Useful Resources

The Alphabet Can Wait: Essential Learning in the Preschool Years

November 14th, 2016|Comments Off on The Alphabet Can Wait: Essential Learning in the Preschool Years

Fifty years ago, when I attended, children were taught the alphabet in Kindergarten. It was there we learned the name and shape of each letter, to associate sounds with letters, to recognize and write our names. Assuming a positive experience with books and barring any learning disability, most of us moved smoothly into reading in […]

Helping Children Manage Joint Custody

September 21st, 2016|Comments Off on Helping Children Manage Joint Custody

Do you remember the famous Winston Churchill quote “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried.” The same can be said for joint custody.

Joint custody is the worst possible choice for children with divorced or separated parents, except when you consider the other choices.

Stay in an unhappy, […]

Laila and the Three Bears: When kids face bullying

September 27th, 2011|Comments Off on Laila and the Three Bears: When kids face bullying

Once upon a time…

I was listening to my daughter, then four years old, recount the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

“Someone’s been eating my porridge, and they ate it all up.” “Oh, Baby Bear, you must be very sad. I will make you some more.” And she gave Baby Bear a hug.

This was not […]

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead: The role of violent games in children’s play

October 16th, 2010|Comments Off on Bang, Bang, You’re Dead: The role of violent games in children’s play

This is a response to a question from a mother about violent themes in her young son’s play. She was particularly concerned about pretend gun play.

Dear Mama,

I am so glad you asked. Yes, this play has a very important function. Your child is learning to manage, contain and control his aggressive impulses. Everyone has aggressive […]

Children and Tantrums: Why they do it & how to get through it

June 11th, 2009|Comments Off on Children and Tantrums: Why they do it & how to get through it

All children tantrum. Some children are better at it than others. Some are very dramatic, throwing every ounce of energy they have into the tantrum. Some are excellent at finding the most inconvenient time or most embarrassing place to let lose. Many children are excellent at drawing their parents into the drama, making them feel […]

I am cautious about recommending parenting books because not all children are alike. Neither, of course, are all parents. We all come with are own histories, strengths, and limitations. There is no parenting book that can give all the answers for every situation. However, here are some books that I think are useful. They offer strategies for minimizing the frustration and accentuating the joy of parenting. And most of what the authors have to say is applicable to most families.

The Secret of Parenting
Anthony Wolf, PhD.

This short, easy read explains some of the central dilemmas of parenthood. “Why does my child behavior better for outside of the house than he does at home?” “Why does my child ignore my instructions by listen to Dad?” (Hint: itʼs not because Dad is a better parent.) A useful frame work for understanding parent/child dynamics and avoiding power struggles while staying firmly in control.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

A great book on effective communication with children. Offers multiple strategies for getting your point across without yelling or nagging. Also helps parents learn to respond to children in ways that encourage them to speak up rather than shut down.

Siblings Without Rivalry
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Of course this book cannot really deliver on the promise of its title. If you have more than one child, there will be rivalry. But this book does offer concrete strategies to avoid being drawn into their struggles, thus freeing them to develop relationships based on something other than getting your goat.

Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager
Anthony Wolf, Ph.D.

Living with teenagers can be baffling. This book helps parents understand and respond to every teens central dilemma: “How do I stay connected to my parents while forging an identity strong enough to allow me to move out?” Simple, straightforward, and humorous.

The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children
Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.

A beautifully written book on the pitfalls of over indulging and over-protecting our children. Dr. Mogel uses wisdom from ancient Jewish text to frame her lessons for modern parents. But one need not be Jewish, or even religious to benefit from these ideas.

Reading to children is often promoted as a way to help children become reader themselves. And it does. But that is not the only—or even most important—reason to read to your child. Reading together promotes parent-child closeness. It is soothing and helps both parent and child calm down at the end of the day. It allows you to share ideas and emotions with your child. It allows you to explore together solutions to ancient and modern dilemmas of being human. Storytelling itself is very much a part of what makes us human. Picture books, and later chapter books, are a marvelous entry into this ancient art.

The Runaway Bunny
Margaret Wise Brown

Too Noisy
Sonja Lamut

Hooray, A Pinta

Baby Brains
Simon James

Sooo Much

Mama Do You Love Me?
Barbara M. Joosse

The Story of Ferdinand
Taro Yashima

The Out of Sync Child Has Fun
Carol Stock Kranowitz, MA

Great activities for helping children develop body awareness and control. Also great boredom busters for summer and weekend afternoons.

The OK BookIt’s OK to Be DifferentThe Feeling BookThe Family Book
Todd Parr

Great books for exploring difference and supporting self esteem. Underlying message of all these book; It’s OK to be who you are, to have the family you have, to have the feelings you have. Bold silly illustrations throughout.

Susan Canizares

Great book for discussing feelings, matching feelings with body language and facial expression.

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb
Al Perkins

Your kids love this book. I used it only once but they ask for it every week. Great for body awareness and control.

Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak

A Classic. Explores wild feelings, containment, and self-control. But don’t tell the kids—they just thinks its a great book. Have your kids act out the story by playing the parts of wild things and Max.

The Monster at the End of this Book
Jon Stone, illustrated by Mike Smollin

A fun way to look at excessive worry.

No, David!
David Shannon

A fun romp through some out of control behavior. Allows children a guilt-free look at their own misbehavior. Includes a great message about unconditional parental love.

Moon Flour

This recipe produces something very similar to commercially available Moon Sand, but is softer, less expensive and easier to clean up.


  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ cup mineral oil


Stir the mineral oil into the flour until it is evenly distributed and fully absorbed. The resulting product should hold together loosely when compacted like wet sand. Add additional mineral oil if needed to achieve desired result. Place in a shallow tray.

Children can use hands, measuring spoons, plastic or paper cups and/or silicon molds to create shape and “sand” castles.

Slime (AKA Silly Putty, Flubber)


  • 1 tbs borax powder in
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup Elmer’s glue mixed with
  • A few drops of food coloring or paint


In one container mix borax with water.  In separate container mix glue with water and stir well.  Add paint of food coloring to this container.  Add the Borax mixture to the glue mixture, stirring constantly.  As the glue begins to clump, lift it from the water and kneed in your hand until smooth.

Children will find all kinds of silly and gross ways to use this.  Keep off upholstery and carpets.  Great outside or on tile or linoleum.  Store in ziplock baggie.

Note:  Do not use this with children who need to put things in their mouths.

Kool-aid Play Dough

This play dough is colorful and has a wonderful fragrance too. The kids just love it!


  • ½ cup salt
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 2 packages Kool-Aid
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups boiling water


Mix dry ingredients. Add oil. Add water and knead.

Store in plastic bags in the refrigerator.

Girl Scout Peanut Butter Play Dough


  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


Mix all ingredients in a bowl, using your hands. Dough should feel soft and pliable. Form shapes and be creative!!

When not using, MUST be stored in an airtight container.

This recipe is great to make with children and lends itself to lots of variation by adding other powdered or sticky materials.

Shaving Cream Boats


  • 1 tub of water, any size from dish pan on up
  • 1 can shaving cream
  • leaves and feathers (optional)


Squirt shaving cream onto the water to for ‘boats.’  Blow gently to send boats back and forth between you and your child.  Add feathers or leaves for sails.  Be open to whatever creative variations your child comes up with.  Shaving cream is just soap, so clean up is easy.  A great bathtub activity.

Palm Sundaes


  • 1 can whipped cream
  • small candies, nuts or cherries
  • candy sprinkles (for cake or cookie decorating)


Squirt whipped cream onto palm of child’s hand.  Offer toppings.  When creation is complete have child eat right off his hand!  Have child make one for you too.  For more bonding eat off each other’s hands.  A sweet sticky mess.  Leave time to clean up with warm soaping water.

Note: whipped cream is also great squirted directly into the mouth.  Less messy and almost as much fun.

Here are some online and Bay Area Resources that may be useful, depending on your particular family’s needs.

for parents of young children:

for parents of disabled children:

for gay/lesbian/transgender parents:

for adoptive families:

for interracial families:

for parents of gender non-conforming children: