A Tail Of Furstration: Would P.E.T. Parenting Skills Work With My Pets? (Was I Barking Mad?)

Larissa Dann

This is a tale of two dogs and one owner, who, in the depths of desperation, tried to bring her parenting skills to bear on her pets. Sad, I know.  What drove her to this state of affairs? And what was the outcome?

Parenting Children, Caring for Parents: A Job Description.

Larissa Dann

‘Sandwich generation’ refers to people who are bringing up children (typically adolescents) while also caring for their aging parents. At the moment I’m the vegemite in that sandwich, my time and energy thinly spread between my parents, my children, and occasionally my long-suffering partner.

Avoiding the Phrase 'Makes Me', and What to Say Instead.

Blog post by Larissa Dann 17 November 2015, on Gordon Training International         Photo courtesy Shutterstock

We use the phrase “makes me” in situations where we are impacted by things our children do – by their actions, or their behaviour.  Often, we’ll say, “makes me” with the best of intentions – we just want our children to know how we feel.

My question is: does my child’s action make me feel something? Or do I feel an emotion in response to my child’s behaviour?  Am I a passive victim of their behaviour, or will I actively own my feelings about their behaviour?

I think there can be hidden consequences when we use “makes me” with our children. Read on for the full article.

The Lighter Side of Living with a Mum who Teaches Parenting

Larissa Dann        

So – I’m a Mum. Interestingly (for my family), not only am I a Mum, but I’m a parent who happens to teach parenting. I have children and a partner. They live with my passionate advocacy for, and (sometimes not so good) practice of, a deliberately chosen approach to parenting. This leads to some entertaining conversations, where my convictions become the source of much amusement for my family.  This post is a glimpse into the humorous side of living with a parent educator.

A Personal Reflection on Intergenerational Parenting

Blog post: Larissa Dann 29 September 2015 (updated 13 January, 2017)               Mum and Dad, London, 1960

“100 years after you die it won’t matter what car you drove or what house you lived in but it will matter how you raised your kids” (Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) bumper sticker)*

My father has a terminal illness.  My mother has advanced dementia. Suddenly, it seems my time with my parents is limited.  As I watch my children burst into life, and I see my parents fade, I begin to reflect. How did my parents’ actions, their living of their attitudes and values, their modelling, influence my raising of their grandchildren?

How to Help your Child to Behave Out of Consideration Rather than Compliance

Two drivers for children to do as we ask could be either: (1) Consideration for the parent (or another person) or (2) Compliance. Which motivator would you like to see influencing your child’s behaviour?  This article examines the difference between a child changing their behaviour out of either consideration, or compliance.  We also look at some ideas to help children learn to consider others, while maintaining their sense of self-worth: "How to help your children change their behaviour out of consideration, rather than compliance"

Saying “I’m disappointed” can Damage Relationships: Children and Adults


Respectful communication is the life-blood of all relationships. A subtle choice of words may either enhance or diminish family connection.  In my efforts to improve my relationships, one word I’m trying to avoid is ‘disappointed’.

Our Guest Posts on child/teen/parent websites.

I have been fortunate to have had blogs published on child/teen-focused websites. The most recent are below:

Teaching Children Skills to Peacefully Resolve Conflict

This blog helps you develop the peace making capacities of children.

Imagine two children fighting over a toy. The children are in a relationship with each other, and that relationship is not going so well. Our role is not to step in and judge (which inevitably involves ‘taking sides’), but to mediate, model and mentor.  (Of course, it is also to keep people physically and psychologically safe!)

Here is a step-by-step method of resolving disputes between children, based on the no-lose conflict resolution model taught in P.E.T.

Consideration or Obedience: Motivating Children to Change their Behaviour

In my opinion, two drivers for children to do as we ask could be either:

  • Consideration for another person, including a parent, friend, carer, sibling.; or
  • Compliance, obedience

Consideration comes from within the child (intrinsic motivation), while obedience is a result of factors from outside the child, usually rewards or punishment (extrinsic motivation).

What's the Problem with Time-Out, Anyway?

Lately, it seems parents and carers feel disempowered. We’re not supposed to smack, and now even time-out is being questioned.  So how do we discipline?  And what’s wrong with time-out, anyway?

Three Ways Our Assumptions Affect Our Relationships with Children

Imagine if our fundamental parenting principle was that children do not misbehave.  Imagine we were guided by the understanding that children behave simply to meet their needs. We would stop blaming.  We would not take their behaviour personally. We would know they were innocent and competent.  We would recognise that our disagreements with our children were a result of our needs conflicting with theirs.

Putting ‘Gentle Parenting’ into Practice: the Possibilities of Reasoning with the Very Young

When I hear people say “you can’t reason with a very young child”, or “the only way to make a young child change their behaviour is to reward or punish”, I feel deeply saddened. My experience as a parent, and parent educator, is otherwise.

The Trouble with Time Out

Children and discipline - a perennial issue. Discipline (the verb) can mean either ‘to teach’, or ‘to control’ (Gordon, T. 1989).  If we use discipline to control children, then we rely on reward and punishment to change a child’s behaviour.

Children and Play - Past, Present, and Future?

One of the best aspects of being a Mum is reading to my kids. As a family project, we decided to read some ‘classics’ together (well, I read to my children).The more books we read, the more I reflected on the differences between generations, in the way children entertain themselves.

Reasoning with a Very Young Child (1) - It's Really Possible!

Part (1) of the series: Reasoning with a Very Young Child

Reasoning with a child aged three and under? Is that really possible? Surely, they’re not developmentally capable of responding to reason? Aren’t punishments such as smacking or time-out, and rewards such as star charts, the only way we can only get young children to learn, and to change their behaviour?

My lived experience (and that of hundreds of parents I’ve met through parenting classes) is that yes, you can reason with children - from a very young age. And yes, it is possible for them to change their behaviour, without parents resorting to rewards or punishment.

You just need to give them the chance.

Reasoning with a Very Young Child (2): When Your Child is Unhappy

Larissa Dann: posted 29 June 2015                                                       Image from Shutterstock

Part (2) of the series: Reasoning with a Very Young Child

Very young children can respond to Active Listening and reasoning by becoming calm, and even finding a solution to their difficulty. 

Active Listening

Active Listening is the best way I have to show empathy, and is the first skill I turn to when my child is unhappy. Firstly, I have to recognise the cues and clues that my child is not OK. Often ‘naughty’ behaviour is simply a signal that things aren’t going well for my child.

I then need to remember that there is a reason for them to be unhappy. For example, they may need my attention, or something happened at childcare, or their basic needs (food, water, rest and toileting) have not been met.

Now, I need to listen to my child, so they can talk about their unhappiness. This will help me to understand what is happening for them, and help them to understand themselves. I try to guess their feelings, and the reason they feel that way. I put these into a statement such as “You’re feeling . . . because . . . ”. For example “Sounds like you’re feeling frustrated because your toy truck’s wheels fell off”.


Subscribe to RSS - larissa's blog