Let’s Be Real

One of the things I deeply appreciated about the people in Scotland was the way they talked with my 6-year-old grandson Sebastian when we were there a couple of months ago. (How I love all the wonderful memories of times we shared!)

I noticed it first with Devon in his flat where we stayed the first three days in Edinburgh. He talked with Sebastian as if he were a peer, straight-across, with no hint of talking with him as a ‘child’.

This continued everywhere we went – Jim on the train from Inverness, a couple with their young daughter Sebastian met on the ferry, Angus who ran a lovely guesthouse where we stayed.

The difference was in their way of perceiving Sebastian, which came across in their tone of voice when they spoke with him. They respected him as an equal person of value.

Contrast this to the way I observe many people talk with young people here. Often it’s louder, kind of cutsie, more hyper or more ‘enthusiastic.’ It’s a different tone of voice and way of talking. It’s as if we need to talk this way in order for them to understand or hear us. Or to entertain them or get their attention.

With older children, we may talk more sternly, with more a tone of judgment or authority. Sometimes it’s a tone of exasperation or frustration. Or annoyance

It’s seldom as if they are our peers. We never talk with our adult friends the way we talk with our children.

You may be wondering how I can think of children as our peers. Obviously, they have not had the life experience we have had, which can be an asset or a liability, by the way. And there are times when we need to use our best judgment and be ‘the adult,’ but this doesn’t need to prevent us from treating young people as the capable, sensitive, brilliant people they naturally are.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I invite you to listen to yourself and the people around you. You’ll observe this way of talking with children. This has become our cultural norm. Sometimes I catch myself doing it with my grandchildren.

I have no idea how this cultural pattern started, although I’m sure it’s perpetuated because of our unrecognized limiting beliefs about who children are and that we see it all around us.

I see this tone of voice as a way we unintentionally talk down to children, somehow see them as less than us, less bright, less capable because they are younger. Then young people, being the sensitive, brilliant, aware people they naturally are, get our message and feel confused, shamed, uncertain, or resistant.

When we speak with our children in other than our normal speaking voice, we’re definitely not being our real selves, something our children dearly need and want from us. Being real with them allows us to more deeply and honestly connect with our precious young ones.

When I catch myself being the ‘adult’ with my grandchildren, I feel tension in my body and I realize I’m not being myself. I’m not feeling comfortable in my own skin.

Here are some things I’ve discovered that help:

1. Slowing down, taking slow deep breaths so I can be more present. When I’m racing around, focused on getting things done, I’m not really connecting with my grandchildren.

2. I try to stay aware of my own emotions, my tension in my body, my tone of voice so I can do something about it.

3. When I notice I’m talking with Sebastian and Madison as if they are ‘children,’ less capable than they are, not fully people, I take a deep breath or two, slow down, get in my body, look them in the eye, and show up as myself, honestly myself.

The beauty of being present and more fully myself is I experience my deep love for them and the joy of getting to be with them. They are wonderful and life is sweet!

I invite you to explore your tone of voice, how you communicate with young people in your life, and see what you discover.


An Invitation to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community”

In writing this, I saw how rich a topic this is. There are so many discoveries and discussions we can have about this seemingly simple subject of our tone of voice when we talk with young people and what that is telling them.

If you’d like to continue this exploration and discussion, I invite you to join ‘Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community.’ where we’ll explore this topic in the next couple of weeks.

This Community is for anyone who cares about nurturing the Inner Brilliance of our children and who wants to nurture them in being who they are.

Click here to learn more and join us now!

Inner Brilliance is the Key!

So wonderful to connect with you! I’ve had a busy 2 months traveling with my grandson in Scotland for two weeks, visiting New York City for a week,  and a 5-day camping trip with Doug and my grandchildren Sebastian and Madison.

New York City was a blast! The first 3 days I spent seeing dear friends and family who live there. Plus I saw amazing art at the Met, and strolled both Central Park and High Line Park.

The last half of the week I attended the AERO Conference, a gathering focused on alternatives in education that empower young people.  I presented two well-received workshops, which I will make available to you soon.

Then three days after returning home, we took off camping in Kings Canyon Sequoia National Park where Sebastian earned his 5th Junior Ranger Badge. Such a wonderful program to help kids develop an understanding, heart connection to Mother Earth.

While everything was great fun, I had little time for anything else.

This week, as I was re-working what I call my Tree Story, I realized many of you probably haven’t read it before or it’s worth a second look. Even if you have, it’s filled with valuable insights about Joyous Parenting and nurturing your child’s Inner Brilliance.

Here it is for you…my Tree Story. Enjoy!
Inner Brilliance: The Key to Your Child’s Happiness and Success

As a family coach and child development educator, I’ve seen many parents tolerate on-going difficulties and stress, living with frustration and emotionally painful interactions with their children – often for needless years.

It hurts my heart when I see children and their parents live with so much less than what is possible when a few simple changes would dramatically reduce their stress and create more harmony and fulfillment for everyone in their family.

I have found the key to our children’s happiness and success is to nurture their Inner Brilliance. Ours too!

What happens when we nurture our children’s Inner Brilliance? What difference does it really make?

Here is a story to help you understand the importance of Inner Brilliance for you and your child and how it works.

Jane and Tom love their son and do their best to be good parents, daily teaching him what he needs to know and monitoring his behavior so he will be a good kid and succeed.

Over time, this becomes a lot of work. It seems their son thinks of so many things to do and say that he’s not supposed to and getting him to do homework is often a battle. They don’t like being frustrated with him yet it seems they have to keep repeating things he should already know. Read more…

Happy Trails!
Celebrating Inner Brilliance!


Adventure to Scotland + Exceptional Summer Camp for Girls

Adventure to Scotland

Several weeks ago I had this conversation with my 6.5-year-old grandson Sebastian…

Me: Sebastian, you know how I sometimes go to other countries and see and do new cool things? Well, I’m going to go traveling again in a few weeks, and I was wondering if you…

Sebastian: Yes! I want to go. I’ve not been to any other state than Colorado, and I want to see more.

Me: Ok. we’ll be going to another country and there will be a long plane flight.

Sebastian: That’s ok. I can hang with it.

And thus began the creation of our 2 – week adventure, which begins tomorrow. There were a few in-between conversations that I’ll share with you later.

I have our first 3 nights in Edinburgh booked and the last night before we fly home. The rest we are going to create together as we go. I have no idea how he’ll adjust to this kind of trip, what’s going to catch our eye and call us to stay another day.

I’ve got a basic itinerary planned based on what we both want to see. High on the list are castles, armour and weapons, Stones of Callanish, and a 5000-year-old Neolithic settlement on the Orkney Islands. High Adventure — my favorite kind.

I am thrilled to share this with him. Of course, Mommy and Daddy will miss him – and he them. I so appreciate and admire Orion and Nichola’s ability to set aside their own desires for themselves and to support Sebastian to have an amazing, life-changing experience.

I’d love to have you follow our adventures on Facebook. Click here to friend me on FB

Exceptional Camp for Girls

My friend and colleague Aby Ryan is the inspiration and founder of Athena Camps, a summer camp program in San Jose and Los Altos, designed to empower and build confidence in girls, ages 6 to 11 through self-expression and personal connections. Through successful experiences with sports and authentic creative expression, the girls flourish.

A program has to meet very high standards for me to recommend it. I have participated in a camp closing activity and helped with training the college-age coaches who work with the girls. I enthusiastically recommend Athena Camps to all parents who are passionate about nurturing their daughter’s Inner Brilliance.

I promise you and your cherished daughter will love it! I am so impressed with what Aby has created.

Click here to find out more about Athena Camps.

Happy trails!

Celebrating Inner Brilliance!

PS. Please forgive any typos. I’m in the middle of getting last-minute things done! 🙂

What’s the Big Deal about Toothpaste?

(as seen through the eyes of our 6-year-old grandson Sebastian)

Connie and Doug, aka Grandma and Grandpa, are really cool grandparents. They give me lots of freedom to do what I want, they care about me, and they don’t make a big deal out of a lot of things…spilling things, breaking things, not saying “please” or “excuse me” when I burp.

But there’s one thing, until recently, that has bugged them that I don’t understand. You see, I’m a capable, curious boy, and I like discovering how to do things. I’ve watched Mommy and Daddy and my grandparents put toothpaste on a toothbrush ever since I was little, and recently I’ve decided I’d like to know how to do it myself.

It doesn’t look that hard – point the toothpaste toward my brush, squeeze the tube, until the toothpaste comes out, and goes onto the brush. Easy peasy!

The thing is, I always seem to squeeze it too hard and LOTS of paste comes out, way too much, and it makes a mess. Then Connie and Doug get upset and tell me I’ve used too much.

I know it’s too much. I tell them I’m sorry, but I can tell they’re kinda upset. I feel bad. They’re relaxed about lots of stuff, but I figure it’s only toothpaste. Is it really that big a deal? How else am I going to learn if I don’t get to try it?

Last night was different. Connie told Doug she would help me with my toothpaste, but I’d already decided to stop trying. I told her, “No. You can do it.” But she insisted and told me she knew I could do it.

She started by making me slow down a bit so she could show me how to squeeze the tube a little bit and then handed the toothbrush to me so I could do it. I was amazed at how easy it was and how I only have to squeeze the tube a tiny bit.

Grandma Connie doesn’t like to get mad or be upset with me. I know she wants me to be happy. I think she figured out it’s only toothpaste, and I’m way more important than that.

I’m growing up and want to do new things. I just need a chance to learn. Every time I’m told ‘no’ or been yelled at or gotten into trouble, I feel bad about me. I feel a little smaller and less capable, and I feel more alone.

You know, I’m a pretty sensitive kid, even though I try not to show it. I’m happy most of the time, speak up about what I want, and try new things easily.

Little things, like toothpaste, can make a big difference.


What are the situations and the ways in which your child of any age wants to stretch and grow, to try something new? Are you giving him space to make mistakes and learn on his own, or are you focused on making him act the be the way you think he should?

If you’d like to continue this conversation, I invite you to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community”, where we explore ways to nurture our children’s and our own Inner Brilliance.

Click here to find out more and to join.

Are You Saying “No” Too Often?

Saying “No” is so easy. It can roll off our tongue so effortlessly and smoothly, we seldom notice we said it. In fact, research shows parents say “No” dramatically more times every day than they say “Yes.”

Hint: If you think this isn’t you, you might want to ask your kiddos what they think about it. 🙂

One of the things that makes ‘no’ so automatic is that it seems like the easier choice. Whatever your child wants or doesn’t want, you probably have a preference about it. It’s amazing what our creative, free-spirited young people can come up with that had never crossed our minds and that don’t seem like such a great idea to us.

There are so many ways in which we say “No” to our children. The most obvious is when they want that toy or the pair of jeans we don’t want to buy.

But there are other ways even more impactful to our children’s Inner Brilliance. We don’t like their angry or hurt feelings, or their observations about their teacher or another child, or their mono-chromatic painting. Then we tell them what we think in subtle, and not so subtle, sometimes manipulative ways.

You may feel these “no’s” are simply part of parenting since it is so commonplace. After all, isn’t it your job as a parent to guide your child?

I’ve found, however, that the more frequently we repeat these ‘no’s”, we unknowingly lessen a child’s Inner Brilliance – her self-confidence, happiness, innocence, and her connection to herself.

Plus if the “no’s” come with frustration, annoyance or judgment from you, the message and the ‘ouch factor’ are even deeper.

What to Do

The first and most important step is to become aware of all the “no’s” you say in the form of your words, tone of voice, a look, a touch, or in your attitude. You child reads them all. You might even want to write them down for a day, or 2 or 3 hours, and see what you discover.

Then, choose one place you want to begin saying “Yes.” Perhaps this means taking a deep breath and letting your child speak his mind even when you disagree or it makes you uncomfortable. Or perhaps you find a way to say, “Yes” so you can make what your child wants work for you also.

This is the time to pause before you speak. Or if you miss that window, think about it afterwards and go to your child and say, “I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve changed my mind. Can we make this work?…”

The simple step of saying “Yes” to your child in every way you can – without compromising yourself – brightens your child’s and your Inner Brilliance. This brightens your life and that of everyone around you.


What are the situations and the ways in which you are saying ‘No” to a much-loved child in your life? What are the ways you’d like to say “Yes” more?

If you’d like to continue this conversation, I invite you to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community”, where we explore ways to nurture our children’s and our own Inner Brilliance.

Click here to find out more and to join.