How to Respond to Your Child’s Behavior

voices of your village May 14, 2020



Hey there, villagers! Welcome to Voices of Your Village episode 121, more like one hundred and twenty FUN because today is my birthday! And I cannot think of anywhere I would like to celebrate more than by being right here, with my village! Here is my gift to you: an absolutely stellar podcast episode with special guest, Sarah MacLaughlin! So what are we waiting for? Let’s start the podcast party!

I met Sarah when I was giving a workshop last June, and we’ve been in sync ever since! Sarah was a toddler and preschool teacher for a number of years, now she is a writer at Zero to Three, an organization that supports families with young children. She is certified in hand in hand parenting, which focuses on the parent and child connection as the most important factor of a child’s development. Hand in hand parenting is based on five tools: setting limits, stay listening, listening partnership, special time, and play listening.


“Everyone has a pamphlet in their back pocket with the rules they learned as a kid, and that is the manual for parenting.”


I want you all to know as you listen to this episode, that this reparenting is not easy work. So if you find yourself thinking that it’s hard, you’re in the right place!

Let’s chat about that tricky area: play as a response. For example, if I was hit by a young child my first response would be to ask them, “it’s not okay to hit my body, are you trying to connect with me?” For me, attention-seeking is connection seeking. So, I bring awareness to them to let them know that they cannot hit me for connection. Then I introduce to them a new way to express their desire.

Sarah agreed with that approach but cautioned that there is a time and a place for it. Because you need to know the child and sometimes after a hit, the child is too far removed to be available to have a conversation. Then, she would circle back to the hitting later when the child is in a different mindspace.

We have a whole other Voices of Your Villages episode that you can check out here about Positive Discipline From Tiny Humans To Teens.


”As you’re trying these methods on for size, these transitions aren’t going to be perfect every time.”


One question that comes up a lot when we have this conversation is, “What is my child communicating?” And it is hard to decode! A lot of behavior is driven by emotions, and sometimes figuring out what the meaning is means digging into the emotions. We can write these patterns for ourselves and what we want, but the root of our decisions is fear. Once we are able to recognize and name that fear, we will be closer to responding to behavior.


“All behavior is communication.”


Thank you so much for chatting with me, Sarah. There are so many nuggets of wisdom in this episode that you shared with us. For more of Sarah, you can find her at and her new book will be out in the fall. Babe, thank you for listening in on this birthday episode of Voices of Your Village. Take care of yourself, and remember to always give yourself grace.


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