Follow Your Gut: Insights from Dr. Marcie's Mom

Happy Mothers Day! How was your Mothers Day? Did your kids make you breakfast in bed? Did you have some time alone to have a cup of coffee and read a book? Did you get handmade cards from your kids that you will treasure?

My mom has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and I love celebrating her. As you can imagine, I don't wait until Mothers Day to celebrate her. I find as many reasons as I can to celebrate her!

This year, before we went out for Mothers Day brunch...it is my substitute for making her breakfast in bed...I asked if she would share her parenting insights. After years of watching my videos, she is thrilled to be the star of one of them. 

Here is me and my mom chatting about parenting!

Don't we look alike?

Viral Challenges: What you Need to Know for Your Kids Safety

I was on a plane to California last Thursday to go to a business training. I love to learn and know that it is so important for me to learn, so that I can bring even more to you.

While I was in the air, I was ON the air! PIX 11 had interviewed me in advance for a piece about viral social media challenges. They also interviewed some high school students. The piece is amazing.

Social media is such a multi-dimensional conversation. There is no handbook for parents around it, since this is the first generation of children growing up with it. Make sure you are thinking about its influence on your children and keep talking to them about it.

PIX 11 Interviewed teens and myself about the most recent viral challenges. 

Negotiations and Sensory Processing: Parenting Help for Siblings

Growing up Lainie Donnell faced educational challenges. She worked hard to understand she learned best and overcame every obstacle. Now, she is an educational therapist and spends her days helping students master their own learning strategies. When she is not doing that, she is with her own 2 children. I hear they are amazing! 

Lainie and I sat down to discuss her children and career. Her two children are different and therefore need different parenting strategies.

Her daughter loves to negotiate everything. While this can be a great quality, it all depends on when it happens. Lainie asked how to teach her when it is time to debate and when it is time to follow through. A great question! Maybe a situation you can relate to?

Her son has sensory processing challenges. The first question was all about his potty training. Potty training can have such a big impact on your life, so I was so happy we were talking about it. A few small steps can lead to big changes! We talked generally about how to support his sensory needs in a behavioral way. Often time behavioral tools are not thought of when talking about the sensory system, yet, I find that they go hand in hand beautifully! 

At the end Lainie shares about her career. If you want to know more about educational therapy, tune in. Find out more about her work at edtherapist.com

Violent Video Games: You have a decision to make!

Violent video games are one of the most popular activities for kids today. When they are not playing, they are watching someone else play them on YouTube or talking with their friends about the game or using it as the base for pretend play. 

I keep hearing that research shows no connection between violent video games and the increase in violence we are experiencing today. So, I looked at the research. I must say, I am confused. I found research saying that violent video games leads to increased aggressive behavior and decreased empathy. This sounds like a connection to me.

The APA (American Psychological Association) put together a task force last year to review the existing research. They "concluded that violent video game use is a risk factor for adverse outcomes, but found insufficient studies to examine any potential link between violent video game use and delinquency or criminal behavior".  

Two factors stood out to me. One was the length of time playing violent video games within the studies. They ranged from a few minutes, to a 20 minutes over a few days, to a few months. I did not find any study that measured hours of play for months at a time, which is the reality. The second factor is the age of the participants. Many of the studies had adults as participants. An adults response, reaction and understanding will be different than a child's. 

As a parent, this is personal.

You have to take all this information in and use it to make an individual decision for your family. The research can provide insights but the ultimately measure is your child's behavior.

How does your son or daughter behavior after playing violent video games? What is the behavior like if it is just 20 minutes of playing? How is their behavior after 2 hours? What happens when they play for 5 hours with a friend? What are your kids like when they don't play video games for an entire weekend? Pay attention. If you see changes in their behavior, factor that into your family technology rules.

Educate yourself about what your child is playing. Know the games your child is playing and how they work. Too many families I talk with don't know what their kids are doing during screen time. It is important that you stay informed. 

How do you do this? Once a week, take 10 minutes and watch them play video games. The best way to educate yourself is to be in the action, watch what they are doing and how they engage. This along with noticing their behavior after playing is powerful information when deciding what is best for your children and video games.

If you decide to make changes - go slow. It can be tempting to have your kids go cold turkey but that is like a crash diet. It might be powerful for a day or two but they don't last. Gradually decrease time played if you are looking to make a change. One small step at a time.

Want to hear more about this topic? Yesterday John Pattie, from WBAL New Radio 1090 aired a piece on just this topic. I was one of the experts he interviewed. Listen here.

Remember is that this is an ongoing decision. Video games are constantly evolving, as is your child's behavior. Each month re-evaluate the time spent on video games and the games played. Make a new rules when needed to ensure that your children grow up to be amazing adults!

Autism Awareness Month: Conversation about Parenting a child with Autism

Danielle Perrotta is the mother of 2 children. Her oldest is 7 years old and has Autism. 

I met Danielle (I know her as Dani) when we were in college, in Washington D.C. We both moved to New York City after graduation and that is really when we became friends. Two young women figuring out who we were and what we wanted to do with our lives. We both went into education and loved it!

Several years later, Dani was one of my first friends to move out of the city. She got married and moved to New Jersey. A beautiful home there! As with many friendships, the shifts in logistics led to shifts in the friendship. We talked occasionally and saw each other rarely.

As I graduated with my doctorate and started my private practice, Behavior and Beyond in the city. Dani was expanding her family, having 2 beautiful children. Dani's family went through ups and downs as they learned that her daughter has Autism. This also led to us reconnecting. 

Now, her daughter is now 7 years old, in a school that is perfect for her and has amazing support. Dani and I talk about behavior and special needs sometimes. We also chat about our careers - Dani was a 5th grade teacher for over 15 years and me, well, you know, behavior and families is my passion. Dani is a parent of a child with autism. She is also a teachers. She is also a mom of a 4 year old boy. She is also an artist. She is also....the list goes on and on. Her daughter is the same, yes she has Autism. She is also so many other things.

In the video, Dani and I talk about parenting challenges. She is open and transparent about being a parent of a child with Autism. One of the most touching moments to me of this conversation is the realization that some of the behavior questions she has are questions all parents have. Watch and see what happens....

Failure: The Importance of Teaching our Kids how to Fail

My best lessons were from some of my biggest failures. Mistakes I made my first year teaching shaped the teacher I am today. Errors in friendship have taught me how to be the friend I am today. Failures in my business have helped me build the company I have today. 

In the moment none of them were fun, most made me want to crawl up in bed and cry. Truth be told, some of them have landed me there. But after a day of crying and watching bad tv, I get up and get moving again. ne small step at a time.

These are not fun lessons to learn but they are critical and powerful. 

Did I ever tell you about how my advisor accidentally knocked my dissertation in the trash after my defense? After you defend your dissertation, you meet with your advisor to get all the updates that are needed for your final submission. I had major revisions and was feeling completely overwhelmed.

As we are walking into his office, he rested all the papers on a trashcan. Oooops...in they fell.

It took all my strength to not crumble right there an then. Instead I took a deep break, picked the papers up myself and walked into his office. Sat down and listened to list of all the mistakes I made. 

My dissertation was on parent-teacher relationships and I had never worked so hard it my life. Yet here I sat and my advisor was tearing it apart. It felt like failure.
I went home and crawled into bed for 3 days. Then said, enough is enough! I needed to make the corrections and take the next step. That is exactly what I did. I graduated 6 weeks later as Dr. Marcie.

Can you image what would have happened if I let that failure overcome me? Nope, me neither!

It is because I had learned to face failure and learn lessons that I took the next step. Make sure you teach your kids how to fail, so when they face challenges, they get up and take the next step!

Failure is a critical life skills, even though it is not always a fun skill to learn. Children need to be taught how to be loss and how to fail. They also need to be taught what to do next. We live in a time when everyone want to win, when everyone gets a trophy.

Parenting and Pompoms: A Playful Conversation between Nolan, Dr. Mandi and Dr. Marcie

Last Tuesday night and I was visiting with a friend and colleague, Dr. Mandi White-Ajmani. It was getting close to dinner time and her kids were having their screen time. Her son mentioned that he was watching YouTube. His mom asked what exactly he was watching. I asked, "Were you watching me?"

At first he laughed thinking I was joking. Then he looked over confused, asked if I was actually on YouTube. I said, "Yup! I have a bunch of videos. We could make one together and then you can be on YouTube too!" Before he got too excited, I did mention that his parents had to be ok with it.  

After dinner, we sat down on the couch. Turned out, Mom wanted to be on YouTube also :) 

I asked Nolan what the best thing was that his parents did. He gave a great answer - simple and powerful. I asked his mom about what areas she struggles with as a parent. We ended up chatting about allowance, charts and consistency. 

Somewhere in the middle a bag of pompoms appeared. Of course, they were put to good use!

See what happens in this playful conversation between Nolan (an amazing 10 year old), his mom (Dr. Mandi) and me (Dr. Marcie).

ps-In the video I mention that Dr. Mandi White-Ajmani is an amazing Neuropsychologist. If you are looking for more about her, go to SmallBrooklyn.com

No More Punishment!

This past weekend was the March for Our Lives. Did you go? 


It was not until after the march when I got home that the true impact set in. I watched the speeches that I did not hear. Inspiring, passionate and motivated students. Kids who are standing up and saying we need to find better answers. Students who are putting together an action based movement.


The heartbreak that I felt from seeing the signs saying, "Am I next?" or "I march so my Kindergarteners don't have to" melted away. It shifted to what I do best - action. 


I asked myself - What is the action, the small step that I can take? What is the step that I know will make a difference? How can I inspire? 


The answer is this weeks video. The reminder that path to change is not through punishment but proaction. The reminder that reaction is never as powerful as thoughtful, intentional planning. 


As a parent, punishment after each incident is not the answer to change behavior. Teach your small one how to respond, what to say, how to be a friend, what to do when they are angry that is appropriate. These are skills that will never be taught through punishment. 

I'm a Parenting Media Association Award Winner!

Last Tuesday I was sitting at my desk checking email. I was expecting to answer some parenting questions, address some scheduling needs and see what new families has reached out. 

There was an email from my editor. I say, "my editor" loosely. I write a monthly column for New York Parenting. The email was from Susan Weiss, the editor. She has only emailed me a handful of times outside of confirmation of articles received. I was super curious. 

The subject was "New York Parenting took home 10 Awards!!!" Yup, she used 3 exclamation points, this was going to be exciting. I got myself ready to celebrate as I opened the email.

Parenting Media Association 2017 was in bold and big letters. How exciting, I thought, I write for a magazine that won so many awards! Then I kept reading and saw my name. 

I AM A WINNER!!!

I didn't understand as I did not apply, I wondered how could this be. Turns, out my editor submitted my column. I won the silver medal in my column (not just one article). The category is Child Development & Parenting Issues. 

There was a massive happy dance that happened in my home office, right there and then. Yes, I put on Megan Trainor, hopped on my trampoline and danced it out. I then called 3 different friends to share the exciting news with. Email has never been so fun!

The column is something I love doing. I have not received too much feedback about it. Each month I decide on a topic, write about and submit it. Cross my fingers and hope that parents find value in the stories I share. With the award I received feedback from the judges. Here is what they said: "This column gives parents some practical tips for dealing with behavior issues that seem to crop up from time to time. This feature has a strong connection with the reader while also offering a “cheat sheet” for how to handle the issues next time around, too."

This has been an amazing surprise!!

You never know when you will be a winner. You never know when a celebration will begin right at your desk. When it is your time, how will you celebrate?

Want to check out my column? Here are links to a few of my recent articles: 

December 2017 January 2018 February 2018

Transform Your Body as a Mom: The MUTU System!

Usually, I share with you action based insightful tidbits to make your children's behavior soar. Today is a different side to parenting. This blog is for you!!

You spend so much time running after your kids. Picking up after them, making food for them, doing laundry for them. Isn't it time you do something for yourself? Something that will not only feel good but will also help you look good :)

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Wendy Powell, founder of The MUTU System. An amazing exercise program, which is much more than an exercise program. It helps moms reconnect with their bodies. To feel good in their body again, build up strength and as an added bonus look good too! 

Don't take my word for it - list to what Wendy has to share. Then go learn more here!