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left-margin About Bonnie  |  Connective Parenting

About Bonnie Harris

Bonnie Harris, M.S.Ed. is the director of Connective Parenting. Bonnie has designed and taught parenting workshops and counseled parents for twenty years. She received her master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in New York City.

She founded The Parent Guidance Center in Peterborough, NH in 1990, now The River Center, which is dedicated to parent education and support. Her book When Your Kids Push Your Buttons (Warner Books, 2003) led to her appearance on The Today Show, Asia News broadcast from Singapore, ABC broadcast in Australia as well as radio and TV programs across the United States. "Buttons" made the NY Post's top ten list of best parenting books and has been published in six additional countries. Bonnie teaches her "Buttons" workshops and professional trainings and speaks internationally on a variety of parenting topics as well as across the internet. Bonnie is the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband in Peterborough, NH. Her second book, Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You'll Love to Live With came out in September, 2008.

As a teacher of parent education for the past twenty years, who has worked with parents in different parts of the world, Bonnie has learned a lot about what you, the parent, want. You want to be the best parent you can be, but you get easily frustrated and say and do what you swore you wouldn't. You may not want to raise your children the way you were raised, but you're at a loss as to what to do instead. You want to teach your children right from wrong, but you know that the old ways don't work for your kids. Maybe you have learned that time-outs and punishment don't work, but when impatience or guilt gets the best of you, you fluctuate between empty threats and giving in. You are exhausted from daily power struggles and endless arguments and overwhelmed by the effort it takes in the limited time you have. You want your children to have the voice you never had, but when they use it, your button gets pushed, because they say and do what you never dared. You want desperately to do what is right, to have happy, responsible children, but your methods keep backfiring.

The Connective Parenting Philosophy gives parents the tools to communicate in a way that feels good—that feels right. Simply put, it is a change in perception that allows parents to understand where their children are coming from and what their behavior means instead of simply reacting to it with yelling, threatening, rewarding, or punishing.

Letting go of old habits is the hard part. We fear losing authority and giving in to children's demands. But many of our old habits undermine our authority and leave us fluctuating between autocratic and permissive styles. Connective Parenting finds the balance.

The Philosophy of Connective Parenting

Connective Parenting is dedicated to guiding parents in the discovery of why both they and their children behave and respond the way they do. It is based on the principle that the child wants to do what is right, wants to cooperate, wants to succeed and only gets off track when an obstacle derails him. His behavior is a cue to discovering that obstacle.

In this light, misbehavior is seen through the perception that the child is having a problem, not being a problem. This perception allows feelings of understanding and even compassion in the parent so that connection can occur and the problem can be identified.

This revolutionary parenting style means that the parent takes responsibility for 100% of everything she says and does but does not take responsibility for the child's feelings or behavior. That is his job that he learns well through connection, problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Connective Parenting gives parents the methods of connection that nurtures, encourages and focuses on the child's strengths rather than inadequacies while setting necessary limits to ensure self-respect and respect for others. It engages the child's innate sense of fairness and logic.

If we want our children to listen to us, we need to say what they can hear. Not give them what they want, simply acknowledge and respect what they want. Connective communication encourages listening and talking and feeling important to someone — interaction. Disconnection occurs when we are indifferent as well as critical, blaming and punitive — when we unintentionally push our children away.

Connective Parenting is a philosophy of parenting that serves as a resevoir from which parents can draw, even in the heat of the moment, instead of grabbing at straws with automatic knee-jerk reactions.

Connective Parenting:

  • taps into the issues that prevent parents from parenting the way their heart knows best
  • supports the rights and needs of each member of the family in order to maintain balance and foster a strong family environment
  • promotes supporting the inborn nature of the child
  • teaches parenting that never asks children to alter their nature in order to gain acceptance and approval
  • encourages parents to take responsibility for how they parent
  • encourages conscious parenting so that automatic reactions seldom occur
  • focuses on the root cause of behavior rather than the behavior itself
  • encourages parents to see a misbehaving child as a child who has a problem rather than a child who is a problem
  • helps parents to connect with their children through reconnecting to their own core
  • promotes parenting that offers unconditional acceptance of children while setting appropriate limits, structure, and guidance
  • encourages parents to watch in awe the individual journeys of their children
Traditional parenting in our culture is based on the reward and punishment system intended to teach our children right from wrong and shape their characters into personalities that society sees fit. Within this system, most parenting has fallen short for generations. Why? Because it doesn't work.

Children thrive and develop beautifully on respect, connection, and most important, acceptance. Acceptance for who they are. To accept them, we must first learn to understand them by watching their behavior and interpreting the meaning of it — finding its root. Once we know who our children are and how they respond to their environment, we must accept that temperament—the essence of who they are—and not try to change it.

As soon as children sense that who they are is unacceptable, they tend to either act out inappropriately or withdraw and strive to be who they think they should be. When they feel accepted, their sense of self remains strong to give them a solid foundation on which to develop self-respect and self-confidence.

Connection Parenting finds and seeks to maintain a balance between the needs of the child and the needs of each member of the family. When either the child's needs or the parent's needs are more important in the family dynamic, balance is off and problems emerge. When the family is out of balance its core is fragmented and each member must find his own way. When there is balance, the family is healthy and strong and serves as a base for life.


© Bonnie Harris, LLC | 603.924.6639 | bh@bonnieharris.com

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"I am constantly astonished and delighted by your rich and insightful answers to parents. I have been a therapist for many years and I work with children as well as adults. Yet with all my experience and my knowledge, there is something so strong and assured about your views on child/parent relationships that they continue to engage and add to my knowledge. I think you do beautiful work."
—grandmother and therapist from Israel
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"Bonnie Harris is a powerful voice of reason, rhyme and guts. We need to stop seeing parenting as something that parents endure and start taking into account that parenting implies relationship, not a set of rules that little people better follow or else."
—mother of two and author
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