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Dr. Borba’s Parenting Tips

Mother and daughter having fun in park in autumn

I attended an event at St. Mary’s School where Dr. Borba shared some parenting tips. In the words of renowned educational psychologist and expert parent educator, Dr. Michelle Borba, “Don’t lose the color of their eyes.” In her talk, Dr. Borba explained that bullying is an unfortunate part of childhood (and beyond). However, she outlined the necessary fundamental skills your child needs when he or she finds themselves in a victimized role. First and foremost, Dr. Borba asserted the need to set a solid foundation for your child.

This looks like:

  • Loving your child for who they are not what they do (or don’t do)
  • Setting fair expectations and structure
  • Modeling the rules and expectations

Teach them how to be a good friend. Friendships are:

  • Learned, not a given
  • First modeled (think one mother to another)
  • Conflicted, at times, as conflict is a natural part of any relationship
  • Not based on popularity (a myth) but rather in your child’s skills associated with social-emotional relatedness

The discouraging reality is that empathy among children is on a downward spiral. As many as 30 percent of children do not develop the capacity for cognitive and affective empathy, a skill vital to child’s ability to interact in a relational world. Dr. Borba’s response to this staggering statistic is to practice Core Relational Skills, including:

  • Eye contact
  • Smiling
  • Encouragement
  • Manners

Each Core Relational Skill can be taught through Emotion Coaching. Contrary to what you may be thinking, Emotion Coaching is not a daunting undertaking. Rather, with 30 seconds of daily practice, you can be your child’s best Emotion Coach.

  • First, come down to eye-level with your child.
  • Next, give your full and undivided attention to your child’s experience.
  • Lastly, reframe your child’s feelings in the present moment.

Now that you know how to be intentional in helping your child at home it is also very important to teach them what to do when in a bullying situation. Dr. Borba described several mnemonics to teach your little ones in a simple and easy-to-remember way.

First, stay C.A.L.M.

  • Cool down
  • Assert
  • Look eye to eye (“Don’t lose the color of their eye.”)
  • Mean it!

Next, establish a Safety P.L.A.N.

  • Pal up – find at least one friend
  • Let an adult know
  • Avoid “hot spot” locations
  • Notice surroundings

Children can easily learn these crucial skills when parents actively take to time rehearse for at least 1 minute everyday, for a period of 21 days in a row.

Did you know?

According to Dr. Borba, teaching your child manners can lead to increased levels of positive social interaction including quality friendships, more birthday party invitations, and even more job opportunities in the future.

To find out more about Dr. Borba’s expert teachings, please visit

Dr. Hayley Pedersen, MS, PsyD, is a Registered Psychological Assistant at Prepare To Change in Tustin, California. Dr. Pedersen’s clinical training includes over eight years of a systemic, theoretical based orientation. A former an elementary school teacher and manager, Dr. Pedersen integrates her coaching and teaching experience to address each child and family’s needs. Please contact Dr. Pedersen [email protected] or 949.478.3017 for a free consultation to discuss your parenting needs.

Dr. Pedersen is supervised by Dr. Kaneeza Lafir, PsyD, PsyD.

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