Parenting Coaches

Parent Q&A

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  • Recommendations for Parenting Coach wanted

    (6 replies)

    Hi all -- I have a 13 yr old in 8th grade and am a single mom to him and I've been watching him go through puberty and am finding things much more challenging.  I've always felt that he has some form of ADHD and he has had social challenges with getting and keeping friends and I am just now starting to look into getting him tested with either Childrens Hospital in Oakland or the UCB program.  I am beginning to wonder if some of the tantrums/acting out I'm seeing and other challenges aren't just from his raging hormones but from other things that might be contributing to it.  I have heard of 'parent coaching' and was thinking that it would be good for me to better learn how to manage through this and all that middle school brings on.  I would greatly appreciate hearing from people who may have dealt with this type of situation and would also like to hear about recommendations and experiences with parenting coaches.  Thanks in advance!

    I don’t have a referral for you -I don’t know any colleagues who do this- but please get your son tested asap. Going through a hospital or UCB might take months to arrange. But in the meantime, Perhaps your pediatrician would know a developmental pediatrician who could diagnose ADHD through interviewing him, you and a questionnaire filled out by teachers. Getting a full neuropsychology eval would be helpful too but will take months.

    If your son does have ADHD, the sooner you know the better given his age. Our son was diagnosed at 10 and his self knowledge has been so helpful navigating puberty and high school tribulations. It is harder for kids to learn this about themselves in later adolescence and I what ever is going on with him is obviously already impacting him during these very crucial years before he leaves home and while he is learning so much about friendships and academics.

    I highly recommend Amanda Buckmann. She worked with myself and my husband to help us improve skills in responding to our child’s emotional ups and downs. She is based in the South Bay but works remotely as well. (415) 805-6759

    Jenny Michaelson at True North Parent Coaching is great:

    In addition to being a talented parenting coach, she is the parent of two boys herself (including a middle schooler), which comes in handy with real-life examples.  I've found her to be particularly helpful in navigating some challenging issues with a 13-year-old 8th grader with anxiety.  Jenny comes to her work with a great kindness, wisdom from years of experience, and also a sense of humor that I appreciate.  

    Hi-- When my son was about your child's age, I was in your position--really in need of some coaching to help me help my boy (and keep me from pulling my hair out).  So I'm happy to say that I found it!  Her name is Rebecah Freeling and her business is called "Wit's End Parenting" (sound appropriate?).   She genuinely loves the hard-to-handle, spirited, aggressive, all-around challenging kids; she gets them.  And she has developed several strategies for how to work with your child in a way that satisfies everyone, while teaching them important self-management skills. Over the last few years I have worked intensively with her at different times, more recently to help me ween my 15-year-old off his addiction to his devices.  That was extremely difficult-- lots of violent tantrums and acting out-- and she was virtually (literally, virtually) by my side the whole time.  I highly recommend her.  Her contact info: witsendparenting [at] / website:

    All the best wishes to you!

    Respectfully, I just wanted to state that it's okay if 'wit's end' approach doesn't work for you and your child. I agree this coach has great compassion and great problemsolving ideas and has seen it all and that her 'take away' approach may work for some. But it's a fiction that the child has a choice. Her method is ultimately 'plan A' and that won't work with certain kids. I suggest the Lives in the Balance/Ross Greene approach for kids who tantrum and explode and have a high try for autonomy. They need more in put and also support toward self regulation.

    I feel for you going through this! *hug* I'm a full-time single mom of a 16yo, who last year refused to participate in school. His school assessed him in January and found that he likely has ADHD among other things, though no tantrums. I'm going to spring for a private psych-ed eval as well. I wish I had done all this sooner. 

    What has gotten my son and me to a much better place: 

    --If you are a Kaiser member...Kaiser's Parents' Turn course and alumni group for parents whose kids aren't so compliant. You have to get referred through (your kid's) Kaiser mental health practitioner. Hugely helpful!

    --On a day when I was feeling literally at my wit's end, I happened to run across an email from Wit's End Parenting that totally made sense. I reached out to them and did an 8-week series  with Rebecah. Although I had some other supports, it was a huge relief and helpful to talk through every last detail about my son with Rebecah. She really heard me and calmed me down, and worked with me to develop strategies for working with my son and helping me stay consistent with those strategies. She also helped me feel less bad about me as a parent. 

    --A therapist my son was seeing in Berkeley shared with me a parent support group on Zoom run by Lawrence Shweky at Emerge Center in Davis & Sacramento. I've been in the group since January and it's great to have a weekly group with whom to share this stuff and who get where I'm coming from.  

    --Utilize any and all resources available through your school/school district. Thanks to the assessment and my son's IEP, he gets a weekly appointment with an excellent therapist trainee, educational accommodations or modifications that will travel with him into college if he follows that path, and I get to work with a school district behavior analyst aka parent coach. 

    --If you need to know your and your son's rights, check out DREDF. 

    --I have picked the brains of friends, friends of friends, and various professionals. You never know from whom you'll get a morsel of wisdom! 

    I'd be glad to talk more if you want.

  • Parenting coach for household routines?

    (2 replies)

    I'm looking for a parenting coach to help me and my family craft and implement some new household routines including chores. We've got some aspects to life that are very demanding and challenging right now, so I'm feeling the need to partner with a consultant and help us get this other area of life on track. Seeking someone in the respectful parenting philosophy, who can guide us through routine implementation that the whole family can own together. Thanks!

    I highly recommend La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson!  She's an impeccable listener and communicator with a personality loved by all age groups.


    La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson

    Hi - So great you’re looking for parent coach support! I highly recommend Jenny of True North Parent Coaching. Jenny has been a wonderful resource for me and my family as we navigate rules, roles, and family happiness. You can reach her at truenorthparentcoaching [at] Website is

  • Any recommendations for a therapist in Oakland with experience treating stress/anxiety and parenting concerns? I could also use advice on relationships. 


    I have had tremendous success with Mallika Bush, addressing all 3 of those concerns. You didn't note your gender in the post; I believe she only works with women at present. She sees clients individually, in her South Berkeley office or through webchat, and also runs a bimonthly therapy group for moms. I have found her enormously insightful, nonjudgmental, and a huge help as I tried to figure out how to process a whole host of anxiety-related issues (my own, my kid's, and my partner's!). I would recommend her work to anyone.

    We have really liked Reyna Cowan. (510) 601-0232 She's located in Rockridge across the street from Trader Joes.

    I recommend Laila Shamszad. She is warm and engaging and has offered me practical dependable tools to manage my stress and anxiety as a woman and mother throughout the years. She has the ability to look at the bigger picture and offer helpful insights.

    You should definitely talk to Dr. Naomi Edelson— 

    She's incredibly thoughtful, smart, and warm, and she gives you practical advice for dealing with stress, but she also gives you methods to use to reduce your stress levels.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Help with strong-willed preschooler

Oct 2013

My partner and I are having a rough time parenting our intense, strong-willed preschooler. We want to consult with a parenting coach or therapist who would see us maybe 2-3 times and help us with some specific strategies. If it's a therapist, I really want someone who will do this kind of short-term work, will help us come up with strategies (not just listen to us), and is knowledgeable about temperament needs and discipline strategies. (I'm a therapist myself, so I'm picky about therapists!) Also, Oakland location would be nice. Who do you recommend? Stressed parents

We have been there! And to our rescue came Helen Neville, parent coach and author of Temperament Tools ( and teacher of a great class on Spirited Children offered by Bananas. She does phone consultations that are very hands on and meant to help you with concrete strategies (and that are affordable). Take heart! Our spirited kid is now a Kindergartener and it is getting easier... Mom of a fiery kid

Pnina Tobin is an excellent parenting coach, and i learned so much from her. i highly recommend her. kim anno kim anno

I think Rebecah Freeling could be a good fit for you. She helped us out some time back with our two older boys, but I know she has even more extensive experience with younger kids. I really liked how she works to understand your family value system and not try to change that but rather to work within it. She comes to your home so that makes it really easy and takes away the stress of getting to yet another appointment. She had a great combination of patience, humor and insight, in addition to helpful strategies. Give her a try! She can do short-term. Rebecah Freeling, Family Coach rebecah [at] (614) 769-3563 Kira

Great parenting coach/therapist for single mom

Aug 2013

hi - i'm looking for a parenting coach or therapist who specializes in work with single parents. I have a 3 year old son whose father does not want to be involved in his life and am struggling with how to talk to him about his dad, and how to not make him feel like he is 'missing out'. I'm not looking for therapy for my son, but for someone who can help me talk to my son most effectively about these issues. Thanks for any suggestions! anon

I am so sorry you're having to deal with this. It's such an awful thing to have to talk with your kid about. I totally totally recommend Cindy Blackett, a great licensed therapist. She's at (510) 540-5409. She helped me so enormously with a similar situation with my daughter. Anon

In response to Anon who is looking for a parenting coach/therapist for a single mom. We strongly recommend Rebecah Freeling. We've been working with Rebecah for a few months to help guide us through a challenging tine with our 4 year old son. About a year ago we found our son becoming increasingly angry and on a hair trigger, particularly at bed time. She coached us on how we could interact with our son during those difficult moments. Within the first week we saw an immediate and dramatic shift and our son continues to improve. With Rebecah's help we continue to develop our language and approach for guiding our son through the now occasional challenging moment. Rebecah's contact info is: rebecah [at] or (614) 769-3563. dan

During my first trimester with my second child, I became overwhelmed with worry and fear which led to sleeplessness and extreme irritability. My relationship was falling apart, and I couldn't concentrate on even the most mundane details at work. I was collapsing and felt so raw and vulnerable. I sought counseling services from Dr. Meghan Lewis, and after a few sessions I felt so, so much better! Meghan's approach is nurturing yet direct. I felt she understood me and my spiraling condition and was truly able to support my coming to terms with things and to support my healing. I highly recommend trying the hypnosis method she offers because it's extremely calming and helps you to enhance your strengths and your capacity to cope with whatever you are dealing with. Her number is 510.466.5930 and her website is Relieved Mama

Parenting classes and/or coaching

July 2013

Hi All, I'm looking for a class my husband and I could take together to learn better techniques for correcting our kids (and handling family stress in general). We have one preschooler one 2nd grader. We're also open to working short-term with a ''coach.'' I'm thinking working with a man might be most comfortable for my husband but we're open to anyone great. many thanks! needing some help

Dear Parents, I highly recommend Hand-in-Hand Parenting This organization offers classes, support groups and tons of resources to support parents throughout all stages of their children's development. The emphasis of the approach is nurturing the parent-child bound by encouraging consistent, meaningful and engaged interaction. My children are now teenagers, and I am grateful to have learned about Hand in Hand years ago and wanted to share with you. Best to you and your family! Bekki G

JULIE KING - HOW TO TALK SO CHILDREN WILL LISTEN Julie teaches small classes in Marin, SanFrancisco, Berkeley, Oakland, ... She's really down-to-earth and practical. She met with our grown ''kids'' when they were struggling with a variety of parenting issues and they ''didn't want to discuss 'personal failures' with Mom and Dad.'' The great results were immediate and effective. julie [at]
We are a MUCH calmer family! Thanks, Julie!!!

I know a great parenting coach - Dr. Jessica Michaelson. She offers private counseling, workshops, and classes. Also, her facebook page offers discussion topics and tips. Call her at 510-545-2147 and check out her website: Good luck! Camille

Parenting coach to help with strong-willed 9 year old

Sept 2012

We are looking for a parenting coach to help us deal with our strong willed 9 year old daughter. Someone who understands the nature of gifted children and their sensitivities/intensities/excitabilities would be helpful & validating, but we suspect stronger parenting skills will ultimately help our situation the most. She functions so much better with structure, boundaries and routines but we have come to realize that these slip away from us all too easily. We have the added burden of homeschooling her and need help dealing with her resistance, attitude, manipulations and lack of independence. She has a very pessimistic outlook on life and we worry that she is paving her way towards depression. Yes, we have tried individual therapy for her, but really feel that we get more bang for our buck if we are given guidance for managing her behavior (and our attitudes towards her, to be honest). Is there any parenting counselors out there who charge less than $100/hr in the Oakland area. Willing to travel for a great resource, though. anon

all Maria Antoniadis PhD ( on Leimert in Oakland) and see if she will work with you under your conditions. I know you are hoping for less than $100 an hour, but I'll tell you, an hour with her+me+my husband every 3-4 months( at about $190 each visit) is worth meeting weekly for a year with many others! She's a fabulous communicator and she knows her stuff. Also if she thinks your idea of what you need won't work..listen to her with an open mind. Believe me, this woman has really helped us to turn my 9 year old daughter's life around in a significant way. She's also helped us to learn how to parent in a way that really works for us all: win-win! JM

Mika Gustavson in San Jose is exactly who you need - except that she's in SJ! But maybe call her and ask for her referral for someone closer to you? Ask at the Summit Center in Walnut Creek? We have many 2E homeschooling friends, you are not alone! have you checked out ? hmm, you might also try talking to Anne Beneventi. hs mom

You should call Tom Limbert. He used to own Studio Grow and is now a parenting coach with a book out. Good Luck! Keri

I have used a parenting coach a few times for transitional times in my son's life and found the strategies to be very helpful. I highly recommend Tom Limbert, a parent coach, local author and former teacher. He has affordable packages, years of experience and a nice approach with parents. Although he mostly works with younger children, his messages apply to all ages. I appreciate how he infuses humor into his dialogue as parenting can be hard! He may be reached at tom [at] or 510.685.8553. Bay Area Mom

I have a coach for you. We have been in a very similar situation. In fact, I feel like you were describing my nine-year-old son in many ways. I also felt that we would get more bang for the buck from a clear, consistent parenting approach then from therapy. And I felt like my husband and I needed an outside person to get us on the same page with the approach, even though our goals are the same. The coach we've been using is Rebecah Freeling. She's been really great. She comes to our house and initially our sessions with her were just adult sessions, no kids. She is sensitive to the different cultures of each family and works within that framework and also makes it clear what you will need to do to get results. In our case she came up with a discipline plan that was simple enough for us to follow but has yielded results. Our son doesn't like it, of course, but his behavior has definitely changed. We are still working together to fine tune things and keep us on course. It's very easy to slip back to old habits so follow-up has been important. I highly recommend Rebecah and the two references she provided me also gave her glowing recommendations. More info about Rebecah Freeling at: Or call her at 614- 769-3563 (she is bay area located despite the area code). Best of luck! kira

I'd like to recommend Rebecah Freeling - a family coach who is also a Waldorf trained educator. I worked with her when she was our preschool teacher last year and she helped us to set a routine for morning time and getting out of the house with my then 4-year-old twin daughters. Waldorf is all about rhythm and Rebecah really understands children! Your exact situation sounds like a really good fit for her skills and experience. She is smart, down to earth, funny, and deeply cares about helping parents to connect with their children and to meet their own needs as grown-ups. Your 9 year old daughter is also going through what's called 'the 9 year old change', and Waldorf educators are uniquely qualified to help you understand what she's facing and what she needs, all while helping you to set structure, boundaries, and get your family back in sync with each other. Her website is: sarah

Therapist/parenting coach for challenging 4 year old

June 2012

So far, my husband and I have agreed about nearly all parenting decisions for our 4 and 2 year old. However, our four year old continues to come up with new and challenging behaviors faster than we can solve them and we're starting to get burned out and venting our frustration at each other. Our marriage is suffering and we're both feeling like we're lunging from one parenting challenge to the next. We've agreed that we need to find a therapist who is equipped to help us explore options for our parenting while also dealing with the emotions, frustration we've having independently and together - a therapist/parenting coach. Any suggestions? More than a parent

Hello, you should try Positive Parenting Program (Triple P). It involves teaching your family strategies using positive reinforcement methods to help reducing unwanted behaviors. There is also a aspect of the technique that involves reducing conflict and increasing emotional intimacy between parents to support each other. At Alameda Counseling we are nationally certified in the technique. Personally, I have found it to work well with my ADHD 5-year old and my 2-year old. If interested please give me a call at 510-227-6404. I have day,weekend and evening appointments and take several insurances. Andie Butler Acuna andie

I know a great therapist for this. She specializes in couples issues and she has been enormously helpful for me and my husband in figuring out how to deal with our wonderful (but very difficult child). She is really smart, figured out right away where we were getting stuck, and helped us come up with a plan that worked. Plus she got us feeling like we were on the same team again instead of fighting with each other about how to handle our son. Her name is Cindy Blackett and she's on Solano Ave. I think she's just amazing. Becca

Hello, I would give Robert Terris a call. He is in Rockridge. We went to him for awhile and I thought he ideas were constructive. Robert Terris -- Family Counseling & Mediation Center 5665 College Avenue, Suite 340 Oakland, CA 94618 tel. (510) 684-2172 email: famcmc [at] websites: Been there

I feel your pain! We have a six year old son, but over the last two years we have dealt with one issue after another (just like being on a treadmill), and because of this our marriage suffered. We ended up seeing a marriage therapist in Albany named Cindy Blackett and she is terrific!!! After just a few visits with her we started to understand the nature of frustrations (it was not just our son) and started learning to see other in a different way that helped us to communicate. I cannot tell you how helpful and real she is. She really listens well and offers suggestions that are truly meaningful- not just the stuff that you expect therapists to say. I highly recommend her as she has saved our marriage. Her number is 415.798.6082. PK

Parenting Therapist, Coach, Advisor, Mentor

Dec 2011

Looking for a professional who can fill a multi purpose role: a therapist, parenting coach, advisor, and mentor. I am gay with long term partner and have two children under 5. I would really like this person to be a parent (preferably of more than one child) who is open, non judgemental and has a great sense of humor.

I would highly recommend Laura Goldberger. I think she would fulfill what you're looking for. She helped us (a lesbian couple) a lot with couples issues and a range of parenting advice. Her website is and phone is 510-665-7755

Ben Ringler would be ideal for what you are looking for. Here is his webpage: anon

Guidance to help us with toddler aggression

Aug 2011

My partner and I are looking for some guidance to help us with our 18-month old's behavior. He has always been sensitive and needed extra love and attention and prone to angry outbursts, but lately things have deteriorated to almost-constant screaming tantrums, hitting, and biting. We realize that these are on the spectrum of normal toddler behaviors, but with a 2.5 year old also needing our attention, we have been totally unsuccessful in redirecting and/or soothing him. We've both been frustrated and losing our patience with him, which I'm sure makes things worse I'm looking for either a class or therapist experienced in coaching parents through these phases. Any recommendations or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

I'm sorry to hear you are having a difficult time. What a challenge. Asking for coaching so you can meet his needs is a wonderful perspective. JFCS (Jewish Family and Children's services offers counseling to families with young children. They are particularly trained and skilled at helping very young children and their parents. I would encourage you to call them and set up an appointment to determine how they might help. Wishing you well.

Co-parenting therapist sensitive to gay families

Feb 2011

My ex-partner and I need co-parenting help. Our situation: 1. I had a baby as a single (lesbian) mom by choice. 2. When this child was 4.5, I met a woman. We dated for 1.5 years and then lived together for 3.5 years. My child and partner fell in love with each other, and over time my child considered my partner her second mother. 3. While we discussed my partner adopting my child, it didn't happen for a number of reasons. 4. When we broke up, I wanted to support my child's relationship with my ex, and they currently spend 2 days a week together, including half the weekend. 5. Much of our fighting has to do with our roles. I'm the only legal parent, and I have full decision making authority. My ex really resents this and feels it undermines her role as parent.

We really need some help. I'm not sure if we're looking for a therapist or a mediator, but I would like someone who could handle the emotional aspects of our issue, be sensitive to gay families, and could maybe help us work on a written co-parenting agreement. We're not looking for long-term couple's counseling. Most of what has been previously posted on co-parenting is over 5 years old or focuses on parents needing a lawyer. Bio mom

Your situation sounds like a perfect fit for Reba Connell (LCSW) 510-594-8224. She's specialized in these types of situations and enjoys the challenges of this very complex dilemma. She's a great listener and will help you find a solution. LL

I think that Reba Connell, MFCC, at the Center for Stress Reduction would be a great choice for your dilema. She has many years in the field and has a LOT of experience with lesbian couples and family issues. She uses a method called the Gottman Method and is the only person in the East Bay certified in this method. I have found it to be an extremely effective method after doing counseling numerous times in the past. I strongly encourage you to contact her and see if it seems like a good fit, whether you do individual or couple's counseling around this. It definitely sounds like a difficult situation and I wish you luck. Reba is great! You can find her at 510-594-8224 or BEST WISHES!!! Happy!

In response to your question, I have a wonderful referral for a ''Family coach'' that may be able to help. Her name is Rachel Griffin, her website is: She has many years experience working with both blended and unconventional family arrangements. She is East Bay based and will travel. Best of luck to you and your family! tomi

Therapist to help us make changes in our parenting style

Jan 2011

Hi, I've got an 8 year old son who does great in school and gets along really well with both kids and teachers but drives us crazy at home. He incessantly picks on his little sister (yes I know much of this is typical) but he can be very disrespectful to his dad and I and continues to have tantrums when things don't go his way. I'd love a recommendation for someone to talk to us as a family about making parenting style changes as well as someone who my son could feel comfortable talking with as well. Thanks! Looking for extra support

Please give JFCS/East Bay a call. They offer a range of services for families facing just these sorts of issues--with particular expertise in family therapy and getting everyone all on the same page. They can definitely discuss parenting styles and what works and doesn't work for each member of the family. It's a nonprofit agency in downtown Berkeley--wonderful people who really can help you. Phone is (510) 704-7475 or visit and check out Parenting & Youth under the Services tab. Holly

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Parenting oriented therapist wanted

Oct 2009

I've done therapy and I've been in parenting classes, now I want a combo of the two. It seems like when I've been in therapy, therapists are not too keen on talking extensively about what to do as a parent, what I might be doing wrong or right, what I can do to correct my issues, and how to address concerns I have with my children as they grow. Generally, I get some polite amounts of time to talk about this kind of stuff here and there in a session, but not exclusively and not time after time. I didn't have the best role models and I can feel a lot of bad patterns from my own parents creeping up in my parenting. Can anyone recommend at therapist that would indulge my need to really discuss parenting issues and stages of development for children as well as children's needs. Also, can you recommend someone who might take Aetna insurance? Thanks. Need parenting therapy

Try Michael Simon at Practical Advice for Parents Nancy

Stacy Stoddard! 510.496.2733. Stacy worked A LOT with me and my partner around parenting stuff. She's very down to earth, and she would always let me talk about what I wanted to talk about. She has her own kids, too, so I always liked knowing that. a better parent

Need help coping with child's distress

Oct 2008

Hello, I am a single mom of 3 year old. I am truely frustrated and helpless about the situation about what my daughter is going through. Recently, when my ex comes to pick up our daughter, she refuses to go. Even before he comes, when I tell her that her daddy is coming today she will start crying and not wanting to go. Past couple weeks have been really, really hard. She will cry and scream ''mommy, I don't wanna go'' ''I want to stay''. I see her eyes with streams of tears and hearing her screaming for me are just heartaching experience. But there is nothing I can do. He will just tells me ''just give to me'' and takes her from my arm. I know she will be OK, but it's been really hard to deal with this...I know I have to be strong for her, but it's been really hard. Are there any therapist that I can see and may be talk about my feelings and frustration? I don't know what to do with myself. I need help... S

Sevin Philips is great. anon

I highly recommend Chris Weipert, whose office is in Noe Valley (Church & Duncan). Her phone number is 415-710-6769. One of her specialties is working with parents of young children. She's warm and understanding and makes you feel comfortable. She has a website for more information: Good luck. Been there

my heart really goes out to you! it's not easy to have conflict and additional guilt and worry from your child's preference bearing down on you. my advice for dealing with your daughter is to make a point of telling her that you love her no matter what and that you will be with her again soon and never leave her. i then turn these statements into questions to drive it home, just asking her basically if she feels loved, if she needs more hugs... i'm sure you do all this, and that's why she wants to hang onto you. you might also tell her that it's okay for her to love you and daddy, that you will not be mad at her for loving him and that you understand that it's hard right now. you might tell her that while you and daddy aren't getting along, that has nothing to do with her and that you both will love her always. if he's on the same page and can say the same, it may help, and don't just say it once. say it a lot! maybe you two can work it out so that you hug her goodb! ye and then amicably hand her over. can he let her call if she's missing you? (he probably wants to grab her and go, since it's uncomfortable for all of you). my partner and i have experienced this in a smaller version, because whenever we bicker, she's all about mom and wants nothing to do with dad. she can be cruel! i basically interpret this as she's picking sides and puts her positive feelings about him at bay to be loyal to her #1 person. (i'm guessing you're it, and so she wants to show you she's loyal). it takes my daughter a long time to get over any argument and trust him again, (and i mean days!) and i take it that your girl is just being her smart and sensitive self too. one question, did this kind of preference happen in a smaller way before the split, like did she prefer you in more subtle ways during conflict? one more thing with your daughter, speak very well of him in front of her and promote their relationship.

on looking for a therapist, perhaps you can seek counseling through ucsf. there's a great psychoanalyst named jeanne leary. she's pretty limited to adoption, but she might be able to give referrals. i only saw her once, but she's the smartest therapist i've ever encountered. she sliced through my issues like butter... lots of good wishes to you. don't forget to take mommy time, massage, a good book, sit on the beach and do nothing, get a babysitter or ask family/friends for help watching her. give her special time on a regular basis (weekly or monthly) with just the two of you at fairyland or some other magical place. tabs

I highly recommend Janna Wissler, MFT. I saw her for individual and then couples counselling, and I think she is just amazing. Here's her website: and here's the Yelp review I wrote of her: Midwife to the birth of new consciousness, Janna accompanies you where you didn't think you had the courage to go. Right down through all the sh*t and blood and guts, Janna bears witness to the unfolding of truth. During my year+ of therapy with Janna (individual and couples) she has taught me to honor those dark and messy places as part the beauty of being human. Ready for transformation? I highly recommend jumping in with this brilliant woman. Cynthia

Parenting Counselling?

Oct 2008

Does anyone have a recommendation for a doctor or counselor who specializes in teaching parents to parent? Someone to discuss parenting issues and to get advice from on how to parent in different situations? Any recommendations would be helpful! Parent in need of advice

I started working with a wonderful parenting counselor 4 years ago to help me understand and help my delightful but very anxious child (she's now 8). I started with a group parenting class with Leah Statman, who has an office in Albany. Since then, I've met with Leah to work on parenting issues and for help crafting a parenting agreement during my divorce, to discuss all kinds of parenting issues with her one-on-one, to attend some of her ongoing parent support groups, and to do touch work (Jin Shin Jyutsu) for both my daughter and myself. Leah has a deeply healing and positive, optimistic presence, is deeply practical and creative in truly bringing parents into harmony with each other, themselves and their kids. My favorite thing about Leah is that she always has an insight about how to ''get through'' or find the next step, or find the truth of a situation and then work with it. She is an invaluable resource for me and my family. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Her website is and her phone is 510-525-5080. You are welcome to email me if you have any questions. Karin
( Editor note: Leah Statman passed away in 2011. )

Our Family Needs a Tune-Up

Feb 2008

I'm not sure whether to post this in Advice or Recommendations. We have three kids (5, 7 and 10) who are mostly friendly, loving, well-behaved kids, but lately our family feels a little dysfunctional. We have generally avoided punishments and strict rules, but I'm wondering if we need better boundaries. The kids frequently hit each other and make each other cry. The older two gang up on the younger one. They sometimes shout NO when we ask them to do something. They cry (a lot) when things go wrong. I think we need a good behavioral therapist to coach us through some gentle, solid methods of discipline. I'm not looking for months (let alone years) of in-depth therapy, but rather a sane, no-nonsense approach to behavior adjustment, delivered in a finite number of sessions. Can anyone recommend someone? Thanks a lot. Dysfunctional in Berkeley

I am really impressed with Elisa Dumensnil (the s is silent). She is works with kids both in school settings and with kids and familiies. She's very nice, really, she is! 510-338-4233 is her number elisa923 [at] Father of Two

Call Elisa Dumesnil (pronounced Doomanell) at 510-338-4233. She's a mom, she's an experienced therapist, and she's great with kids. I'm sure she could give your family a tune-up. Laura

Hi, I think all families could use an occasional tune up! I am no expert on child behavior, but I can recommend a book that I recently read and have found helpful: ''Setting Limits with Your Srong WIlled Child'' by Robert J. MacKenzie, ED.D. Even if your kids are not especially strong willed, this book offers some very practical ideas for how to change course in what the author refers to as ''your family dance''. It's a fast read, so you have nothing to lose. Michele

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Need some one-on-one advice on my parenting

March 2005

I don't know if there is such a person but I am looking for some type of parenting counselor who can help me work through issues that I am having with my 4 year old. She is generally a sweet loving child with a lot of energy and a very strong will. While her teachers say she is well behaved she is not well behaved with me. I am sure there are a lot of things that we can find that contribute to her ''Dr. Jeckyl, Mr. Hyde'' behavior and I have read many books and practice the advice found in them but really, nothing has worked very well. I keep thinking that I need an outsider's POV to help me work through this. I am not interested in a group class at this point but some one-on-one advice. Any suggestions as to who that could be? Nearing my wits end

Jill Schugard is the person for you. She does groups adn private parental counselling. She helped me and my husband a few years ago with family dynamic issues and specific kid behaviors. She's really good. We saw her 2 or 3 times. She gave us ''homework'' to do and followup. She's great. I do not have her number (sorry), but she is in the phone book. If I remember, she's off of Solano in Berkeley. Good luck. happier mom

Last spring we worked with Monica Frame, a licensed clinical social worker in Albany, on some issues we (and her preschool) had with our then-3 1/2-year-old daughter. We recommend her highly.

We (parents) met with Monica alone, then Monica had 3 or 4 ''play'' sessions with our daughter alone, and then we met again with Monica alone. At our request, Monica also observed our daughter at preschool. From this, Monica developed good insights into both our daughter's personality and our parenting style. She gave us several very helpful suggestions that we have been able to use in a variety of parenting situations. Monica is low-key, easy to talk to and a good listener. Our daughter was sad when her visits to Monica were over.

Monica's number (as of last summer) is 504-8168. Feel free to email me if you have questions or need more information. r.

As a family therapist, I would venture to say that your 4-year- old is doing what comes naturally -- testing her limits. (Normal for her, but nevertheless frustrating for YOU!) I think it's great that you want to seek some counseling/therapy around all of this -- it's likely to be VERY helpful and it shows how much you care about your daughter's emotional well-being. '

If I were your therapist, one of the first things I would be interested in is your description that she seems to behave well at school, but becomes challenging in the home. So, she's testing you -- I would be curious about how you are responding to her tests and whether or not there is any secondary gain for her to continue to act out. (For instance, in some families, children misbehave in order to draw attention and focus away from fighting parents).

I would also want to know if anything major has changed in her life recently (ie: new sibling, death in the family, illness, change of neighborhood, new babysitter, parents fighting, etc).

4-year-olds are great at expressing their anxieties and stresses through play -- so you might want to try some directive activities with her. You could ask her to color a picture showing what it's like to be mad! Or help her put on a puppet show where the puppets talk about what kids can do when they're sad. Encouraging your daughter to self-soothe (find productive ways of managing her anxiety) will not only pay off in the short-term - it will provide lifelong benefits!!

I've heard from friends that Meg Zweibek (don't know how she spells it) can be quite helpful. If you can't find her phone number in the book, call Bananas (child care referal) in oakland and they are sure to have it. You are right in seeking help. It is important for your child to act respectfully to all adults, including you. Of course many of our children are better when they are outside the home. But it is not okay for them to unload un us parents too much. And it is good for us to know how to teach them their limits, and get them to see how their actions can really hurt those who they love. - A mom with loving opinionated daughters

I have heard Rona Renner speak about parenting pre-schoolers at my son's preschool and she is a very sensible person with a helpful, non-judgemental problem-solving approach. She has a great sense of humor too, which you need when you're feeling overwhelmed with parenting. I know that she also runs workshops for parents at Kaiser. I think she'd be a great person to help with parenting skills.

I have also spoken with Meg Zweiback on the phone about my troubles with a very demanding and difficult baby and she was just great, so soothing and sensible. I know that people love her for her sleep and toilet training advice, but she is also a very experienced parenting coach. GO

2003 & Earlier

Personal coach for parenting 6-year-old

July 2003

I need help and would like recommendations for someone who can give me personal coaching and guidance in handling the anger and rage I often experience with my 6-year- old son. My once near perfect child has increasingly developed behaviors that I consider totally unacceptable, and I have not managed to either: a) steel myself to them and let them roll off my back; or b) get him to stop them. As a result, I errupt with rage and do things I am ashamed of. I am looking for someone who can help me find ways to achieve some of both a and b above. Many of the behaviors my son engages in are not acceptable (many have to do with personal boundaries, like licking me, twisting my nose, poking my eyes, and poking my husband in the privates) and he truly needs to stop them. So I need to find effective ways to stop these behaviors. But I also need help channeling my anger and rage, which often have me yelling as sternly and desperately as I can muster to my child, and deeply wishing I could just whack him one. Anonymous

My husband and I went to see a wonderful therapist (she calls herself a nurse) at Kaiser Richmond, named Rona Renner . She is wonderful, and extremely thoughtful! She offered us sound and do- able suggestions on how to deal with our seven year old son, as well as insights into why he bahaved the way he does (what he is feeling inside, and things that we can do or say that will help him (and us)). If you have Kaiser insurance, I would RUN to her immediately! The other possibilty is Jim Beatty, who offers social skills workshops for boys. He is located on Eighth Street, in Berkeley. His phone number is: 644-1788. He probably can't help you, but he might help your son. As an aside, I, too, am not proud of the anger I feel towards my son sometimes, but talking to Rona Renner really helped. I hope you can get in to see her! Everybody Needs Help Sometimes

Why not try a marriage family counselor who works with both children and adults? I think that if you are clear about your goals, as you were in your post, you should be able to find someone to work with you around the specific behaviors that are pushing your buttons and to help you with your reactions. It doesn't have to be long-term work, but developing a relationship with someone you can go back to when you feel the need sounds like a good idea. Susan

I would contact Inbal Kashtan at 510-530-5302. She is part of the Bay Area Non-violent Communication community and specialises in NVC Parenting. She has a NVC parenting group you can attend, you can attend her classes and I'm sure you can see her individually as well. She will help you identify your feelings and needs as well as your son's and give you tools for being the parent you want to be. An NVC Parent

I would suggest Dr. Philip Gross in Albany. He works together with his wife, Miriam, who is a LCSW. Dr. Gross meets with the child to work on whatever behavior problems there are, and Miriam meets with the parents to help them overcome whatever issues they have. We recommend them highly. anon

Hey, I hate to say this, but I have had great success taming my rage at my middle son, who is ''spirited,'' by taking a light dose of Lexapro, a SSRI (anti-depressant). I would not have considered myself ''depressed,'' but my GP rec'mded the drug as something to ''take the edge off'' and it has worked really well. When I'm not so angry,I can better apply the standard parenting techniques to handle the meltdowns and tantrums that were so difficult for me. Just give it a thought. Susan