Posted by: Wanda Venters | September 12, 2014

The Unicorns

2 BANNER croppedUnicorn Stories

This land of unicorns is much like the world we live in but sometimes the unicorns can do magical things. Most of the time, the little unicorns are trying to figure out what the big unicorn are doing and the big unicorns are trying to figure out how to help the little unicorns grow up and be successful and happy. The lessons their stories teach us can help us in our world.

Exciting news! “Alec and the Sandman” and “Max Aprende Acerca de los Tiempos-Fuera” have joined “Mommy Has a Time Away” and “Max Learns About Time-Outs” on my author bookshelf and are now available as  paperbacks on with great illustrations by Dina Helmi and Matthew Benton! Check it out!

You can find all of my books at Dr. Wanda Venters Amazon Author Page.
Posted by: Wanda Venters | May 3, 2017

New Dog Training:

I’ve become fascinated by how much dog training has changed in the last 40 years. That is the last time that I did serious dog training—including taking my miniature poodles up to Championship status in Obedience Competitions.

Fifteen years ago I trained my standard poodles—and after 14 years, finally got them to walk without pulling me off my feet by using a constant treat technique of giving them a treat more or less every 10 feet—I call it the Pez technique. This latter technique of almost persistent rewards and positive interaction is the new way of training dogs.

This year, I was given a crash course in positive interaction when I took my Labra doodles to class. The most notable changes in the class were not the dogs, but the approach to training. No longer was “jerk (on their collar) and release (the negative tension)” considered the best training method.

We used praise and treats to motivate our dogs to learn and man, did it motivate them.

When I started pediatrics 30 year ago the new approach to child rearing was logical and natural consequences with lots of “time-in”. Positive parenting concentrated on what your child was doing right and redirected them when they needed to substitute a bad behavior for a good one. This system was in contrast to the old approach of “spoil the rod and spare the child”. The acceptance of an approach to positive discipline for children has been much slower than that of dog trainers. We still hear the concept of what is wrong with children is that they are never told “no” or given a spanking.

We are told that we need to scare juvenile delinquents “straight”. But research has repeatedly shown the children who misbehave the most have been treated poorly—spanked or yelled out. Most juvenile delinquents have been subjected to abuse and neglect not coddling–not taught the logical consequences of their actions, nor shown a more positive approach to living.

Both children and dogs need discipline—but effective discipline is consistent and loving and involves teaching better behaviors. Limit setting such as time-outs or loss of privileges works if those disciplines make sense. When a child is being aggressive or destructive they need to sit by themselves and calm down. When a child can’t remember to wear their bike helmet, they need to loose the use of their bike for a defined period of time-a few days or so until they again get the opportunity to make a better choice.

Modeling good decisions and behaviors is the best way to teach your child or “be the person you want your child to be.”

Posted by: Wanda Venters | April 5, 2017

Successful Parenting Approaches:

Parenting approaches fall into 3 main groups.

An authoritative or punitive approach is firm but not respectful of the child. It punishes without teaching better behavior. This approach is the classic “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Parents often use this approach because it is familiar and easy. Parents say do this and the child, being a dependent being, should do it. But humans are not made to do exactly what they are told. The best, most compliant child will only do what they are told to do about 75% of the time. When the child doesn’t do exactly as told, the parents have no “Plan B” except punishment that rarely results in sustained good behavior. How many times have you seen a parent repeatedly slap a child’s hands or roughly see them put a child in a chair and say, “Sit there”? Sitting quietly (without something to do) for more than a few minutes doesn’t work well with children or adults (without their smart phone). An “aggressive researcher” will rarely do what they are told to do without researching other options.

A permissive approach is respectful of the child but not firm. These parents make suggestions on behavior but have no way to enforce their requests if the child doesn’t agree. These parents tend to whine to their children when their children don’t take their suggestions.

A thoughtful approach is respectful and firm. The parent helps the child think about the consequences of the child’s behavior and then follows through with the consequences. These parents understand that their children are human beings with their own understanding of their needs and their goals. But the parents also know that some things are not negotiable and when they make a specific request they have a plan of action for the child to do that request. My grandson understands that he must wear his helmet to ride his bike. If he doesn’t wear his helmet, he will not have his bike for a specified period of time.

I’ve often said that parenting is a thinking game. When you ask your child to do something, whether they are toddlers or teenagers, you need to think about how they will process it, how their temperament predisposes them to react to the request, and what your actions will be if they don’t do it. Planning is everything.

Boost Post
Posted by: Wanda Venters | March 14, 2017


Any study on childhood behavior starts with having parents fill out a checklist that reveals their child’s temperament. Basically, your child comes with a “blue print” that is hard wired at birth. This is the “nature” part of a person, which will be molded by the “nurture” part that is their life experiences. People tend to have one of 3 main personality types:

Fifty-five percent of people are compliant and easy. About 15% of these can be slow to warm up and cautious. These people are interested in pleasing others and getting along.

Strong willed or persistent people—sometimes called “aggressive researchers” are about 10 % of the population. These people are always pushing the limit before deciding what they want to do. They will repeatedly test a rule to see if it still stands.

About 35% of people are Fence sitters or observers: These people will sometimes side with the strong-willed or the compliant people. They are “skillful researchers”. They’re deciding which is the smartest path for them.

Most human beings are on a spectrum or combination of these personality types. Understanding your child’s temperament as well as your own is key to parenting your child successfully.

Think about where you and your child are on these spectrums and next we will talk about successful parenting approaches.

*For more detailed information, check out Robert MacKenzie’s “Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child”.

Posted by: Wanda Venters | February 16, 2017



Oh…routines. We drink the same cup of coffee, park in the same place at work, and sit at the same desk. Churchgoers frequently sit in the same pew each week. My dogs know which one goes first for the walk. Children use routines to navigate their world. When our routines get changed due to moves or job changes or illnesses, our children’s lives get completely out of whack. If your child is having trouble with mood or behavior, see if their routine has been disrupted. Something may have changed in their lives that you are not aware of: a substitute teacher or a friend shifting alliances or a new seat on the bus.

Vacations are one way of practicing changes and variations in routines.  They generally make us appreciate going back to the familiar.

Prepare your child for changes in routines: expect some difficulties. Remember that routines calm us. Offer your child other tools to calm down when routines change—try to find a few things that can remain the same.

Embrace the new and hug the old.

Posted by: Wanda Venters | January 28, 2017


This is a topic that has more answers than successes. I often tell parents that “go clean your bedroom” is a really daunting task and to look around their bedroom and think how they would feel if someone told them to clean it.

Children (and maybe all of us) do better with specific tasks—put your dirty clothes in the hamper, make your bed, etc. Much of the time “too much” is the biggest problem. Too many toys or shoes or clothes. Just thinning stuff down will help a lot.

Try to model the behavior you want. Hang up your clothes and coat.

Have simple places to put everyday items. Walk your child through their chores rather than just keep yelling at them about their chores. Concentrate on every time they do what you want them to do.

Comment on how peaceful a clean house is and how nice it is to find stuff where you know it is suppose to be.

Most experts agree that tying allowance to chores is not helpful. We do chores because that is part of living and part of being in a family. Allowance is a chance to learn how to manage money and is most appropriate starting around 8-10 years. This age is late to start with basic self-care that is the primary reason for chores.

Posted by: Wanda Venters | December 13, 2016

Not Tired Anymore

In honor of the holiday season, I’m starting a new campaign. Let’s not be tired anymore! This slogan started as a joke with a co-worker when we were discussing how to evaluate a patient who was “tired”. We thought for a minute and then realized that everyone we knew—friends, family, coworkers, patients and ourselves—were frequently complaining about being tired. Perhaps that complaint is a constant of the human condition. My mom’s doctor gave her the diagnosis of “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. This is usually a diagnosis given to younger people who have debilitating fatigue. My mom is 90 with heart disease and is the primary caretaker for my dad who is 94. She has reasons to be tired. I imagine all her doctor’s patients carry such a diagnosis.

Despite an occasional night of sleeplessness, I’ve decided to feel good and be full energy. Maybe we can all brainwash ourselves into feeling better or at the very least, recognize the days we feel good!

Posted by: Wanda Venters | December 7, 2016


This is my favorite tea towel saying. It seems perfect for Thanksgiving because it reminds me to be thankful for all of the craziness that goes into making a family. I listen to family stories 15 times a day and not one of them is perfect but all of them are “normal”. Some are happier than others and some need more help but all of them are trying to be a family. So be thankful this week for your family whether it was the one you were born into or the one that you made or a combination of both.

This week I’m going to be especially thankful for planes that land on time and every time my phone drops but doesn’t break or land in the toilet. For good food and good company. For the family I was born into and the family and friends I have made.
Have a great holiday.

Image may contain: text
Boost Post
Posted by: Wanda Venters | November 13, 2016

Hearing and Listening

After the hearing test at their physical, I hear parents and children joking–ok, so you CAN hear me. I usually counter with the fact that we are only checking hearing. Listening is a very different skill.

I can remember watching TV as a child and hearing my mom talk to me from the kitchen. I began listening when her voice hit a certain pitch.

While co-teaching a class on parenting, the psychologist said that the BEST kids only do what they are told 75% of the time. And then I thought, “I can’t do what I’m told to do 75% of the time.”

The next time you are feeling frustrated with your children ask them to repeat what you just asked them to do. Then you can be sure that they both heard and listened to you. Of course, don’t be surprised when they later ask you to do the same. Parenting often provides a perfect mirror.


Posted by: Wanda Venters | November 1, 2016


The best book on adoption I have read! Said in less than 150 words.
“my new Mom and Me” by Renato Galindo.

No automatic alt text available.
Posted by: Wanda Venters | November 1, 2016

A Parent’s Lament

A Parent’s Lament by Wanda J Venters

I Forgot to Make It Rain today

I sometimes walk around with the weight of the world on my shoulders—I worry about terrorism and refugees, the Dow Average and interest rates, my children’s happiness and the weather. I worry about all the things I forgot to do today—I worry that I have Alzheimer’s because I forgot. I remember my dad teasing me that I was a worrywart. Much of what I have accomplished in my life I’ve done by worrying about details. I’m conscientious and committed. But really when I start worrying about how dry it is in the high desert and feeling that I should water in the middle of winter, I remind myself that I’m really not in charge of the weather. That it is okay that I forgot to make it rain today because really, I can’t.

Boost Post

Older Posts »