often felt like I was on the outside. It was even worse on birthdays and holidays, which were awkward and disappointing. I remember being a kid and my parents trying to convince me to start a collection of some kind because they just didn’t “get” me so they never knew what to get me. I ended up with this weird collection of crystal figurines in a glass cabinet in my bedroom. Fun.

But last year, just before my birthday, I was thinking out loud about making plans and my kids spontaneously came up with a long list of all of my favourite things.

My actual favourite things! They knew what flavour of cake I like best, what colour wrapping paper I would want and they helped me make a list of fun things to do on my special day. I’ve never in my life felt so loved, so understood and like I was right where I belonged.


I always felt like my parents kept money this big secret. I saw that my mother paid for some things and my father paid for others. I knew they got upset about each other’s spending and my spending (especially if I spent it on them). I learned that money was not for spending, only for saving. This meant every potential purchase became either a big secret (like spending my entire allowance on candy and eating it all before I got home so no one would know), or anxiety-filled production.

I remember being a little girl on family vacation, trying to decide between two different souvenirs in some random corner shop packed floor to ceiling with novelty stuff. I was devastated that I didn’t bring enough money with me to buy both and had no idea how to deal with it. I cried big tears in the middle of the store until I finally left with nothing. Looking back, I realize I didn’t need to buy anything, but I did need some perspective and help with problem-solving. And maybe a hug.

I’m constantly working on my relationship with money, trying not to determine my worth by my bank balance and to allow myself to actually enjoy what I choose to buy. Luckily, I have my kids to help me with this too. As I teach them I’m learning: what’s a need and what’s a want; the difference between the price and the value of things (i.e. not all sales are deals and if something is important it’s worth spending extra on); and how to save and donate money.

We talk about money all the time. When we leave the grocery store we look at all our bags of food and talk about how lucky we are to be able to keep our fridge and cupboards full, because not every family can. I try not to complain about gas prices and instead talk about all the fun places we went and adventures we had with the tank we’ve just used up. When I buy myself new clothes I bring them home and have a fashion show and make it fun, so I don’t feel guilty about spending on myself. And if I change my mind or make a mistake when I buy something, we talk about that too. Because money isn’t a big secret anymore.


When I was growing up and so busy trying to figure out how to be perfect (and failing hard at it!) I was accidentally teaching myself to ignore my feelings. It was too hard to have my own needs, opinions and preferences while focusing so much on what other people thought of me.

When I stopped paying attention to my feelings I got really disconnected from myself. I figured I’d had a good day if I made the people around me happy, or if nothing too terrible happened. And it was a bad day if I couldn’t control all the people and things around me as much as I felt I should be able to. There were a lot of bad days. And even the good days weren’t that great because the happiness felt temporary and hollow.

Becoming a mum made me re-prioritize fast. I was so tired and confused after my kids were born. But I was learning so much and making so many decisions every single day. I literally couldn’t focus on anyone else but me and my little family.

I slowly re-learned the feeling of feelings in my body (like how my stomach hurt every time the baby cried) and how to name them and started with the business of teaching my kids the same things. We are constantly asking each other, “How are you?” “How do you feel about that?” “How do you want to feel today?” which keeps us all connected to ourselves, our feelings and to each other. Best. Feeling. Ever.

I’m really proud of the person and parent I’ve become. And I know that nothing short of the total transformation of parenting could’ve changed all these areas of my life, helped me heal my past and learn new ways of looking at the world.

Teaching Kids About Money

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on September 21, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)


Helping kids learn about money can be a real challenge, especially for parents who (like me!) don’t have the healthiest relationship with money themselves and parents who use credit cards or debit cards all the time.


The way I view money and spend money has changed so much since I became a mum and I love the new perspective teaching my kids has brought.



My kids get allowance every week no matter what. It’s not tied chores or performance in any way. They get it because they’re super helpful everyday and I believe they need to learn to be comfortable with and manage money. They’re expected to do things around the house every day because helping each other is what being part of a family is all about!

As a general rule, it’s a good time start giving some kind of allowance when kids are old enough not to put the money in their mouth (this will be different ages for different kids) and increase the amount as they get older and what they are responsible for buying changes. Before you start, it’s also a good idea to check-in with yourself and make sure you’re okay with giving up some control about what they’re spending it on, since the goal is to teach them how to be responsible spenders after all.


Both my boys have a fun zipper wallet to keep their allowance in (wallets with a button or clip top and zip top baggies unreliable and messy for little ones, stick with a zipper that opens wide enough for little fingers to get in). Each week when they get their allowance, we count how much money they have so they can see it growing.

If they have something specific in mind that they want to buy, we figure out how many weeks it will be until they can afford it. Sometimes, if it feels like too long, they change their minds or choose something else instead. There have been one or two exceptions when my oldest really wanted something and did some extra chores to earn a bit more that week, but it’s rare, mostly because he didn’t feel it was worth it in the end.

Responsible Spending:

Before we go out, I ask the boys if they feel like they’d like to spend some money. If they do, they take a few minutes to separate their coins into saving and spending piles. I usually prompt them with, “Go get your wallet and however much money you want to spend.” This is something that we decided to add in after my oldest spent all of this money and had a really hard time having an empty wallet for a whole week. Because they want to keep a little bit for later this extra few minutes of prep work is really important, otherwise it’s too hard for them not to spend it all once they’re out.

When we get to the store, we talk a lot about the prices of things. We also talk about the value of things (Is it something that you can keep for a long time or something that will break or you won’t want tomorrow?) and comparison shopping (You can buy one of those here, or wait until the next time we go to the dollar store and get six for the same price.). We have these conversations even if the boys decided to leave their money at home.

I often think out loud about what I buy so they can hear my process and problem solving. When I decide not to buy something, I’m careful never to say, “Oh, we can’t afford that,” or “It’s too much money.” Instead, I let them know that I’m choosing to spend my money on another priority or saving for something else.

The boys know the difference between a need and a want. And we pay close attention to commercials and advertisements so I can explain how they work to make you think something is a need when it’s really just a want (See how that box of cereal has a cartoon on it, but this one is the same thing for less money, why do you think the company would do that?).

When we do make a purchase we talk about how lucky we are to be able to buy whatever we need and some of the things we want. And I remind them that not every family is as lucky as we are.


2-3 times per year I have each of the boys set aside some money to donate; we usually do this around Thanksgiving, Christmas and after birthdays. They get to choose the amount they want and pick a charity to donate to (they always choose animals or babies!). That gives us another chance to talk about how lucky we are and that it’s important to help others too.

Whether we use their money to buy something to donate or donate the money directly, they love feeling helpful in this way. It’s really nice to see them interact with the charity staff and get a bit of praise and recognition from other grown-ups too.

What about you, do your kids get an allowance? When and how much? Do they have to do anything for it?

P.S. Want to teach your kids more healthy habits? Check out the Happy Mummy Ebook: How to Eat Well, Sleep Well and Exercise with Kids

15 Ways to Have Fun on a Budget this Summer

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on August 3, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Summer is more than half over. Can you believe it?

By this point, you probably feel like you’ve done everything there is to do.


Keeping kids busy and happy on a budget all summer can feel like a full time job. Here’s a quick list of our favourite no cost or low cost things to do, so you can actually have a vacation too!

1. Go to the local library to take a class or find books on whatever topic, animal or character your kids are into. Let the kids practice asking the Librarian for help.

2. Set up a toy or book exchange with other mums you know who have kids around the same age as yours. Mummy Hint: take a picture of what you’re borrowing so you can make sure you return everything with all their parts so everyone stays friends.

3. Find a splashpad or open swim time at local pool. This can easily turn into an all-day event if you pack a lunch and eat and play at a nearby park.

4. Visit seasonal farmer’s markets and festivals where you can find lots of deals, try new foods and meet new people. Some festivals even have discount days or deals on rides and free concerts or fireworks.

5. Set up different backyard adventures with whatever you already have around. Example: inflatable pool, water table, bubble machine, picnic lunch, catching bugs, picking flowers, sidewalk chalk art, etc.

6. Check online to see when the next fireworks/full moon/meteor shower is and let the kids stay up late. Count fireflies or play with glow sticks and sparklers when it gets dark.

7. See how many different parks you can visit in one day (our personal best is 4!) or try out a new park you’ve never been to before. Mummy Hint: bring a beach towel to dry off swings and slides if it’s been raining.

8. Gardening and digging in the dirt. If you plant a veggie garden, it’s a great way to teach kids about where their food comes from and save money all summer. Mummy Hint: carrots and cucumbers are easy to grow and kids love to pick them and eat them right out of the garden.

9. Play board games in the shade in the yard or inside when it’s too hot out.

10. Set up outdoor summer toys inside the house if it gets too hot. Example: a tent in the living room, bring in tunnels and beach balls, make an indoor sandbox in a container with rice/barley/dried chickpeas instead of sand or set up a water table/big bowl of water on a vinyl table cloth on the floor, etc.

11. Crafts. Lots and lots of crafts. Mummy Hint: do a Google or Pinterest search by your kids’ ages, holiday and special events, or the supplies you already have in the house.

12. Go to your city’s Visitor Information Centre to pick up brochures and maps about local seasonal events and attractions.

13. Create frozen snacks or snacks made from fruit and veggies. Give your treats fun or silly names. Mummy Hint: frozen smoothies are a great way to get kids to eat more protein, and melon or cucumber helps kids stay hydrated.

14. When your kids are asleep set up their toys in new and exciting ways, they’ll be so excited when they see it in the morning the toys will be like new again and you might even get a few extra minutes of sleep. Example: grocery store, classroom, dinosaur land, lego city, etc.

15. Let the kids wear their swimsuits and goggles in the tub or if they’re all hot and sweaty from being outside, plop them right in the shower with their clothes on for some surprise fun.

**SURPRISE FREE GIFT: Try these FREE printable colouring pages as a fun activity for you and your kids --->


What about you?

What are your favourite free ways to keep kids busy in the summer?

3 Ways to Keep Kids From Ruining A Marriage

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on July 6, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Listen, I love my kids and I know you love your kids too. You’d do anything for them and some days you do everything for them. If you’re like most mums I work with, there was a time when you also felt that way about your partner or spouse. But after having kids…not so much. Marriage changes so much after kids!

I’m a mum too, I get it. There’s a million things that get in the way every day. You’re tired all the time, feeling overwhelmed and anxious, there’s so much mummy guilt and maybe you’re not showering as much as you’d really like. All of this takes a toll on you and inevitably on your relationship with your partner.

I’ve never met a mum (including me!) who didn’t think about the possibility of her marriage ending at least once after she had kids. Being a mum is the best and hardest thing you’ll ever do. Ever. So as a mum, you need all kinds of extra love and support, but you might be afraid to ask for help or be stuck thinking you should to be able to do everything all on your own.

I remember feeling that way. I felt so stuck: like I couldn’t blame my kids (because it’s not their fault they’re kids and they have needs and because they’re so little and vulnerable and because that would be really ungrateful and I would end up feeling even more guilty and ashamed) and I couldn’t blame myself (because I knew how hard I’d been trying every single moment). But all that blame had to go somewhere, so it got poured on to my husband. A lot.I blamed him for not doing enough, not doing it fast enough or not the way I wanted, not being home enough and not being able to read my mind.


Sometimes it feels easier and safer to blame your partner, even when it doesn’t always make sense to and even when you don’t really want to.


But all this blaming can really damage your relationship. Watch this quick, fun Brene Brown video to learn more about this…

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So now that you understand why blaming is such a toxic habit, here are some things to do with that anger instead:

1. Remind yourself that your partner is trying his best too.


Maybe his best looks different than yours, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

There are lots of right ways to do the same thing.


2. Remind yourself that he is separate from him behaviours. You can hate what your partner did (or didn’t do), you can hate the situation, but you don’t hate him. You may even hate the choices he made or the words he used, but you don’t hate him.

**Bonus Tip: this lesson is super helpful in parenting too, your kids are also separate from their behaviours**

3. Be extra patient with yourself and the process. Know that when you start paying more attention to your thoughts and feelings and how you are blaming, it’ll feel like things are getting worse before they get better. That’s totally normal, keep working on it and keep talking about. It will get easier.

Why do things get worse before they get better? Think of it this way, it’s kind of like you’ve been trying to keep your home neat and tidy by stuffing all the dirt and garbage and things you don’t want anymore into a closet and just keeping the lights off in there. Now that you’re doing this self-development work, you’ve turned the lights back on and you can see how much stuff is really in there. Yikes!

You might think, “Whaaat? I don’t even know where to start and it’s going to be so much work. Forget it, I’m just going to close the door again and pretend I didn’t see that” and you might want to quit, but don’t.

It’s also, common to look for other people to blame, “This isn’t all my mess! It’s his mess too. If he would just help me more, it would never have gotten this bad. And if my parents had taught me how to clean properly when I was a kid, there wouldn’t be a mess in the first place.” Remind yourself that taking responsibility for what happened also means you have the power to change the situation.

Those reactions may be normal, but neither one of them will actually help you clean out the metaphorical closet. So, just like wouldn’t put your house up for sale and move because your closet was a mess, you also wouldn’t end an otherwise healthy and supportive marriage because having kids and being a mum is so much messier than you ever could have imagined.

Instead, gather up all the things you need (boxes, garbage bags and cleaning supplies = journaling, self-care, breathing exercises, grounding exercises, etc.), maybe get some support people to help (talking to a coach/counselor or a trusted friend) and slowly pick through the mess one thing at a time.

When you’re feeling energized by the process you might be able to work on it all day, other days you’ll be tired and only able to work for a few minutes, or you may be feeling resentful and need to take the day off. All of this is okay, because as long as you keep working at changing the blaming habit, you’ll get through the mess. Then you can choose to consciously move forward together with your partner and start making decisions that will keep things from getting so messy again.


Feeling Like a Failure (Part 3)

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on June 8, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

I’ve been reading lots of posts and comments in the last few days about mums feeling like they’ve failed somehow. It really bothers me because I know how hard you’re trying at life and parenting and I see what an amazing job you’re doing, even if you can’t right now.

So, my response to all of those comments is 2 pieces of advice + 1 story that this quote reminded me of…

Advice #1 – If you fail, fail forward.

That means, when something goes wrong in life or parenting, learn the lesson in your mistakes and let those lessons move you closer to your goals. It can be really easy to let the disappointment and frustration and embarrassment linger, to climb inside the failure and stay there for a while or to let yourself get stuck in trying to figure out the “why?” of it all. Don’t do it!


Figuring out “why?” is not your job! Your only job is “what’s next?”


There’s no need to try to figure out why things didn’t work out, or why it happened to you and your family. Think of “why?” as quicksand. Don’t jump in and get stuck, go around it instead, so you can figure out what your next best step is and move on.

Try re-framing your failures into lessons (you can even do this for your kids with their mistakes!). Tell yourself, “Today I learned that this doesn’t work for me/our family,” or “Today I learned that this doesn’t bring me joy. I’m glad I tried and now I know I don’t ever have to do that again.”

Advice #2 – Never quit on your worst day.

That means, don’t make important decisions when you’re right in the middle of big big feelings. Don’t give up on the things that are important to you as a woman and a mum (healthy bedtime routines, healthy eating, mindfulness and self-care practices, breastfeeding, your relationships, or whatever) because they’re hard and it’s been a really bad day.

Think about it, talk about it, journal about it, ask for help and then make your decision when things have calmed down for you and you can be confident that it’s your next best decision.

Story – “Don’t believe the things you tell yourself late at night.”

I think this story brings together everything in advice #1, advice #2 and the quote at the beginning.

When my kids were brand new, I was up round-the-clock nursing them and I got stupid-tired and very confused. I would sit in the quiet dark in my rocking chair thinking about all of my faults and flaws and all of the ways I’d already failed them. I could spend hours trying to figure out why I wasn’t good enough. At the end of each 3 am feeding, my head would be spinning. I even joked that my breast milk probably tasted like guilt.

Most nights, I had trouble falling back to sleep and some nights it got so bad that I woke my husband up to talk about whatever it was that seemed so very important at that time (seriously, imagine 3 am half-asleep conversations about when and how to introduce first foods and which car seats are safest and if we we’re saving enough money for university for the kids and if it was finally time for me to consider taking some medication…it was out of control).

In the end, to help me deal with those nights in a more positive and realistic way and to help my wonderful husband get some more sleep, I made up a rule for myself:

What happens at 3 am doesn’t count!


It became kind of a mantra for me and really helped me move past all the whys and the mistakes and to get some much needed perspective. I still say this to myself sometimes when I’m having a hard moment, even if it’s not 3 am. It’s become a quick reminder for me, that what I think is going on or what I think is a problem when I’m super tired and overwhelmed might not be such a big deal later. And I don’t need to fix anything in that moment, except being tired and feeling overwhelmed.

Hugs to all you mums out there, doing the best and hardest and most important job ever. Remember to go easy on yourself and take extra good care of you during these hard moments.

P.S. Need some more help and support around feeling like a failure?


You need the 30 Days, 30 Ways guides! Get answers to the 6 biggest parenting challenges all mums deal with.


2 Things You Should Never Withhold from Kids

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on May 18, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

A few months ago, I was having a chat with a mummy friend, so of course we ended up talking about our kids. She was telling me that her little one was asking so many questions it was driving her bananas (we all have triggers, no judgey eyes!). My friend told me she sometimes refuses to answer the questions if her son isn’t doing what she’s asked. I offered the suggestion that she try reframing the message she was giving and instead, let him know that she was delaying giving the answer until he had completed the task. That way it wouldn’t seem to his kid brain that she was withholding something from him. Her response was, “What’s wrong with withholding?”

Honestly, I was a bit shocked and I really didn’t know how to respond at that moment. I was trying to offer my friend support and a new perspective but I’d accidentally side-stepped into a parenting debate.

So I tried to let the question go and to see things from her perspective, after all…


I’m a mum too, I get it.


Different things work for different families and even within families, different things work for different kids. And even with the same kid, different things work at different times.

So what was it about her question, “what’s wrong with withholding?” that had my head + my heart + my stomach spinning? It took me a while to figure it out, but when the answer finally came to me, it was so simple and clear. To me…

Withholding feels icky and it hurts everyone in the family.

I grew up in a family where withholding was a pretty standard parenting tool. Specifically, withholding information and love. As an adult, I’m now able look back and know that my parents did the best they could with the tools and experience they had at the time, but my inner child still gets shouty whenever I feel like someone’s withholding from me.

I decided a long time ago that…


I will always find a way to let my kids know that I love them no matter what.

And I will always find an age-appropriate way to answer whatever questions their little brains come up with.


Now that I’m a mum, I can’t imagine withholding from my kids. That would mean not giving them the love + attention + affection they need to feel safe. Or not giving them the information they need to feel calm, stable and able to make their world make sense to them.

So I guess that puts me at the opposite end of the continuum on this issue: I choose on purpose to shower my kids with love and information every day and to trust them to sort through it, to take what they need and leave the rest.


What about you?

Do you think withholding is useful or dangerous? Is there a place for it in parenting?

P.S. Looking for new ways to talk to your kids? Grab my NEW guide for parents, FREE for a limited time…

What You Say Matters: Powerful Words for Joyful Parenting


Answering Real Life Parenting Questions: Tantrums and Time-Outs

Posted by Christine Marion-Jolicoeur on April 20, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Q - I read your article "Time-out? Time-in?" and I like the ideas, but I’m not sure my 2.5 year old would completely understand these questions. I will definitely implement these once I feel like she will, in the meantime, what would you do for tantrums and discipline when they are so young?

A - Great question!


It’s often easiest to start by modelling behaviours that will become expectations/routines later on. That way you get the chance to practice and tweak it until it’s something you’re comfortable with doing over and over and over and over again, plus your kids get to see exactly what it looks like and what is expected of them.


For the discipline routine I wrote about in Time-out? Time-in?, you might ask your daughter to take a big, deep breath with you and say to her, “Now that I know we’re both feeling calm, we can talk about what happened.” And say the answers to the three questions (What went wrong? How do we fix it? What can we do instead?) out loud, instead of asking her to answer them.


Use neutral statements and calm tone to explain the facts of the situation…

“This is what went wrong…”

“And that’s not okay because it’s not safe/kind/etc.”

“We can fix it by cleaning up together/saying sorry/etc.” Then together, do whatever you’ve decide on.

“Next time, please…” Or “Why don’t you try…instead.” (And when you see her doing what you’ve asked, let her know she did a good job of listening and remembering what the two of you talked about.)

Once you’ve modeled this a few times, start asking her one of the questions (switch which question you ask each time, so she gets a chance to practice them all and you’re not getting an auto-pilot answer from her).

And once that’s working well, ask her two of the questions, then all three.


As for tantrums, kids literally can’t hear you when they’re all revved up like that. So making sure they’re safe and waiting it out is definitely the first step.

Once she’s calm, you can work through the same 3 questions…

“I can see you’re feeling calm now, so I’d like to talk about your choice to scream/whine/bang your head/not listen. That’s not okay with me because I don’t understand what you need when that happens and it’s my job to help you get what you need. Next time you’re feeling frustrated/tired/upset/scared please let me know or ask for what you need so Mum can help you start to feel better.”

Another great step to build the foundation for this kind of discipline is talking about feelings every day. This way, kids have the language to tell you what’s going on and they consistently get the message that all feelings are okay, even the big ones. When my boys were toddlers, we posted feelings charts around the house to help with this (there’s a great one in the 30 Days, 30 Ways package at We also say, “it’s okay to feel your feelings, it’s not okay to hit/hurt/shout/etc.” all the time.

Also, having a regular routine (and sticking to it) cuts down on tantrums in a big way! You can search for “routines” on this blog for some of my best ideas about bath, bed and mealtime routines.

The last thing I would recommend is checking-in with yourself to see if you’ve been feeling extra tired/busy/grumpy/impatient/etc. lately.


Our kids are our mirrors and if they’re acting out it may be a reminder that Mum needs some extra love and patience.


By taking really good care of yourself first you’re making sure you have the time and energy to give your kids your full attention, patience and best problem-solving.

What about you? How do you deal with discipline in your house?

P.S. Sign up for your FREE gift and learn 37 more ways to change the way you talk to your kids!

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