Help Me! Tara C! – Part 1

help me tara c


A new series is here! I am so excited (and a touch nervous) to start this new series because it’s a risk. Tara doesn’t normally figure out people’s behavioral issues in a quick Facebook response. She sits down with you over sessions – much like a counselor would do. And she’s paid to do this – because she’s a trained professional.


I was SO excited when Tara said YES to come “chat” with our community online for a couple hours each month. Let’s just try it and you know what? If it’s too hard – we can stop. Here are some ground rules.

  • Remember that Tara isn’t the only way. However, I do believe in her training and philosophy (based biblically) and she has tremendously helped our family.
  • Do not use this area as a place to debate tactics or get heated.
  • Try to keep comments and questions as brief as possible.
  • Remember she doesn’t know your entire family history and children personally.
  • Unfortunately, she cannot continue the conversation offline via email unless you hire her – because she has regular clients during the week that keep her schedule full. If in Orlando, sign up for Free Class here!
  • If you’d like to hear MORE on a certain topic – please tell us and she can blog about it during the month.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Really – use the comment space on this blog post or Facebook to ask questions! Go for it!
  • If you aren’t asking, but you have a tip that could help others – go for it. We are here to help each other – respectfully and kindly dive in.


I first hired Tara when we moved here. My poor girls were losing their minds. I had completely lost control. It was FAR from giggles and fun in this house. My spirited one was throwing tantrums that were scaring me. I would put her in the laundry room to get her away and ignore her and she’d kick the dryer over and over while screaming and then drop down on her shins on the ground as hard as she could. I called Tara (great advice from Linda Werner).


A few things helped us right away.


1) Use Fewer Words

I was using too many words to instruct and correct my kids. Little ones don’t need to be convinced why it’s a good idea to get down off a dangerous ledge. It can be short, direct and in calm tone. “Larson, mom said NO. You will hurt yourself.” And if she doesn’t obey – than consequence right away. We started putting her in the bathroom with a timer for 3 minutes and she could come out at that time IF she was calm. I didn’t yelling. Just said (through the door) “Oh no, you’re haven’t calmed down. I’ll set it again – and when you calm. You can be done. I know you can do it.” This scenario – or bathroom after tantrums – only went on for a few days and those tantrums were GONE! I was so encouraged. Still practicing.. MORE words for praise – LESS words for correction.


2) More Eye Contact and Attention

Tara also taught me our kids need our attention like air and water. I typically give my kids full attention when they finally start whining. When they are asking nicely, I am distracted and half-listening. So, I had to start training myself to look right at them – full body and eye contact when things were going well. And give them no attention and walk away when they were whining. “Sorry, I don’t understand whining. Try that again.” And literally bolt to another room.


3) My Behavior vs Their Behavior

She also showed me that they were often reacting to me. And I had so much more work to do – proactive vs reactive parenting. If I stayed calm, consistent and in control. Guess what happened. They did too. Ouch.

I called her again recently for more help. I mean, I have a book coming out people about giggling and we were not giggling. This time, the main issues were lack of respect for me/Ron and the sister rivals. We are working on several of her solutions, but this one helped big time.

4 ) Rethinking Room Time

Consequences get hard as they age and I just kept sending mine to their room. She helped me see there needs to be a difference. Room time can be for them to go read, adjust their attitude, play alone, do homework – not a place for when they are in trouble. She encouraged me to find a chair or a place for them to truly do timeout. She recommended I get these waterproof crib mats (well, I cut one in half) and take them on the road with us and use at home. The girls simply take their mat to the corner and cannot talk or play or do anything for whatever time I say. If they talk or argue – more time is added. Honestly, we did this for a week – and things were back to normal. They knew I meant business and they weren’t getting away with stuff. You do what mom asks – or to the mat.


Remember ! Grace!

I am ALL about LOVE and GRACE and so much fun in our house. But I cannot teach virtues unless my kids respect my authority as their mom. My friend Jeannie’s new book, Parenting The Wholehearted Child, has also helped me so much about parenting with God’s grace in mind. How would He treat me? Would he basically rub my nose in the dirt each time I mess up? I don’t think so. Great read!

Before we can enjoy the fun and adventure of character building – the foundation needs to be there. And we are still working on that in our family. I need them to stop when a car is racing by. I need them to sit in their chair at a restaurant or wait when their turn when an adult is talking. I found more joy when they aren’t in “trouble” every day and mom isn’t exasperated. I have found with Tara’s help that when I get confident and motivated enough to fix a few key problems, it doesn’t take long. They stop pushing. They get the message. They thrive in structure.

Start with 1 or 2 areas and stay consistent. No matter the method. You can do it!


An opening word from Tara before we being: My principles, philosophy, and training are based both on Christ-like Biblical principles of training and shepherding children AS WELL AS on the proven methods gleaned from the science of learning and behavior (backed my my 26 years of parenting experience). 
What works is understanding how God created us, His children, to learn from Him and from each other. What doesn’t work is living in fear, distraction, and reaction. So, the parenting methods that I teach come from what God designed, which science explains, and I have lived.

OK – Moms! Your Turn!

Fire away with your questions for Tara today (Tuesday, August 5, 8-10 EST) – below in the comments section or find the HELP ME TARA C! post on Facebook.



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  1. Any ideas on encouraging my 7 year-old son to develop a positive outlook on life? My brother and I lived in the same home with the same parents and were treated equally BUT his life stunk and mine was a fairy tale! I don’t want my brother’s life for him. We try encouraging with scripture, correcting/consequences for complaining but to no avail! There’s always something to be thankful for but now I go from 0 to furious in 2 seconds flat. Mayday, Mayday!

    1. It is important to not respond to much to his negative nilly commentary. You might say something brief and empathetic, “I am sure you honestly feel that way.” Then have him say one positive. If he can’t, you say it for him and encourage him to repeat your positive and reinforce him for it. By saying there you go that is a positive. “Keep your positive comments up and follow his comments with positive ones yourself. Always smiling that you know the secret truth is the in the positive. If you get upset with his comments it kind of gives his negativity power and power over your emotional responsivity. You want to return positive for his negative but not in an argumentative way. Just your positive view on life. Keep modeling but don’t get drug into the mud puddle trying to convince him.

  2. (Ok so it isn’t eight yet but since that time slot doesn’t work for me I am going to risk commenting ahead of time and hope for some help.)

    -My son is eight. He is by nature a kind and typical first born, please your parents kind of child. He loves playing a game on the ipad and we have limited screen time to 30 minutes a day on the weekends during the school year. Several times over the past year or so I have found later that he got on the device without asking and not in the specified time frame. Generally I will take away privileges on the device for a few weeks and then we go back to normal. Like I said it has only happened a few times, not a habit by any means, but I just wonder if this is the most effective way to help him learn self-control when the temptation is so great or to teach him honesty in the conversations we have during times of bad behavior and in times of good behavior, reminding him of the goal and the responsibility that comes with freedom.

    That’s probably too long. Would love some tips! Thank you!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      I would suggest as a consequence that he just lose the ipad for that day and/or the day after. Short losses as consequences are much more powerful then long losses, and the return of the item should be predictable. The motivation for the item is stronger in the immediate time after. Tell him rather then asking that you know he broke the rules. Asking a question that you know the answer to almost alway gets a defense or even a lie for a response. It is much safer to state what you know up front: “You used the ipad when it wasn’t your time. You lost your privilege for today and tomorrow. You will get it back on______. Tell me what the rule about the ipad is.” Let him answer and say, “Good, you remember. You can try again on _______.” You could also add a bonus of 15 minutes on the weekend for following the rule all week long. You would tell him this at the start of the week not just after problem behavior. This would give him the plan to get extra minutes based on his appropriate behavior, rather then him taking the extra minutes with out asking. It uses his desire to reinforce his appropriate behavior.

  3. What’s your tips on arguing? We talk til we are blue in the face about encouraging words, speaking kindly, etc. Maybe it’s the pressure cooker of time together during summer but arguing is at an all time high in our house. Any tips?

    1. Hi Kylie!
      The first thing for you to notice is when and where arguing happens. Does it most often happen when you are out of the room? 2nd thing to notice is what you almost always do when arguing occurs. If you run in and intervene from somewhere in the house most often, then perhaps arguing is for your attention. If it happens when you are around but you most often. Sooooo if it happens for YOU, for your benefit, then a plan needs to be executed. Cause you are right that talking, talking does not work. The immediate benefits, combined with the developmental reactivity of children are stronger then all the words of advice and tips on love and kindness given to them. Here is the real truth: bickering is developmental. If you did NOTHING about it, most regular types of sibling bickering will go away as they grow out of it.

      Yup you heard me right.

      Now, we have to deal with your own peace of mind. And that is important. So, make a plan that works for you and when it is all quiet, say at lunch time or maybe you have an ice cream dessert and everyone is happily eating. You say: “I love it when we are all happy and smiley and laughing. Here is what is going to happen when you fight from now on….” Then tell them them plan.

      Here is just one option for a fighting plan:
      1. It is ok to disagree and have frustration with each other. If you can solve your problem so that I don’t hear you! Great. But if I hear you raise your voice, call each other names, I will come and solve the problem for you. Whatever you were fighting over will end and everyone will go to quiet time for xx minutes (15 is good). The time will start when there is complete silence and will end 15 minutes later provided I hear nothing. When the bell rings, you can come and try again. EVERYONE goes who was in the room where the fight occurred. I will NOT discuss anything with anyone about the fight. If you “But mommy” me it will be 5 minutes more.
      2. Have them tell you the plan back (very important).
      3. Practice. Pretend you are fighting, I will call the quiet time and you go.
      4. Back up consequence: lose digital privileges for one day.
      5. Remember, they can fight if you can’t hear them.

      Because fighting is an appropriate developmental stage to learn boundaries, and feelings and consequences.

      Then, don’t lecture. Let the consequences stand on its own. After quiet time is over say: “There you go try again!”

      1. Wow. This is really interesting! I like it. Could this work for a 3, nearly 4 year old and older brother (7). Sometimes the age gap seems to get me a bit on this one.

        1. Yes! Make the quiet time short. (5-7 minutes) And make sure that you practice!! Then NEVER engage in the argument from now on.

  4. Tara – do mine last or use this one as filler if there is time. I may or may not have an issue with lying with one child lately. 🙂 Tips for getting to the motivation for the lie? And best consequence?

    1. Courtney, I am sorry I did not see this last night. Let’s start with this one next time!

  5. My 2 1/2 year old son pees & poops when he is angry. He has been fully potty trained- accident free for a year. He is doing this to get a rise out of us and it definitely boils me (even if I try my hardest not to show it)
    We have followed the “123 Magic” method of No spanking and Time out in a spot (ie the bathroom) so he can’t make such a mess on carpet etc.
    When he uses the floor in the bathroom it angers me AGAIN and I want to punish him for not using the toilet– but now what about his timeout for what he got put in there to begin with (probably throwing a toy or hitting)
    He wakes cranky and goes to be cranky. I have a hard time getting through to him at his age. And as far as fighting, his sister (6) and him fight constantly. But the advice on raging will work with her- but he won’t understand as well…….

    1. I might add…. He loves to do the peeing on bedding/carpet when it’s nap or bedtime too

      1. Kristen, this is a good conundrum and one we might best solve with some observations that you make. It could be a good be a great means of escaping the unpleasant nap or bedtime. If bedtime or nap is prolonged in all of the hullabaloo surrounding the clean up. Observing his behavior will help you not to panic too. Keep a journal of the Antecedent: the trigger/place/time, as well as what happens in the after-math (the consequence which involves the immediate response, the time it takes to get to his nap or the amount of hullaballoo). Then we plan an intervention that fits the function/purpose of the behavior. So, observe for a while in a journal. Be honest about the clean up and the emotion it evokes in your journal.

        Rest assured, he won’t go to college pooping in his bed. There is time to figure it out. 🙂 That is the biggest part of the battle to overcome your reactivity. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, this too shall pass.

        1. Thank you! I will start journaling.
          I appreciate your advice!
          Tomorrow I’ll write about whining!

          1. Is there a way you could make him tee-tee then start his timeout? I just read this and can imagine that this is really frustrating (to mom). Maybe when he throws take him to potty then make his timeout place right by the bathroom?

            I am sure Tara’s advice about making him help clean it will help. Smart, smart tactic!

          2. Kristen, I have a comment that needs to be added to the equation of your little one. I would recommend that you no longer use the bathroom as a time-out zone until he is consistent (at least six months) of accident free toileting issues. Pairing the bathroom with a consequence may be enough to dismantle the toilet training. I would recommend that anyone under the age of three and within six months of toilet training not use the bathroom as an aversive consequence. If problem behavior is not being reduced by the time-out procedure then it is being inadvertantly reinforced by elements surrounding the problem behavior INCLUDING the time-out procedure. Hitting, throwing in a two-year old should have a “stop-redirect-reinforce” procedure that I talk about in my workshops. Stop the behavior with simple words: hold him away from the item for a few minutes and then redirect him to a new item/option and reinforce him for playing or attending the other things with smiles, and words “There you go!” and attentive play. Tantrum behavior is the primary behavior for under three that should have a time out like procedure. And it can be as simple as you turning your back and removing all attention during the tantrum, or removing him to a safe space that he can’t access your attention while he cries and screams. You can set a timer as soon as he is quiet for thirty seconds or a minute, so that he hears the ding of the timer and you say: “Timer rang and you are calm, you can come out, or mommy will play with you now that you are calm!”

            Attending appropriate behavior with eye contact, descriptive words, and access to toys and attention is a much more powerful change agent at any age, but especially during the early language, skill developing stages of toddler time.

            Treat the “accidents” as just that and consider that you are still toilet training if he is going other places for any reason.

          3. Thank you Tara!
            I want to add one thing though- he is 100% toliet trained…. He doesn’t have accidents. He pottied trained at 20 months.
            He is purposely peeing on himself when he gets repramanded and or doesn’t like his situation… Like naptime. Today at nap (or attempted rest time) I asked repeatedly for him to potty and he would not. But when I left him alone he took his clothes off and pooped on his carpet and smeared it into the carpet….

          4. Ahh Kristen–These are things that are best solved analytically in a one-to-one session because there is so much more to this then can be factored in a forum. You can go to my website and message me through there? I hope to get to talk to you soon.

          5. One last question though on the screaming at the top of the lungs tantrums…. What do you do while driving in the car? When I ask him to stop he gets louder. Or if I ignore it, he keeps going…. This is a big problem bc we are always in the car!
            Thanks again! You’ve got wonderful advice and I most definitely intend on following through with it!

    2. Hi Kristen.

      Aack. I understand the emotional reaction to poop. But, it is VERY important that you have a neutral face when you discover the poop. He needs to clean up with you and sit for a second on the potty, even though he just went on the floor with the poop that you put in the toilet. And that is it. How often does he do it? Count the times each day. Put on your neutral face and get mad in secret in your room where he can’t see you. Your anger (while very understandable is actually increasing the probability that he will do it again. It may be kind of a counter coercion tactic. Does he always do it in time-out or just sometimes. How long is your time-out consequence is another thing to consider. For a two year old it should be short but he should not come out until he is calm when the bell rings. My website has a blog about time-outs that might be helpful.

      Spend one hour counting how many positive thjings you say to him and his sister. Try to get 3 to 1 positives. When you start in a coercive two year old spiral we sometimes get drug down the negative alley. Turn it around by concentrating for one hour a day of saying positivie statements for appropriate behavior. For example just describe the behavior you see: “You are playing with balls.”, stated in a positive tone counts as a positive but you didn’t have to say an exclamatory like “good job”. This will help some of the negativity.

      1. Thank you Tara!
        He doesn’t always “soil” himself only in timeout…. It’s when he isn’t getting his way or just mad all together. At least ONCE a day if not 2x he will do this. Maybe more!
        He gets sent to time out when he hits, pulls hair, throws a toy across the room etc. I put him in the bathroom for 2 min. He usually ALWAYS pees while in timeout and
        is usually never calm by the time the timer dings. He throws everything and anything near him around in the bathroom. He basically turns into a crazy person! **I will read your website on timeout.

  6. Hi Tara! This is so great. My question is about back talking. My oldest is almost 7. He is really kind hearted and generally very respectful. Where I struggle is with the constant “why?” and the need to argue back at me when I ask him to do something. It’s usually not particularly disrespectful in tone but it certainly is exhausting to feel like I have to explain everything I want him to do. Right now we are having him and his nearly 4 year old brother say “yes, mommy” first and then he can ask “and why…” But I’m not sure this is working out so well. My desire is for my kids to feel heard and the freedom to ask questions and not just feel like militant robots who must obey and keep quiet. But I’m not so sure how to keep the questions from feeling like back talking. Thanks so much!

    1. Hello Amber!
      While you are answering his question move him physically toward the direction of the directive. A physical prompt. You want him to comply that is your goal. If he is asking in a calm speaking voice then you can answer one time as long as you are moving him toward compliance. Physically direct him means turning him in the direction or gently prodding in the general direction. You can also say that you will answer when he starts. But give 5-10 seconds from your directive for him to start moving in the right direction.

      Back-talk or any verbal talk between your directive and his compliance offers both escape/delay from complying and attention in the form of your answer. So get him quickly started and be sure to reinforce his compliance with a few quick words: “Atta boy there you go.” Refrain from labeling it as back talk, answer when he is moving in the right direction.

      You can also respond to his question with your own: “What did I tell you to do?”…Nevertheless, what did I tell you to do? Right, now get started.”

      Make sure your are directing with effective directives not with questions or suggestions.
      “Go feed the dog now.” Rather then: “Would you feed the dog?” or “Time to feed the dog.”Questions and suggestions (Time and let’s are offenders.) invite arguments.

  7. Hi Tara! Any tips for helping kids not to be afraid of the basement? My 7 year old absolutely refuses to go down there by himself and it’s a finished basement that is part of our house. Now my 5 year old has decided she is now scared of it too when she never had a problem before. Tips?

    1. This is one of those things they will grow out of but you could put really great items down there for them to go find that they want……like the remote control, or yummy treats. Play scavenger hunts and that sends them hunting. Make it fun. Reinforce all attempts and go with them at first to find the treasure celebrating success. Try not to engage in the arguments just look for opportunities to expose them. But I promise it would go away if you did nothing. 🙂 Everyone will look back and laugh at how funny it was when we were scared of the basement.

  8. Ah, I so need this today! I have two questions, if possible. As background, I have a very *ahem* SPIRITED 3-year-old girl, and a happy 9-month-old boy.

    1. My daughter can be very defiant. She will yell “NO” at me, over and over again, and when she’s told she can’t say no to mommy, she closes her mouth and shakes her head no. She’ll look me in the eye and do the exact thing I just told her not to do, and then throw an enormous tantrum (screaming at the top of her lungs) when given a consequence. I try to stay patient and calm, but sometimes end up yelling myself. We are consistent, tell her what the consequence will be ahead of time if she acts out, and follow through. Nothing seems to work. Time outs sometimes calm her down, but swats tend to escalate her tantrum. However, I don’t know how to get her to stop screaming at me. This only happens for a couple of days every few weeks, but we’re in the middle of it right now and I’m at my wits end. I don’t know how to handle it correctly, and it’s not getting better. Help??

    2. My daughter pokes my son in the face every day. EVERY DAY. We have talked with her, done time outs, swats, etc., and still, she does this every day. What do I do?

    1. All conversation with her in tantrum mode (screaming, crying, stomping) should end. In advance, make a contract that when she screams (for any reason) she will go to the time out room for 3 minutes. Prepare the room in advance with cleaning it out and even turning off the water. See Courtney’s story above. Tell her that any screaming will result in a time out. Establish a time-out room (bathroom, powder room is perfect). Take her there without any other words and as neutrally as you can and set the timer. Don’t react to her refusals, If she is still screaming when the bell rings: reset the timer. If she went to the time out space for refusing to do something take her back immediately after to “try again”. Otherwise, time-out will be a good escape. Again see more on my blog about time out.

      Definitely ramp up the descriptive positive commenting during the day: “You are playing nicely. You are helping mommy. You are a gentle sister.” etc. Catch her being good during the day!!!

      About the poking business………no more conversations when she does it. Pick up the baby and turn your back on her. There may be more to this but eliminating reactivity is a start. Comment, affirm when she is appropriate. Again, this may be one of those we might need to make a plan for. But the start is eliminating reactivity (in the moment) is the start.

  9. Hi Tara! I have two questions, about sharing and tattling. I have two girls, ages 3 1/2 and 5 1/2. They are really great about sharing with their friends, but not so great about sharing with each other. We hear the word “mine” a LOT in our house and we always correct and say no, it is “ours”. But it seems as though every time one of them has a specific toy, the other one has to have it and accuses the first sister of not sharing. And then freaks out. We have tried taking away the toy and putting it in time-out, but it doesn’t seem to work. Then there is the tattling. It’s worse with my 5 1/2 year old, but the 3 1/2 year old now does it too. We have told them that unless one hurting themselves or others that we don’t want to hear about it. We’ve talked about how tattling will make people not like them or want to play with them. We’ve talked about using kind and positive words. But the tattling is almost constant. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      I will use your question for a blog since it is 10pm now. But check out the answer I gave for fighting below. It would be similar to what I might suggest for you. Also check out my blog on time-out procedures to make sure you are as efficient as you can be. Reduce to zero all the “talking” about sharing when your are responding to the problem behavior. Talk about sharing when they ARE sharing. Talk about sharing when you ARE sharing with them. That way you are putting the focus and your verbal attention to the times that they are DOING it right. And let the consequence alone correct the behavior rather then words or lecture.

  10. Thank you everyone for your questions! Some of you need more information I know…. Consider contacting me to set up a one-to-one to problem solve if you are left with more questions then answers. (I can even do this by a phone consult!) Check back next month to let me know your results and I will blog in more depth on my website about some of these topics! Thank you for participating and being willing to be vulnerable enough to ask. You are doing a great job for your children just because you want to!! Many happy mommy blessings to you!

  11. Thank you so much for this blogs as we’ll ask the Izzy and Tara blogs. I am going to try a few of these helpful suggestions!

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