Positive parenting

Gentle Parenting: What Is It and Is It Worth It?

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The word ‘parenting’ has more meaning to it than you think. Just Google the word and you’ll find a long list of links pointing towards different styles of parenting, tips and tricks to being a good parent, what’s effective and what isn’t and so on. Well, I’m not promising you something different but at the same time, this blog is not about something mainstream.Today, we’ll be discussing gentle parenting. We’ll dive deep into the subject to help you understand if you are ready to be a gentle parent.

What is Gentle Parenting?

Like I said before, I’m not going to talk about something mainstream and gentle parenting falls perfectly in this description.

Gentle Parenting is a scientific, evidence-based, approach to raising confident and happy children.

-Sarah Ockwell Smith (Childcare Author and Parenting Expert)

Gentle parenting is just another style of parenting or disciplining that takes a different route than the traditional methods. If you were born in the 1990s or before, it’s more than likely that you’re grown up in an authoritarian style of parenting. It includes the system of reward and punishment. The word ‘grounded’ will help kick in more nostalgia for the younger times.

But, when we talk about gentle parenting, it doesn’t include the concept of reward or punishment. In simple words, gentle parenting is more focused on the parent’s attitude and its effect on the parent-child relationship than that of the child. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely some emphasis on the child but the inclination is more towards your attitude and the way you deal with situations to build or break a bond.

As a gentle parent, you are expected to understand your child, their motives, intentions and mindset and act accordingly. You have to create a bond with the child where he or she feels that their voice can be heard. The method requires you to be supportive of the right things and understanding about the wrong ones. Develop mutual trust and respect so that the child feels that their home and parent is a safe space.

Here’s a quick overview of the dos and don’ts of the gentle parenting method.

Dos of Gentle Parenting

Your job is to connect with your child and be guiding and encouraging. Give them space to be themselves and guide them wherever and whenever necessary. Always remember, the way you deal with your child is the way they’ll respond to you. If you are kind and understanding, you will observe the same in their behavior too.

Don’ts of Gentle Parenting

As a gentle parent, you are not trying to be controlling, punishing or demanding. Try not to project your wishes, ideals, opinions or feelings onto your child. They are their own being. Understand that and act accordingly. Spend time with them. Play a game (I love chutes and ladders) or go to family dinners. Try to build a strong parent-child relationship.

What Are the Core Values of Gentle Parenting?

Gentle parenting style doesn’t really have any clear-cut book of rules. It’s very dynamic in the sense that a parent can work around its core values and define their own way of gentle parenting. So, let’s talk about these core values to help you better understand how to go about this parenting style.

Gentle parenting style is all about building a relationship with your child. How you go about it is your choice. But, as Sarah Ockwell describes in her book, you must try and build the bond on 4 core values or pillars. These are:

  1. Empathy
  2. Respect
  3. Understanding
  4. Boundaries


In the gentle parenting method, you need to follow the technique of ‘mind-mindedness’. Simply put, understand that your child has their own mind, thoughts and opinions. Be empathetic to their emotions and feelings and respond accordingly.


Never let yourself slide into the thought of ‘it’s my child, I’ll parent in whatever way I please.’ This attitude will lead you to pressure your child into things you feel are right or appropriate. Remember, it’s your child but it’s also human. So, you must accept their right to be treated with dignity and respect. When you respect them, they will respect you too.


You have to start thinking from the perspective of your child. Don’t expect your 2-year-old to behave or act a certain way everywhere. Understand that their mind isn’t developed like that of an adult. If they are behaving inappropriately or different from usual, try to understand their perspective. Ask a question like why, who, where, when and how, to figure out what led to something. There’s always a reason behind your child’s behavior. It won’t always be a big issue but a reason will always be there. Try to decode the situation in every case.


Gentle parenting involves boundaries. In any case, gentle parenting does not take away the role of a parent, that is, of authority. So you can be strict and have rules but at the same time, you’ve got to be warm and open.

You can decide these boundaries on your own terms (keeping all the other values in mind). But, it should neither be all about leniency and saying ‘yes’ to everything and nor about being extremely strict. Find a center that works for both of you and move forward.

How is Gentle Parenting Different From Other Styles of Parenting?

With all the other styles of parenting in the picture, it can be difficult to pick the one that’ll be right for your family. So, let’s understand how gentle parenting differs from the three other popular styles of parenting.

Authoritarian Parenting vs Gentle Parenting

Authoritarian parenting involves expecting obedience from the child in every aspect. More often than not, an authoritarian parent sets expectations from the child and tries to mold the behavior of the child to fulfill those expectations. One of the most common aspects of authoritarian parenting is the concept of punishment and reward. While such reinforcement might help build or curb a behavior, studies show that it has a negative impact on a child’s psychology.

Gentle parenting steers clear from the one-way communication of authoritarian parenting. Parents are open to discussions and try to build a relationship where the child feels no hesitation to express themselves. Reinforcement techniques of reward and punishment are avoided.

Attachment Parenting vs Gentle Parenting

Attachment parenting is all about attachment. For the first few years of growth, the parent creates a bond with the child using attachment techniques such as co-sleeping and quick response to their needs.

Gentle parenting doesn’t restrict itself to babies or young children. While the technique may be similar to attachment parenting such as the principle of being gentle but it’s more about being kind and creating mutual respect and understanding in the long run.

Permissive Parenting vs Gentle Parenting

Permissive parenting comes from the other end of the spectrum that includes parents treating their children as equals. So they do not get into their business and the child generally gets away with most things. They never say no and always try to please the child in whatever way they can. In simple words, it’s a ‘hands-off’ parenting technique.

Gentle parenting involves kindness but does not have a hands-off style. It includes the creation of boundaries, rules and regulations but by keeping in mind the other principles of respect, empathy and understanding.

Is Gentle Parenting Effective?

Yes, gentle parenting is effective. But, it’s not a style that will give you immediate results. The primary idea of gentle parenting is to understand that a child is an individual that is growing. At every point in time, they may have a different mindset or outlook. So, your technique might also not work at times.

But, that’s what it’s about. You’ve got to change your attitude and way of dealing with your child accordingly. That’s how you’ll be able to have a child that turns out to be kind, independent and expressive.

Benefits of Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting might be a new way of parenting the child but it’s effective and in some cases even better than the traditional methods. If you are trying gentle parenting or think of giving it a try, you can be more sure about the results with the following benefits that the method entails.

  • The child learns about self worth.
  • The child turns out to be intelligent.
  • They are better at regulating their emotions.
  • They are more independent.
  • They are more sociable.
  • They develop healthy adult relationships.
  • They are less secretive.
  • They are more empathetic towards others.

Gentle parenting is not only beneficial for the child but it’s also a good thing for the parents. When you have a better bond with your child, you have less worries about the child hiding things from you or behaving in a way that you don’t know how to deal with. In the long run, you have a kid that’s independent and knows how to differentiate between wrong and right.

The family dynamic is not tense and there’s no room for resentment to build up. The boundaries created by the parents feel less like restrictions and more like a way of developing a sense of security.

Parents realizing that they have no control over the emotions or feelings of the child helps them not blame themselves for things they can’t control. So, eventually, gentle parenting results in the happiness of both the child and the parent.

What Are the Drawbacks of Gentle Parenting?

Most people question the style of gentle parenting mostly because it does not have a specific definition. It’s more like a mixture of all the important factors or different parenting styles that can be molded by the parent according to what they need. It’s dynamic nature is often seen as a pro as well as a con.

Some people think it’s too lenient. But in reality, gentle parenting can be stricter than other parenting styles. It all depends on the way you create boundaries for your children.

In addition to this, it may be difficult for parents to mold themselves into the parenting style. You have let go of the way you were brought up and think in a way that generates kind responses and an understanding attitude. It’s hard work and may even take years to show results. But, in the long run, you invest in a healthy and happy home and an independent, empathetic and wise child.

Are You a Gentle Parent?

There’s no foolproof way to determine if you are a gentle parent or not. But, to have some idea about where you stand, try to answer the following questions.

Are you kind to your child?

You have to be kind to your child in every situation. The idea of punishment, time-outs and yelling is not practiced by a gentle parent.

Are you patient?

A child is still learning. So, their behavior will be unpredictable at times. You cannot lash out at them for it. Take some time, reflect on the situation, try to understand it before responding.

Are you treating your child like a ‘mini-adult’?

It’s crucial to understand that a child is a child. If you are expecting your child to behave, learn and respond like adults, you are in the wrong direction. Gentle parenting will help you develop realistic expectations from your child.

Are you creating a safe space for your child?

Gentle parenting emphasizes creating a bond with your child. It should be strong enough for the child to feel safe and expressive around you.

Are you projecting your opinions on your child?

Your expectations from your child shouldn’t be based on your idea of what’s right and what’s not. You have to be a parent that’s parenting without being selfish.

How to Practice Gentle Parenting?

Like we’ve discussed already, gentle parenting is all about developing a relationship using the 4 core values. You can use it to create a gentle parenting style that will work for your family. But, if you need some help, here are a few ways you can try to begin.

Gentle parenting for bedtime

You don’t stop parenting your child during or after bedtime. Use the pillars of gentle parenting to soothe the child. If there’s something that’s bothering them, be there to talk to them. Whatever they need, be there to deal with it like a gentle parent.

Gentle parenting for improper behavior

Children are not born with the gene to figure out what’s right and wrong. So you will face situations where you have to deal with improper behavior. But remember, with gentle parenting, you are not punishing or laying threats on your child for inappropriate behavior.

Take time to access the situation and choose a path that will help the child fix their behavior. For instance, if a child breaks a very important vase, instead of getting furious and punishing them, make them glue it up instead. Whatever you do, make sure you give them a clear explanation of why you decided to do something. It helps clear any tension and helps the child understand limits and rules more effectively.

Gentle parenting alternatives to yelling

Yelling never helps ease a situation. It builds tension in your relationship with the child. Instead, try to replace yelling with some gentle parenting techniques. Calm yourself down, understand the predicament of your child and move forward. This way you are neither stressing your child nor yourself.

Gentle parenting techniques for building a relationship

Let’s be honest, building a relationship with your child can be challenging. It’s difficult to maintain a balance between being a parent and being a friend. But, if you wish to be a gentle parent, you have to find the sweet spot. To do that, remember these four points:

  • Listen
  • Understand
  • Respond
  • Communicate


There’s no lack of parenting styles out there. Each has its pros and cons. You can take your time to find out which one will suit your family.

When it comes to gentle parenting, it’s a happy mean between authoritarian, permissive and attachment parenting. Each of these methods focus on excessive control, child pleasing attitude and excessive attachment, respectively. But, gentle parenting is all about not being selfish, being there for your child and allowing them to express while being aware of the boundaries.

So, are you ready to be a gentle parent?


Communicate with your child by decoding the situation

How do we communicate with our child?

How do we create harmony and balance in your home? 

If you want to create a harmonious home a good place to start is by making everyone in the family feel heard and ‘feel good about themselves’. We can do this through ongoing connection, relationship building and safe communication.

We can’t avoid having to discipline our kids and we can’t avoid conflicts in our home. But this becomes much easier to handle if our starting point is connection instead of battles and stress.  

Once we have built a strong connection through safe communication with our kids (and this goes for our partners too!) they are much more likely to want to cooperate with us and listen to us when we need them to. Furthermore, it will help us to restore the balance and move on without anybody feeling shamed, blamed or disrespected.  
How can we create positive connection and communication?

We can do this by working on ‘decoding’ and understanding the situation and accepting the here and now. 

What is decoding? It is when we consciously work on understanding the current situation, people and ourselves without judgement. Decoding is when we work on translating what is in front of us, and what is going on behind the scenes. We accept the here and now and tune into what IS, not how we want it to be or trying to fix it. It is when we are curious instead of furious, and stay open minded to what is going on.

Also read the article Positive parenting: Why it works miracles

How to practice communication with decoding?

It takes a bit of time and is something we have to work on. But practice leads to habit so hold on and don’t give up: 

Decoding yourself: Check in with yourself. We need to be able to quickly check in with ourselves and how the situation makes us feel. 

Before you do or say anything stop! Allow yourself to take a deep breath. 

Think: What am I feeling right now, what is going on inside of me? Anger, frustration, hate etc. Accept that this is how you feel right now and that is ok. You cannot get rid of a feeling but you can choose what to do with it so it doesn’t hijack the outcome and what you do or say next. Decoding by understanding and translating our own feelings and moods helps us to respond instead of react, to be assertive and measured instead of aggressive and impulsive. Which will make us more open minded to what is happening around us.   

Talk yourself ‘in and down’ the feeling scale:

  • ‘I am angry but that is ok. We all get angry sometimes and my child is normally really good so it’s ok if she is a bit upset right now’
  • ‘He will grow out of it; it’s just a phase’
  • ‘We are both a bit tired which makes us both on edge’.
  • If a negative thought pops up i.e. ‘I am so mad I could hurt him right now.’
  • ‘Why me, what have I done to get a family like this?’
  • ‘I am such a bad parent’ etc.

Stop yourself, breathe and check in with yourself.

Decoding the situation: Check in with the situation:  Once you have got control of yourself turn your attention and curiosity to what is around you: the situation – tune into everything that is going on around you: the room, the noise, who is there, the smell etc. Connect to what is going on. 

Your mind should be full of the here and now (mindfully). No multitasking or distractions (i.e. phone, email, cooking, tidying up etc.), give your full attention to what is happening. I like to think of the moment as a ‘bubble of mindfulness’, with you, the people involved and the situation inside. Everything else outside the bubble does not matter, right now. It can wait till later.

Decode what your kids think and feel: Check in with your kids: 

What is going on within them right now. Tune into them. Listen to them (even though you might not like what you hear or agree with it – just listen)

You can show that you are listening by showing that you understand them by using words such as: ‘I can HEAR that you are angry right now because you are screaming and I UNDERSTAND that you are upset because you are not allowed to have more screen time- and it is OK to be mad sometimes’. Remember, they can ask, you can say no and they can have a reaction to it. It still does not change the fact that they cannot have more screen time! But you have shown that you understand the anger and that in itself can often contain it. Here you are connecting at a higher level and instead of making them feel shamed or blamed you make them feel good and respected.  

Decode the words your kids use: Help them translate what they are trying to tell you. Often what our kids say and feel are two different things so try to help them make sense. ‘I hate Sam because he took my pencil without asking’, you: ‘So you are upset with Sam because…’ or, ‘You are so stupid’, you: ‘I can hear you are really angry with me right now’.  

Once we use decoding as a starting point to all connection and communication we will find that not only do we suddenly understand the situation and child better we also start responding in a way that makes our child feel good about themselves. This will lead to better cooperation and team work that will create a harmonies home.

Positive parenting

How to Introduce Positive Parenting

Yes, how to introduce positive parenting ia what we talk about now!

Positive parenting has become quite the hot topic these days, with most parenting blogs advocating for more parents to try it out. At first glance, this parenting style differs greatly from how you were brought up. That’s why most people mistakenly think it’s parenting without consequences. But that’s incorrect. Positive parenting isn’t a vague parenting philosophy that purports being nice to your kids when they don’t deserve it. No, it’s a strategic parenting method that focuses on your relationship with your child and your ability to help them develop self-discipline.

If you have never been comfortable with traditional forms of discipline, then positive parenting might be something you want to try. There are three main parts of positive parenting: committing to regulating your emotions, prioritizing your relationship with your child, and loving them unconditionally. The power of this positive parenting philosophy lies in using prevention, distractions, and substitution techniques to stop your child from doing what you don’t want them to do. If you are interested in positive parenting, here’s all you need to know about this parenting style.

What is Positive Parenting?

This parenting philosophy can be defined as the continual relationship between you and your kid that includes caring, leading, teaching, communicating, and providing all their needs consistently and unconditionally. Unlike traditional parenting styles, positive parenting is defined as nurturing, empowering, and nonviolent. It provides recognition and guidance, such as setting boundaries to enable the full development of your child. The goal of positive parenting is to teach kids discipline in a way that fosters their self-esteem, supports mutual respect between the two of you, and doesn’t break your child’s spirit. Positive parenting is warm, thoughtful, and loving, not permissive. This means that children are held accountable for their actions and not let off the hook.

Discipline has always had a bad rep and a purely punitive undertone. However, the term actually defines the process of correcting, molding, and perfecting mental abilities or moral character. This means that discipline is meant to be instructive, which means your disciplinary role as a parent is to teach and guide, not punish. As your child’s teacher, you have to respectfully show them the behavioral choices they have and positively reinforce adaptive behaviors.

How to introduce positive parenting

There’s a recurrent theme when it comes to positive parenting: it is loving yet firm. Even though it is authoritative, it balances different parenting qualities such as being assertive but not intrusive; demanding but also responsive; supportive but not punitive. Children learn a lot of the things they do through modeling. This means that if you want them to learn the right way to communicate and handle conflict, you have to show it to them. Gone are the days of “because I said so” or “Am the parent, and you have to do as I say.” If you want your kid to listen to you, you have to lead by example. 

A good look at positive parenting strategies shows that they encourage a child’s autonomy by supporting exploration and your child’s involvement in decision-making; paying attention and responding to their needs; using effective communication techniques; rewarding and encouraging positive behavior; attending to your kid’s need to express their emotions and find control; acting as a positive role model, making positive family experiences a priority and giving adequate supervision and monitoring.

Put simply, positive parenting supports your child’s healthy growth and inner spirit by being loving, supportive, consistent, involved, and firm. Being a positive parent goes beyond communicating your expectations but also practicing what you preach by being a good role model for them.

Read the article Positive parenting: Why it works miracles

What to avoid

Positive parenting shares a few similarities with authoritative parenting in that it should be done in a way that’s firm but loving. Most importantly, it is not violent, aggressive, or critical. Negative reinforcement and punishment methods such as spanking are ineffective since the overall goal of discipline is to teach and guide, not punish. This means you have to find ways to discipline your child that are firm but kind; promote their sense of belonging and significance; help your kids build and develop their capabilities, teach valuable life and social skills, and work long term. Positive parenting means using positive disciplinary techniques. However, this can be tough to do, especially if you feel like your child is working extra hard at trying to get you mad. Here are a few techniques you can use.

Techniques to use in positive parenting

Set appropriate boundaries

Every relationship needs boundaries, and this applies to the relationship between you and your children. Having boundaries is key to having a successful, positive parenting experience. It lets everyone involved know what is acceptable and what’s not acceptable. Setting and enforcing boundaries makes you feel calm and patient because your needs are being respected and met. A good indicator that you need to establish new boundaries is when you are feeling exasperated, impatient, or angered by your child’s recurring behavior. For instance, do you feel resentful that your child asks you to play first thing in the morning, even before you have properly woken up? If so, establish a rule that you have to get up, have your coffee before you are available to play with them. Expect some resistance, but you will be a better parent if your needs are being met. This will also serve as a good example to your kids for how to advocate for their own needs.

Build a connection to get your child to cooperate with you

To be considered as an authority figure in your child’s life, you need to have a connection with them that goes further than “because I said so.” This connection will make it a lot easier for your child to listen to you even when you’re at odds. If your youngster is going through a hard time and expressing themselves erratically, carve out some extra time to connect. It doesn’t have to be a long period, but it has to be consistent. Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted, dedicated time with your child can help strengthen your connection and your relationship as a whole. 

Be loving but steadfast in your principles

With positive parenting, a lot rides on the tone you use. Your child must understand that you love them unconditionally but also be firm when it comes to discipline. You want to build mutual respect, so be unyielding and hold your kids to high expectations but in a loving way. Settle on what rules are important to you and clearly communicate this to your kid. For instance, if your kid comes home past curfew, keep your word and follow through with the appropriate consequences. If you say there will be consequences for not doing something, then follow through with the disciplinary action. They will respect you for being a person who keeps to their work even through tough times.  

Use consequences

Consequences are the outcomes of actions. The consequence or what happens after your child behaves a particular way can make the behavior more or less likely to happen again. This means that consequences can be both positive and negative. When used in a positive light, they are referred to as rewards. When trying to discipline your child, you can use two kinds of consequences: natural and logical consequences. Natural consequences are the natural results of their actions. For instance, if your toddler refuses to wear a raincoat when they go out in the rain, they will get wet. So next time it rains, they will most likely wear the raincoat because they don’t want to get wet.

On the other hand, logical consequences are used when the natural consequence is not available or enough. For instance, your kid must put all their legos back after they are done playing. The natural consequence of not doing so is that they would lose some; however, this might not be enough incentive for them to put their legos away. In this case, try to think of a related consequence, such as if you find or step on a lego, you will put it away where they can’t find it.  

Use of positive reinforcement

It’s easy to focus on bad behavior and forget the good ones. Whenever your child does something commendable, don’t forget to appreciate it. This does mean you need an elaborate reward system; even a simple thank you or acknowledgment will do. This positive praise helps your child maintain a positive self-identity.

Be patient with the process

Positive parenting and positive discipline techniques won’t produce results right away. It takes time, so be patient and trust the process. This parenting philosophy isn’t about getting quick results; it is about teaching your child behaviors they will emulate. You’ll have a lot of teaching to do in the beginning since this will be fairly new to both of you, and while some changes might happen fast, others might take longer. Unlike traditional punitive disciplinary methods with positive discipline, you need to repeat the behavior you want to see. Sometimes it might take days, others weeks and sometimes even months before your child gets it. Don’t give up because the benefits will last a lifetime.

Most parents strive to be great parents; however, you may find yourself confused and frustrated by the never-ending challenges of parenting. Positive parenting strengthens the bond and trust between you and your little one. It also removes the constant tension between the two of you by teaching your child that they can respond to difficult moments without threats, yelling, being bribed, or physical punishment. By adopting positive parenting techniques, you can foster the most beneficial parenting behaviors that will positively impact your child’s development.

nutrition and cooking

Family meals – 6 ways to make them work

Family life can get extremely hectic – there’s homework, chauffeur duties, activities, bath time, chores, sibling rivalry, and then worrying about what went wrong and why! Sometimes it can be hard to fit in a meal where we are all together, relaxed and present. But once we get the hang of it, eating together as a family can be achieved. And it has huge benefits for us all.

How do we set up family meals?

Plan them: Sit down together and make a meal plan for the week. Then you´ll know what to buy and cook every day. This takes away the ‘what will I cook today’ stress. And you avoid that last minute grabbing a frozen pizza or takeaway scenario.

Make it your meal: do as much as you can together – planning the menu, shopping, the food prep and cooking, setting the table and of course cleaning up! In our family we always make sure that the table looks nice, with seasonal napkins, candles (I am Danish after all) and a nice jug of water with lemon.

Be mentally & physically present: make sure you are 100% present at the table and not up and down to do chores or check your phone. Focus on each one of your kids, listen to what they have to say (listen to understand. Don’t fix, just listen). Pay attention to everything you see, feel and taste – make sure your mind is full of what is going on right now!

Make it screen free: agree with your family that ‘screens stays away from family meal times’. That include you too. Here your example is important to understand.

Take your time: often parents (especially mums) are the first to leave the table – rushing to the next task on the schedule. But try to stay a bit longer and enjoy the family being together and be mentally present. We know how easy it is for our mind to wander and get distracted by other thoughts. Worries and things that need to get done. But just for the time being, try to park everything else. Nothing is more important than your family after all.

Ignore minor misbehaviors where you can: try to just enjoy being together. If you find that family meals get a bit ‘wild’, set up some rules for mealtimes beforehand. Some that you all agree to. Write them down and sign them.

Benefits of eating together

Creates a family tradition that they will remember. All we want is for our kids to grow up to be happy. And to think back to their childhood as a happy, nurturing time. Family meals will help build positive and healthy values and memories that they will cherish for life!

  • Builds family “togetherness”: kids who spend happy time with their parents feel loved, safe and important. Family meals glue the family together – ‘our thing’.
  • Promotes healthy eating habits: kids are our little shadows and they copy everything we do. When we eat well, they will too. If we create a healthy food language they will adopt that. If you are cooking with your kids you are really teaching them the pleasures of enjoying the full event: planning, shopping, cooking and enjoying the meal without rushing it. Kids who eat and cook with their family are less likely to be over or underweight as they learn to have a healthy relationship with food and make better food choices.
  • It’s fun: once you’ve got the hang of setting up family meals, planning them and resisting the urge to rush on to the next thing, they can be a great place to have some family fun. Time to talk about the day, have a laugh and a joke and listen to each other.
  • There is no rule as to how many there has to be in a ‘family’. If it’s just you and your child, then that is your family. And of course you can create the same values and traditions around regular family meals.
Positive parenting

Become The Master Of Your Thoughts!

Thoughts are things – thoughts are life

Most of us have been there. We cannot get rid of a negative thoughts or a worrying nagging in our head. It goes around and around and seems to eat up way too much of our time and energy.

Maybe the thoughts are about ourselves, our self-doubt. That we are not good enough or not as good as others. We question everything we do and worry that people think badly of us or. Or, even worse, talk about us behind our backs.

We might feel ‘why me?’ ‘What have I done to deserve this, I can’t take it anymore.’
Maybe we worry about our life and our family. I support parents who often struggle with regular worrying thoughts about their kid’s challenges, i.e. special needs, emotional, social or academic challenges.

It can be our job, relationships, finance, housing and much more. But the bottom line is that we spend too much time having negative thoughts and worries.

Maybe we worry and think to much about the past. Who did what and why. Or fear the future: what will happen to me, my kids, my family, my job etc.

The problem is that we forget to enjoy and think about the here and now. We miss opportunities to enjoy small moments in our life with our kids – we are so busy placing all our focus on the negative thoughts and worries in our life!

This constant thinking about negative things or worrying about what might or might not happen can be exhausting. We often find that we cannot sleep. Or don’t have the energy to do the things we like doing, be the parent we want to be, or the friend, partner or employee that we need to be. We don’t feel as productive and effective as we know we should. Our thoughts are controlling how we live our lives!

The problem is time

And that is the thing. It is how much time we choose to spend on these thoughts that causes them to develop into anxiety, depression, sadness and to take over our lives. We overthink and worry so much that we feed our negativity by giving it our full focus.

What we choose to focus on the most we will cultivate and grow!

So, over-thinking keeps these negative thoughts alive; the more we think about it the bigger a problem gets.

Why do we spend so much time on negative thoughts?

So why is it that we might spend 4 hours instead of 30 minutes a day on our negative thoughts? Well, we might think that by thinking about it we can control it – do something about it – find a solution. But we usually just go around in circles, not actually finding a solution just making it bigger by feeding it!

Solution: Master our thoughts!

So, what can we do now that we know that it is how much time we allow these thoughts to take up in our life that makes them grow? We cannot just stop thinking and get rid of them.

The solution lies in awareness and choice. Choice is freedom. First, we need to stop fighting the thoughts – step into them and give them a name. What is it that worries you, makes you think negatively? ‘I am worried because my child is having severe anger issues’….

Then it is all about how much time we choose to spend on these thoughts. So, we need to control our time and what we do with it.

“Doing nothing is doing everything” – Adrian Wells

He talks about ‘lazy therapy’, where we allow ourselves to do less to achieve more.

And we can use it here when we are trying to control the time we spend on our negative thoughts. In order to give our negative thoughts a rest we need to be able to control them.

Try this:

  • Become aware of what negative thoughts control your life: I.e. I worry about my child’s anxiety.
  • No need to fight the thought, just give it a rest. Put time aside every day – maybe every second day or once a week. Make sure it is not late at night so we don’t take the thought with us to bed to feed our unconscious mind. Here we have the thought, we accept it but we don’t give it focus or attention – we diminish it, make it smaller.

I was supporting a mum who worried about her daughter all the time. She decided to control the time and every time the feeling pop into her mind she told her self ‘that is ok, this is my feeling – but I don’t need to focus on it now but will do it a 17.00’. She said she felt so powerful and understood (by self). Overtime she realized that the thoughts took up less and there was space for other productive and positive thoughts!

  • Give it a rest. When the negative thought pops up in your mind – leave it alone. Put it to sleep. Tell yourself that you can take it up later as planned, for example at 5 o’clock or tomorrow at 9.30.
  • Plan some positive self-thinking to substitute the negative thoughts when they pop up: Replace it with a thought about the last time you had a nice time with your child. A time he really was ok. Think about his smile, the last laugh you had together etc. to challenge the negative thinking. Here you are shifting the focus from a negative thought to a more positive one – your choice. Again, if you choose to place more attention on your positive thinking you will…cultivate and grow it!
  • Distract yourself: if we do what we have always done we get what we have always got. So, when the negative thought pops up, stop and park it for later – you challenge it with some positive thoughts but you can also remove yourself from where you are right now. Sometimes doing something else or going somewhere else breaks the cycle. Go for a walk out in nature. Have a bath. Listen to some nice music that makes you relaxed and happy. Bake a cake etc. Here we are not active but passive around our negative thoughts.
  • Avoid the trigger thoughts: Is there anybody or anything that triggers your negative thoughts? It can be the news, it can be a person who always makes you feel ‘less’. It can be when you are alone. Again, get in control of these triggers. Avoid the news or only watch it at planned times. Hang out with radiator people (those who give you warmth) not drains! Have some nice music when you are alone, or read books and magazines that make you feel ok.

In summary

We can have our thoughts without having to fight them and we can master these thoughts once they come. We can actually live with them without being dominated. Once you have found a way to live with your thoughts by giving them less attention and focus you will find that you are in control and you have the freedom of choice


From work mode to family life

Parents stress

Parenting stress – 9 ways to manage it

Parenting Stress! You know the feeling.

Stress is a sign that something needs to change…

Stress is when there is too much pressure put on us. Either from the outside word, people around us or even us self. Maybe we have too high expectation on keeping our house tidy and ‘look nice’. It can be to much work that does not balance our home and personal life. It can be a kids party or family gathering that we want to be perfect.

Parenting stress can be good for us in small doses if we can manage it

We become a role model for stress management: No one goes through life without stress and conflicts. Once we have the tools and skills to manage our stress we can ‘show’ our kids how they can deal with stress in their life. We are our kids’ biggest role models. From an early age they copy everything we do, say, feel and even our moods. So, if we can ‘teach them by doing’, our kids will benefit from our way of dealing with stress. But also from how we think about stress. And remember that it also goes the other way: if you cannot manage your stress they might copy that too.

Stress gives us drive and energy: At certain times I am all up for stress, bring it on! It helps us to build resilience and teaches us to problem solve. It can give us much needed adrenaline, energy and drive. I am always stressed just before I am about to present a big workshop or meet a new client – but this makes me sharper and more open to the situation and helps me stay alert and present and connect better. It is when it is ongoing or we don’t know how to manage it, that stress becomes bad.

Stress can be beneficial for kids too

Builds resilience: no one goes through life free of stress and battles. So, if we allow our kids to experience some stress from an early age it can help them to be prepared for stresses and challenges later in life. But the learning experience they gain from going through stress all depends on whether they have the tools and backup from adults around them to handle the situation.

Why parenting stress is not good

One of the areas I support parents with, is not only what to do when stressed or consider why they are stressed. It’s also what constant stress do to them, their families and their children, now and in the future.

I am sure we have all been there where we did or said something we regretted later. Maybe we yelled at our child, said unkind things. Or maybe we dropped a cup or spilled food all over the place.

These mistakes, or bad decisions, often occur when we are stressed. Then our minds are full of the wrong thing at the wrong time. So we become mindless and make mistakes.

As mentioned earlier, stress can sometimes be good. But if it is present over long periods of time it can really affect the way we parent and the connection with our kids and our partner.

Stress can make us less sensitive to our children because we become less capable of tuning into their thoughts, feelings, and needs.

Stress can make us angrier and more impatient and we are in danger of becoming impulsive instead of measured. This can be scary for our children to live with, as we can become unpredictable.

We are our kid’s strongest role models. And from an early age they repeat everything we do and say. They even tap into our feelings and state of mind. So, there is a strong correlation between children of stressed and angry parents and aggressive and non-compliant children.

The effects of parental stress and anger can continue to impact the child into adulthood. That includes increasing degrees of depression, social alienation, spouse abuse and career and economic achievement.

So, it is important to place attention on our stress levels and become aware of what we can control and change.

What can we do

  1. Awareness is the first step to change. Know the signs that you are not ok and may be stressed: stomach ache, headache, clenched fists, tight throat etc. Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much. Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities. Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing.
  2. Once you are aware of the signs have a think about what the TRIGGERS are for you: siblings fighting, refusal to do homework, bedtime rebellion, too much work, messy house, relationship with partner etc.
  3. Then ask yourself: What can you change or control in the environment:
    1. create a different bedtime or homework routine.
    2. talk to children about sibling fighting in the home.
    3. ask for time off from work, less hours, more balance or support to create a better family, life and work balance.
    4. discuss with partner how you can ‘parent as a team’.
    5. tidy up the house if it stresses you.
    6. delegate jobs to others – we don’t have to do it all.
    7. maybe you need to sit with the family and have a family chat about how you can work together as a team and establish a routine and agreement that sits well with you and respects each family member.
  4. What can you do differently (control) within yourself: Teach yourself to stop, pause and breathe when you feel the ‘signs’. Don’t do or say anything until you have paused. Pausing gives us time to think and check in with ourselves. We become aware of why we are stressed, and what effect it has and what we can do about it.
      1. Think: What I am feeling right now (anger, overload etc.) is ok, but I don’t want it to hijack how I parent.
      2. Ask why. Get curious, not furious. Ask yourself, ‘what do I need right now to deal with my stress or the situation?’
      3. Action: make a decision about what you will do and say, or not do and say: stay calm, dont scream, step back from the situation, go for a walk, call a good friend etc. Accept that you are stressed and that it is ok, but it is what you do with it that matters.Work on the ability to say “no” and set boundaries with your kids, yourselves and people around you. What is it that you need right now in order to find more balance in your life? We don’t have to say yes all the time. It is completely legitimate to say “I need to think about it”, “Let us talk about it later”, without promising anything.
  5. Keep a stress diary so you become aware of when and why you get stressed. This will help you to be curious, not furious: Enquire why you got stressed in the first place so you can change it or avoid it in the future!
  6. Stay focused on your health: good food, exercise, get outdoors, good sleep routine, keep an eye on your technology use etc .
  7. Be kind to yourself when you are stressed: it is ok, normal and natural to be stressed at times. Be kind to yourself and try to schedule some ‘me-time’ into your week where you can re-energise and recharge. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just a walk around the block, a bath, meet a good friend etc.
  8. Verbalize it to people around you: you might not want everyone to know about your stress. But those who love you, and are close to you will sense that you are not in a good place. And children are very quick to tune into our moods and state of mind; if they don’t know why they might make up a reason themselves that might not be right. They might think mum/dad doesn’t love me, it’s my fault, mum/dad will leave us etc.
  9. Share with them in an open and positive way ‘I just want you to know that I feel a bit stressed for the moment but that I am working on it and it is an adult thing and nothing to do with you, I still love you very much’. Say it to your partner or colleagues, ‘I just want you to know that I’m feeling a bit stressed and overloaded for the moment so might be a bit short tempered but I am working on it and it has nothing to do with you’. This makes us safe company to be with and we are more likely to actually do something about it once we have shared our emotions.
Positive parenting

Get toddlers to listen without threats – 6 proven tools

With a busy daily schedule, an important question often is: how do we get our toddlers to listen without threats?

We have all been there where we are in a hurry, tired or desperate and just don’t have the energy to keep asking politely; we need our kids to do things and get a move on and they don’t want to. So we grab what is always at hand: ‘threats’. But when we use threats and try to control, the fact is that we have lost all control! You know what I mean.

We have opted to use fear over respect. A threat is not respectful but a misuse of our adult power. It might work in the short term. Our anger, yelling and aggression get them out the door, or get them to obey right now. But threats are a sign that we have lost all control and only work out of fear.

Also read the article Gentle parenting – 8 steps to parenting without yelling

How to get the toddler to respect us

We can’t demand respect, only earn it. And threats only make our kids scared of us and uneasy because our behavior becomes unpredictable, impulsive and aggressive. While it might work in the short term, there is a good chance that it fractures the relationship with the child in the longer run. It can even make the child aggressive or withdrawn and submissive if they are used to being ‘crushed’. We do it to gain respect but that is exactly what we lose.

Whats wrong with threats?

What is a threat? When we use anger or force to try to remove something from a child, either an object or their enjoyment of something. We don’t use our own boundaries or principles because we think that the child has more respect for their toy or the playdate, than us.

It often ends up being a punishment that has no logical connection to what we are asking of the child. Hence it has no meaning for the child. It could sound like ‘you will get no dessert if you keep jumping on the sofa’. Or ‘you will go to bed early if you don’t get in the car now’. When our request becomes a threat and a punishment, the child gets confused (because they don’t see the connection), angry (they feel unfairly treated) or sad (we are in danger of shaming and blaming the child)!

6 tools to help you help your toddlers to listen without threats:

  1. Be predictable – set agreeable boundaries:
    • We need to work on their respect for us. That´s by letting them know in advance what the boundaries are, and what will happen if they choose to cross them.
    • In ‘peace times’ sit down and talk about your expectations of your child. For example in the morning: ‘we need to be out the door at 8.10 in order to get to school on time. So let’s agree a routine so we can get out in a calm way’. You can do the same with bedtime, homework, screen time, mealtimes etc. Make sure your child understands what you have agreed to by writing it down or drawing it out.
    • For new situations (i.e. parties, shopping, playdates etc.) you can also sit down with the child beforehand, and explain what will happen. Make sure they understand what your expectations are. Ask the child to repeat what you have just explained.
    • Set agreed rules and routines. Where you feel that you need threats too often, try to agree to a set of routines (mornings getting out the door, homework etc.), and make sure the child is part of setting the routines. Or try to agree to a rule i.e. around hitting, dinner manners, sibling dynamics etc. Make the rules DO rules (not STOP or DON’T). Instead of ‘no hitting’ you can say, ‘kind hands and happy feet’ or, ‘hands to ourselves’.
  1. Control yourself: It can be really irritating when we feel that they will only listen to us when we take to yelling and threats. We might resent our kids because they ‘made’ us so angry. Before you do or say anything stop and breathe. Check in with yourself and get your emotions under control. ‘I am getting really angry but I don’t want this feeling to hijack how I deal with the situation’.
  2. Be curious not furious with your child: try to stop and think, why they didn’t do what you asked of them. Have they not heard or understood your request? Are they so deep in play that it is almost too much to ask them to stop (give them advance warnings and help them slowly to stop play)? Are they tired or hungry? Is your request too hard, considering their age? Does your child need help with your request? What might seem so simple to us might not be for our child. We can ask, ‘Do you need my help with…?’ or, ‘What can I do to help you…?’
  3. Help the child follow through with your request: prepare him for what will happen and when. Give reminders: ‘Sam in 10 minuttes it is time to get off the screen.´ Try not just to ‘throw’ the ‘order’ to your child and expect him to follow through while you are doing something else. Stay physically and mentally connected to the child and the situation. This shows that you are serious but also that you are there if they need help.
  4. Hear your child: Maybe your child needs to be heard. I know you might think, ‘I don’t have time for that’ when you are in a rush, but believe me you will gain time in the long run and will build a foundation of respect, not fear, in the longer term. If your child objects to following through come from a place of, ‘I can hear you are upset because xx. And I understand that you are upset because xx. Now please turn off the screen and go and put on your shoes.’ Stop there…or just repeat!
  5. Praise when they do listen: focus in what you want to see more off. So every time you child show an attempt to listen. step in and acknowledge that you have noticed it and like it. You don’t have to say “thank you”. You can say ‘Sam I noticed that you are trying hard to listen to me, and I really like that’. What you focus the most on you will cultivate and grow!

Get your toddlers to listen without threats

Remember that parenting is not a power struggle about winning or losing. It’s about teaching our kids to grow up to become respectful, independent and content in life.

Positive parenting Toddler categories

Gentle parenting – 8 steps to parenting without yelling

We have a vision of Gentle Parenting as sunny mornings around the breakfast table, with an abundance of time and patience. Birds singing, children humming. All smiles and tranguility. I sure do.

Then reality kicks in! Tired toddlers who dont coorperate. No teethbrushing. No boots on. Late for work. Behind with a load of emails that need my attention. They dont want to get in the car. They dont want to get out of the car.

I’m sure we’ve all been there, where we feel that yelling has been our ‘go-to’ reaction. We might start out with the right intentions, we listen, and we stay calm. But in the end, we grab the last resource we have – suddenly we are yelling – and only then do they finally listen and take us seriously. It works!

And I get it; it takes lots of practice and patience to get what we are asking for without yelling or losing our temper.

Why we shouldnt be yelling!

  • When we yell, we have lost all control of ourselves and any chance we had of staying in charge of the situation. Actually, we have given away all the power we might have had.
  • When we start yelling, we have stopped all forms of healthy communication since we are not listening anymore. Our negative emotions have taken over and are controlling us. There is no way forward to solve the issues that respects our kids and sits well with us.
  • It sends a signal to our kid’s brains that they are in danger and they will most likely go into fight or flight mode and will automatically fight back or move away (run away from us, in fact they are just running away from danger)
  • Yelling can have a long-term effect on our kids if it happens too often and we become out of control. Nobody likes to be yelled at and it is a humiliating experience they will carry with them.
  • We are our kids’ biggest role model and from an early age they copy everything we say and do and how we say it! I think you know what I am about to say now. Yes, if we want our kids to stop yelling and start listening, we need to show them how to do it!

Gentle Parenting comes from the inside.

First we need to show and teach our kids how to control our behavior by checking in with our emotions – what we feel in the here and now:

  1. Notice the feeling when it comes, stop what you are about to say or do and take a deep breath. Nothing else for now.
  2. Think: What am I feeling right now? At this point don’t fight it, step into the feeling and accept it, ‘this is my feeling and I cannot get rid of it but I don’t want it to control how I parent next!’
  3. Notice any self-thoughts or doubts and then challenge them. It might be that you think ‘I am so mad right now why does he do this to me’ or ‘I don’t deserve this!’ or ‘here we go again, she is not going to listen to me and she will create another battle’. Stop yourself and challenge these thoughts i.e. ‘I can deal with this, his behavior is normal and will go away’, ‘she is so nice most of the time so we can get through this. Obviously, she is not like this all the time’ etc.
  4. Allow a pause before you do or say anything. This will allow you to get yourself, your emotions and actions under control.
  5. Make a decision: choose what you will do and say, or not do and say. It is ok to take a time out or ignore a child’s behaviour (never ignore the child, only the behaviour i.e. nagging, yelling, moods etc) as long as we re-engage later, restore the balance and connection.
  6. Make it a family agreement to work on the yelling. Have a signal that you can give each other when anybody is about to yell.
  7. Admit to mistakes: We are human, you will get it wrong, but awareness is the first step to change. It is good parenting and role modelling to be able to go back and say, ‘you know what, that was not my finest moment and I am not proud or happy of the way I behaved, I will do my best to changing that and not repeat it’.


Gentle Parenting really means be gentle to yourself: find your own inner peace. Let it radiate from you. 

Just by reading this article you are already changing things for the better, since you care and are willing to work on things. No one said that parenting was going to be easy and most of us are trying our best and sometimes that is good enough!


Family and the baby

Sibling rivalry – Why is my older child jealous of the baby?

What is sibling rivalry?

Sibling rivalry is defined as strong competition among siblings for recognition by and the attention of one or both parents. It normally begins when a baby is introduced to a family and the older sibling fears the baby will replace them. In some cases, the long-term illness of a child who requires some special needs could also lead to sibling rivalry. The older child may become extremely jealous and display aggressive behavior toward the baby. Some children exhibit rather regressive behaviors, like bed-wetting or baby talk. This is considered the older child’s way of reestablishing themself in a dependent role with their parents.

Sibling rivalry can be at its worst when both children are under 4 years of age, especially when they are less than three years apart. This is because children under the age of 4 depend on their parents a great deal and have a very hard time sharing them with siblings.

However, sibling rivalry can be especially severe if you have a newborn baby. Your newborn is a physical reminder to your older child that they no longer occupy that special baby place. All they know is that they now have to share their mommy’s love with someone else. Your toddler may also cause fights to get a reaction from you.

Why is my older child jealous of the baby?


You may be accidentally playing favorites with your kids and not even notice. Kids notice the smallest of things and may take things the wrong way if they feel isolated or unnoticed.  You really have to take a closer look at your actions and decide if this might be a factor causing the sibling rivalry between your kids. For instance, your older child can smell favoritism by how many chores has been allocated to each one of them. This a clear indication that the child with the most chores isn’t a favorite.

How does it show?

It can be tough for a toddler to welcome a new baby into their domain. As siblings get older, they may show their jealousy by arguing, name-calling, teasing, pushing, and occasionally fighting. Their aim is to get at the brother or sister who is breaking their toys, spoiling their games, or stealing their parents’ attention. It’s completely normal for this to happen. Take comfort that children who fight the most in their early years are often the closest as they get older. Competitiveness between siblings is perhaps good preparation for when they enter the wider world.

However, your toddler won’t understand their feelings of jealousy or what they can do about that annoying newborn. They just want your attention and may react by misbehaving or even regressing.
They may:

  • ask you to pick them up immediately they see you holding baby.
  • refuse to walk.
  • try to sit in their sibling’s seat
  • jump onto the sofa when you’re breastfeeding
  • even pinch and prod their new sibling. This is a sure way to steal your attention from the baby.

My own experience

For example, Papa (my son), who’s almost 1, sometimes messes up his two-year-old sister’s stuff — he’ll knock down a Lego tower Nana’s made or color on something she’s drawn. Nana gets so frustrated that she’ll sometimes crumple to the floor in a tantrum.

Some other signs of jealousy in the older child include difficult and demanding behavior, mood swings or temper tantrums, irritability, dependent or clingy behaviors, and problems with eating and sleeping. Some children may even undergo changes in their toilet routines and habits. Parents must also be aware of a child’s hurtful behaviors toward younger siblings. An older sibling may taunt or say unkind things to the younger child, or display aggressive and physically harmful (pinching, poking, etc.) behaviors. If the situation continues to elevate and the younger sibling retaliates, shouting matches as well as kicks and punches may ensue. By the time these behaviors manifest, parents should consider professional counseling to restore order in the home.

What can you do to help?

Spend time with them

Spend time with your children to reassure them that they are loved. If you have a newborn in the house, set aside one-on-one time with your toddler. Try to get in at least a few minutes each day. It could be a walk in the park, watching a movie together, or singing some school rhymes. It’s amazing how much even 10 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time can mean to your child.

Involve older children in taking care of the baby

 This baby has entered into your special group and you want the older sibling to embrace them as one of you. You also want the older sibling to feel that they are a participant in this new and exciting experience. Let them be involved with taking care of the baby – although of course the help that they provide depends on their age and ability. Teach the older sibling how to be helpful with the baby by asking if they can hand you diapers, put on the baby’s socks, or sprinkle powder on baby.

Getting them involved makes them feel important. Your child will think “mom needs my help in taking care of baby!”  You can also teach your toddler how to play with the baby in the same way you teach them anything else. Talk, demonstrate, guide, and encourage. Besides, children learn what they live! Your older child will be watching as you handle the baby and learn from your actions. 

Let them be a baby

Let them cling, suck their thumb, or drink from a bottle filled with water. Give words to your child’s mixed emotions. Try something like, “It looks like you really want to be a baby now too,” suggests Dr. Berman. Then, let your older child play baby for a while. My daughter, Nana, and I used to do this when Papa (my son) was a newborn: She’d sit on my lap and I’d cradle her, legs spilling over the side of the rocking chair, as she said variations of “odoodoodo” until we both started to laugh. The more I let myself get into it, the funnier it became – which I later realized soothed her sadness and helped her move on. She didn’t ask to play baby more than a few times after that.

Praise “big girl” or “big boy” behaviours

Whenever you see the older child touching the baby gently, make a positive comment. Make a big fuss about the important “older brother.” Hug and kiss your older child and tell them how proud you are. Point out the perks of being bigger: “Your little sister can’t have ice cream, because she’s a baby and babies don’t eat ice cream.” Praise them when they show maturity and celebrate any big-kid achievements. Give positive remarks and avoid focusing on the regressive behavior. It’s a phase and will surely pass.

Make them feel special

Let your older child know it’s okay to be angry or sad sometimes. If they make a resentful remark about their new sibling, don’t say, “You don’t really mean that.” Instead, encourage them to talk about their feelings: “You can always tell me how you feel. I always feel better when I talk about my feelings.” Most importantly, avoid comparing sibling – even about seemingly innocent topics such as when each first crawled or had the first set of teeth. Instead, celebrate each of your child’s individual talents and successes; encourage them to support and cheer each other on.

Be fair

Being fair is very important, but it isn’t the same as being equal. Older and younger children may have different privileges due to their age, but if children understand that this inequality is because one child is older or has more responsibilities, they will see this as fair.  Even if you try to treat your children equally, there will still be times when they feel as if they’re not getting a fair share of attention, discipline, or responsiveness from you. Expect this and be prepared to explain the decisions you have made. Reassure your kids that you do your best to meet each of their unique needs.

 Get some help

If none of the above advice helps to ease the situation, it may be useful to chat with a professional. Consulting a parent-infant psychotherapist or a play therapist where both caregiver and child are seen may be beneficial. “Remember that a caregiver and a child (whether the little one is regressing or not) work together as a system and not in isolation so any problems need to be addressed as a unit,” says Sarah.

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