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To spank or spoil - a new perspective on parenting - a short interview with parenting coach Cornelia Lockitch.










































(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Child Discipline

To spank or spoil - a new perspective on parenting - a short interview with parenting coach Cornelia Lockitch.

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Female: Ever since I was a little girl, I'd wake up in the middle of the night, afraid of the dark, like the whole house was upside down and if I didn't hang onto the mattress I'd fall out into the sky. I wanted to run to you. To have me tell me I was safe. That everything was all right. But I was always more afraid of you than of falling. It's the same way now.


Dr. Kenner: That's from Inherit the Wind. You don't want your kids to be more afraid of you than other people in their lives. You don't want them to be afraid of life. You want them to embrace their life and love their life. What do parents do that messes things up? With me today is Cornelia Lockitch who has a Master's in education and she's been a Montessori teacher for 10 years. One of her quotes is, "Your choices as a parent can have a lasting impact, especially when it comes to kids." So how do you have a very good lasting impact, not a negative lasting impact? Cornelia's specialty is with preschoolers and toddlers, but you know, as with everything, the principles apply much more broadly. She has a website with a special report, the three simple child management secrets that Montessori teachers know and no parent should be without. She's got a free e-newsletter and you can go to her website,, and we'll repeat that again at the end. Welcome Cornelia.


Cornelia: Thanks so much for having me.


Dr. Kenner: You're welcome, and let's focus on the little ones, the toddlers, the preschoolers. I can remember when my kids were real young. That's your specialty. I can remember when my kids were young, feeling like I was swimming at times. I so wanted to be a good parent. I didn't want to repeat errors that I had experienced or seen growing up, and I didn't know what to do. So what typically goes wrong with parenting that makes it feel like parenting is a fight an hour with your little one?


Cornelia: Ellen, I think that parents and toddlers butt heads, especially because parents don't really understand their toddlers. I'm not talking just about the language barrier of a toddler, like one who is pre-verbal, which can definitely be a significant obstacle. But even more than this, it's that parents often aren't informed about the broad developmental goals of young children and so what happens is they easily misinterpret their child's actions. That really can lead to a lot of conflicts.


Dr. Kenner: Can you give one example of that?


Cornelia: For example, an active 2-year-old who is forever climbing the furniture isn't necessarily being naughty. He's exercising his intense inner drive to perfect a particular physical skill. And if a parent truly understand this, then you can learn to work with it and not against it. You can work with this stage of development that your child is in, and so the issue becomes not one of, "You must stop. You're not listening to me." And rather one of how can I give my little guy opportunities to climb safely and frequently and in appropriate environments?


Dr. Kenner: So you could have a little staircase off to the side that's very safe, only three stairs, and he could go up and down and up and down and up and down.


Cornelia: Exactly.


Dr. Kenner: It's safe and he's learning the skill, rather than thinking, "Oh my God. Here he goes again climbing. Why won't he listen to me? I've got a brat on my hands."


Cornelia: And you feel like you're just fighting and putting out fires all the time.


Dr. Kenner: All the time.


Cornelia: Exactly. Something in the house that is safe and is okay for him to climb on, and you make changes in your routine to allow for daily trips to the park or the indoor gym or something like that.


Dr. Kenner: I've had kids come into my office, I've done a lot of child therapy, and they will be so intrigued with every little thing in my office. I have huge picture windows, and they want to look out the windows at the traffic or the airplanes flying by. And the parents are saying, "Sit still, sit still, you've got to sit still," and they think maybe their child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and my thought process is very different. This is a child whose mind is alive and is interested in the world.


Cornelia: Yes, for sure.


Dr. Kenner: It's a very different perspective. You didn't always have parenting skills. I know you're very, very well trained. I wished I'd had you around when my kids were very young, although I did a lot of work on my own. You said that you had difficulty when you were teaching, when you first taught? Talk a little bit about that?


Cornelia: I really did. I had a rough start and there was a one day in particular that was very tough for me and that still stands out vividly. I was trying on that day to get my group of 3-to-5-year-olds on the rug for group time and it just was not working. They ignored me, they laid on the floor, they wandered around the room, they were giggling and they were playing. Anything but paying attention to my directions. This came at the end of a long morning, and frankly at the end of weeks of similar battles. So I was just feeling so powerless and discouraged and I was really at a loss as to how to get them to listen to me. On that particular day I just couldn't take it anymore. Tears came into my eyes and I had to leave the room. I left my students to my assistant and it was very hard for me and I was forced, really, on that day to come to the discovery that, first of all, it wasn't about me. They weren't being disrespectful to me. They were just doing what young kids do when there's no adult around who has earned their respect. I really needed to work hard after that to do a few things distinctly differently.


Dr. Kenner: So if someone came up to you, Cornelia, and said, "Just go by your gut feelings. Come on. They're little kids. You've got 26 little kids and you can't control them? Go by your gut feelings." Tell me about that, why you are laughing?


Cornelia: Even though I was trained before going into the classroom, trained as a teacher and had some babysitting experience under my belt, essentially I did go by gut feeling. I didn't really know what to expect, and you really put yourself in a sink or swim situation there. You might get lucky with your child and discover you have a natural flair for understanding young kids or that you have a very easy-going child, but I think the odds are kind of against you there. From my perspective, parenting will just feel so much more like a struggle and you will actually create problems that are avoidable if you go into it blindly.


Dr. Kenner: That's why you come in as a parenting coach now, after 10 years of being a Montessori teacher, you come in as a parenting coach. You have your own child now, right?


Cornelia: Yes, I do.


Dr. Kenner: And you actually coach parents. Talk a little bit about how people could get in touch with you? If they want to learn what your fresh vision is, which is actually guiding your child, rather than trying to be too hands-on or too hands-off, too authoritarian or too lenient. You have a wonderful method of guiding your child that is actually free on your website. Tell people how they can get in touch with that, with you?


Cornelia: First they can visit my website at and I write a free biweekly e-newsletter, which is my way of staying in touch with parents. That's really how you can find out about my parenting coaching. My approach is that the role of guide in those early years in particular is really what I see as the most constructive one for parents. You don't need to be her best pal or her best playmate or that domineering authority who is just trying to instill blind obedience. You're there to show the way, to offer help, to set limits when needed and to back off when not. All of that takes learning, I believe, about child development. Because young kids are not self-evident. It's not self-evident what their actions mean.


Dr. Kenner: And people can get in touch with you - I wish we had more time - at Listen, thank you so much for joining us today.