Parenting with positive guidance: Amanda Morgan

I consider myself fortunate to have gotten to know Amanda  Morgan, of Not Just Cute.  For those of you who have not yet discovered her blog, Not Just Cute is a well-written resource for parents and caregivers of preschoolers.

Before she joined Simple Kids as a regular contributor, Amanda graciously consented to let me interview her back in January 2011, so that Simple Kids readers could get to know her and her work. Her family may have grown a bit since then, with the birth of their new baby boy, but her love of children and heart for educating parents and caregivers is the same. I’m re-posting this interview today and sharing some news about her Parenting with Positive Guidance ecourse at the end. Enjoy!

1. So, Amanda, tell me a little bit about your family.

Well, there’s certainly a lot of testosterone in my house!  I have a wonderful husband who is amazingly supportive and often serves as my sounding board.  (I’ll be the first to admit some of the best parts of the book came from discussions with him.  And it was great for us as a parenting team.)

We have three boys ages 6, 4 ½ , and 21 months.  So if you were to walk into my house on any given day, you’d find a lot of Legos, light sabers, books, bruises, battle cries, dirt, and pillow fights.

2.  You run your blog, Not Just Cute, and have written an ebook.  You’re balancing writing with raising a family and you also have a very interesting day job.  Could you share with our readers a bit about what you do?

I’m really lucky.  I get to spend a lot of time with my own kids while still pursuing some of the professional endeavors I’m passionate about.  I work as a trainer and consultant for The Children’s Center of Salt Lake, which is a non-profit organization that works to provide mental health services and early intervention for preschool age children with emotional and behavioral problems.

I work in the outreach program which serves early childhood centers in providing training to the teachers and consulting with them about best practices for all children as well as extra support for specific children with special emotional or behavioral challenges.

It’s a great fit for me and my family right now because a lot of the training happens in the evening when my husband is home and the center is very thoughtful about only scheduling classes about one night a week and allowing a lot of flexibility to meet personal and family needs.  It’s really a dream job!

3.  You have an extensive background in early childhood education.  Did you always know you wanted to work in this field?  What did you want to be when you grew up?

As any child with great parents will, I grew up believing I could be anything.  And so, at one time or another, I pretty much wanted to be everything!  Most prominently, I toyed with becoming a lawyer, an architect, a writer (surprise), a psychologist, and of course, a teacher.

I’ve always loved children, but more than that, I’ve been fascinated by the developmental process.  I remember really becoming passionate about it while taking a high school psychology class.  The developmental theories were always my favorite!

4.  I highly recommend your book, Parenting With Positive Guidance.  For those who might not yet be familiar with your work, could you share a bit about the philosophy of positive guidance?

As I discuss in my book,  positive guidance is based on a belief that young children often misbehave not because they’re “bad” but because they haven’t yet learned social complexities or built adequate impulse control.  It’s focused on building a child’s social competence and self-mastery in a way that maintains a positive adult-child relationship and also feeds the child’s self-concept.

It’s focused more on teaching children rather than punishing them so that they behave appropriately because they understand, not because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t.  The focus is on building the child’s control over self rather than the adult’s control of the child.  It’s more in keeping with what I know about how young children develop and learn than some of the other behavior modifying approaches out there.

5.  It is clear you have a heart for families and for kids.  Can you share a bit about your writing process and why you felt this was an important book to write?

In my training for The Children’s Center, I would teach a lot about positive guidance for the teachers, and I often found myself mulling over our discussions long after the class was over.  I found the professional part of my brain essentially coaching the mom side of my brain, trying to take this perfect theoretical stuff and make it applicable in my real and sometimes messy life as “Mom.”

I started including some of these thoughts in my blog and was surprised by the response it was getting from readers who wanted to be positive parents, but weren’t sure what that really meant or what it looked like.

I think it’s really intimidating to write about parenting because, really, who gets it right 100% of the time?  But when I heard from these parents about how much it was helping them, and even fielded a few direct requests for a book, I decided it was time to take the leap and share my professional knowledge along with my own imperfections and my own efforts to practice positive guidance in our home and in the classrooms where I work.

6.  As you are a mom of three, I know your advice has been “field tested.”  What is something that has surprised you about parenting?

I think that coming to motherhood after years of working with kids, it surprised me to see the difference between “other people’s kids” and your own kids.  They just react differently, there’s a different dynamic.  Your own kids will generally challenge you far more than a group of 20 kids in a classroom, but the rewards are far greater too.  I’ve had notes and pictures from students that would melt my heart, but nothing compares to the full-body-arms-and-legs hugs from my boys, the way they look at me, and the way they talk to me.

I’ve always loved kids, but it was surprising to find how much deeper and stronger that love is when they’re your own children.  There’s something magical about having your hearts woven together like that.

7.  We have several readers who are getting reading to add a new sibling to their families soon.  Any advice for helping parents and older siblings make that transition from only child to big brother/big sister?

I think when you transition from one child to two, it’s easy to go from thinking about a specific child to lumping them together as “the kids.”  I think it’s important to still think of them as individuals.  Find time to be with them one-on-one and recognize their different strengths, needs, and personalities.

I’m so pleased to announce that Amanda is going to be teaching an e-course on Parenting With Positive Guidance: Building Discipline from the Inside Out, beginning on September 12, 2012 and enrollment is open today.  Head over to Not Just Cute to learn more!

If you’re looking for more of Amanda’s wisdom for parents here at Simple Kids, check out the archives for all of her posts. This post is one I’ve personally found very helpful: Teaching the art of sharing.

Please note that there are affiliate links within this post. Thanks!

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. What a wonderful interview. I have not yet come across Not Just Cute; I’ll jump over there now to read more. I also strive to parent with positive guidance, but sometimes I fall short. I’m excited to learn of this great resource.
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  2. Thank you, Amanda! It was fun to get to know you a little bit better and to learn more about the process and the thoughts behind your book.

    “There’s something magical about having your hearts woven together like that.” Yes, there certainly is 🙂
    Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Parenting With Positive Guidance- An Interview with Amanda Morgan

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I am looking forward to checking out her blog.
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  4. Diane Hunt says:

    I’ve know Amanda since we were kids, when we called her Mandy. 🙂 She is brilliant, kind, and good. I am grateful to know her and glean from her. I am really enjoying the ebook. It’s enlightening, refreshing, and applicable. Thanks Amanda! And thank you Kara, for interviewing her. It was fun to read.

  5. “Positive guidance is based on a belief that young children often misbehave not because they’re “bad” but because they haven’t yet learned social complexities or built adequate impulse control.”

    Amanda & Kara, thank you so much for this insight. As a parent of two little ones, I often expect them to “know better” when in actuality, they’ve never been taught otherwise. Recognizing their individual strengths (and weaknesses) and being proactive in teaching as opposed to reactive in discipline is something I need to improve upon. 🙂

    Really great post!

  6. Thanks everyone! It is so gratifying to hear about your experiences and to know that what I’ve written is helpful in some way.

    And Diane, you can always call me Mandy, and I will always call you the Beckster! :0) Thanks for your kind words. I feel the same way about you!

  7. Absolutely wonderful interview from one of my very favorite writer and parenting gurus! Thank you Kara and Amanda!

  8. Thanks for turning me on to a new blog! There are so many that it’s nice to find one on a recommendation!
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