In Sarah MacLaughlin’s interview we discuss:


  • The work Sarah does with parents
  • How brain development intertwines with parenting
  • Nature versus nurture – which has more impact on your child’s developing brain
  • Putting the knowledge of the science of brain develop into practice – it’s a blessing and a curse!
  • The prefrontal cortex, how it affects your child’s behavior, and when it actually gets fully developed (the answer might surprise you!)
  • Alternatives to rewards and punishment
  • The best way to handle your child’s emotional meltdowns
  • How we as the parent grow our own emotional competence
  • Focusing on progress not perfection as we learn to control our emotions and how we help our child do the same
  • Discipline and setting boundaries and how this does not mean being permissive
  • How to handle your child when they overstep a boundary
  • Focusing on teaching life lessons rather than punishing them into compliance
  • Helping your child alleviate “emotional constipation”
  • Teaching your kids to accept a no gracefully
  • Using humor to diffuse a power struggle with your child
  • That you won’t always know how to handle your child’s misbehavior

Carrie’s favorite quotes from the interview:


“Your kids will keep changing and the way your kids will challenge you will change. Know that you’ll never get ‘there.’ Perfection doesn’t happen.”


“Be a compassionate listener about an upset regardless of how silly you think it is.”





Listen below or subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play!

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Sarah talks motherhood:

poolWhat would you tell an expecting mom about the experience of being a mother?

I would tell an expectant mom to find her tribe/flock/group of moms so she doesn’t have to figure it all out alone! Surround yourself with compassionate and non-judgmental people who are GOOD LISTENERS. It’s not about advice or one way of doing things–but about having a large menu from which you can try things until you find your OWN way.

What is the hardest part about being a mom? Biggest frustrations?

I think the hardest part is sticking with my ideals as much as I’d like to. I WANT to be attentive and kind and on top of it on a regular basis, but the truth is I get distracted just as much as the next person. One of my biggest frustrations as a parent is the ubiquitous nature of screens that modern parents are dealing with ALL THE TIME. Limit-setting is tough when everyone has a computer in their pocket!

What is your favorite part about being a mom? What makes all the hard stuff worth it?

I love the relationship that I have with my son–the close bond, inside jokes–even when things get cranky we can usually find something to laugh about. I love that I am challenged to walk the walk and take my own advice each and every day.

Any tips, tools, and tricks do you use that you’d love to tell other moms about?

I love the Insight Timer for timed and guided meditations and also is great for stress-reduction. So much of pulling off “the parent you want to be” is in mindfulness and taking good care of your own self!

Sarah’s free gift is a pdf copy of her book What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children!

Do you know a toddler who refuses to budge? Has a preschooler ever called you stupid? Our natural reaction to these kinds of situations is often annoyance, ramped up authority, and words that just don’t work. What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children is an essential guide for bringing awareness to the way you communicate with young children. It provides a simple framework of techniques that will help you respond differently (instead of reacting!). Simple additions like silliness and focused preventative attention can help you and a child change course—why struggle! Whether parent, teacher, grandparent, or nanny, this book will help you see the importance of not only your role as parent or caregiver, but the relationship, too. Changes in your approach, words, and tone can have lasting beneficial effects in your relationship with a child and on that child’s behavior as well.

Be sure to check out Sarah’s Parent Reset Program!

This 28 day online course offers videos, daily workbook activities, and lots of tips, tricks and tools to help you be a more peaceful parent.

Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

Sarah MacLaughlin is author of the award-winning book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children (Bay Island Books, 2010). She is also a licensed social worker, parent educator, and writer for the national nonprofit, ZERO TO THREE. Sarah has read all the parenting books and blogs (so you don't have to!) and is near obsessed with brain science and child development. This helps her guide parents and professionals in seeing the bigger picture when it comes to child behavior. Sarah loves helping moms and dads understand themselves and their children better so everyone can have more fun. She's also mom to a spirited 9-year-old who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice.