About Me

Hi and Welcome!

I’m a mom, a daydreamer, a writer and a child development psychologist. Once upon a time, I thought I knew a lot about raising kids. Actually, that’s not quite true — I never felt like I knew a lot about parenting per se, but I did worry that I knew too much about development and what could go wrong.


When I became a parent would I worry about my child’s style of attachment to me, their temperament, whether they had signs of a language delay or some of the other things I had read about in my textbooks?

I studied kids and development for 15 years before having my own child and here’s what happened —

I did worry– but not about any of those things. I loved that little soul so much, that I knew no matter what challenges were ahead we would be okay — we would figure it out.

Instead, I worried about work-family balance and how I was doing as a mom. How could I be a great mom and be on the tenure-track at my University? How could I be there for my college students and for my baby boy? Why wasn’t he sleeping?  What is the best way to respond to tantrums? How can I gently guide his behavior and help him learn to manage his emotions? How can I get him to listen?

Don’t we all worry about these things?

I found myself constantly reading about parenting– research studies, blogs, books, — there is an overwhelming amount of information that barrages us as parents every day.

I realized a few key things those in those first years as a mother:

— There is a lot of information out there — too much— some of it good, some of it not so good.

— There is a lot of information that isn’t out there. Great techniques, ideas, and inspiration.

— College students, most of them, don’t love hearing about parenting, I needed a different audience!

— I may have a Ph.D. in child development, but I was (still am!) a work in progress as a parent.

I realized that my passion was parenting — I wanted to research it, write about it, talk about and focus on my own growth as a parent. I wanted to find like-minded parents so we could inspire each other and grow in our roles as parents together.

I quit my job and started this blog to pursue my passions– my family and being the best (imperfect) version of me I can be. Will you join me on this journey?

Join the Nurture and Thrive community by signing up for my monthly newsletter. I am so happy you are here and that together we can nurture our children and watch them thrive!


My pledge to you is to share the best information — the best parenting tips from research, parent coaches, my own experience, education, and things that have inspired me along the way to grow and develop as a mother right alongside my son.

From Merriam Webster’s Dictionary:


transitive verb \ˈnər-chər\

: to help (something or someone) to grow, develop, or succeed

: to take care of (someone or something that is growing or developing) by providing food, protection, a place to live, etc.


intransitive verb \ˈthrīv\

: to grow or develop successfully

: to flourish or succeed

http___signatures.mylivesignature.com_54492_146_767F261AB717EE90C307B4E8955770D4 copy


  • Reply
    Self-Regulation Toolkit For When Kids Have to Wait - Busy Moms Helper
    May 5, 2015 at 9:00 am

    […] (in addition to being a Mommy, I’m a Developmental Psychologist, for more about that read this) is that when I did self-control tasks with kids, the ones who did the best were really good at […]

  • Reply
    Amanda Johnson
    May 10, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I wish I had found you sooner, but I’m happy to be binge reading your blog posts now! :)) I am loving all of the game/toy ideas for kids, and I’m definitely going to try some this summer with my three. You have such great information here. I was looking for playroom ideas (that would be fun for 3, 5 and 7 year old kiddos) and have found so much more. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Ashley Soderlund Ph.D.
      May 16, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Thank you so much Amanda! Its great to get this kind of feedback. Last summer we played so many games, it was a great way to fill summer afternoons.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I really enjoyed reading your blog – the activities you talk about are great for reinforcing good behavior and teaching essential life skills. What do you think of reading books aloud to children? Have you studied the effects of that in your research? Everything I’ve seen points to huge benefits from simply reading to your children – chapter books, picture books, and basically everything, that’s appropriate of course.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Hi there!

    I have a question about the IKEA playroom desk/storage. What size table top did you use and did you have to modify it? I purchased the pieces however the table top is way too deep and hangs over the edge by about 6-8″. Our playroom has been in need of an overhaul for year and I think your IKEA idea is the solution!!

    • Reply
      Ashley Soderlund Ph.D.
      October 1, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      Hi Christina,

      Exciting to redo your playroom! I’d love to see a picture! We used the plain white Linnmon table top, the longest one for our space. It does over hang, so we centered it. My sister did this same desk and in her space it worked better for them to build up a small stand behind the drawers (like a three sided box) and that way they could have the tabletop flush to the front of the drawers. You don’t see the stands, they simply are there to extend the space. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    I saw your post on cognitive leaps and cranky children and about babies. Is there any research on when cognitive leaps tend to happen in the older years? Like around ages 5-7?

  • Reply
    Mary Smith
    March 4, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    After reading your article on 4 tips for getting kids to seat and eat at the dinner table, I bought the little chair insert for my granddaughter. She had come over for dinner the night before and could not sit still and it turned into drama with parents arguing and my little sweetheart crying. I was beside myself as there is not suppose to be any crying in Nana’s house. The chair was delivered and my daughter calls it a game changer and now she sits and draws, and eats and communicates. I thank you for your insights and recommendation of the little booster seat and stool under the table. It’s the little things!!!

    • Reply
      Ashley Soderlund Ph.D.
      March 5, 2018 at 7:18 am

      Oh that’s wonderful! I am so happy to hear. Isn’t it interesting how little kids need that physical input? Thank you for sharing your story. (:

  • Reply
    March 28, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Dr. Soderlund,

    Our family is experiencing some unexpected behavior that our son conveyed on his tenth birthday. After being gifted a card, balloons and a custom cake during his homerooms’ appointed snack time our son decided to bring the extra cupcakes home so could share them with his parents. However, within his 3 or 4 block trek, he thought it would be o.k. to smear one into his friend’s face! Ever the gentleman, he politely asked his buddy for permission to follow through with his idea. His pal said “No”, but another someone else wanted to enjoy a good cupcake in the face. So our son fulfilled his request! Then another person reached in the box and threw a cupcake at another student that was among the group. After more convincing arguments from our son, his buddy changed his mind and now wanted a cupcake in his face. The newly double digit young man didn’t tell us about what transpired, but the assistant principal informed us immediately and conducted a 45- minute investigation to report that she saw no evidence of malicious intent and our son was obliged to fulfill an hour detention for his actions. Do you believe that the consequence fits the offense? Should he be required to write a letter? Buy his buddy lunch from money he earned? He also received an XBOX game that he wanted for his birthday when he got home from school. Should we take it back? Please help!!!
    Warmest regards

    Sleep Deprived “Second Year” Stepfather

    • Reply
      Ashley Soderlund Ph.D.
      March 28, 2018 at 8:47 am

      Hello and thank you for your question. It sounds like the assistant principal found that there was no malicious intent. Your son was having fun, not being a bully. I think the hour detention to think about his actions is fair — I think the bigger thing to impress upon your son is that you do need permission to get into someone else’s physical space. That “no”, does in fact, mean “no.” I think asking your son to apologize to his friend would be appropriate as well, but beyond that, it is your personal preference. I recommend these books for teaching your child to stop and think before he acts, https://nurtureandthriveblog.com/picture-books-teach-kids-stop-think-handle-emotions-mindful/.

  • Reply
    Kathy Ong
    April 14, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Ashley, I’ve just signed up to your newsletter and am excited to start reading. I couldn’t find a contact for you but just wanted to ask how to get the bonus printable about mindfulness mantras for parents?

    Lastly, I have a young child diagnosed with major self regulation issues and who is highly oppositional. I’ve found that “normal” parenting techniques don’t work with him and I’m finding the only way to get him to follow instructions is to threaten to take away something he cars about, which is a terrible method of parenting and I’d like to figure out how to get away from that. Have you done any articles specifically for this kind of child? Will you do one? Thank you!

  • Reply
    April 25, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Hi – I clicked here from Facebook. Good information – you might want to consider posting your full name in the About section for those who are unfamiliar with your site. The only thing I saw was “Ashley” in the introduction and your bio…I had to scroll down to comments to find it!

  • Reply
    May 13, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Ashley I love you website and I have a question for you I hope you can help me. I have a 2 year old and I am a stay home mom. I am very particular about what I let him watch on TV, even some Disney shows I dont think are appropriate. For example, I pretty much dont let my kid watch any show with a “real bad guy” in it ( an adult trying to hurt a kid, adult fighting, kids using magic weapons, etc ) , or any type of weapon. So recently my husband bought water guns I know they are fun but I don’t know if they are appropriate for a two year old. What do you think?

  • Reply
    Mark Hess
    May 28, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Ashley, thank you for the 10 Emotion Coaching Phrases for Parents. I will be adding a reference to your article to my presentation at The Social-Emotional Needs of Gifted (SENG) national conference in July. I will be presenting practical methods to engage gifted boys in social-emotional curriculum.

    I am eager to follow your newsletter and catch up on other articles.

    And I wish I would have had this for my 4th grade recess duty this year!

    Mark Hess
    Portable Gifted and Talented

    • Reply
      Ashley Soderlund Ph.D.
      May 28, 2019 at 6:54 pm

      Hi Mark,

      Thank you for including it in your presentation and for letting me know how you are using the resource! I appreciate the feedback and I hope it proves useful for you!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve just discovered your blog posts and found them an excellent resource. Our 6 (nearly 7) year old has developed a real sense of separation anxiety over the last couple of months. Not wanting to be without mum or dad, calling out a lot at bedtime, always needing to know where we are in the house etc. We can’t think of anything that has triggered this. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to approach this/work with him through this?

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