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Our Foundation

“The single most important factor in promoting positive psychosocial, emotional, and behavioral well-being in children is having safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with their mother, father, or other primary caregivers."

  ~~ The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

The Raised with Love and Limits Foundation is a grassroots, 501c3 national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting safe, stable and nurturing adult-child relationships to prevent toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences.

We fulfill our mission through creating groundbreaking, practical programs and partnerships that foster relational health—the ability to develop and sustain safe, stable and nurturing relationships with emotionally available, engaged and attuned adults. The adults provide children and adolescents with the positive experiences that buffer adversity and build the foundational social and emotional skills needed to be resilient in the face of adversity.

Relational health is both the treatment for and mitigation of childhood toxic stress. This concept builds on the 2012 AAP policy and technical report that described how early childhood experiences are biologically embedded and influence developmental outcomes across the life course.

Our proven, practical, research-based love and limits approach to relational health in our programs, books and partnerships is built on developmental, neurological and behavioral psychology which studies children in “real” settings—home, schools, and playgrounds. And our strategies to help parents and others teach children acceptable behaviors and protect them from harm is in aligned with those recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics in their 2018 Policy Statement, “Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children” and their new 2021 Policy Statement, "Preventing Childhood Toxic Stress: Partnering with Families and Communities to Promote Relational Health".

In short, toxic stress defines the problem. Toxic stress explains how many of society’s most intractable problems (disparities in health, education and economic stability) are rooted in our shared biology but divergent experiences and opportunities. Relational health defines the solution. Relational health explains how the individual, family and community capacities that support the development of safe, stable and nurturing relationships also buffer adversity and build resilience across the life course.

  • The three founding partners of the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation see our roles as parents, grandparents, authors, healthcare professionals and social entrepreneurs through three positive lenses: curiosity, learning and hope. Our hope burns brightly that the words and actions we communicate encourage you to do what you do best--open your mind and heart to making joyful positive emotional connections every day, and understanding the power we have when building relationships that nurture everyone's emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. With that in mind, say hello to...

    Barbara C. Unell, Co-Founder

    Since authoring her first book at the age of 8, Barbara has passionately pursued being an author, publisher, educator and social entrepreneur, asking questions and seeking answers, always with the ultimate goal of putting more kindness, respect and compassion into the world. Her curiosity and delight in words has only grown stronger since graduating with degrees in journalism and psychology from The University of Texas at Austin and pursuing professional dreams in communications in all of its vast possibilities. Barbara has co-authored 17 books, including Discipline Without Shouting and Spanking, which has sold over a million copies worldwide; How to Discipline Your Six to Twelve Year Old Without Losing Your Mind; 20 Teachable Virtues; The 8 Seasons of Parenthood; and Discipline with Love and Limits, all with Jerry L. Wyckoff, Ph. D. She has also been a columnist for The Kansas City Star; writer/host of the nationally syndicated radio feature, “Kid’s Stuff”; community partner of “The Baby Buffer” online parenting project of the Kansas chapter of The American Academy of Pediatrics; and co-founder and editor of national and regional magazines and newsletters, including TWINS Magazine, Caring Parent, and Kansas City Parent. Barbara co-founded “Kindness is Contagious…Catch It!”; the award-winning “Sunflower Ambassador” program; and “Uncle Dan’s Report Card. She served as an adjunct professor in the Communications Studies Department at UMKC, and in 2000, founded the national nonprofit organization, Back in the Swing, which launched the first clinical breast cancer survivorship center in the United States at the University of Kansas Cancer Center in 2006. She and Judith Fertig co-authored the IACP award-winning lifestyle cookbook, The Back in the Swing Cookbook: Recipes for Eating and Living Well Every Day after Breast Cancer, in 2012. Co-founding the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation the same year she became a enthusiastic "G'Ma" planted new seeds of love, laughter and learning she feels blessed to cheer on, from generation to generation to generation.  

    Jerry L. Wyckoff, PhD, Co-Founder

    Dr. Wyckoff earned his Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas. He has worked as a psychologist at the Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka, Kansas; as a school psychologist and special education administrator for the Shawnee Mission School District in Kansas; and a licensed psychologist in private practice. Dr. Wyckoff has been a frequent speaker for the Parents as Teachers Program and a consultant to school districts in Chicago; St. Louis; San Francisco; Naples, Florida; Seattle, Washington; and Kansas City. He was chairperson of the Stop Violence Committee; a part of the Kansas Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse; and has served on the professional advisory boards of CASA, CHADD, and TWINS Magazine. Dr. Wyckoff published “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Who Has It and Who Doesn’t”, in School Law in Review, 1997. He has been an Adjunct Professor in the University of Kansas Department of Human Development and an Associate Professor in Education at Ottawa University, Kansas City. Dr. Wyckoff and his wife of 55 years are the parents of two children and grandparents of four.

    Robert Unell, Co-Founder

    Robert Unell brings over 40 years to the Foundation as an educator, publisher, marketing executive and business owner. In 1984, after working for three Kansas City advertising agencies, Bob founded his own firm, Unell Associates, Inc., which specialized in healthcare, agribusiness and business-to-business accounts. That same year, Bob, with his wife Barbara, co-founded Twins Magazine, and in 1986, they launched Kansas City Parent Magazine. In 2000, Bob and his wife Barbara established Back in the Swing. Bob has served as adjunct professor in the Communications Studies Department at UMKC. Today, Bob serves as the Director of Marketing for The Raised with Love and Limits Foundation. He is a father of two and crazy about being a "Pops" to his grandchildren. Part of his "fun" time is spent as a freelance editorial cartoonist.

  • We are honored to introduce you to our advisory team of dedicated psychologists, pediatricians, researchers, scientists, child development experts, nurses, social workers, parent educators and mental health champions who have supported our mission since our inception and continue to be invaluable pioneering advocates who recognize the transformative power of parenting healthcare. 

    Kathryn Ellerbeck, MD, MPH, FAAP

    Dr. Ellerbeck was instrumental from concept, to pilot, to implementation of Behavior Checker since we first met when she served as the President of the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and led the team who developed Baby Buffer. She is a developmental pediatrician, mother, and grandmother who currently is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences in Pediatrics at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Her clinical practice has primarily been the diagnosis and management of children with developmental delays and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Ellerbeck is faculty in the University of Kansas’ Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program.  She has also served on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council of Children with Disabilities (COCWD). Dr. Ellerbeck will be retiring this year and says that she is excited to continue her career with involvement in the work of the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation.

    Katy Harvey, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD

    Katy Harvey is a master’s level dietitian and expert in the psychology behind our relationship with food and our bodies. She uses a non-diet and intuitive eating based approach to nutrition, so that people can learn to trust themselves and their bodies with food, an approach we have enthusiastically incorporated into Behavior Checker.  Katy is committed to providing practical and easy ways for parents to to raise healthy and normalized eaters (in a world filled with lots of nonsense about food and wellness) a commitment we share in all aspects of our Foundation's work. She loves showing parents how they can help their kids enjoy all foods (yes, even veggies), while also including sweets without going overboard. All foods truly can fit as part of a healthy eating pattern for kids and parents alike. Eating should be a joyful part of the family experience, not a stressful one! 

    Stephen Lauer, MD, PhD

    Dr. Lauer received his undergraduate degree from KU and his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Texas, Austin. After working for several years in a molecular biology laboratory studying atherosclerosis, he went back to medical school and graduated from University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. After completing a pediatric residency at UC – San Francisco, he accepted a position on as a general pediatrician at the University of Kansas Medical School where he has been since 2001, now also serving as Associate Chair, Department of Pediatrics, University of Kansas Health System. Dr. Lauer helped to lead of our first pilot site during the development of Behavior Checker.  "I believe that this approach will allow for a better, brighter future for our children," according to Dr. Lauer, "by teaching their parents how to effectively address the daily challenges of successfully raising children in today's stressful world".

    Vicki L. Meek, MS, BSN, CNE

    Vicki Meek, MS, RN, CNE received her undergraduate nursing degree from Northern Illinois, her Master of Science from the University of Kansas and is a Certified Nursing Educator. She is currently an Associate Professor at Saint Luke’s College of Nursing at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. She previously served as the Department Nursing Chair for a liberal arts college in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Her main clinical practice has focused in psychiatric and community health nursing. She has over 34 years as a nurse educator with broad classroom and clinical teaching a well as administrative experience, all of which she has been critical to our "Parenting is Healthcare" curriculum development, as well as other Foundation educational ventures. Her areas of research, presentations, and journal articles have been in civility within nursing education, mistakes in professional practice, and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) scores on nursing students. Having worked with children with behavioral and emotional challenges, she has seen the need to provide parents and caregivers with tools to successfully nurture their children to adulthood in a safe environment. Since parenting skills are not currently taught in healthcare curricula, health professionals often use their own experience from childhood to answer clients' parenting questions. It is time parenting becomes part of health care, so the advice given is based in research and sound principles to provide the a stable foundation for our children, one of our most vulnerable populations.

    Christopher J. Mehus, PhD, LMFT

    Dr. Mehus is a Research Assistant Professor in the department of Family Social Science and research faculty in the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota, where he has been the Principal Investigator in Behavior Checker research implementation in primary care. He is a prevention scientist with a background in family science, family therapy, and primary care research. The overarching goal of his work is to improve public health by supporting parents in raising healthy children. His research aims to develop strategies to foster engagement in and create sustainable access to effective resources and support for parents, with an emphasis on reaching highly stressed families. A specific focus of his work has been on developing strategies to engage and support parents through primary care clinics. Behavior Checker is one such strategy, which cannot only provide parents with practical tools, but also has the potential to further normalize this type of critical support as a routine part of pediatric healthcare. 

    Vladimir Sainte, LCSW

    Throughout his career, Vlad says that he has learned that displaying empathy, emotional stability, patience, and honesty goes a long way in building trust with not only children and their families, but with his colleagues and members of the community. He also says that these qualities strengthen him as a social worker, husband, and father. They are also the qualities that he values and that helps guide his professional and personal moral compass, he adds. He currently serves as Director of Counseling and Family Support Services at The Children’s Place in Kansas City, Missouri. In his previous work at Truman Medical  Centers, he partnered with the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation team and Behavior Checker with his clients and colleagues. His success demonstrates how much good can be done through partnerships with the same goals and values. Looking forward to continuing to grow positive initiatives together.

    Wendy Webb

    Wendy Webb has spent her lifetime championing parents, as she has continued to do in her role as an educator for our Foundation's course, "Parenting is Healthcare" and other community-based workshops. Her educational career focused on child development with a degree in early childhood and elementary education.  Her graduate work focused on parent education.  Early in her career, she worked with the Kansas Legislature to create the Kansas Parents as Teachers program.  Blue Valley School District hired her to implement the program.  Thirty years and thousands of families have been enriched by the program locally.   Along the way, she became a Trainer in the Parents as Teachers model of parent education and trained new educators in the state and internationally. She also was the founder of the Kansas Parents as Teachers Association, an advocacy organization dedicated to a continued funding stream for parent education. Her strong belief that "parents are the first and most influential teacher in a child's life" continues to keep her motivated.

    Tara Westerhouse, LPC

    Tara Westerhouse is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is certified in perinatal mental health. Tara’s clinical background includes working with children and adolescents in inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, schools, and community mental health. Her experience providing services in these settings helped highlight the importance of education and prevention efforts. Her insightful work with the Foundation and passion for Behavior Checker come from her firsthand experience working with families who faced many of the challenging behaviors that Behavior Checker addresses. She believes that it is incredibly important that parents, guardians, and caregivers can easily access practical strategies to help manage these behaviors. Tara also notes that Mind S.E.T.® illustrates the fact that our ability to care for others begins with our ability to care for ourselves. In her current work, Tara focuses on providing new and expecting mothers with support and resources to address their own mental health. Tara is a therapist at The Counseling Collaborative and specializes in women's mental health with an emphasis on the perinatal population.


    Discipline With Love and Limits

    Revised and updated edition of the #1 non-violent discipline book in North America—over 1 million copies sold! Discipline with Love & Limits provides calm, practical solutions to over 100 common childhood misbehaviors, like: Whining, Temper Tantrums, Mealtime Meltdown, Too Much Screen Time, Bullying and Biting, Disobeying, Not Sharing, Resisting Bedtime, Getting Out of Bed, Leaving a Mess, Travel Meltdowns, Resisting Carseats, Talking Back, …and many more!

    Purchase online:

    Hachette Book Group

    Rainy Day Books


    Barnes & Noble


    and everywhere books are sold!

    20 Teachable Virtues

    Here's help for your most important job as a parent -- teaching your children lessons of virtue including respect, responsibility and empathy. Realistic suggestions help parents seize "teachable moments" when these lessons can be imparted effectively.

    Purchase online:


    Rainy Day Books

    and everywhere books are sold!

    How to Discipline Your Six to Twelve Year Old Without Losing Your Mind

    Discipline Without Shouting Or Spanking became a best-seller by providing practical, effective solutions for common behavior problems of children under six. Here the authors provide developmentally appropriate advice for disciplining older youngsters.

    Purchase online:


    Rainy Day Books

    and everywhere books are sold!


    Uncle Dan's Report Card

    With the discovery of their Uncle Dan's school report card from 1914, in which a "Home Report" section of the card was to be completed by parents, Barbara and Robert Unell were inspired to explore the behaviors and values upon which students were "graded" in addition to the standard academic subjects.

    They realized that these surprising entries, ranging from acts of kindness and truthfulness to personal habits and reading for pleasure, were as timeless and relevant today as they were almost a century ago. Uncle Dan's Report Card gives every parent and caregiver not only a reminder of the worth of these values and behaviors but also a practical means to encourage children to recognize and practice good habits. This book provides the positive, proven tools they can use with toddlers to teens to help them be successful and happy in their everyday lives, personally and academically.

    Purchase online:

    Barnes & Noble

    Starting at the Finish Line: Coach Al Buehler's Timeless Wisdom

    Coach Al Buehler has touched and enriched the lives of countless athletes, students, and others, including Olympians John Carlos and Carl Lewis, sports icons Mary Decker Slaney, Shane Battier, and Ellison Goodall Bishop (the first woman to run at Duke)—and thousands more who have never owned a pair of track shoes. At heart, Coach Buehler is a mentor. And Starting at the Finish Line embodies his advice and memorable “Coachables”—along with commentary and insights by a host of notables, from Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Jackie Joyner-Kersee to Carl Lewis and Joan Benoit Samuelson—that have inspired, motivated, and educated athletes and students alike to play with integrity and heart—both on and off the track.

    Purchase online:


    Barnes & Noble

    and everywhere books are sold!

  • “Early experiences affect lifelong health, not just learning; healthy brain development requires protection from toxic stress, not just enrichment. The time has come to leverage 21st century science to catalyze the design, testing and scaling of more powerful approaches for reducing lifelong disease by mitigating the effects of early adversity.”

    ~~Jack Shonkoff, M.D., Director,

    The Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University

    We fulfill our mission through creating groundbreaking, practical programs and partnerships that foster relational health—the ability to develop and sustain safe, stable and nurturing relationships with emotionally available, engaged and attuned adults. The adults provide children and adolescents with the positive experiences that buffer adversity and build the foundational social and emotional skills needed to be resilient in the face of adversity.

    Our signature tool, Behavior Checker, is the first grassroots national nonprofit organization to fill the gap in universally connecting and “tethering” child-facing organizations, as well as the families they support, to over 150 evidence-based, standardized, front-line parenting prescriptions for the most common, predictable behavior challenges children experience as they grow, accessible 24/7/365 by everyone, anytime, everywhere.

    The following programs and partnerships of our Foundation also promote relational health through positive childhood experiences, such as being in nurturing, supportive relationships; living, developing, playing, and learning in safe, stable, protective, and equitable environments; having opportunities for constructive social engagement and connectedness; and learning social and emotional competencies through responses to everyday, common childhood behaviors.







    Behavior Checker is an online tool, accessed from the provider's clinic laptop, tablet or desktop, to instantly provide parents with evidence-based strategies to address over 150 common childhood behaviors. Through Behavior Checker, an innovative system of change happens in pediatric healthcare, as well as in mental health and early childhood education settings, in which the education, practice, implementation and delivery of evidence-based personalized practical healthy behavior problem solving is standardized and seamlessly integrated into the organization's routine, workflow and mission.

    The first online course for healthcare practitioners nationally, “Parenting is Healthcare”, was launched in 2018, in partnership with Johnson County Community College the the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation.

    Raised with Love and Limits Foundation is proud to join Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City and the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition to create RaisingKC, the first and only public health campaign to lead a citywide conversation about healthy parenting, adult-child relationships and early childhood trauma prevention. Parents, extended family, teachers, coaches, neighbors…all are invited. A brighter tomorrow for our children starts now. Watch the video now...


    Coaching - Advice - Resources - Education

    Together, with AdventHealth Kansas City,  we created a new standard of ongoing, whole-family care to ease your mind, body and spirit. We’ve named it AdventHealth ParentCare, and it's the first program of its kind in the United States. ParentCare is the place you can turn to with any question or concern about yourself or your children and get free, trusted, personal answers from experts who will listen. 


    The Baby Buffer® website was developed by the Kansas Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics for parents with babies and toddlers. We were honored to be on the development team, through a grant by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  A “Baby Buffer” is a caring, responsive, consistent parent, who uses the latest information on how a baby’s brain works to give their baby the best possible start in life!

    You can provide your baby’s birth date and your email address to receive weekly, age-specific emails with information about your baby’s development and how you can be a Baby Buffer®.

    When parent educator and author Barbara Unell discovered her Uncle Dan's fifth grade report card from 1914, she found an amazing 2-sided treasure. Yes, this was not your ordinary school report card. The left side listed the subjects taught at school...reading, writing, arithmetic, and the like, on the School Report.

    But... the right side...ah yes! The "right side" was of equal importance!! It was the Home Report of the subjects that were expected to be taught at home: truthfulness and honesty, morning chores, evening chores, care of clothing, care of teeth, evenings at home, sleeping with the windows open, and a dozen more! Her grandparents noted the progress of her uncle in learning these right-side habits, just as the teacher marked the left side.

    As Barbara shared her Uncle Dan's unique report card, parents and teachers asked the same questions: "Where did this go? Can we bring this back?"

    So, in 2005-06, with the assistance of former Kansas Governor and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, a new version of Uncle Dan's Report Card was introduced in three Kansas school districts across the state. The Home Report was updated to add a few contemporary habits, such as "Manage Screen Time". After children focused on the habits at home for six weeks, the research documented that the report card was already helping to improve behaviors! 

    Our special thanks to Kansas PTA who helped us to spread Uncle Dan's Report Card throughout the state of Kansas, and today, the "new" Uncle Dan's Report Card is available to parents and teachers everywhere! These learning materials for home and school, developed for the Kansas pilot program, can be downloaded at no charge.


The authors and Raised with Love and Limits Foundation disclaim responsibility for any harmful consequences, loss, injury or damage associated with the use and application of information or advice contained in these prescriptions and on this website. These protocols are clinical guidelines that must be used in conjunction with critical thinking and critical judgment.