How to communicate with your teenager: Key signals to send

mother, face to face with teenage daughter, engaged in serious conversation

Families are better off when teenagers communicate openly with their parents. But how do we inspire better communication? An experimental study shows the way: We need to provide kids with crucial signals of active, supportive listening. Not only does it make kids feel better. It also encourages them to confide in us.

Why kids rebel (and what we can to encourage cooperation)

© 2018 – 2021 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Is childhood rebellion inevitable? Not really. Most kids are ready to be cooperative. But they recognize limits to our power: They resist when they perceive us as trying to control their personal lives. So what’s the solution? Be fair-minded. Listen to their requests. Give kids … Continue reading

Parenting stress: 12 evidence-based tips for making life better

monkeys - infant macaque sitting on, and embracing, its mother

© 2016 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Parenting stress puts a strain on the whole family — sapping patience, damaging relationships, eroding well-being.  What can we do about it? Here are some suggestions inspired by the latest research.  1. Need social support? Reach out — even if it’s just a phone call … Continue reading

Raising helpful kids: Tips for teaching generosity and kindness

young boy helping his friend on roller skates stand up - by Pahis / istock

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved How do you teach kids to be helpful?  To be generous and kind? Studies suggest we should avoid heavy-handed tactics and bribes. Instead, we need to respect — and nurture — our children’s natural inclinations to do good. Helpful? Generous? Caring? Psychologists call these behaviors “prosocial,” and … Continue reading

The effects of praise: 7 evidence-based tips for using praise wisely

young boy smiling and talking with father, sitting on the grass

What are the effects of praise? It depends. Praise can boost good feelings and increase motivation. It can inspire children to be more cooperative, persistent, and hard-working. But some kids bristle in response to praise, and even those who like praise can experience negative effects. Here’s how to make sure that praise helps — and … Continue reading

The permissive parenting style: Does it ever benefit kids?

© 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Some studies have linked the permissive parenting style with optimal child outcomes. But the results depend on how researchers define “permissive.” Kids don’t benefit when parents ignore anti-social behavior. But being supportive of autonomy? That’s different. Studies suggest that kids thrive when parents are less bossy and punitive, and more … Continue reading

Secure attachment relationships protect kids from toxic stress

© 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Parents can help children recover from stress by offering physical affection and words of support. But is there more? Maybe secure attachment relationships also help kids develop the ability to self-soothe. What happens when you soothe your baby’s tears? When you make eye contact, engage your baby … Continue reading