No Wimpy Parenting goes to the beach!

beach image

It’s that time of year! Facebook and Instagram are overloaded with pics of adorable tan children frolicking in the surf or digging in the sand. Vacations are supposed to be a wonderful respite from “real life,” but are often surprisingly stressful and rife with opportunity for meltdowns (in the kids too!). As parents, we envision a peaceful scene of children digging sandcastles while we sip a fruity beverage reading the newest “summer bestseller.” In reality, we often have sand kicked in our face as the kids race by, fighting over the “cool sand bucket,” their shrieks of rage fighting for attention over the seagulls’ calls. Sigh. What does a parent do? How do we pack up the classic “No Wimpy Parenting” tools and bring them along on vacay?

  1. Lower your expectations: Tell yourself (and your spouse), “This is not going to be perfect. Problems will occur. We will expect some tough times and deal with them as they come.” Eradicating the idea of a “perfect” vacation goes a long way in establishing the proper mindset before the van even backs out of the driveway.
  2. Pack the discipline along with the sunscreen: Make sure your kids and teens understand that MOST of the basic rules at home are still enforced on vacation. Emphasize that the common consequences/punishments at home are also likely possibilities, even in wonder-land. This means if a teen is being surly and rude to parents, and she’s been warned to change that ‘tude and refuses, she can lose her phone. Fighting children can be put in time-out on a beach chair. Whining and ungrateful children can lose “sweets and treats.” (Ask my kids – it’s no fun to sit out while the rest of the family is happily licking ice cream cones on the boardwalk).
  3. Remember the essentials of sleep and diet: Yes, we all slack off and eat too much greasy food and ice cream on vacation. Of course, kids tend to stay up late watching movies or playing putt-putt. But remember, most of us (adults included) get cranky and irritable if our sleep deficit becomes too great, or if our diets are completely out of control. Aim for moderation and having some semblance of structure for bedtime and healthy eating, even while you’re away.
  4. Don’t over-do it! Coming from a Type A, adventure-loving mom, I tend to want to pack in A LOT of activities, sight-seeing, and adventures on every day of vacation. However, children (and some husbands it turns out) need built in down-time and time to relax. If you have been racing from activity to activity all day, every day, you can’t be too upset or surprised when your children’s behavior and attitudes take a drastic decline. Build in a balance of fun activities and rest.

Your kids and teens will appreciate having some boundaries and “normal” routines on vacation. Trust me. Now, grab your sunglasses, your “Koozie”-covered drink, and set up in your beach chair (maybe about 5 or 10 feet away from the sandcastle building zone)!

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The “Softer side” of No Wimpy Parenting

blanket image

This is the year I’m writing the No Wimpy Parenting book, and so I’m going to write more regular blogs again. Promise!

If you have been a fan of No Wimpy Parenting for a while, you know we are usually all about “Take back your power!” “Start a Revolution” or “You have the authority!” The Rocky theme song is what I like to walk out to at workshops for crying out loud!

BUT, that doesn’t mean that effective parenting only relies on strong(er) willpower, a take charge attitude, and a no nonsense mentality. In order to not only have your kids respect you, but to also have an actual healthy and close relationship, you have to invest in the softer side of parenting. Even with teens. Even with (gasp) MIDDLE SCHOOLERS!!

How do we develop the warm and fuzzy part of our relationship with our child and teen without becoming “Wimpy?” The simple answer: it’s all about time and intention. Yes we have all heard it preached that quality time is important. But some clichés are there for a reason…they work! Many of us are parenting at the speed of light: We wake up with a jolt in the morning and try to remember what day it is, who has to be where, when…then the day is a blur of our work and racing kids around to school, sports, lessons, etc. (For a visual of this, please see the hilarious scene in Bad Moms where the poor mom is multi-tasking driving and eating spaghetti at the same time and hilarity ensues). When we come home, it’s making dinner, prodding kids to do homework and chores, reminding kids to shower, and then collapsing in a heap when the kids are finally in bed. It’s a challenge to find time to breathe or take care of yourself, let alone to carve out that “quality time” everyone talks about.

However! I encourage you to dogmatically insist on getting that time with your kids or teens every day, or at least most days. It doesn’t have to be going to a Pottery painting studio (although those are fun) or grabbing a Frappuccino at Starbucks (although kids and teens do love that too). I’m talking about finding 15 minutes to truly connect with your offspring. What can that look like? Here are a few pointers:

  • When you’re stuck in the car, instead of having your child with a face in a device and you sneaking peeks at your phone at the stoplights, consider turning to your kid’s favorite radio station and then asking what was the best part of their day, what was the craziest thing that happened, or what are most of their friends stressing out about these days (a sneaky way to learn about how they are feeling, but less direct). Child development experts know that kids and teens are much more likely to chat with you if you are both staring ahead, versus making them sit across from you and having that painful eye contact. Speaking of which…
  • Ask (make) your child take a quick walk with you around the block. This is another way to get that “side by side” time that is effective for connecting with tweens and teens. Even though my kids may grumble if I insist on this, it’s amazing how quickly they loosen up when we’re walking in the sunshine, birds are chirping, and I am an eager audience to hear all about their lives.
  • Challenge your kid or teen to a friendly game of UNO (or other card game), or ping pong, or Hangman in the down time after dinner (before they run off to their rooms again).
  • Make bedtime snuggles a nightly ritual that is sacred. Yes, even your snarly teen has a drastic increase in snuggly-ness and sweetness if you get them on their backs, tucked in with covers, and you push your way into the bed to lay beside them for a bit. I’m amazed at how even after a rough day, my 13 year old will ask for me to lay with her while she is reading, if I’ve started rubbing her arm or chatting about her day. If you have an older teen who really doesn’t want you in their bed, you can always wander into their room at bedtime, and engage in chit chat as they are winding down for the night. But remember….
  • Kids need physical affection like they need water, food, and shelter! So don’t give up on them during those awkward tween or teen years, when they seem as bristly as a porcupine. There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist,“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” What a challenge for us parents! That means we need to start the day off by grabbing our kid for a hug as they stumble into the kitchen for breakfast, and sneak in another as they go out the door, and another as they come home from school, and another at bedtime. But that’s only 4! Remember other creative ways to give that affection are kissing the top of their heads as they do homework, putting an arm around them if they are struggling with an assignment, squeezing a hand as they walk with you, or even giving a high-five wins some physical affection points.
  • Remember the power of POSITIVE words. As parents, we can often find ourselves only barking out criticism for what they did poorly or not at all, or complaining about their behavior or attitudes. I often share with my parent coaching clients the analogy of a “Nice boss” versus “Mean boss.” If you have a boss who only criticizes you, tells you you’re not doing it right, and is negative with you, how motivated are you to do excellent work or to spend time with that boss?? Not very much right? But, if you have a boss who praises your strengths, encourages you, and tells you how much he or she appreciates having you on the team, aren’t you highly motivated to work hard and to spend time with that boss? Kids and teens are like that. They need to hear our words of encouragement, what we love about them, and how we appreciate their efforts. Try to say at least a few positive statements to your kids every day.

Okay, so instead of the Rocky Theme song, imagine a lilting soothing melody…one of those with the sounds of ocean waves in the background. And then get yourself in a soothing, loving frame of mind and go find that kid or teen of yours and find a way to connect, touch, or encourage!

Want a personal No Wimpy Parenting coaching session with Dr. Wynns? Email: to schedule!

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A Kid’s Perspective: Choosing Bullying; Choosing Kindness


Guest blog by Heather Leah, preschool and school-age teacher in Raleigh, NC.

As a teacher, I have the benefit of seeing the “Bullying Conversation” from both sides. Yes, I read the articles about the bullying pandemic, but I also see the children who exhibit bullying behaviors and see the damage that labeling them does to their self-image.

As adults, we can see what kinds of self-esteem problems or personal hardships cause children to act out in angry ways that cause society to label them. However, I also see that adults can become far too self-important in their analysis of the issues, assuming we know everything about what causes children to choose bullying, kindness, and all the things in between. The truth of the matter is this: All children, at some point in their life, will bully another child.

So I find it most interesting to talk with my students about their own perspectives on what causes personal choices between kindness and harshness (let’s just throw the word “bullying” out with the garbage. It’s a pointless negative word that promotes destruction more than understanding).

When we listen to what our youngest, brightest minds have to say, maybe we adults can come to a point of really comprehending how we can help promote kindness in our classrooms.

In fact, a child in my class, a wiser-than-his-ten-years poet, wrote this prize-winning poem in the lyrical style of Dr. Seuss as a class project. I was surprised by the subject matter he chose, which gave deep insight into catalysts that push a child towards choosing harshness or kindness — and how a kid might decide between the two. Read it, and maybe you’ll learn something:

There were three Todasis.sneetches2
One was the dummy.
One was the guy named Shrummy.
Then there was a gummy.
He was not nice, nor funny,
but the opposite of nice.
What was that?
straight old mean
–he was lean.
He steals and he eats a lot.
He said:
“No! I will never be nice!
I will not tell you once or twice!”
“Please. Oh, please! Be nice!”
“NO! I will never, NEVER be nice!
I tell you not once or twice!”
“Oh please, Oh please! I want you nice!”
Simply no! I tell you not once more!”
“Why? Why will you never be nice?
Why? Just tell me.
I can’t understand…
…If we show you kindness, will you be nice?”
“–OKAY! Fine.
…What is kindness?”
“Well, for one thing: Don’t yell.
Start off by hugging.
Say hi.”
“Okay,” Gummy replied. “Here. Have a smile!
Wow! This really is better than being mean.”
“See?” said Shrummy and the dummy.
And together they all walked away.

This guest post, written by Heather Leah, originally appeared on Candid Slice.

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Ask Dr. Wynns Give-A-Way Contest!


You want to be a No Wimpy Parent, but you need some guidance. Never fear! Dr. Wynns is here to put you back on the path to better parenting.  Get expert advice, as she answers your burning questions—no parenting issue is too small, no tale too strange.  In “Dear Abby” fashion, winning questions, stories, and answers will be featured anonymously on our No Wimpy Parenting Blog and in future editions of the NWP Newsletter. So keep checking back in to find new parenting questions and tips.

Plus, each month’s winner will receive a very special prize from No Wimpy Parenting and Wynns Family Psychology: This month, we’re giving away our decorative, steaming liquid consumption vessel. This grand caffeine chalice will not only provide a burst of energy in the morning, but remind your children that you’re no parenting pushover!  The No Wimpy Parenting Coffee Mug—because the first step to good parenting is being awake!

To enter this contest, simply email Dr. Wynns at with an interesting story or parenting question with the headline “ASK DR. WYNNS CONTEST.”

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Is There a Difference Between Teasing and Bullying?


When you hear the word “bully,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? A scene from The Karate Kid where Johnny and his merciless gang of Cobra Kai’s pummel the vulnerable “new kid,” Daniel?  Or do you think about tweens being emotionally and psychologically degraded through verbal put-downs and social exclusions?  The latter example can be more difficult to address, because this more subtle form of bullying is often harder to identify.

A teen client was recently depressed because a classmate was teasing him and making fun of his football team. This went on for days. Because it was a friend, it made the situation especially confusing.  The teen was embarrassed and upset, and he had no idea how to handle the situation.  As a self-admitted “jokester” and “prankster,” I know that a little good-natured teasing is a normal part of friendship.  But I’ve also found that the fine line between humor and hurt feelings can be a precarious one to walk.  And sorting through those subtle nuances can be as tricky as untangling a kindergartener’s shoelaces.

This complicated grey area begs the question, “Where is that official line between harmless teasing and outright bullying?

Unfortunately, this is not only a tricky question to answer, but is perhaps the wrong question to ask in the first place. Rather than viewing these situations through our adult lenses (which can result in us being overly dismissive or too eager to get involved), I submit that it’s more important to consider how your child is being affected.  If he’s happy and comfortable with the teasing, it can probably be interpreted as good-natured ribbing. However, if he feels anxious, angry, or sad, then maybe things have crossed the line. And if your child is confused about how he feels, advise him to pay attention to his “gut instinct.”

So what can you do as a parent to help and educate your child on bullying and teasing?  Firstly, encourage conversations about this topic.  It’s especially important that you’re the initiator since many kids don’t want to talk about being bullied–because they’re ashamed or feel as if it’s their fault.  Asking direct questions like, “Are there any kids at school who tease you?” or “Do kids leave you out?” is a good way to get things started.

If you suspect your child or teen may be getting teased or bullied, here are some ways you can foster and maintain open communication:

  • Ask subtle questions like “Who do you normally hang out with?” or “Are there any kids at school you don’t like?  Why?”
  • Maintain close communication with teachers at school and through parent-teacher conferences.  Don’t exclusively focus on academics!  Ask your teachers questions about how well your child gets along with his peers, with whom does he spend the majority of his time, and if they’ve ever seen examples of your child being excluded or bullied. Even if his teachers haven’t noticed anything concerning, if you suspect problems, raising these question should promote future awareness.
  • Get your child involved in a social skills group to learn how to be more assertive, better read social cues, recognize annoying behaviors, and make friends
  • Teach your child to hang out in crowds – bullies like to target kids who are typically alone
  • Have your child practice ahead of time how she’ll respond to bullying—with assertive words, steady voice, eye contact, and strong body posture.  Your child can learn to visualize what she wants to happen—walking tall, shoulders back, strong voice saying, “I’m not going to listen to you talking to me that way.”
  • If your child is being teased by a friend, encourage him to say in an assertive voice, “That’s not funny. Please don’t say that anymore.”
  • Do not encourage physical retaliation – it will likely result in your child being disciplined at school.  Despite the prevalent notion that you should “fight back” to stop bullying, your child’s retaliation is just as likely to escalate a situation into something more violent or dangerous.
  • Work with your child’s school. It’s their responsibility to coordinate the response to bullying in school.
  • While your emotions are bound to run high, try to keep them under control. Stay rational and stick to the facts when working with school officials to remedy the situation.
  • Never tell your child to simply ignore the bullying. Giving this advice may make him feel as if you’re ignoring the situation and trivializing his problems. If he walks away feeling as if he shouldn’t have wasted his time, he may not open up the next time he encounters a problem.  You can also encourage him to use a sense of humor to throw off the teasers – acting as if the received verbal jabs are compliments, or responding to teasing with compliments.
  • Ask your teen to let you know about cyber-bullying ASAP, and never tell them to respond to it online.  If it gets too malicious, your Internet Service Provider may be able to help track anonymous cyber-bullies. You can also contact your ISP or web forum administrator to see if it’s possible to block future texts, emails, or posts from known cyber-bullies. If the bullying behavior gets really extreme or has threats of violence, extortion, child pornography, or hate crimes, contact the police immediately.
  • If your child has trouble opening up to you or you need additional help, seek professional assistance from an experienced child psychologist.
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No Wimpy Parenting™: 5 Steps To Taking Back Your Power

No_Wimpy_Parenting_Website_More_053011It’s time to start a revolution in America – a parenting revolution! Bit by bit, day by day, parents are slowly giving away their power. To whom you ask? To their children! There seems to be an epidemic of kids and teens running their households. Parents are left like deflated balloons, shrugging and wondering, “Where did I go wrong? How did this Happen? Or “Why don’t my kids respect me?” After seeing this issue sweeping through my private practice as a child psychologist, as well as witnessing it first hand as a mother myself, I got inspired to create “No Wimpy Parenting.” No Wimpy Parenting is a philosophy, as well as a set of resources to help parents take back their power. So if you’re ready to join the revolution, here are five easy steps to take your power back.

Step 1: Ask yourself, “Have I given away my power?”

Some parents may not be aware they’ve given away their power. It can be a slow and subtle process–and kids are so darn clever–that many parents don’t realize it until it’s too late. Here are some signs you’ve given (or are giving away) away your power.

  • When you ask your kids to do something, they frequently respond, “No because…” or “First I’m going to…” or “I can’t because…
  • Your kids throw tantrums or get furious if you won’t take them where they want to go, buy them what they want, or help them with something. Yes, teens can throw tantrums too, it just looks a little more ridiculous. “But Mom! I NEED my phone!”
  • You often find yourself threatening and warning over and over again until you’re so frustrated you lose your temper.
  • Your kids make decisions about what they’ll attend and not attend, when they’ll go to bed, or when they’ll turn off the television or computer at night.
  • Your kids ignore or laugh at your rules – even if you say there’s a curfew or a bedtime, it’s not really enforced and the kids know it.
  • You often feel frustrated at the lack of respect you get from your kids and feel like, “My kids do what they want to do and don’t ever listen to me.”

Step 2: Reflect on “How did this happen?”

Some of the current popular philosophies of raising and educating children are disastrous for our families. We allow the child too much freedom and put the child in control. We are encouraging our children to be free and outspoken, to be empowered. But we are not helping them build their character. We are not teaching them enough about limits and discipline, about empathy and respect. It’s good to give your child choices, but we’ve taken that mentality and gone to an extreme.

Step 3: Redistribute the power appropriately (i.e., fill up your water gun!)

There are small things parents do every day that allow their children and teens to take the power.  I call these “power suckers.” Imagine parenting as a big water gun fight. Every time you give away your power to your children, a little water dribbles out of your water gun. If this happens enough, you will have an empty water gun. Then guess what happens when you come face to face with your child or teen with your water guns raised, and you are trying to enforce a really important issue (curfew, dating, drugs and alcohol, etc.)? Your child looks at your empty water gun and laughs, saying, “What are you going to do?” They know you don’t have any ammo left.


Bwa ha ha!
  • Many parents argue too much. They go on explaining the same thing dozens of times. If you have said something twice, then that’s enough. After the second time, you should act and not talk.
  • Follow through. If you say, “If I find your shoes in the living room again, I’m going to donate them to Goodwill,” donate them to Goodwill if you find them again! Once your children know that you will do as you say, then you won’t have to do it. They will respect your word! Kids are natural gamblers and will roll the dice every time if they think there’s a slim chance you’ll give in, change your mind, or forget the punishment.
  • Too many choices! Yes it’s good to give kids choices. But you shouldn’t ask them: Do you want to go to bed now? or Do you want to go to church today? If it’s something you want your kids to do, make it a statement: Time for bed or We leave for church in 10 minutes.

Step 4: Maintain the new power structure and be consistent!

  • Follow through with consequences. If you ground your child from his phone for a week, don’t let him have it back in two days because he’s harassing you for it. If you put your child in time out for 4 minutes, and she giggles and runs away in 2 minutes, bring her back again. See punishments through!
  • Keep it simple. Don’t try to focus on too many behaviors and issues. It will overwhelm you, and you won’t end up following through on anything. Choose the top 3-5 behaviors you struggle with, and try your best to correct and discipline those behaviors every single time.
  • Keep a look out for sneaky power suckers – small things like kids ignoring you when you make small requests, refusing to cooperate, or telling you what they are willing to do. Small things eventually add up. You’re filling their water guns and depleting yours.

Step 5: Watch out for regression to the “old ways.”

Many parents enthusiastically embrace new parenting strategies and do a great job–for about 1-2 days. Then reality hits: Long days at work + tired parents + smart kids = parents who lose their resolve and get sucked into the bad habits again.

  • Find an accountability partner – whether it’s your spouse, your parent, or your best friend, you need someone who will ask you daily – “How are you doing with Billy? Are you still following through? Are you still being consistent? Are you correcting his behavior every time he misbehaves?”
  • Keep a parenting log. At the end of the day, take 5 minutes to write a summary of the day’s events. Example: Sent Suzy to time-out twice for noncompliance, but she was great the rest of the day. I verbally corrected Tommy a few times for disrespect and enforced grounding from television, which was taken from him yesterday.

young-girl-kisses-momFinally, remember these things aren’t to give your ego a boost and wear your kids down. Kids need and want boundaries and limits. It makes them feel safe, secure, and loved. So know that embracing No Wimpy Parenting isn’t just going to make you feel good, it will ultimately bring peace, stability, and happiness to your kids too! Ready to join the revolution? Visit or WynnsFamilyPsychology to schedule your parent consult, get resources, and learn more!

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Halloween For Kids: Tips For A Simple, Healthy October


Guest blogger: Heather Leah

Here it comes—the magical night of wacky costumes, mountains of sugar, and spooky stories that are all sure to make your kid go wild. Halloween is upon us.

But what if Halloween could be a little different? What if, instead of processed sugar, we celebrated with baked apples and spiced pumpkin seeds? What if, instead ofseeking ghosts and goblins, we practiced random acts of kindness? And rather than pounding on every door in the neighborhood, we got some fresh air in a vast corn maze the whole family could enjoy?

After all, Autumn was always about celebrating the bounty of the harvest and the simple farm life—not dropping fifty bucks on a costume and consuming pounds of sugar.

So here are your 5 tips for a simple, healthy, and amazing Halloween with your kids—right here in the Raleigh area.

1.     Go BOO!

A new fad has taken over our neighborhoods, and it’s just the right amount of “Trick” to be fun for kids, but still a fantastic random act of kindness. Basically, you and your child create “BOO Bags.” Just fill the bag with a little treat, attach your anonymous note, reading:

You’ve Been Boo-ed!6a00e54ee632ab88330133f543f4d9970b

The phantom ghost has come to town

To leave some goodies… I see you’ve found.

If you wish to make this a happier fall

Continue this greeting, this phantom call.

Now, here’s the fun part. Hang it on a neighbor’s door, ring the bell, then run away as fast as you can! It’s a thrilling random act of kindness, as mysterious as a ghost.

2.     Night At The Museum

There are some risks associated with door-to-door Trick-or-Treating, such as:

  • Razor blades in candy
  • Getting gross candy, like Reeses (sorry, Reeses, lovers!)
  • Overloading with sugar
  • Upsetting grumpy neighbors
  • The “one more house, please! Just one more!” whine after the fiftieth house.

Fortunately, our very own North Carolina Museum of History has the simple solution to all of this: Halloween Safe Night at the Museum. Kids get a cultural outing and sugar, as they walk along the Trick or Treat Trail. Friday, October 31, 6–9 p.m.

 3.     Pumpkin Carving

This is a time-honored classic, but what parents may not realize it just how beneficial it is for kids. Of course the parent should always control the knife; however, kids can practice art and fine motor skills drawing faces and helping “pop out” the pieces parents loosen. Also, it’s a tactile and science wonderland, touching the stringy goop, picking seeds loose, and learning about the insides of food and how it grows. It provides family bonding time and a proud piece of art to show off on your door step. Even better, it leads into number four on this list….

4.     Satchels of Spiced Seeds

Instead of passing out tons of candy this year, consider sweet-scented cinnamon pumpkin seed satchels or their salty counterparts. Bake them as a family, and make it your tradition. While you’re at it, bake a few cinnamon apples, roast some corn, and have a true harvest feast! Plus, these goodie bags make great treats to hand out to neighborhood kids or attach to your BOO Bags!

5.     Corn Mazes

North Carolina has plenty of room for corn mazes, and they’re a seasonal way to enjoy fresh air and nature with your family. In fact, there’s the fantastic Green Acres Corn Maze, which also has tractors, ponies, cows, and mounds of hay just waiting to be explored–right here in Cary!


A wide open maze, waiting for exploration! Photo Courtesy of and Preston Development Company.

Get away from the computer, video games, and Netflix. Explore a farm. It’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about healthyfood. Plus, it’s amazing exercise, which is so valuable for healthy minds and bodies—especially when all that Halloween candy is on sale.

See Also: Teens, Tweens, and Screens: The Risks Of Too Much Screen Time

So there you have it, folks! Healthy food, science and education, exercise, random acts of kindness, and spooky thrills! Have the best Halloween ever, kids!

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