Campus News

Parents Find Common Ground with Peaceful Parenting Tools
Louise Schultze

10 PeacefulParents IMG 5117

“Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but also one of the most rewarding,” said Dr. Laura Markham as she addressed a crowd of parents and teachers gathered in the Bay Meadows gym at the recent Common Ground Speaker Series event, Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids. “As a parent of a strong-willed child, I understand the struggle with showing unconditional love and acceptance of our kids, while still needing to teach them to be successful in the real world.”

As a clinical psychologist, author, and founder of the website, Dr. Laura offered expert advice to parents on how to help their kids want to cooperate without yelling, bribes, threats, or punishment. Telling stories of her own “imperfect” parenting, Dr. Laura shared tools she has used through the years to build an emotional connection with her two now-grown children, including Stop, Drop, and Breathe. “When facing a challenging situation or conflict with your child, remember to stop and drop what you’re doing, and then take a deep breath. Turn off the stove … put down your work … nothing you’re doing is more important than your child. Deep breaths stop the flood of adrenaline rushing through your body that makes you think this is an emergency. You’re not running from a tiger! Give your body a chance to calm down first so you can connect with your child and help calm them down too.”

Reminding parents that no one deserves to be yelled at — and that yelling doesn’t make anyone feel like doing a better job — Dr. Laura continued sharing her principles of peaceful parenting when one parent admitted, “I am not a peaceful parent trying to get the kids out the door to school in the morning!” The principles include mindfulness and self-care (so parents aren’t running on empty), using empathy to guide children towards cooperation, and emotion-coaching your child so they feel safe to come to you, have their own feelings validated, and then be empowered to work them out. Dr. Laura also suggested taking a “time-in” with your child instead of punishing them with a time-out so you can connect with your child and help them solve their problem. She explained that kids shouldn’t be sent to their room alone when they are emotional or they won’t come to you in the future for support when they need it.

“Kids act out a lot more when they feel disconnected from us,” Dr. Laura continued. “Peaceful parents raise children who are emotionally healthy, take responsibility for their actions, apologize, and make amends.”

According to Dr. Laura, parenting is 80 percent connection between the parent and child. To help with this, she encouraged empathy, special one-on-one time with each child individually, unstructured, child-directed playtime together without screens, and laughter. “Laughter changes the body chemistry, lowers stress, and builds connection,” Dr. Laura said. “Send your child off to school laughing and they will be happier and less anxious!”

The Common Ground Speaker Series is a parent education program designed to inform, engage, and inspire school communities with speakers, topics, and special events on the Peninsula. Representing more than 10,000 families from 30+ schools, Common Ground offers a forum for parents to share experiences and connect with each other.

“The journey of being a parent is a wonderful one,” said Mike Peller, assistant head of upper school student life at Nueva. “The most important work that I do is alongside my partner as parents to our two-and-a-half-year-old son.”

To learn more about Dr. Laura’s peaceful parenting techniques, visit or check out her books Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life.


By Louise Schultze, Editor/Writer

February 7, 2018

Read More

Six illustrations of people: writing on chalkboard, reviewing data, listening, locking arms, and lifting each other up stairs

Did you miss last week's Beloved Community meeting? We invite you to listen to the stories we shared (featuring artwork by Anisha K. '22!) and to learn more about the many ways we are trying to make systemic and cultural change at Nueva.

Mavericks Making Waves: May 2021

Mavericks Making Waves is our latest roundup of exceptional student and faculty accomplishments and activities happening beyond Nueva's walls.

Teachers Infuse Nueva Core Values into Virtual Travel Week

From cooking classes to guest speakers and art projects to field trips, Nueva Travel Week has offered students a variety of experiences designed to immerse them in places or themes close to home and around the globe. While the majority of travel week experiences this year have taken place virtually, one thing is certain: all of the trips have been infused with the core pillars of the Nueva experience, namely social justice, social-emotional learning (SEL), and design thinking. 

2021 Trips Week Deans’ Roundtable

Next week, Nueva middle and upper school students will be transported around the world via Zoom, as they meet with an array of experts to explore museums, cuisine, history, and current events. We “sat down” with a few of grade-level deans for a roundtable discussion about their hopes for trips week and the programs they are most looking forward to. We also learn about the intentionality behind planning the week's itineraries to ensure we preserve the values of this important part of the Nueva experience.

Nueva Student-Athletes Return to Action After Yearlong Hiatus

Nueva Athletics has been able to bring back a number of offerings this spring, as the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) provided guidance to schools across the state. We sat down with Nueva Athletics Director Chris Wade to learn more about what this means for our student-athletes.

The Music Never Stopped: Middle and Upper School Students Keep the Beat Over the Past Year

On March 15, a group of socially-distanced students sitting in hula hoops gathered on the upper school lawn to watch the first live music performance at Nueva since March of 2020. While campus might have been quiet over the past year, the music never stopped playing—thanks to the adaptability and flexibility of our students and music teachers, Jason Muscat and Jim Munzenrider.

Nueva Students Celebrate Earth Month

Last week, Nueva was recognized by the United States Department of Education as a California Green Ribbon School. Director of Environmental Citizenship Sarah Koning noted that Nueva students have been working hard on environmental issues all month.