Ask Auntie Artichoke

Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Ask Auntie Artichoke - Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Discipline But Never Punish (EXPERT)

Are you curious about the difference between discipline and punishment? Would you like to learn the truth about how to discipline without damage to the spirit of the child or employee? This interesting blog post will provide you with a unique perspective on why discipline is a positive way to help others gain competency and become competent adults.

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

Natural and Logical Consequences (EXPERT)

Natural and logical choices are an important part of discipline, not only with our children but ourselves as well. When we forget to pay the light bill, the electricity is shut off. That naturally follows the action. What if there is not a natural consequence to an inappropriate choice? Then we create on that is tied in some way to the learning lesson. If a child does not pick up his toys as asked, then the toys are taken away for a period of time.

What Makes a Family?

Families teach us that we can survive the pain of divorce, mental illness, abuse, alcoholism, suicide, unemployment, violence and all the other stuff that happens in life. The functional and flourishing family is most productive when it has goals and values as a unit.

When your family is supportive and respectful of the rights and dreams of each other, it is a wonderful spring-board to life.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-03-26

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

Parents – Positive Feedback Changes Habits

Hello from beautiful Montana;

Parents, ask yourself - Would you like to work for a boss who never complimented your efforts? Who only commented on what you had done wrong? Would it make you a more  loyal employee to receive positive feedback and encouragement on the things you were trying to learn?

You would be more willing to change habits or ways of doing tasks if your instructions were not always negative and demeaning.

The answer is no! None of us like to be in a negative environment where we are discouraged from trying new methods or ways of doing things. Being told  to do something only one way stifles the imagination and limits the use of creative freedom. Work can be fun if we feel empowered.

Many workplaces and homes do tasks in the same old, same old way.  It is not an adventure to clean closets or pick up clothes, but a drudgery and a habit to do it the same way. Giving the parameters of a job and then allowing the freedom to find new and better solutions builds confidence and independence.

Change Your Responses to Change Bad Habits

If your child habitually drops his coat on the sofa when he comes home from school and that annoys you,  have a brainstorming session with him and let him come up with new solutions. For every situation there are at least five solutions, so don’t get stuck using just one.

Give recognition for even the smallest of accomplishment as your child learns new skills and practices the old ones. Focus on the process not the specific task. For instance, “You are doing a better job with putting the bed covers on straight. Why do you think it is important to have the same amount of sheet on each side of the bed?”

You certainly are not going to compliment your child on every little thing he does right (even though statistics show he does 19 right to every 1 unacceptable act) but you are hopefully going to toss out encouragement words and phrases here and there on the days journey.

Positive Feedback Can Change Habits and Lives

Looking for something positive to give feedback on can change the attitude of the recipient. Positive encouragement has such great motivating power.  It should be honest and sincere or the child will think it is worthless and phony.

Encouragement focuses on the effort and progress made. Praise tends to focus on the finished product and only offered after the job is done.  Encouraging and positive feedback inspire children with hope and faith that they will improve.

We want our children to believe that the positive power behind them is always greater than the problem in front of them.

In gratitude for the important work you do.

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

PS:  Be sure to check out You will be glad you did.

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Rude Children – Teach Good Manners

Burp! Belch! Other obnoxious sounds and smells come from your 12 year old son. You want to die of embarrassment at what people will think of your rude children.  You have certainly tried to teach good manners, but were they even listening?

The problem with teaching tweens or teens manners is that parents frequently do it in a negative or critical way.  It is especially embarrassing to the young person to be corrected or nagged at in public or in front of friends.

Model Good Manners At Home

A young person whose parents treat everyone with respect, kindness and understanding are more likely to use good manners.  Rather than demand your daughter or son use good table manners, show them at home the correct way to hold a fork or pass the potatoes.

When you teach your child about rules of good manners in private and at a neutral (not heated with arguments or family fights) you will find the audience is more receptive.

Good table manners should be modeled at every meal. By establishing rules that govern polite interaction with others, you are teaching them to be aware of the feelings of those they associate with.  Simply be saying, “The rule at the dinner table is to enjoy your food and chew slowly, rather than gulping it down.”

Say Thank You and I am Sorry When Necessary

Your child is more likely to be aware of the feelings of others if you praise the good manners and then gently teach to the errors or mistakes.  When you encourage politeness, you are letting them know what the desired behavior is and it gives the positive reinforcement of the character traits, rather than specific tasks or situations.

If you are wrong, apologize. If someone is kind to you, say Thank you.  You child will be much more likely to do what you do, rather than what you say.

It is no fun to have rude children and in order to teach good manners, we need to use the “teachable moments” when they come along.  We want to be proud of the actions and intentions our children display in public and at home.

If you are having much more serious problems like lying, cheating, defiant kids or an out of control child, please go to a special website I have set up just for you.  You will receive a ten day e-Course on transforming for no cost to you.  You will be glad you did.


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