Season 4 Podcast: The Parent Job Description

We all have common responsibilities in caring for our children, but what exactly are those jobs? Regardless of your child’s age or your family values, we can utilize the RPM3 research-based parenting model to learn key tasks of effective parenting! These episodes dig into those key tasks and share practical ideas to practice them in your daily life with kids.

In the fourth season of the podcast, our cohosts, Lori and Mackenzie, explore the research and reality around five essential parenting tasks. On this page, you’ll find an outline of the season’s content and a brief description of each episode.

S4: Ep. 1Parent Self-Talk: Beyond Good and Bad
Self-talk is one of the most important conversations parents can have. Set yourself up for success with strategies to reframe your inner self-talk that sets the tone for how you respond or react to your children (and the entire family)!

S4: Ep. 2 React vs Respond
Do you react with your gut or respond with your brain? Use some of our strategies to help you slow down in challenging moments and respond with intention to your children.

S4: Ep. 3 Protect and Prevent
By anticipating what’s coming, parents and caregivers can help prevent problems and risky behaviors.

S4: Ep. 4 Monitoring: Keeping Tabs
Monitoring children is not about being in total control. It is a way to guide and communicate reasonable limits and expectations.

S4: Ep. 5 Mentoring: Setting the Stage
Growing and developing is hard work! Mentoring kids along the way helps them learn about desired expectations and behaviors so they can reach their full potential.

S4: Ep. 6 Modeling: Actions Speak Louder
Children learn as much, if not more from your actions as they do from your words. Our parenting pros discuss how modeling with our own words and actions can show children about desired behaviors.


Remember you can listen to these episodes (and others) on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @scienceofparent. Or send us an email with a specific parenting question:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to

Season 3 Podcast: All About Temperament

One of the gifts (and challenges) of parenting is learning about your child’s unique characteristics and special qualities! If you have more than one child, you’ve probably already noticed every kid is different. Part of your child’s individuality is related to their temperament, which is a specific set of traits they are born with! These episodes dive into different temperament traits and offer trustworthy and practical strategies for tailoring your parenting to each unique child.

In the third season of the podcast, our cohosts, Lori and Mackenzie, explore the research and reality around temperament. On this page, you’ll find an outline of the season’s content and a brief description of each episode.

S3: Ep. 1Temperament: It’s in Their Nature
How your child reacts is about their innate temperament (or the core of their personality). Learn how working with his or her temperament traits will boost your ability to respond.

S3: Ep. 2 Sensitivity: It Makes Sense
Your child’s reactions to stimulus such as loud noises and bright lights are completely predictable. Use your powers of observation to help you guide their reactions to stimulus.

S3: Ep. 3 Intensity: (Maybe) Not So Calm and Collected
Did you know taking a drink of water or cracking a silly joke can prevent a meltdown? Discover these tricks to helping kids keep their cool.

S3: Ep. 4 Persistence: Celebrate It!
Have a child that gets super-focused and frustrated when asked to switch tasks and loves to “do it myself?” Learn how to support and embrace their persistence (and maybe even quiet your own frustration).

S3: Ep. 5 Activity: It Takes Energy
Do long car rides give you pause because of fidgety kids? Or maybe vacation days when the kids are dragging due to too many activities? Learn to strike a happy medium by doing a deep dive into how natural energy affects behavior.

S3: Ep. 6 Temperament and Sleep ft. Macall Gordon
Our experts dish on how temperament affects the way our kids catch their ZZZs. Featuring Macall Gordon.

S3: Ep. 7 Adaptability: My Way or Another Way
Adaptability takes shape in numerous ways. For kids who are planners, it’s following a schedule and setting them up for change. And for the adventurous types, it’s giving them a long leash to explore. Try these tips to tap into your child’s natural reactions.

S3: Ep. 8 Distractibility: It’s in the Details
Did you know simple tricks like making eye contact, written notes and clear commands can aid in your child’s concentration levels? Try out some of our pro tips to help his or her focus (and maybe even your own).

S3: Ep. 9Approach: Caution or Curiosity
Does your child approach a new situation carefully, or do they jump in feet first? Lori and Mackenzie discuss how quickly your child might leap based on their temperament.

S3: Ep. 10 Temperament & Difficult Behaviors
Study these six basics to determine how you can develop an action plan for a child with difficult demands. Plus, how to determine if you need to call in the pros for help. Featuring Dr. Sean McDevitt.

S3: Ep. 11 Regularity: Got Rhythm?
Although we cannot always control our children, we can influence their environment. Find out how temperament impacts pivotal moments throughout the day.

S3: Ep. 12 Mood: Silly or Serious?
Work through your child’s moodiness (hello whiny toddler or aloof teen) by focusing on the positive through your words and actions.

S3: Ep. 13 Fearful Temperament: Shy or Slow-to-Warm? ft. Rob Coplan
Learn how taking small steps and embracing a lifelong approach can help alleviate stress for kids who are shy.  Featuring  Robert Coplan.

S3: Ep. 14 Flexible Temperament: About Those “Easy” Kids
Many children are go-with-the-flow types, but these kids have specific needs, too. Learn how to teach them how to express their own voices to create their own break-out moments.

S3: Ep. 15 The Spirited Temperament ft. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Check in with author and expert Dr. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka on her best tips for parenting spirited and feisty kids and learning to love their energy.

S3: Ep. 16 Temperament: The Big A-Ha
In this season finale, the cohosts summarize the temperament season and share a-ha moments along the way.

You can also find a list of the resources mentioned in these podcast episodes here.

Remember you can listen to these episodes (and others) on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @scienceofparent. Or send us an email with a specific parenting question:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to

Season 2 Podcast: Parent Self-Care

Raising kids is important work, and sometimes it’s exhausting or particularly stressful. In order to continue offering loving, patient, and intentional affection and attention to our children, we have to take care of our own needs and have strategies in our toolbox for managing stress. These episodes offer trustworthy strategies and suggestions for how you can realistically take care of your needs while also caring for your children.

In the second season of the podcast, our cohosts, Lori and Mackenzie, explore the research and reality around the superpowers of self-care as parents. On this page, you’ll find an outline of the season’s content and a brief description of each episode.

S2: Ep. 1 – Being Both a Parent and a Person
Being a parent is just one “hat” you wear – you are still a person with your own needs. See what the research says about different ways we can practice self-care.

S2: Ep. 2 – Getting After Stress
Flip the switch on stress by learning how to gain resiliency. Learn how to pull stress apart—it might be as easy as switching to paper plates.

S2: Ep. 3 – Accentuate the Positive
Do you know your strengths as a parent? Check out our 12 characteristics to discover your parenting strengths, then learn how to make a plan for utilizing them.

S2: Ep. 4 – How to Find Balance
Discover these three strategies for learning how to find the right household balance for today—and tomorrow.

S2: Ep. 5 – Define Your Philosophy
Parents influence and define the character and values of their kids—and as a result how they behave as adults. See how these traits can help you shape your kids’ behaviors, whether it’s an emphasis on hard work, independence or creativity. 

S2: Ep. 6 – Embrace Your Support Network
Everyone’s support system looks different when it comes to their relationships, especially when it comes to parenting. We’ll talk specifics of your support system in our judgement-free zone.

Remember you can listen to these episodes (and others) on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @scienceofparent. Or send us an email with a specific parenting question:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to

Season 1 Podcast: Parenting Foundations

Have you wished you had more strategies for navigating challenges with your kids? Do you want a quick little refresh to refocus on your parent-child relationship? Maybe you are looking for some trustworthy information to do things differently than how you were raised? Wherever you are in your parenting journey, these episodes offer trustworthy and practical strategies for parenting children of any age!

In the first season of the podcast, our cohosts, Lori and Mackenzie, explore the research and reality around common parenting questions. On this page, you’ll find an outline of the season’s content and a brief description of each episode.

S1: Ep. 1All Things Parenting
Have parenting questions? Our Human Sciences experts—­moms with kids from babies to young adults—are here to help with all your parenting needs.

S1: Ep. 2 It’s Not About Being Perfect
The balancing act of parenting isn’t always easy. Our pros dig into the latest research and current realities facing today’s families.

S1: Ep. 3 Take a Break and Take a Breath
Use our stop, breathe, talk approach to help your kids (and yourself) keep emotions in check.

S1: Ep. 4 Slow Down
Help kids gain self-awareness and minimize emotional outbursts with our favorite technique to keep stressful situations in check.

S1: Ep. 5 Defining Parenting Styles
Are you tapped into your kids’ feelings or wanting to always be in charge? Our experts dish on a few parenting types.

S1: Ep. 6 How to Manage Meltdowns
Do you know what is contributing to your child’s meltdowns? Learn tips and tricks on how to anticipate and prevent some of the stress!

S1: Ep. 7 In the Heat of a Meltdown
Fill your parenting toolbox with techniques for when emotions are high to help move kids from meltdown to calm down.

S1: Ep. 8 Keys to Cooperation
What does it take to get cooperation from our kids? We discussed this and more LIVE!

S1: Ep. 9Practice, Not Perfect
Have a plan to manage your emotions using the 4As of communication: accept, acknowledge, apologize, adjust.

S1: Ep. 10 Just Say No to Judgement
Criticism can get the best of us as parents (and people). Learn to trust yourself as the expert of your own family.

S1: Ep. 11 Enjoy the Joys!
Celebrate the journey of parenting by focusing on the good stuff. Embrace your child’s unique personality and his or her evolution as a person.

S1: Ep. 12 What Have We Learned
In this season finale, we went live on Facebook where we discussed the first season of The Science of Parenting podcast, parenting foundations, and what we have learned!

Remember you can listen to these episodes (and others) on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @scienceofparent. Or send us an email with a specific parenting question:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to

All About Regulation

The entire parenting journey is a mix of joy, anticipation, caution, some worry, and a lot of unknowns! Each experience brings emotions! When the emotion is overwhelming, we can catch ourselves becoming dis-regulated.

This season Mackenzie and Lori have highlighted the important aspects of keeping regulated while parenting. Both adults and kids can become dis-regulated when things don’t go as planned or when what you thought you had things figured out, but then something happens to complicate a situation.

Staying regulated means that we can have an experience and also have the tools needed to react to the situation in a way that is calm, and thoughtful. It means we react and make good decisions because we are not being held captive by our emotions.

As parents we can consider our child’s individual temperament and their age and stage in life as we assist them in navigating big emotions and situations that can lead to dis-regulation.   In addition, we can create environments that support regulation by being intentional about meeting the three basic needs all of us, including our children have for independence, mastery, and belonging.

When we model good decision making skills, while regulated, everyone in the family benefits.

Relationships and Regulation

The relationships that form as a new baby joins a family is significant for a number of reasons. The bonding and attachment is the foundation for later learning for that new baby. A baby that cries, and is comforted by a family caregiver, learns to trust that as they have needs, those needs will be met. A cry is a baby’s way of alerting a caregiver that they need something. They may be hungry, wet, or sick with a stomachache. The cry that is ignored can create emotional upset for that child. And overtime a neglected response can produce negative emotional consequences for a child.  

As parents provide care and attention to their child, it becomes a back and forth with the child. Parents quickly learn to read the cue’s their child sends through movements; facial expressions and vocal responses including cries for attention and support. Be sure to listen as Lori and Mackenzie talk about how important the attachment connection is for healthy growth and development! In addition, they will visit about the importance of: routines; communication; emotional support including affection, time and autonomy.

Establishing the Environment

Everyone needs a feeling of safety, no matter the age or stage in life. The home is usually the first foundation of safety for most families. And new parents spend a great deal of time moving throughout the home, making sure the environment their children are exposed to is safe!

A classroom teacher has the same responsibility for maintaining safety. Securing the environment helps children feel comfortable, secure, and capable of success!  As children feel more secure and safe in their environment, whether at home, school, or even after-school, they will begin to assert their own independence.

As children grow, we want them to use their budding independence to learn new skills; practice making new friends; and have confidence at school. Parents can support their children’s autonomy in the following ways:

  • Create consistency in routines and rules. The structure that children grow to expect is a protective factor for their growing independence.
  • Establish expectations for your children and communicate those expectations and consequences to them! When children know what to expect, they can make good decisions knowing their parents will help and support them.
  • Reinforce the good behaviors children exhibit with praise and positive discipline.
  • When consequences are required, communicate honestly and provide rationale for behaviors that are expected. Use natural and logical consequences to help children to make good choices.
  • Take an active interest in your child’s activities and interests.
  • Showing love, warmth, and responding to them with positive feedback will also help them develop their independence.

Be sure to listen to the Science of Parenting podcast to learn more about establishing safe and secure environments at home and away!

Tuning in With Temperament

The cell phone is ringing; you are listening to your son practice the piano; dinner is slowly cooking stovetop and the dog is barking at something outdoors. All these competing sounds begging for your attention, all at the same time. This can cause anyone to feel overwhelmed. And when we feel the tug for attention, we may snap in response to a question from our child, or co-parent, or barking puppy!

The need to get re-regulated is necessary so that we can give the attention necessary to our children and the tasks at hand. Our Science of Parenting co-hosts Mackenzie  and Lori have an entire season dedicated to discussing how to define “regulation”, and how to effectively help ourselves and our children when we become dis-regulated”.  Our personal temperament can play a role in helping us to stay regulated, especially when we feel those competing tugs! Don’t forget you can listen here and be sure to follow us on social media including facebook and twitter!

Regulation in Stages

Living life is a series of experiences that can trigger our emotions – both positive and negative, depending on the situation! No matter our age, we all find ourselves in situations where our emotions are on display. The emotions can be happiness, excitement, scared, frustration, or even anger. The older we are, the more life experiences we have had. Experiences often teach us how to navigate those emotional situations. The people in our life are also valuable resources to help us manage whatever emotion we may find ourselves in.  

New parents may be curious about how to help their infants when they express those big emotions from hunger, thirst, or even signaling a diaper change is needed! Infants attune their attention to their caregivers and will find they learn to trust that caregiver, to provide the attention to meet their needs. Attachment is at the core of this understanding. According to Alan Sroufe, Developmental Psychologist at the Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota “Attachment is a relationship in the service of a baby’s emotion regulation and exploration”.

As a parent, it may be difficult to remain calm and regulated upon hearing a screaming baby. The noise alone can trigger upset in the entire home. Parents soon learn to recognize the different noises and can quickly anticipate the baby’s needs. As children age, parents will again have to navigate the tide of emotions and work to bring everyone back into regulation.

Parents can support their child through these three broad categories:

  • Provide love, warmth, connection, and responsiveness
  • Structure a safe environment for the child who is trying to get re-regulated
  • Teach self-regulation skills, and be a good model of self-regulation skills.

I’m the Adult Here: My Regulation

Every day brings a new set of demands for busy families. The schedules we keep tell a story of the priorities that challenge us minute-by-minute. Do you ever feel like you are a juggler in a big ring circus? Trying to keep all the cups spinning with a smile on your face? If you ever feel like this, you are not alone. On any given day, parents who have this list of demands will likely feel overwhelmed and need to call upon a strategy or two to let their brains wind down and relax.

The ways in which we learn to relax or prioritize our “to do” list can help others in our family also learn to manage themselves, too! Our children watch us for signs of how to respond when we are feeling emotionally charged. They watch to see how we speak to others, and sometimes we laugh when we hear our children repeat the same language we have used!

Sometimes using the technique of “mindfulness” will help us to re-store our thinking to a calmer attitude. Mindfulness may take the form of several minutes of stillness followed by thoughts of quiet and peace. It may take the form of rest. Parenting is full of daily decisions that are best managed when well rested and supported by our network of social supports!   

Keeping your mind and body regulated is the first step in handling that to do list! For more information on emotional and behavioral regulation, be sure to listen to season 9 of the Science of Parenting! And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter

What is Self-Regulation?

Have you ever been involved in a conversation that was difficult? Where you had trouble keeping your cool? Where you wanted to scream and shout so someone could hear and understand you and your point of view?

Well, all of us from time to time have had this experience. And so it is with parenting too! Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to scream so that others will hear us and our message. Or perhaps your child is the one screaming to be heard. Either way, the emotions that come with the shouting can produce upset for everyone. It is during this upsetting time that the adult in the conversation can practice the STOP. BREATHE. TALK. technique.

This technique is especially useful because when everyone is shouting, no one can be heard, and the communication is shut down. Stopping and taking a few cleansing breaths can be the beginning of repair in the conversation. Then, intentionally thinking about what you want to say in a calm voice, one free of the emotional shouting that produces additional upset, can yield the desired action from yourself or your child.

Modeling this technique for others helps all family members learn to adjust their words and actions so that everyone can be heard and understood.

Learn more about Stop. Breathe. Talk. in Episode 3 – Take a Break and Take a Breath podcast. Be sure to follow the Science of Parenting team on social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

Changes to CDC Milestones

With the recent changes to the CDC’s milestone checklists, we know that some parents have had questions about what changed, why they changed them, and what it means for their family. We will give you the overview here, but check out our bonus podcast episode to get more in-depth answers and information!

What happened?

  • In 2004, the CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. program developed free milestone checklists that included developmental warning signs, messaging to “act early” to addressing concerns; and developmental tips/activities. These materials were developed to help parents recognize typical development, improve conversations between parents and professionals about a child’s development, and support developmental screening at recommended ages and additional screenings when there are concerns. 
  • In early 2022, the Center for Disease Control released changes to these long-standing Developmental Milestone Checklists. The purpose of these checklists has always been to help doctors and parents keep an eye on children’s development and to facilitate ongoing conversations between doctor and the families they serve. It’s not an official screening tool that would be used to help determine if a child would qualify for additional services or therapies – it’s a starting point for a conversation between doctors and families!
  • The changes made to these checklists were based on research and recommendations of an expert working group from the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the article that group published in the peer-reviewed journal, Pediatrics, “The goals of the group were to identify evidence-informed milestones to include in CDC checklists, clarify when most children can be expected to reach a milestone (to discourage a wait-and-see approach), and support clinical judgment regarding screening between recommended ages”

What are the changes/updates?

  • The updated checklists no longer list a milestone at more the one age (this caused a lot of confusion before)
  • Eliminated vague terms like “children may begin to…”
  • Removed the “warning signs” section on each checklist
  • Direct citations to research studies that support them (yay!)
  • Based on more studies that look at development from more diverse and cross-cultural groups
  • Added a checklist specifically for the 15- and 30-month ages (as these are common ages for well-child checks in America that previously did not have a milestone list associated with them)
  • Suggestions for open-ended questions for doctors to use with families
  • Finally, the biggest change – moving the milestones to the age where 75% of children would be expected to achieve the skill. This was a change from the previous standard of 50%. In most cases, this meant moving milestones back to a slightly older age.

Why did they make these changes?

  • The change from 50% to 75% has some people confused or frustrated, so let’s start with some of the reasoning provided for this change. According to the article in Pediatrics, there were several justifications for it.
  • When the milestone was listed at the age when 50% of kids could do a task, doctors often would tell concerned parents to just wait and see because some kids simply had to be in the later half. This experience often left parents unsure and unheard. On the flip side, pediatricians knew that waiting until the age where 90% of children could do the task would likely delay the opportunity for children who do have a developmental concerns to get a diagnosis or support services. Therefore, the team landed on 75% as a benchmark to balance these two things.
  • These new checklists can also prevent worry for children older than the average age of attainment of a milestone but not likely to be at risk for delays (aka late bloomers)
  • In a direct quote from the article, authors said “[the previous checklists provided] insight into typical development but [did] not provide clarity for parents, pediatricians, and other early childhood professionals  about when to be concerned or when additional screening might be helpful
  • Another change that people had a lot of questions about was why crawling was removed from the checklists. According to the article in Pediatrics, the age range varies greatly for this milestone, and some typically-developing children never crawl at all.
  • A common misconception was that this move was related to the pandemic, but the criticisms, the thought process, and the planning were underway to make these changes long before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. (Fun fact: I actually wrote a paper in graduate school on developmental milestones, and I read papers criticizing the original milestone checklists that were published in 2007, 2013, and 2019.)

What’s this mean for you and your family?

  • Continue to have conversations with your family doctor about your child’s development. If you have concerns, share them with your doctor. Keep trusting your parenting instincts when things don’t feel right. If necessary, build your skills for assertive communication and advocating for your child!
  • Download the CDC’s Milestone Tracker app, and answer the questions related to your child’s age. You will answer Yes/Not Sure/Not Yet to specific questions about your child, and then you’ll get follow-up feedback. You can use this tool to communicate with healthcare professionals or therapists you may work with.
  • Keep engaging with your child in through conversations, play, and simple daily routines!

The majority of the content referenced in this episode can be found in this American Academy of Pediatrics journal article – they also have a short video abstract from one of the authors you can watch.

When My Child Misbehaves: Deciding on Discipline

Consequences are a byproduct of behavior – at all ages. As an adult, if I run a red light while driving my car, I may be hit by another driver, or get a ticket if a police officer observed me run the red light. Both actions are a consequence of my behavior.

Families, too, implement consequences. Often they are meant to help shape and provide boundaries and safety for their family members. For example, a consequence of coming home later than curfew may be the loss of an evening out the following week! Or perhaps the consequence for staying on a cell phone past when it is lights out is the removal of the cell phone from the bedroom during the sleeping hours.

Another example is for preschoolers. If a preschooler won’t help pick up toys when playtime is over, then perhaps a favorite toy or two is removed from the toy bin for several days. This removal signals that some behavior was not followed.

The application of consequences must be followed with conversations about desired behaviors. The conversation communicates the reason for the rule or restriction. Sometimes parents have included the older kids when discussing rules and consequences. Reminders help even the youngest children to be mindful of their behavior.

The Science of Parenting team has been discussing child growth and development as it relates to guidance and discipline. Each session provides helpful research and strategies designed to support parents in their role as nurturing and loving parents.

Gauge by Their Age

Guiding children often comes with many decisions that impact how children grow and develop, and discipline strategies are one of the many decisions.

Depending on the child’s age and stage of development, the strategy will be different.  For toddlers and preschoolers, appropriate discipline may involve simply distracting children or giving them something different to do to redirect their attention away from misbehaviors. As children get older and can understand more complex reasoning and explanations, parents’ discipline approaches may be more adaptive as they rely more on reasoning to manage children’s behaviors.

The real goal of parental discipline is to teach children how to behave in desired ways. Rewards and punishments have long been used as a strategy. As children age, they begin to understand their parents’ rules and family values and begin to exhibit behaviors that align. The conversations parents have with their children about the rules and consequences can help children, especially if both parent and child are calm and regulated. The discussions that happen when emotions are high may have more harsh consequences than when discussed after emotions have calmed for both child and adult.

As teens, parents might find that removing a privilege is a fair consequence to bring about more desired behavior. Communication will again be a favored strategy so that the teen still feels connected to the parent even in the face of a consequence for undesired behavior. It is during this time of adolescence that the teen begins to assume the responsibilities that come with emerging adulthood and is rewarded with more privileges. Guiding preschoolers, school-agers, or teens means continual communication with one another and choosing discipline strategies that respect the age and stage of each individual.