Peaceful Parenting; Peaceful Teaching
Dr. Laura Markham
ECE Author, Advisor, Consultant
Dr. Laura Markham is the author of the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids book
series. She earned her PhD in clinical psychology at Columbia University and
has worked as a parenting coach with countless families across the world.
Over 150,000 moms and dads enjoy Dr. Lauras free weekly posts via email.
You can sign up on any page of her website,, which
serves up Aha! Moments for parents of babies through teens. Dr. Lauras
aspiration is to change the world, one child at a time, by supporting parents.
Shes the proud mother of two thriving young adults who were raised with
her peaceful parenting approach.
Dr. Laura asks, “What does it mean to be a parent?” She says peaceful parenting starts
from the premise of, “I’m going to be at peace inside myself.
How does that show up for you as a parent or as an early childhood educator?
Dr. Laura says this time of pandemic has been a “crash course in big emotions.
What were some of the big emotions that you and the children in your life have
experienced these past 18 months or so?
Dr. Laura hopes that this challenging time has allowed us to gain some resilience and
stretched our capacity to deal with uncertainty.
What did you learn about yourself, especially with regard to your relationship with the
children in your life?
Dr. Laura says the key to peaceful parenting is to “do your own inner work.
How do you do your own inner work?
What works and doesn’t work?
Dr. Laura says that “connection” and “attachment” are about being responsive to a
child’s needs. When a child feels disconnected they act out. When they feel
disconnected, the adults have “zero influence.
What are some of the ways you remember to be responsive to (connect to) the needs
of the children in your life?
Dr. Laura says that we are only influenced by people we respect, that is, people with
whom we have a relationship of trust and connection.
Make a list of some of the people who have the most influence on you.
What did they do that made you trust and connect with them?
Laura says, “Our educational system is actually founded on punitive attitudes; our
society is founded on punitive attitudes. This means that most of us aren’t particularly
emotionally generous most of the time.
Can you list some examples of this?
How does this impact you?
How does this impact the children in your life?
Dr. Laura says that “repair is our most important skill” as a human. This means that
most of us would do well to spend a lot of time first apologizing, then working to repair
each connection we damaged.
What if we didn’t view apologies as a sign of weakness?
How would that change our world?
Dr. Laura says, “If we had to come up with one takeaway for today, it should be the
radical idea of treating children like people.
What does that mean to you?
Dr. Laura talks about the difference between “authoritative” parenting, “authoritarian
parenting, and “permissive” parenting. (FYI, the word parenting in each of these can be
easily traded out for “teaching”)
What’s the difference between the three approaches?
Dr. Laura says, “So, I think humanity is engaged in this . . . big experiment where we
remember that we’re all connected no matter what someone looks like, no matter how
old someone is.
What does that mean to you?
As one of the experimenters, what have you learned?
Dr. Laura says, “The whole concept of shame needs to now be eradicated from the way
we raise our children, (from) the way we educate our children, (from) the way we relate
to our own selves inside our own skin. And part of the way we get rid of shame is the
shared humanity. The realization that we are all actually in this together, and there's
nothing that is shameful.
What are your thoughts about this?
Dr. Laura suggests that if we want to persuade another person, the first step is looking
for connection, which means showing you care, supporting them, listening, and
acknowledging their feelings.
Think of someone you need to persuade (a supervisor, a parent, a teacher, a spouse, a
relative). How are you going to begin to connect with them?
Dr. Laura says that we can’t “control” another human being and that anytime we try
there will be pushback because we are “designed to have an inner compass.” This is
why the more we try to control children the more we find ourselves in power struggles.
She tells us that the more effective way to get kids to cooperate is through connection,
which is where our real influence comes from.
Think of a time when you were engaged in a power struggle. How could a focus on
creating connection have made it different?
Dr. Laura says, “When your kid makes a good argument to you, it’s okay to change your
mind if you’re very clear about why you’re doing it.” (E.g., you’re not giving in to a
tantrum...but rather you’ve been convinced by their argument).
Why do you suppose so many adults struggle with this?
What are your big takeaways from this talk?
Share your thoughts about this talk in our dedicated
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Tom "Teacher Tom" Hobson is an early childhood educator, international speaker,
education consultant, teacher of teachers, parent educator, and author. He is best
known, however, for his namesake "Teacher Tom's Blog," where he has posted daily for
over a decade, chronicling the life and times of his little preschool in the rain soaked
Pacific Northwest corner of the USA. For nearly two decades he was the sole employee
of the Woodland Park Cooperative School, a parent-owned and operated school, knit
together by Teacher Tom's democratic, progressive, play-based pedagogy. He has
authored two bestselling books, consults with organizations about his "Family Schools
program,” and inspires early years audiences around the world at major education
conferences, both virtually and in-person.
Teacher Tom also enjoys sharing his approach through online e-courses for early
childhood educators and parents, and via international ECE conferences. In 2020, he
co-hosted the epic “The Play First Summit” with Fairydust Teaching, attracting more
than 75,000 participants from over 100 countries. This year he is thrilled to be hosting
and producing Teacher Toms Play Summit all on his own.