"Raising intelligent, independent and empowered kids."

smart parenting for smart child development

What is Tot Thoughts?

This site is designed to provide you with insightful thoughts and practical ideas on how to raise kids who are intelligent, independent and empowered.

I also explore ways to develop children’s multiple intelligences and strategies for teaching children to be effective negotiators (both invaluable skills for the development of any intelligent, independent and empowered child).


Why it matters?

Raising intelligent, independent and empowered children is important.


– because throughout your child’s life, people will try to tell them what to do, how to behave, or what they should think. You want your child to make those decisions on their own.

– because your child will have friends who will make poor decisions. You want your child to know better.

– because your child will be faced with difficult choices. You want them to have the courage to do the right thing.

– because intelligent, independent and empowered kids have the ability to achieve extraordinary things. And you know your child can be extraordinary.



Raising intelligent, independent and empowered kids is not small task. But you already know that.

You also know that it’s immensely important. And maybe that’s where I can help.

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– posts with effective parenting strategies and ideas.
– no spam. Ever. I promise (and you can always and easily unsubscribe).

Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you (totthoughts [at] gmail [dot] com).

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The Three Words That Destroy Your Child’s Confidence

Fearlessness is not the same as the absence of fear – Seth Godin Obviously. But take a moment to think about it because this is a really important distinction for anyone trying to raise a brave, confident, empowered child. Why? If you are like every other parent on the planet, at one point or another you have uttered these three words to your child: “don’t be afraid.” (And for the record, I am as guilty as anyone). You (we) did it with the best of intentions, of course. And...

The Tragicomedy of Parenting

A little perspective on the tragicomedy that is parenting:   What She Heard Let me tell you now and forever – I am going to make you miserable, wretchedly unhappy and terribly uncomfortable. I am going to make you cry. There will be days when you wish I were dead and you will relish the thought of me lying in my grave finally freeing you of the torture that is living with me. You are going to hate me and what I do to you. You are going to...

Why Do Children Cyberbully (and what to do about it)

Kids share lots of information – photos, texts, emails, videos, links, gossip, lies, rumors… you get the idea. They do it constantly, copiously, and quiet often, thoughtlessly. Rarely, however, are children actually trying to be mean. So then, why do children cyberbully? In this day and age, it doesn’t take much to become a cyberbully. One share can have an almost immediate and powerful effect. And so often it leaves someone else under a deluge of sorrow. The solution, however, isn’t to get kids to stop sharing information. The...

Reject the tyranny of being popular: pick yourself

The cool kids are the ones that have all the fun, the ones that everyone likes. Everybody else is insignificant and irrelevant. At least that’s how it feels to your child when they’re not one of the cool kids. It’s a social instinct to want to be liked by others, to want to be popular. So, your child seeks out those who are already popular hoping to get their seal of approval – their “I pick you.” Your child makes a few tweaks here and there, changing who they...

The 10 Things All Parents-to-Be Must Know

You’re going to be a parent and that’s great. And it’ll be full of wonder and joy, and you’ll have lots of moments where you’ll stare at your little bundle in disbelief at what you’ve created. But you know all that already. What you may not know about is the dark side of parenting. Because we don’t often talk about it. Because we don’t like it. And it’s an ugly beast to live with. But, you should be aware of it, sooner rather than later, because it will rear its...

The Miley Message and why Reality is not a Show

At the heels of Miley Cyrus’ tasteless public debacle, there are two good things that we can take away from her performance: a lesson and an opportunity. First, the lesson – contrary to the message Miley is trying so hard to convey, reality is not actually a show. But pretending it is can have disastrous effects. Which brings me to the opportunity – talk to your kids. Tell them why the Miley Message is the wrong one. Show them how damaging this lack of perspective can actually be. You...

The Real Failure in Parenting

Nine years ago was my first experience with parenting. I approached it with all the apprehension, confusion and fear of one who neither asked for this opportunity nor felt especially prepared for it. Those first months were a disaster. In fact, the whole first year was a disaster. We vowed never to repeat it. And yet, we did repeat it – twice over. And with each child, we learned some valuable lessons, lessons about patience and courage, about fear and vulnerability, about anger and pain and love. And we...

Stop Yelling at Me!

The next time you have a conflict with your child, ask yourself these two questions: What is my concern? What is my child’s concern? Almost every conflict, argument, fight or disagreement that you have with your child arises from one reason: you each have a concern that is not being addressed. Which means that to resolve the conflict, you just need to understand and address the two concerns. Easy, right? Then why are we constantly battling it out with our kids? Here’s why this is tricky: you may not actually...

Committing to be Extraordinary

Being empowered is not about doing whatever you want whenever you want. It’s not about forcing others to do your bidding. Empowerment is not about being strong or even influencing others. In fact, it’s not about others at all. Being empowered is about: the ability to achieve what you set out to do. the drive to do more and better. the strength to persevere when quitting would be so much easier. the courage to stand up for what you know is right (even though it sometimes hurts). Being empowered...

Respect and Love in Parenting

You want your child to like you, to admire and appreciate you. You want your child to be your friend. But you don’t get that admiration, appreciation, or friendship without respect. If you can’t earn your child’s respect, don’t expect any of the other goodies. Respect comes from being honest and living with integrity, from showing vulnerability and courage. It requires empathy, understanding, fairness, and of course, respect. But respect is insufficient by itself. Respect isn’t what makes your child want to spend time with you, it doesn’t inspire...

The Lonely Road of Popularity

The urge to be popular is a powerful and, for most, unavoidable desire. And it grabs our children with unparalleled force. In pursuit of what they think is admiration or perhaps even adoration, they seek to become the common denominator – like most to be likable by most. Or when that fails, they seek to draw attention by differentiating themselves. Often to a shocking degree. The thing is, being admired or even adored is not a numbers game. Nor is about shock value. The goal is to create something...

Your Image Is Not Your Own

The way you look matters not just to you, but to your child as well. How you talk about your image, the words you use, the way you describe yourself. Fat. Flat. Old. Ugly. Wrinkled. Saggy. … These words fall not just on your ears. Your child is listening too. Every harsh or critical statement. Every moment of frustration. Every utterance of disappointment. It all helps shape the image that your child has of you. For they don’t start off with your same self-critical lenses. They learn how to use...

Independent Agency Requires Information

Consider the following: If you want your child to abstain from having sex, but you haven’t talked to them about sex or why they will want to have it (and why they should wait), then you have failed them. For they lack the information they need to make an independent choice. If you want your child to stay away from drugs, but you haven’t armed your child with knowledge about what drugs are and why they are both so appealing and yet so harmful, then again you have failed...

Being a Perfect Parent

Being perfect doesn’t mean being absolutely flawless. It means that something fits a specific purpose or ideal. And that requires a purpose, a plan. A perfect parent is not one whose child has impeccable manners, straight A’s, and spotless dresses. It is the parent who has a goal for their child and a plan for how to get there. That plan requires a vision, a realistic and achievable vision… and  the patience, strength and courage to take the many steps towards it. The perfect parent will make mistakes and...

From Rage to Zen (three steps to calm an angry child)

You know that feeling you get when you see a massive storm front approaching? Black clouds roll over promising nothing but misery, the pressure suddenly drops taking with it your stomach and everything you ate that day. You feel like you are about to plunge into the depths of darkness. Bravely, your turn and face the storm because “Courage” is your middle name and after all, you are partially responsible for the source of it – that deceptively cute child that is currently preparing to unleash a wrath of...