Ask Auntie Artichoke

Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Ask Auntie Artichoke - Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

4 Ways to Connect & Communicate With Your Toddler(EXPERT)

4 Ways to Connect & Communicate With Your Toddler


Do you talk to your kids or with them?  Do you listen to them and do you actually hear what they are trying to tell you? Does your body language (non-verbal) match what your words (verbal) are communicating?  Connecting and bonding with your children will be one of the most valuable gifts and legacies that you can share with them.

If you are like most parents and caring adults, your main objective is to raise competent, well-adjusted children who become self-reliant and emotionally healthy adults. I would like to invite you to read, ponder and think how you can apply these four parts of communicating with young children today

1.     Connect with them by saying their name

Before giving directions or asking them to do a task, make sure they are even on the same wave-length as you are. Squat down so you are looking at them and can engage their eyes on you instead of their toys.  You may need to announce; “Emmie, I need your ears to hear what I am going to say.”  “Jeffrey, I need your eyes to see what I want you to see.”  As parents we also found it helpful to touch their upper arm when we needed their full attention.  In return, they knew that when they touched our upper arm, they had something important to say.

2.     Say what you want in short sentences, not long lectures

Be very specific in what you want.  The more parents ramble and justify their position the more the kids become overwhelmed, confused and eager to say no. “I want the toys in the box now.” If it seems like they are going to argue, just repeat “Toys-box-now.”  If your child can’t repeat back what you want done, it was too long and confusing.

3.     When-then not If

This is the difference between a reward and a bribe. When is a measurable goal; “when you put your shoes on, then we will leave for the store and the park.”  You both know if the shoes are on or off and that it is his job, there is nothing to debate, argue or throw a tantrum over.  When and then implies that you expect obedience and compliance with the request.

Encouraging words and phrases will help your child to become an independent self-reliant person. This article has tips of building self-confidence and esteem.See for more information.

However, you start a sentence with “If” then there is room for negotiation, whining and begging. Saying “if you put your shoes on we can go to the park after shopping” implies that he has a choice.

It is important that children know that they have some choices in life, but not everything is a choice or worthy of a decision.  Sometimes, they just do what we say because we are the parent and make decisions that are in their best interest and best for the family.

Which leads us to the last and most important part of being a parent, helping the children we love and care for to be independent self-reliant individuals?

4.     Help them to help themselves.

Of course it is easier and faster for us, as adults, to do things ourselves.  We can zip the zipper and be on our way much quicker than we can take the time to show her one more time how to fit the zipper tab over the two sides.  But this is a disservice and a discouragement to the child.

When we encourage them to learn new tasks and celebrate their capabilities that support transfers to every aspect of life.  The accomplishment of a small thing today will lead to more successes every day. As they see us model making mistakes and self-correcting or adjusting our goals in life, they see that it is okay to not be perfect.  The joy of knowing that you are loved unconditionally builds a foundation of confidence and self-esteem.

The more you do for your children the less time you have to do things with them.  Connect and communicate your love, support and joy by building pleasant memories and strong life skills.

Self-Awareness Quiz

  • Have you heard yourself saying to your toddler; “Here, just let me do it. It will be faster?”
  • If your toddler wants to help, will you allow him to assist you?
  • Are you aware of the natural stages of growth in small children?
  • Would you like to learn more about tips and techniques to bond with your child?
  • If so, then claim your free report at


Judy Helm Wright aka “Auntie Artichoke” is an expert parent educator and speaker.  If your organization would be interested in hiring Judy as a keynote speaker, please call 406-549-9813 or see

If you found this article interesting, you will want to check out the new series of Raising Smart & Kind Kids- Babies, Toddlers and Pre-school.   They are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or at

3 Ideas For Better Parenting Without Guilt

You don’t have to be a perfect parent (as if there ever was one–except my mother-in-law) but you do need to be a present parent. Just being there every single day and being mindful of your children is good enough. Help them to know they are loved unconditionally and teach them values and appropriate behavior and you are doing your job. Guilt free parenting is easier to achieve than you may think. Read these three simple ideas and then do the self-awareness quiz at the end. You will be glad you did.

EFT For Children – Tapping Out Our Troubles

Help your children learn self soothing techniques when they are upset.

Help your children learn self soothing techniques when they are upset.

Hello from beautiful Montana,

When you have a headache do you rub your temples or push hard with your index finger between your eyes? How about when you were upset, did you hold your belly or hug yourself tightly? Do you rub your neck when other people are literally giving you “a pain in the neck?”

If so, you are doing what comes naturally, but has been called the Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT for short. EFT is a soothing technique that releases feelings of stress, anger and buried resentment.  Why wouldn’t you want to teach your child to find ways to break negative thought patterns and become calm?

Self Soothing and Self Care

Dr. Terry Brazelton, author of TouchPoints says one of the most important coping skills we can teach ourselves and our children is how to take care of yourself when you are upset or stressed.  Many adults head for food, alcohol, or drugs when life gets sticky, mainly because we have not developed other coping skills.

We can help children learn techniques of self-soothing so they do not turn to detrimental things like  out of control anger, misuse  of drugs and alcohol and defiant behavior.  No one likes the feeling of being out of control.  We can empower our children to take care of their needs with simple strategies that do not depend on outside sources.  EFT is  a soothing and easy to use technique that releases feelings of stress by rubbing or tapping  acupressure points in order to balance your energy.

Why Massage Feels So Good

We are electrical beings with many electromagnetic fields in the body. Our physical body, which we can see and touch and our energy body which we cannot see.  Positive and negative thoughts and belief systems have electrical charges.  When you are stressed, these electrical charges can get stuck and out of balance.

You may find spots on your body that are tender when you get a massage. Perhaps you didn’t even realize they were sore until they were rubbed.  It feels good to release those knots of tension and move your muscles more freely.

Tapping on Emotional Bumps

Tapping while you think about what upsets you helps smooth out those too-much and too-little energy places.  When you tap you release the energy so it can flow more smoothly. Breathing and talking about your feelings helps to let them go. Deep breathing goes past the rib cage down into the belly and helps create relaxation.

Emotional Freedom Technique is very effective and can be taught easily to children and will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

I am preparing a special report on using EFT for children, so be sure to check back often to get up to date information that will assist you and your family to gain the necessary skills for a happy life.

In gratitude,

Judy Helm Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker

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Encouraging Words For Children And Youth

Auntie Artichoke Says: Children need encouragment. They need to have you cheering thier progress anc celebrating their success.

Auntie Artichoke Says: Children need encouragement. They need to have you cheering their progress and celebrating their success.

Greeting to those who love children;

As caring adults who want to find methods of encouraging positive character traits in the children and youth  we love or work with, we want to give messages that reinforce their efforts.  There are really only two kinds of messages that we can give young people–

  • Hurtful ones that diminish or belittle them as individuals and break the spirit. The result is that we dis”couarage’ them from trying again.
  • Love signals in verbal and non verbal ways that give them courage to keep trying, to celebrate talents and possibilities.

Children Prefer Beatings to Being Ignored

When I first heard that statement, I was shocked and saddened. As I have visited with those who suffered childhood trauma and abuse, they have shared the feeling that they were invisible, except for the abuse.  No child should feel that way. Ever.Ever. Ever.

We often read about the commercial messages that our children are bombarded with each day and become  concerned that they will believe erroneous advertising.  The messages they receive from their parents and peer group is much more important and has the power to deeply alter their self esteem and identity.

Body Language is Communication of Relationships

Not all signals and sentences come from what we say, but rather how we act when we are present with our children. The crook of an eyebrow, a gesture of the hand, the pat on the back, the wink the smile, the frown, the crossed arms and impatient look are all gestures that speak volumes to others.

What is the message that a smile and a hug  sends to a worried child on test day?  We are encouraging them to do their best and letting them know that we love the person they are, not the test grade.  When we rub our child’s back before bed, or snuggle close to watch a favorite movie we are sharing non-verbal words and encouragement.

Words to Encourage Positive Behavior

  • You are very special and I have confidence you will find a good solution.
  • I am impressed by how kind you were last week to our neighbor.
  • You are a problem solver. Can you see what has to be done next?
  • That took a lot of courage. I was impressed with your bravery.
  • It looks like you are understanding the math problems. It feels good to finally “get it” doesn’t it?
  • You have a good brain, I am interested to see what you think about this?
  • You have really made some good choices this week. Good job.

A simple message given to our child becomes their truth and that truth then becomes their belief system and ultimately their self confidence and esteem.  Thoughts and belief system govern their actions, their satisfactions and their joy.

If you would like additional assistance on encouraging words please see

You will be glad you did.

Your friend,  Judy H Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker

PS:  Would love to have you visit our community

Confidence and Self Esteem – How Does Your Child See Herself?

Auntie Artichoke supports parents, grandparents, teachers, day care providers and all those who love children. Thank you for your important work.

Auntie Artichoke supports parents, grandparents, teachers, day care providers and all those who love children. Thank you for your important work.

Hello From Montana:

When you speak to your child, can you count more negative or positive words coming out of your mouth?   Formal studies with learned psychologists have shown that it takes at least seven positive comments to undo a negative remark.   My own informal studies working with parents and families tell me that many of the hurtful things said to children by parents and teachers never go away.

Plant Positive Thoughts in Garden of the Mind

Our subconscious brains are like gardens and what is planted there will multiply and grow in our thoughts and actions. Children internalize the words and actions of adults that they trust and love.  If the messages you send through verbal and non verbal (body language) communication are negative or demeaning, the child will lose confidence in herself and her ability to affect her life for the better.

How does the child see herself when she looks through your eyes?  If you are giving out labels of incompetence, lazy or stupid, you can count on your child believing your assessment of her as a person.  If the message you send through your words, actions and attitudes is mistrust, disappointment, fear, worry or lack of confidence— those negative attitudes will slowly, but surely erode away the self esteem.

Example of Mother and Daughter

In my parenting workshops, I sometimes use the example of a mother and daughter with the daughter holding a piece of paper in her hand. Every time the mother makes a negative remark, demeaning comment or judgment about worth, the daughter tears a piece of the paper off and allows it to fall on the floor. When the mom makes a positive comment, we try to stick a little piece back on, but it frequently doesn’t stick.

It is a powerful visual reminder to parents to correct the behavior but not break the spirit of the child.

What Do You Like About Your Child?

How often do you compliment your child’s character strengths?  I challenge you to frequently ask your child “Do you know what I like about you?”

These are the qualities of the heart. The important parts of what makes a good person. These are the values to be celebrated;

  • generous attitude
  • helpful to others
  • kind to animals
  • dependable
  • fair
  • friendly
  • grateful
  • honest
  • loving
  • sincere
  • trustworthy
  • loyal
  • truthful

Whatever character traits you recognize, encourage your child to look at herself with an optimistic attitude. Help her to affirm all the qualities she has that will help her in her life. Assist the self confidence and self esteem in children and help them to see themselves as empowered to not let outside influences determine their worth.  Hopefully, when your child holds up a mirror on her life she will see a strong, vital and worthy woman who is confident in life.

You are invited to

for even more information to empower your child to be self confident.

Your friend,

Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker