Karen’s Top Parenting Tips

Karen Doherty - Simple SolutionsMy Parenting Mini-Course

  • Have you had enough?
  • Do you want to transform your child’s behaviour?
  • Or do you simply want to be sure you’re doing your best?

My parenting tips revolutionise  family life by empowering and enabling us to be the parents we really want to be.

I’ve taken the nuggets – the things that every parent should know! – from the worlds of parenting, psychology, communications, health and nutrition, and made them easily accessible and free, right here.

My tips for parents get children to behave better, boost their confidence and improve their relationships with us and each other. I’ve given each one an illustration so they’re easy to relate to and remember, and a bit fun.

Stop and Think

Stop and Think





Love and Look After

Love and
Look After







Know Yourself

Know Yourself

Let them know we’re in control

This is what most of us forget to do. When our children misbehave, it’s so easy to go on auto-pilot and do whatever springs to mind, like pleading, saying something unkind, shouting, or worse. Then we can end up feeling defeated, angry, guilty, or like moving to Timbuktu – permanently.

But there are lots of things we can do that will swing things around, so our children behave better and we actually end up feeling good about ourselves!

Here’s where to start:

When things start going belly-up, the very first thing to do is to Stop and Think. Surprisingly, this alone may be all it takes to get our children to behave because we aren’t giving them attention for misbehaving or diving in and accidentally making things worse. It’s such a relief to know that we don’t need to solve every problem immediately! We can give ourselves time to Stop and Think, to remember what we can do differently and give everyone a chance to calm down. So much better to discuss the problem later, when everyone is more receptive.

See Karen’s video on Stopping and Thinking

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Let them know we understand them

This is an absolute miracle-worker! The best thing to do once we Stop and Think is almost always to Listen and acknowledge we hear what our children say. Life is so much easier when they feel we understand them. All kinds of explosions are never set off and our children feel far closer to and more loved by us. It’s a win-win that means we can stop banging our heads against that brick wall.

If they say something like, “I don’t have any friends.”
Instead of saying, “Don’t say that. Of course you do.”
Try acknowledging you’ve heard them, “It’s lonely when you feel you don’t have any friends.”

I’m not saying we can’t try to help them feel better. But think of it from their perspective: how can we help them feel better if we don’t understand how they feel? Once we acknowledge we understand and take time to share their feelings with them, we’ll be in a better position to help and they’ll be more calm and clear and better able to come up with solutions themselves.

If they say, “I hate my sister!”
This is really hard, but instead of saying, “No you don’t. You love her!”
Try, “She must have made you really angry.”

Don’t worry – you aren’t agreeing that they hate their sister. You’re simply opening up the sluice gate to let the pressure out before the banks burst.

See Karen’s video on Listening

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Let them know we believe in them

Has anyone ever told you the best way to motivate your child is to do the right thing?

Here it is:

Tell them what they do RIGHT!

Vague exaggerations like,

Wow, aren’t you amazing!”

go in one ear and right out the other. So our children don’t even hear us. They’re far more likely to listen to and believe us if we actually tell them what they’ve done well:

Thank you for bringing your bowl to the sink.”

More than anything, our children want our attention. When we tell them what they’ve done well they feel good about it. So they’re more likely to try to do the right thing again and to think of themselves as people who do the right thing.

Likewise, when we criticise our children for doing the wrong thing, they’ll continue doing the wrong thing because it gets our attention and they’re more likely to begin to see themselves as people who do the wrong thing.

My suggestion? Show our children that we Appreciate them just as much as we can by telling them exactly what they do well and criticising them only when we must.

See Karen’s video on Appreciating

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Let them know we care for them

If we aren’t loving and affectionate with our children, who’s going to be? It’s such a short time that they want to hold our hands or let us kiss and hug them, I say go for it while we can! Being affectionate gives our children a sense of security and wellbeing and lets them know we Love them. Even if they aren’t interested in hugs and kisses, a head, back or foot massage can go a long way.

When our children keep pressuring us to do something or change our ways, insisting that no other parent makes their children do whatever it is, like eat such rubbish healthy food, reminding them that we Love them and will always do our best for them is often our best strategy. Try telling them that even if they argue about it for the next ten years until they leave home, you won’t change your mind because you really Love them and want do to your best for them. That’s usually the end of it; at least for a while.

Do you want to:

  • Improve your children’s moods and their ability to concentrate?
  • Ensure they’re less argumentative and much easier to get along with?

It’s simple: cut way down on processed junk food, making sure the majority of what they eat is healthy, nutritious and fresh, and make sure they get plenty of exercise and sleep. Eating too much junk food and not exercising or sleeping enough are classic triggers for irritable irrational children. Looking After them and getting the balance right can make a HUGE difference to their behaviour – almost immediately! When children feel well, they’ll usually behave well. (Getting children to eat properly is often easier said than done. That’s why I’m devoting my next series of videos to it.)

See Karen’s video on Loving and Looking After

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Let them know we’re open-minded

Here’s some good news for all of us – we don’t always have to be right! We don’t always need to have all the answer and we’re allowed to make mistakes. Hallelujah! In fact, it’s wonderful when we don’t have the answers because it opens up opportunities for our children to learn valuable life skills the easy way. We can:

  • Ask our children for their ideas – if we explain problems to them, we can ask for their solutions or come up with solutions together
  • Negotiate and compromise with them
  • Apologise to them when we get things wrong

Cooperating changes the entire atmosphere in the house. Our children feel that they belong, that they are respected and significant, and that they play an important part of a cohesive family unit that solves problems together. It’s also a great way to get them to start taking responsibility for themselves. When children come up with solutions to problems or repercussions for misbehaving, they can see the cause and effect of their behaviour. They’ll also be pleased that they thought of them and then they’ll be more likely to stick to them.

See Karen’s video on Cooperating

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Let them know we’re in charge

There’s no need to be martyrs and let our children get away with murder; we have every right to expect them to help out and do what we say. But when we notice we’re getting locked in a battle, a little light bulb should go off that makes us realise this almost certainly isn’t the way to go about it.

How we Discipline children has changed so much in recent years. These days it’s more about telling them what we expect ahead of time and reacting thoughtfully, than getting angry or doling out spontaneous punishments. That’s because we know that children are far more likely to do the right thing if they’re treated respectfully, even when they make mistakes.

Discipline is a BIG topic. Here are 10 Great Ways to Get Children to Behave that I promise will work far better than shouting or punishments.

Rules and Consequences can be very helpful. Here’s how to get them to work for you.

And what do you do when you feel like your hands are tied, you’ve tried absolutely everything and your child still refuses to do what you say? Here’s how to Get Tough and get them to get on with it.

See Karen’s video on Disciplining

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Let them know we can cope

It may seem easier to muddle along, forever putting off getting our homes and lives organised at the bottom of the to-do list. But if we spend unbelievable amounts of time looking for the bits and pieces we need every day: a hairbrush, homework, a pen, sports kit, the right pan lid, we end up stressed-out, shouting crazy parents.

It’s time to bite the bullet and get on with it. Our time is better spent looking after, listening to and appreciating our children. But to get to that stage, we need to be able to see the wood for the trees, so we’ve got to get Organised.

Then we can find what we need quickly – even the pieces to our children’s favourite games and the books they want to read! So there’s much less aggravation all around and more time to spend doing the things we want to do with our children.

Don’t feel bad if it seems you’re always behind on the never-ending list of household chores. Most of us feel the same! A Household Cleaning Schedule like this one can help you to feel like you’re achieving something.

And don’t feel bad if just the thought of getting everything Organised seems overwhelming. These Organising Tips will help to keep chaos at bay and make your life a lot easier.

See Karen’s video on Organising

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Let them know we’ll look after ourselves so we can look after them

We all need different amounts of alone time, socialising and mental stimulation to feel fulfilled. Some find what makes them happiest is putting their own wishes to the side and putting their children’s first. Others need more time to themselves, and plenty of parents enjoy going to work. If you Know Yourself, it’s easier to find the balance that works for you and your family so you don’t end up feeling resentful or overwhelmed.

The healthier we are, the better able we will be to look after our children. Many of us find that as much as we may like a little treat, like a naughty dessert or a couple of drinks in the evening, these little indulgences don’t like us and can make us feel even more tired and foggy-brained than we already do.

An exercise class or a power walk in the park will often have the opposite effect, clearing our minds and giving us more energy. Again, the better you Know Yourself the easier it is to find the balance that works for you.

Emotions are another key area where it’s very useful to Know Yourself. For example, when we’re afraid, we often respond with anger. But if we realise it’s actually fear, we can come from a place of love, compassion and concern.

Examples of when we might respond with anger instead of concern:

  • When our child runs into the road (and we’re afraid they’ll get hit)
  • When they fight with their sibling (and we’re afraid one of them will be physically or emotionally scarred)
  • When they treat us badly (and we’re afraid we’ll lose our power or that they’ll treat us badly forever)
  • When they don’t do well in school (and we’re afraid they won’t amount to much in life)

When we Know Ourselves it’s far easier to stay balanced. Then it all comes full-circle. It’s easier to first Stop and Think, and then decide on the best way forward. My Simple Solutions aren’t magic but they work like magic; the more of them you try, the easier and happier your family life will be.

See Karen’s video on Knowing Yourself

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