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Give Family Meetings a Fresh Start


Now that we are full into school mode (and for many there is a tiny lull between fall and winter sports,) it’s time to get back to routines and schedules. Dare I say, it’s time to renew our commitment to the Family Meeting before the Holiday Season rolls around!

On the surface, the purpose of the Family Meeting may sound simple and straightforward…


  • Show appreciation
  • Distribute household work
  • Express concerns, identify problems and teach problem solving skills
  • Distribute allowance

…but when we look deeper, the benefits of holding a regular Family Meeting are anything but simple. The Family Meeting can almost be referred to as the engine that keeps families moving in a purposeful and positive direction. Without that forward momentum, many families find themselves stuck with problems and situations that just won’t go away.

So, here are some of the deeper reasons you may want to make Family Meetings part of your family routine, if you haven’t already:

  • Family Meetings allow you to experience your family’s growth, improvement and progress on a weekly basis.
  • It is the vehicle with which you can support your children’s growing independence.
  • The various components of the meeting teach your children how to communicate using mutually respectful dialogue – something that will pay dividends within your family at school, at work, and in their future relationships.
  • It provides a place for your children to recognize that they have a voice and responsibility within the family.
  • Your children will experience their family as the number one value because, each and every week, there is time allotted and dedicated to the health of the family.

Make time in your schedule every week to meet as a family. Only 15 minutes a week could get you past seemingly immovable roadblocks in a healthy and mutually respectful way, while giving you endless hours of enjoying each other’s company.

Ready to implement Family Meetings into your weekly routine? Sign up for our online course, today.

Still trying to decide if this strategy will make a difference for your family? Listen to our FREE Podcast.

Family Meetings

Two Hour Presentation
Lyme, NH

Date: Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Location: Converse Free Library, 38 Union Street, Lyme NH
Cost: FREE; sponsored by the The Dartmouth Institute for the NH Public Health Training Center
Registration is not required but is recommended.
You may register below.

Vicki Hoefle Teaching

Vicki Hoefle, creator of the Parenting On Track™ workshops and author of Duct Tape Parenting, has been an in-demand Professional Parent Educator for the past 20 years. After years of study and everyday practice, Vicki has become an expert in Adlerian Psychology, a ground-breaking theory developed by Alfred Adler.

Most parents, if asked, would say they want to raise kids who are kind, empathetic, cooperative, respectful, are strong problem solvers, and who know how to handle money.

Unfortunately, most of those same parents would also say they have no idea how to make that wish list materialize!

Family Meetings are a valuable resource for any family. They help create healthy habits in many key-parenting areas, including: allowance, chores, communication, appreciation and problem solving. Parents who implement Family Meetings discover clear and welcomed progress, positive change and a willingness from every member of the family to work together to attain peace and harmony. Children begin to feel empowered and adults gain confidence that they are indeed parenting on the right track.

Specific progress includes: kids who show appreciation for each other, a system that supports the equitable distribution of work, problem solving skills to end the tattling, telling and blaming and a system to help kids learn about the value of money. All that in just 15 – 20 minutes, once a week!

This program is funded and supported by the US Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and the New Hampshire Public Health Training Center (NH PHTC) at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI). The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Register Here.

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Podcast: Family Meetings

In this conversation with Vicki Hoefle, founder of Parenting on Track, we talk about Family Meetings. The family meeting is perhaps the most important tool in developing a healthy family. This episode explains why family meetings are so helpful and includes tips on running more effective family meetings.

Listen to learn more. Have you held Family Meetings in the past with your children? How is this version different? What do you like about this new Family Meeting style.

Register for our online Family Meetings Course here:

Family Meetings

More Appreciation, Less Conflict

The Overlooked Gem

Most parents, if asked, would say they want kids who are kind, empathetic, cooperative, respectful, are strong problem solvers, and who know how to handle money. Unfortunately, most of those same parents would also say they have no idea how to make that wish list materialize! Family Meetings teach all of these valuable life skills, but unfortunately, in our society “family meetings” have a bad rap. Say the words “Family Meeting” and most kids run for cover. In Vicki’s rendition, however, it all changes for the better- kids not only show up, they participate willingly.

Family Meetings: How It Started

Vicki learned early on in her own parenting journey that holding weekly Family Meetings with her young kids influenced the family dynamic and atmosphere in a positive and lasting way. She recognized it was possible to solve multiple challenges (fighting, chores, tattling, arguing at the store) during one 20 minute meeting and remain calm, logical, and respectful while doing it. Within a few short months she experienced first hand, the power of this parenting tool and became an advocate for its implementation into every family she worked with.

Why Family Meetings

Family Meetings are a valuable resource for any family. They help create healthy habits in many key-parenting areas, including: allowance, chores, communication, appreciation and problem solving. Parents who implement Family Meetings discover clear and welcomed progress, positive change and a willingness from every member of the family to work together to attain peace and harmony. Children begin to feel empowered and adults gain confidence that they are indeed parenting on the right track.

Presentation Overview

Audiences love this fast paced presentation full of concrete examples and stories that illuminate the possibilities of what can really happen when parents and kids work together to solve problems and communicate effectively. Vicki shares key basic guidelines for conducting meetings that move the family forward and she shares how to implement all the components, including:

  • Appreciations
  • Allowance
  • Contributions
  • Problem Solving
  • Scheduling (20 minutes 1x week)


Parents leave with a clear understanding of what to do, when to do it and the results they can expect when they update the standard Family Meeting and bring it into the 21st century.

Results include: kids who show appreciation for each other a, a system that supports the equitable distribution of work, problem solving skills to end the tattling, telling and blaming and a system to help kids learn about the value of money. All that in 20 minutes, once a week!  

If you would like to hire Vicki, have a conversation or ask us some questions, please contact us.
We would love to talk with you.


Real Gift: Family Meetings

It’s the Holiday Season and people are running around frantically (and excitedly), checking tasks off the list and letting all the schedules slide. There’s an element of seasonal joy that comes with throwing it all to the wind, but come January 2nd, parents admit it’s harder to get back on track once they’ve let everyone fall off the wagon. I’m talking bed times, routines, video game limits, reading schedules, and all of that. It’s certainly not the end of the world to just let it go but there’s value in keeping a few of the non negotiables in tact, no matter what.

One of the most helpful tools in bringing everyone together, the Family Meeting, might be considered the first “structured” event to go. Parents think it may be inconvenient, as the family is traveling and staying up late wrapping presents – there is a sense that there’s just not enough time. Here’s where I’m suggesting you make time. Make time for your family meeting – if people are spread out, get on the phone, skype and have a chat. If you’re busy on the regularly scheduled night, make a lunch date the next – whatever you do, don’t skip the chance to stay connected in what can be the most frazzled, fried and checked-out couple of weeks all year long! (Those appreciations are like the big bow on the Holiday Season – and they cost nothing).

Family Meetings help keep kids’ feet on the ground by remembering each other’s feelings and presence within the family. Family Meetings also help keep the “out of control” stresses in check – kids are using their money to purchase gifts and materials to make gifts or make donations and you’ll have help keeping up with household contributions! Plus, a little problem solving during the madness can be a very good thing – the kids can come together and make decisions on real family issues (like what to do over vacation, who sits where on the ride to Grandma’s, how they prefer to stay relaxed when it gets nutty vs. you (mom or dad) micromanaging and peeling your kids out of the situations as they arise!)

If you aren’t familiar with Family Meetings, then check out our free podcast and find out first hand what an amazing source of bonding and relationship building they can provide. We welcome you to join the thousands of parents who use them to stay connected and keep the family relationship in a good, solid place. We offer plenty of blogs on the topic in our archives. In fact, if you do use family meetings and know a family who might “appreciate” them in their house, then feel free to share this post or the podcast link.


What Family Meetings Mean to Me

family-meetingsThere aren’t any strategies in the Parenting On Track™ Program that I don’t use with my own family. One strategy that has played a particularly important role in the evolution of my family has been Family Meetings.

When my children were very young, Family Meetings helped us define, at the very core, what kind of family we wanted to “be”.  The result of that early work is seen in the individuals, family members and community members we have become.

Initially, Family Meetings were a way for us to come together each week and invest in the health of our family. It was the place that taught my kids about kindness through appreciations and that their contribution to family work made the whole family run more smoothly.  They learned about money and, instead of fighting when we shopped together, we looked forward to this shared experience. It was only later that I realized the impact that allowance had played in my children’s healthy relationship with money.

As life got more challenging, Family Meetings became a safe place for us to bring both individual and family problems. Because everyone in the family was invested in finding a solution, there was little or no time spent on blaming or sabotage. Instead, my children became proficient at identifying problems and coming up with solutions that worked for everyone.

The older the kids got, the more Family Meetings began to change. Because there were fewer and fewer problems to work on, it left time to talk about vacations, community service, college, travel and other interests in our kids’ lives. Because all five of the kids got along so well (weekly appreciations will do that to a family), they looked for ways to appreciate other people in their lives that might otherwise go unnoticed. Because contributions were a way of “being” and not just doing, they spread their wings and began working outside of the home to bring in money and gain experience that would be useful when they could get “real” jobs at 14.

Without Family Meetings, we might have done what so many other families end up doing—trying to deal with daily life as it comes toward you like a crashing wave. Sometimes you can ride those waves, but sometimes those waves can crush a family of seven. We never had to worry about that with Family Meetings. In a way, Family Meetings became the lifeboat that we traveled in together, navigating both the rough waters and calm seas. The key part was that we did it together, every week at the same time and place, as a family.

Because I think Family Meetings play such an important role in the nurturing of a healthy family, I decided to take the month of March to put out a series of articles about the components of Family Meetings and the role each of those components can play in promoting healthy relationships within your family. So, stayed tuned; next week we’ll talk about Appreciations.

Learn more about Parenting On Track.

The Family Meeting Course is Now LIVE!!

Most parents, when asked, would say they want to raise kids who are kind, empathetic, cooperative, respectful, strong problem solvers, and who know how to handle money. Unfortunately, most of those same parents would also say they have no idea how to make that wish list materialize!

Casting hover mothers and helicopter parents aside, Internationally acclaimed parenting expert, Vicki Hoefle encourages a different, counterintuitive – yet much more effective approach to staying connected with your kids while giving them the space to live and learn. In this Family Meeting course, she gives parents a roadmap and walks them through all aspects of this grounding family ritual, setting the stage for success. Even better, because the course is interactive, you get to learn what’s working, and what’s not.

The Learning Platform
We’re using Udemy, “the world’s online learning marketplace, where 9 million+ students are taking courses.” The Family Meeting course “is available on-demand, so you can learn at your own pace, on your own time, and on any device. Learn more about the platform.

The course content is divided into 30, three to four-minute videos followed by exercises and questions to anchor the information in the videos. The course can be viewed on your time, whenever and wherever it is convenient for you. Start today. Start next week with group of friends. Revisit in a month. You have access to Vicki for support and encouragement or clarification and answers. There are printable pdf tip sheets and video interviews with other parents for added bonus material.

Why Family Meetings

Holding weekly Family Meetings influences the family dynamic and atmosphere in a positive and lasting way. It is possible to solve multiple challenges (fighting, chores, tattling, arguing at the store) during one 15 – 20 minute meeting and remain calm, logical, and respectful while doing it. Within a few short weeks you will experience first-hand, the power of this parenting tool.

Family Meetings are a valuable resource for any family. They help create healthy habits in many key-parenting areas, including: communication, appreciation, allowance, chores, managing money, and problem solving. Parents who implement Family Meetings discover clear and welcomed progress, positive change and a willingness from every member of the family to work together to attain peace and harmony. Children begin to feel empowered and adults gain confidence that they are indeed parenting on the right track.

The Course Agenda is comprised of four parts.

  • Appreciations
  • Contributions
  • Problem Solving
  • Allowance

Kind Kids begins with Appreciations

Parents often ask, “How do I get my kids to be nice to each other?” or “How do I get my kids to stop fighting?” The truth is whatever you are currently doing, probably stops the action and creates some sort of compliance – momentarily.

Parents want more than kids who just get along. Parents want kids who treat each other with respect, compassion, empathy and understanding. Practicing Family Meeting for 15- 20 minutes each week is just what today’s families need to reach these goals.

What will it take for your Kids to help out around the House?

Would you like to give up being the maid, and be more emotionally available to your children? Would you like to help your children recognize the unique contribution they make to the health of the family? Would you like your children to help out around the house on a regular basis?


Within weeks you can eliminate one BIG item from YOUR To-Do list and your children will feel empowered and realize how important they are to the family. You can also feel confident that you are supporting the development of independence and competency in your kids.

Stop Tattling and Fighting in its Tracks

Would you like to show your kids another solution to all the fighting, tattling and telling?

We are a society that is attached to our problems. Family Meetings offers our children an opportunity to practice becoming problem solvers, so we don’t raise another generation of people who are identified by their problems. An added benefit is that you are no longer the law enforcement officer in your family.

End Tantrums at the Store
(and help your kids develop a healthy relationship with Money)

Money will be a part of our children’s lives every day; we have an opportunity, as parents, to introduce them to money and help them create a healthy relationship with it, so that when they are on their own, they will have the confidence and the experience to manage their money well, to put it to good use, and to avoid the difficulties that so many families face today in this country.

No child is too young to begin to form a healthy relationship with money. One mom told us a story about her three-year-old son who went into a store with his friend and his friend’s mom. The young friend, upon seeing some shiny “gotta have” object, began to whine and beg her mother for it, at which point the mom’s son looked at his friend and said, “but you didn’t bring any money.” End of story.

Real Family Case Studies

Kathy & Steve Haskell- Three kids, ages 7, 6, & 3.

Kathy and Steve are busy, active, family oriented parents raising three delightful, happy, curious children. Kathy is a full-time mom, part-time ski coach and a small business owner. Both Kathy and Steve are committed to raising independent, self-reliant, resilient children and have been using my Less is More approach since their oldest was an infant.

Kathy’s Introduction:

I met Kathy before she had children at an in-service where she was, if nothing else, reluctant to consider giving up time-outs as a viable classroom management tool. She shares her “a-ha” moment in the classroom and how she changed her entire approach to working with kids.

From the Beginning:

The three concepts that resonated the most and Kathy and Steve incorporated into their family immediately were:

  • Inviting kids to participate as active members of the family which builds cooperation and a strong sense of belong.
  • Applying my “if they can walk, they can work” motto when her oldest was up on her feet and able to help out around the home.
  • Finding opportunities for each of her children to contribute in meaningful ways to the success of the family as a whole.

A Busy Lifestyle:

Living a busy lifestyle doesn’t include being out of balance for Kathy and Steve. They attribute this to their decision to include the kids in the planning and executing of their lives together. The techniques I share made it easy for them all.

Benefits of Incorporating a Less is More Approach:

  • Kathy and Steve ignore the pesky behavior and instead put their focus and energy on the positive attributes their kids exhibit.
  • They give reasonable choices to avoid power struggles and to send the message that they trust their kids and their choices, which translates into kids who have more confidence in their abilities.
  • They focus more on the process and less on outcomes. This supports the work of Carol Dweck, author of Mindset.More resilient children who, when they fall, literally or figuratively, have what it takes to get back up and try again. As a result, they are far more flexible than many of their peers who are easily overwhelmed.

Finally, I asked Kathy to share what the impact might be in both schools and within the home if the trend towards a more hands off approach to parenting continued. Her answers were music to my soul. Enjoy this honest and informative conversation with Kathy. Listen to her interview.

[hr]Lindsay & Matt Hay- Three boys, ages 7, 5, & 18 months.

HaysLindsay and Matt are low-key, quiet, “chill” parents raising three energetic, curious and precious boys. They are a close-knit family that is learning to balance two different styles – calm and centered with curious and high energy.


Dad have used time-outs, nagging, micro-managing and other “band-aid tactics in an attempt to maintain order and consistency within the home. As a result, they saw an increase in power struggles, sibling squabbles and frustration.

A New Approach:

When Lindsay and Matt learned that they could replace band-aid tactics with relationship strategies and create the kind of balanced lifestyle they were looking for, they said a big “YES” to my Less is More approach to parenting. They put their focus on inviting the kids to play a more active role in the family and gave up their roles as maids.


After only a year, Lindsay and Matt along with their three bright–eyed and eager boys are creating a home that works for them all. The boys help out on a regular basis, are more cooperative with each other, are learning to solve their own problems and the family is creating routines that support all the different personalities.

Going Forward:

This family of five is looking forward to growing together and supporting each other by focusing on each other strengths, remembering the important of the relationships and remaining flexible with their routines.Listen to the interview with Lindsay.  



GilmansChristina & Mark Gilman- Two kids, ages 13 & 10.

Chris and Mark are committed, creative and active parents raising two independent, self-sufficient and motivated children. The entire family loves the outdoors and their idea of the perfect vacation is to spend two weeks on the road together making memories – in very close quarters.


Chris and Mark were introduced to the Less is More approach to parenting when their kids were three-years and eighteen-months old. Eight years later they can attest to the many benefits this approach to parenting has for every member of the family.

A “Just Right” Approach:

Focusing on building a strong relationship with the kids, inviting them to participate in family decisions, helping them become independent, supporting their choices (even if they ended in disaster) were all instrumental in their adopting an approach to parenting that Chris says, “is more like a lifestyle than a way of raising kids”.


Because the kids were raised with this approach, they embody many adult character traits (respectful, responsible, cooperative, independent and kind) yet remain vibrant young people interested and curious about the world they live in.


Chris has a strong financial background and wanted to her ensure that her kids developed a healthy relationship with money. Even at the children’s young ages, they are becoming financially savvy with a clear understanding of how to save, spend and give away through experience.

Biggest Hurdle:

Challenging your beliefs about what it means to be a “good mom or dad” is the most challenging. Discover how Chris and Mark challenged their beliefs and what happened for their kids and their family as a result. Listen to the interview.


Shalagh & Jeff – Two daughters, ages 9 & 7

BlancksShalagh and Jeff were introduced to a more “hands off approach” to parenting nearly four years ago when their daughters were 5 and 3. Jeff admits to talking too much and feeling frustrated with all the time the girls wasted “noodling around” and Shalagh (who I nicknamed Sassy during a class she attended) was a self proclaimed micro managing Monster. Oh how things have changed.


Imagining the potential for a long and grueling adolescence with 2 daughters 18 months apart, Shalagh and Jeff went on a quest to find a parenting approach that would ensure their girls would enter the tween years feeling confident, happy and engaged in their world.

The Introduction of a New Style:

Shalagh admits that the girls were a bit confused by the sudden change in their parents approach. Where once mom managed every aspect of their lives – picking out clothes, packing lunches, organizing activities and time – suddenly they were given a chance to jump in and take control. Shalagh and Jeff share stories about the shift from a micro-managing style of parenting to a less-is-more approach to parenting.

The Girls Today:

Both Jeff and Shalagh are delighted with the progress their girls have made in developing confidence in their abilities, watching as their unique personalities emerge and witnessing first hand how the relationship between the girls has shifted from contentious to FRIENDLY, something every parent hopes for for their kids.

Mom and Dad Today:

For Shalagh it’s been a subtle journey that required a shift in thinking. She has become a quieter presence in the home and allowed her girls to take more control in their lives. Jeff has become a constant supporter and encourager of their independence and their desire to make more decisions on their own. Hear how this dynamic duo is empowering their girls and enjoying their new roles as “get out of the way” parents.

A-ha Moments:

They include: “What works for me doesn’t work for them, and that’s okay with me”. “Say what you mean, mean what you say and then do it – without judgment of course”. “Empty threats are just that – empty.”

Final thoughts:

Shalagh and Jeff share their hopes and dreams for the girls and how Family Meetings have transformed them all bringing out the best in each of them (and some other benefits as well). We share a very candid conversation with two very savvy and thoughtful parents as they share a snapshot of life with us.

Listen to the Interview. [hr]

Pierce-lingelbachCindy Pierce and Bruce Lingelbach- Three kids, ages 14, 12, 10.

Cindy and Bruce are juggling a full schedule while raising three children. Cindy is an, Author, Professional Speaker and Comedian and Full-Time Inn Keeper. Bruce is a full-time Inn Keeper and ski coach.

A Wild Life:

In her typically hilarious style Cindy shares her life which in her words, goes something like this, “Life is random. Guests are either coming or going. I’m hanging with the kids in the kitchen chatting around the butcher block, then it’s off to sports, or preparing food for guests, then cleaning toilets and making beds, throw off the apron and get in a car or on a plane for my next speaking engagement. There is the potential for life to be out of control with that schedule, but it isn’t. It sounds crazy, but it works for us.”

A Mere Three Years Ago:

The story of her youngest child’s conversion from sitting on the sidelines acting like the “crowned prince” as everyone around waited on him to engaged and empowered participator will have you in stitches. You’ll have to listen to the story in her own words.

Reluctant but Determined:

Cindy and Bruce were concerned that adding contributions into the family mix would only complicate matters, but were pleasantly surprised when just the opposite happened. How they opened up the conversation with their kids can only be described as inspirational brilliance.

Analogies and Personal Style:

An avid football fan, Cindy uses football analogies to talk about kids and the world of contributions. Respecting her children’s personal rhythms and styles helped transition all of them from “hideous mornings” to “moving the chains down the field.”

Cindy’s comedic style comes out in the last portion of the interview. Enjoy her perspective, warmth and honest words about parenting in the 21st century is a delight. Listen and Enjoy.

[hr] Interested in working with Vicki? Contact us! [contact_form]

The Parenting On Track™ Family

Alright, so on the flip side of my last post;

You know you are a Parenting On Track™ family when….

10. Your 6 year old daughter wears her best high heel shoes in a snowstorm – and you have the confidence that she will learn a valuable lesson, as you wait patiently and support her learning.

9. You lock yourself in the bathroom during a temper tantrum – because you know all about feeding the weed and you are not about to feed this one.

8. You get a call from your child’s teacher, because he forgot his lunch for the past 3 days – and instead of apologizing, you confidently explain that you are raising a thinking child and trust that any day now, he will figure out a valuable lesson and the problem will be solved once and for all.

7. Your child goes to school in her pajamas at least twice a week – and you have long ago given up your mistaken belief that “good” mommies make sure their children are color-coordinated, because this morning, like every other morning, your child gave you a big fat kiss, a super-duper squeeze and said I love you, before heading off to school – and that means more than a matching outfit.

6. You do nothing and say nothing unless its physically or morally dangerous – because you know that 90% of the time, if not more, doing or saying anything will only make things worse and there really isn’t any reason to make things worse with a 4 year old who is doing his best at figuring out the world.

5. Your whites are pink – and you don’t care because in another 4 weeks, you will have another person in your house, who is capable of sorting, washing, drying, folding and putting away clothes without whining, griping, or complaining.

4. Your 17 year old child, makes a point of coming over during a basketball game with friends, hugs you and tells you he loves you – and the crazy thing is, this is perfectly normal because it happens on a regular basis.

3. Your kid makes a mistake, and it actually brings your family closer, instead of pushing everyone apart – family meetings, which are a staple of your lives, has given rise to amazing problem solvers who appreciate everyone in the family and understand that mistakes are indeed opportunities to learn.

2. Your children honestly believe that without them, the family would not function, and you, the parent, would not be able to manage your life effectively – and you bask in this knowledge even as you listen to other parents brag about how much their children need and depend on them.

1. You extend the invitation to your children to participate in life, they accept and when it’s time for them to go out on their own, they step out with confidence and enthusiasm and look back at you and say, “Thanks!” Ah – the thrill of victory.

To all the thousands of parents, who invested their time and energy and a few bucks in creating a family that is sometimes impossible to describe to someone who isn’t living it, thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories and your struggles. Thank you for believing in yourselves and your kids and in a program that promises to deliver what most of us dreamed about when we held our first child in our arms.

Family Meeting and Appreciations

I want you to create an Appreciation Board this week and begin creating the habit of looking for the best in each member of your family.

Encourage your kids to notice and write down what they appreciate about their siblings and parents.

Have a conversation with your kids describing the Family Meeting format and the Appreciations and try to keep the conversation between 5 and 8 minutes.

This is your chance to “practice” condensing what you want to say and leaving more time for the kids to talk or ask questions.


How did my children respond to the idea of Family Meetings?

How did the Appreciation portion of the Family Meeting go? Were their any surprises? If so, what were they?

If you are already holding Family Meetings and you use the appreciation board, please share with us what you notice about your family and your children and how they treat each other since you started appreciations.

Kids Coming Home from School?

Five Tips for a Seamless Summer

School is almost out and for many parents that means rearranging schedules and daycare options or babysitters, shifting work schedules, signing up for summer camps and whether or not to keep all the routines and systems for continuity and sanity sake or toss them out for a few months. Much has been written on the subject in an attempt to help parents make the most of summer vacations – for themselves and for their kids. Read more

But what about parents who have college students headed their way? Students that are home for the summer before they return to campus life and those who are recently graduated and find themselves in that “tweener” spot of not really having that big job with the great advancement opportunities in one of the most dynamic cities in the world with their closest and most trusted friends as roommates. What about them and more importantly what about their parents?

TeensAs a mother who saw my own five college kids come and go, I knew that in order for all of us to survive a short summer stay (or as some of my friends were experiencing, a longer transition of sorts) it was in order to establish and then follow some basic guidelines. The guidelines ensure that everyone is treated with respect and that everyone takes responsibility for what is theirs. That includes words, attitude and actions, not just “stuff”. Clear boundaries limit opportunities for misunderstanding or power struggles.

The truth is I spent years cultivating a strong, healthy relationship with my kids and I didn’t want that demolished because an 18 or 22-year-old landed on my doorstep with very different ideas about life at home than the ones they grew up with, while living under my roof. So here are my five, tried and true tips on how to maintain a healthy, respectful and fun summer with your newly young adult kids.

  • Set the Tone with Appreciations: As soon as your beloved children arrive home, call the family together and dole out rich, deep and meaningful appreciations*. If you start by saying something like “I appreciate, that coming home for the summer or during this transition, isn’t the perfect situation for you and yet, you are willing to be flexible and mature enough to know that for now, it’s the wisest choice.” Or, “I appreciate how difficult it was to turn down that summer job in the city and come home so you could 1) concentrate on earning enough money to live off campus next year; 2) take a summer class so you can graduate on time; 3) help out the family …..By the time you finish delivering these appreciations, your kids will be ready to share an appreciation for you. Imagine how this is going to set the tone for the rest of your time together. Continue sharing appreciations formally at least once a week and I recommend putting up a large sheet of paper with the word APPRECIATIONS at the top and using it every day so that you all remember what is most important. Your relationship.
  • Get their ideas first: It’s easy to jump into parent mode with the kids, but I have found that life is much smoother when I took the time to ask them what their vision of our summer together would look like before I shared my vision. Each time I learned something new about my kids, how they had changed, what their expectations were and more importantly, what they were worried about. Because the truth is, our kids are as worried as we are when they step back into mom and dad’s domain. Keep asking gentle questions and get as much detail as you can. Then, show appreciation for how much thought they have put into their current situation.
  • Find something to agree on: After you have heard their ideas, identify one that coincides with one of your ideas and begin to build your shared vision from there. Work with your kids as if they are colleagues and not snarky 13-year-olds. They will appreciate the respect you are showing them and will return it in kind. We started with “clean up”. My kids initially agreed that if they made a mess, they would clean it up. I knew they meant well, but I also knew that they would get busy and forget and that there would be times when they just didn’t want to clean up. In order to be clear we talked about what “clean up” meant to all of us, how we would handle a messy kitchen without yelling or scolding, and so on. Just flushing these things out before they become issues saves everyone time, energy and misunderstandings. And a word of caution here, if you don’t want to do their laundry every week, don’t do it even once. Set a healthy precedent from the get-go and you will save yourself oodles of frustration later.
  • Keep it simple: The more “rules” you have, the more trouble you are likely to get into. Decide what your two or three non-negotiables are and make an agreement with the kids about those. Explain your position and ask them to explain theirs so that you both understand the other person. The kids have had a taste of independence and they have had to work with a roommate so they know how to compromise and cooperate. It will be up to you to allow that side of them to emerge. That is possible only when you control your parenting default setting and remember that this is not the same moody 13-year-old you once had to strong arm to help out, but a budding adult who needs support and patience.
  • Remain firm and flexible. Stay firm on the non-negotiables and be prepared to follow through with whatever you agreed to. That might mean that they find someplace else to live if they insist on staying out all night without calling by the agreed upon time to let you know. Only then will you be treating them like adults and if you do, they will most certainly rise to the occasion. If you don’t, you will likely return to nagging, reminding and then lecturing them on how selfish, rude and disrespectful they are which will only cause things to deteriorate quickly. Stay flexible with things like picking up the kitchen (unless that is your non-negotiable) and continue to talk with the kids about how to make life work for everyone concerned.

It is important that you remember, as hard as that may be at times, to treat the kids like colleagues or trusted friends. They might not be as mature as we hoped they would by 18, 19 or 22-years-old, but they deserve our respect and a chance to rise to their highest selves. That can only happen when we provide the space for them to do it.

Each time I dropped the kids off at college or off into the adventure we call adult life, I was gifted with a huge hug, a heartfelt thank you and tears which indicated to me that the time we spent together was as meaningful and special to them as it was to me. Don’t waste an entire summer bickering with a child who will soon enough be out on their own and will have the choice whether to call you or not, whether to come and visit or not and whether to share the most intimate and important parts of their life with you or not. These are crucial moments in our kid’s lives. Let’s be on our best behavior for each one of them.

Vicki Hoefle has been teaching parent education classes for over 25 years. Hoefle is the mother of five adult children and the author of Duct Tape Parenting, A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, & Resilient Kids and The Straight Talk on Parenting, A No-nonsense Guide on How to Grow a Grownup. She is an in demand national speaker and parent coach and is available to speak at your school or organization on numerous parenting topics or work individually with your family. Please contact us for additional information.

*Learn more about Appreciations and Family Meetings and enroll in our online course today!

Thoughts On “Mental Health of Affluent Teens; The Challenge of Prosperity.”

Recently a colleague sent me this wonderful infographic titled “Mental Health of Affluent Teens; The Challenge of Prosperity” brought to you by Counseling@Northwestern’s Online Masters in Counseling and I was inspired to share it with our community of parents along with my thoughts on HOW we might put into practice the high structure and high warmth parenting practices suggested below and enhance the relationship we have with our tweens and teens.

It should come as no surprise that there are benefits associated with affluence that can have a positive effect on our children when they are young. They include better physical health and the development of stronger language and social skills, which leads to higher academic achievement in elementary school. Then something remarkable happens. Instead of affluence benefiting our kids as they enter the teen years, affluence becomes a liability. It’s fascinating to consider this turn of events and to ponder what changes we can make in our parenting to keep things moving in a positive direction. Here are my thoughts based on the information provided in this deliciously simple and easy to understand graphic.



Too much house for the number of people who reside in it means it’s easier for family members to “hide” from each other. In the adolescent world this means disconnecting from your family is as simple as entering your bedroom and shutting the door.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the increase in pressure we put on our teens to “perform”. High, unreasonable expectations along with a hovering parenting style don’t inspire, they discourage and that leads to more alienation and disconnection between parents and their kids.


What Parents Can Do

    • Consider creating a “shared space” that your teens help you create and decorate. All too often it’s mom and dad who design the home for their liking which only increases the odds that their teens will find refuge in a room designed by them, for them. Unless you are entertaining royalty, this shouldn’t be a hardship, but rather an opportunity to create more shared space that is reflective of everyone in the family. Beyond that, a shared space implies shared responsibility for keeping it clean and tidy so everyone can enjoy it. This is a chance for your teens to become contributing members of the family who have daily household responsibilities that contribute to a healthy home life. And, you are preparing them for life beyond your threshold.


    • Time spent together is at a premium and yet, we spend 50% less time together than we did a mere 30 years ago. Anything that brings the family together so they can reconnect is a necessity in today’s fast paced world. Beyond getting everyone together is the bigger issue of “what to talk about” when you are together. Unfortunately far too many parents are still using the “How was school? Do you have homework? Do you have your gear for soccer? When is your science project due?” format of questioning to not only connect with their kids, but stay abreast of what’s happening in their world.


    • Family Meetings are a great way to not only gather once a week, for a limited amount of time (15 to 20 minutes), but also as a way to show appreciation for each other which demonstrates to our teens on a regular basis that they are loved and appreciated by their family; divide the family work equitably among all family members which helps teens feel like contributing members of their family and keeps them grounded in the “real world” rather than an illusion that all their needs will be met by someone else; a place for teens to help create family policy and balance between their desire for more independence and a parents desire to ensure their child is safe; and a place for kids to learn financial responsibility. Learn more about Family Meetings.


    • Another way for families to stay connected is to choose a social service activity at the beginning of each year which will ensure the family spends quality time together on a regular basis and as a bonus, the kids are learning life lesson in investing their time and energy in something other than themselves.


    • Most teens I know need to eat and unfortunately regular family meals have become a thing of the past. Invite your teens to participate in meal planning, meal preparation, meal service and meal clean up. That doesn’t mean demanding they suddenly start making meals for the entire family and then cleaning the kitchen while you sit down and enjoy a glass of wine. It means that you consciously begin to invite your teens into the entire process so they feel a sense of ownership around the meal.If you have a teen who comes home late from practice or eats at other crazy times, decide you will eat with them at least once a week. This means adjusting your schedule to accommodate theirs. Imagine the message you are sending!


    • Decide where in your schedule you can make time for your kids. It might be time in the car or walking the dog. Think quality, not quantity here. Being present without outside distractions is the key. Once you have the time, deepen the experience with a new kind of conversation. Life at school is no more exciting than life at your office. For the most part it’s the same old, same old. Try expanding your repertoire of questions and live dangerously. One friend of mine throws random questions out that are meant to provoke robust conversations. For instance, “So, are you having sex yet?” or “My friend got drunk last night at an office function and made a fool of herself, what do you think I should do?” or “I’m thinking of taking a vow of silence for 2 months, what do you think?” If our time is limited, then we have to make the most of it and thought provoking questions can help bring family members closer together and bridge the gap between parents and their teens.


  • Many parents are nurturing demanding careers, in part because it allows them to provide more opportunities for their kids. However, I never met a kid who would substitute an interested, engaged parent for some future opportunity. Our kids are learning about living a balanced life from us, they are learning about healthy relationships from us and they are learning about parental roles from us. If we take a few minutes to consider everything that is at stake when we allow careers to sap us of energy and focus, we are in a better position to create a more balanced life where the needs of our teens are at the top of that list. The good news is, they don’t need the same amount of time or energy from you that they needed as toddlers. Quality over quantity will do a lot to keep you connected to your kids and teach them about balance, prioritizing and healthy relationships.


In my new book, The Straight Talk On Parenting, I explain in great detail my method, laying it all out for parents so that they can find an approach to parenting that supports their family thought all of the growing pains, developmental phases, life changes, and surprise events that greet anyone raising children in the twenty-first century.

As a mom who raised five children into adulthood, I’d like to share the two most important aspects of my parenting.

  1. Create structures for my family that supported each of us individually and all of us collectively. That meant designing mornings that worked for my morning lark and my night owl, homework routines that took into account a child who needed complete quiet and one that walked around and stood to write. These structures allowed my children to relax, and when they were relaxed and at peace it was easier for us to connect as a family.
  2. Show faith and confidence in my kids’ abilities, so that they would learn to have faith in themselves and confidence in their ability to navigate their world.

Our kids need to know that we accept them for who they are right now, even if the “right now” is messy. When we communicate unconditional love and acceptance, we foster emotional health and strong parent child relationships. 

16 Going on…Grown-Up

I have said it a million times…I have the BEST job on the planet. It’s such a gift to get to know you all and your children. I appreciate that you trust me with your questions, worries, and successes. I love meeting each of you in class, by phone, on line, or in your home. Your kids are wonderful and complicated and challenging and brilliant. Thank you to this mom for sharing her thoughts on where they were “then” and “now” as a family.  Love you all!


I would like to share a story with Vicki…but first, thank you for making a difference in the life of my children. I took your 6 week class about 8 years ago  after being prompted by the guidance counselor. It made me think I must be a “bad” parent if the guidance counselor is suggesting I needed a parenting class. She assured me you were worth the time, so I attended. After week one, I was ready to quit. Some of it seemed over the top and extreme and it definitely was going to be a lot of work. Your introduction and humor kept me coming back on those cold nights when I just wanted to stay home in my warm house. You talked about raising resilient, independent adults. I hoped to be able to implement enough to have “good” adult children knowing I could not likely have a kids that liked me as much as yours! My kids are now 13 and 16, I attended a book talk recently for a quick refresher. Over the years, I have not woken up my kids (I did have to wake up my nephew once who needed to catch a flight – it was against my better judgement but he didn’t have parents who taught him differently so I caved so he wasn’t on my couch for a month!), I have left without my kids when I said I was going (although it was very hard), we still have family meetings every week. I haven’t bought their friends’ birthday presents in all these years and I spend less time cleaning my house while my children assist with contributions. The thing I am most thankful for happened this week. I remember a story about one of your daughters buying her sister a plane ticket. I wished at that moment my kids would be so kind and generous some day.

This is my story.

My recently turned 16 year old was at work (one of her 4 jobs.) It was the weekend before spring break and when she asked her also 16 year old co-worker what he was doing next week he said going to build houses with habitat for humanity in WV. Last year she went to Paris for a week with a school trip (she paid for half). The co-worker told her there was a need for more people and she should go. She had committed to babysitting 3 days, working this seasonal job one more week and taking care of the neighbor’s cat. Opportunities to make several hundred dollars. She asked him to text her the information anyway. On the way home we talked about it and she became increasingly interested. Once she had the information she evaluated the possibility of making it happen. Monday morning she was home ill with a stomach virus. Tuesday she shared the details with us (her parents). We thought it was great she wanted to go but given she had commitments and she wasn’t feeling perfect along with the unexpected cost we thought it was best to try to find a similar experience closer to home or do this in the future. She had offered to assist with a portion (about 20%) of the expense. She left the discussion to return about 45 minutes later. She said she tried to talk herself out of this and it wasn’t working. She’d pay 80% of the trip, she could try to borrow items she needed from a friend, she would explain the situation to the family she was supposed to babysit for offering them some names of friends who could help if they would like, her sister would take care of the neighbors cat, and work her shift at her job. She wanted to go because it was out of her comfort zone and she felt she needed to do it. She admitted she was terrified in some ways and did not know anyone other than this co-worker who she only knew from working together for the past month. She had missed the pre-trip meetings, she had made contact with the organizers of the trip for details and paperwork and she wanted to do what it would take to make it happen. She also thought she’d come back with a greater appreciation for what she has. I had heard of this group going and knew of a few parents whose kids had gone so we were comfortable with the organization.

Our only option was to say, “okay, start packing for your trip.” I dropped her off last night to board a bus with strangers we have never meet, to drive all night to arrive this morning to start building houses. We are not worried, because we know that she will have an amazing week growing closer to being the grown-up we will be very proud of. I am betting she’s the only one on the bus who paid for most of her trip. I heard parents telling their son, “don’t worry if something happens to your LAX sticks you let your brother borrow, I’ll buy you new one.” I couldn’t stop myself, I said “What? You mean your son will buy his brother a new one, right?” The parent assured me his son (age 17) had no job or money and Dad would replace his 13 year old’s stick if it’s lost, stolen, or broken! Yikes…Some parents still have a lot to learn to have respectful, responsible and resilient “kids” who turn into grown ups.

Thank you Vicki for all you do and have done for families.

Siblings Part 3: Tips To Bring More Joy

stop the fighting

Watching your kids play nicely together, hearing a shared giggle, watching a potential fight averted, because of some savvy negotiating between your 6 and 8 year old is just about every parent’s idea of a dream come true. But raising kids who truly enjoy each other is a process that takes years. It’s important that parents recognize that building on small moments, bringing a child’s awareness to the moments that “work” with a sometimes pesky sibling, providing situations in which kids can practice solving problems around play, will go a long way in creating sibling relationships that will stay strong and loving for years to come.

Personally, I made the decision when my kids were young, that if I could choose between kids who got along between 2 – 18 and kids who were close from 18 to 80, my choice would be the later. One of the major trip ups for parents around kids getting along when they are young, is the belief that we parents are responsible for those relationships. Maybe if we did more of one thing or less of another, we could guarantee our kids would be each other’s best friends for life – pinky swear. But nothing could be further from the truth. Take a page from your adult experience and trust that by following these easy but powerful 10 tips, you will indeed raise kids who truly enjoy each other’s company more with each passing year. And yes, you will witness this before they leave home.


1. Appreciations: Just like suggesting to someone who has a head ache that they drink water, before they run to the doctor for an MRI, using appreciations as a way to combat sibling squabbles is often overlooked because of it’s simplicity. But as a mom who raised 5 kids in a blended family dynamic, this was the key to my kids not only enjoying life together under one roof, but the reason the 5 of them are still as thick as thieves as young adults.

2. Adler’s Golden Rule: “ I use Adler’s “see with their eyes, hear with their ears and feel with their heart” to help my children understand a sibling they are struggling with. Inevitably, there is a moment of empathy and awareness, which translates into a more relaxed and accepting dynamic. This has become the foundation for conversations when one sibling is struggling with another’s choice of behavior.” Mother of 4 children, ages 7 – 16.

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

3. No Blood – No Break – No Foul: “I stay out of every single squabble that doesn’t include blood or break. And yes, it’s tough. Especially in public. It’s easy for parents to get pulled into the tussle and as soon as I’m there, I can see the entire dynamic change. It’s no longer an opportunity for my kids to work together to solve the problem, it’s about me trying to decide who needs to change or do something different and the relationship between the kids takes a psychic hit. I would say, that at this point, my kids spend less than 10% of their time squabbling for more than just a few minutes. They have strategies that work for almost every occasion, including walking away, writing it on the problem board, negotiating and sometimes, just throwing themselves down on the ground and hoping for a sympathetic sibling to concede the toy.” Mother of 3 children, under the age of 5

4. Use Reality as your Guide: “I had kids who were very physical and it really concerned me. I thought that the fighting defined the relationship and it scared me. Over time, as I learned to watch the kids in other situations, I realized that they had a high degree of respect for each other and often times worked together in ways that I overlooked. I think it’s important for parents to really challenge their beliefs about what it means for kids to enjoy each other because truly, I think it can sometimes be a bit Polly-Anna. And today, my kids are as close as any siblings I know.” Mother of 3 children, ages 25 – 19

5. Get an accurate idea of how often your kids get along and how they “do” getting along. Most parents admit that when challenged to do this, they recognize that the kids get along more then they give them credit for. So take a deep breath and relax. Remember to acknowledge when the kids are working together or enjoying each other and be specific so they can use this information again and again.

6. Give them a break from each other. Even kids can get sick and tired of hanging with the same folks for too long. Sometimes it’s that simple. Allow them time alone, with other friends, with parents one-on-one and don’t get caught up in the “it’s not fair” song and dance.

7. If you have friends with older kids (like young teens) leverage them. They can teach your kids the importance of getting along with their siblings in a way that we, the parents, can’t. Hearing a story from a 10, 13 or 16 year old about how awesome they think their sibling is, or a time when their sibling came to their rescue, can go along way in helping shift your child’s perspective towards their pesky sibling.

8. Stop fretting. Most kids do enjoy each other. They might not show it the way you want them too, but they are young, they are doing the best they can. Allow the relationship to grow over time, slowly and naturally. Watch that you aren’t comparing or judging and that your expectations are in line with reality.

9. Keep your own childhood out of the picture. You aren’t raising yourself and over compensating for a lousy relationship with your sister will only guarantee that your kids struggle to create meaningful relationships with each other. If you model for your kids what a healthy relationship looks like, sounds like and feels like, they have a much better chance of establishing a healthy one with their siblings. Trying to force kids to get along usually back fires and causes more fractures not less.

10. Take pictures of the times people are enjoying each other and post them around the house. When kids start to squabble, bring them over to a picture and ask them to remind you of what was happening in the action. Along with this, make sure appreciations during Family Meetings includes when kids are rockin it out together. Remember, whatever you pay attention too – you get more of.

jens kids

Remember to pace yourself. It’s not nearly as important to have young children who have developed the skills which makes it possible for us to get along with people day in and day out for years, as it is to help them build a strong foundation that will grow with them over time and solidify the relationship they have with their brothers and sisters.

Tips to Stop the Fighting!

Q&A with Vicki Hoefle

stop the fightingQuestion: I know many families who have kids that do not fight. Mine do. What’s the trick to stop the fighting?

Scenario: I have two kids (ages 9 and 6) who are very physical when they fight.   I’ve tried to ignore it when I can, I tell them to work it out and it still continues. They kick, scratch, squeeze and hit one another on occasion. No one has gone to the ER but they have drawn blood.

Answer: The good news is, there is no trick.  

Most families that have kids who consistently get along and do not demonstrate a high degree of physical fighting have one thing in common.  They layer their strategies and create an entire system for raising respectful kids who know how to handle frustration and how to work things out without resorting to physical fighting.  Why doesn’t every parent use this layering technique if it gets such great results?  Because like anything worth having it can be difficult in the beginning.  Here are a few tips to help you turn things around and stop the fighting.

  1. Understand that most kids fight for their parent’s attention (no not always, but enough of the time that it’s a good place to start).  What happens if you leave the room, or put headphones on?  Do they follow you?  Do they get louder?  When they tattle, what is your response?  Do you say – “Oh, wow.  That doesn’t sound fun at all?” Or, do you start playing referee and trying to help them come up with ways to solve the problem.  If you are involved in the back and forth, chances are good that some of the fighting is for your benefit.

  2. It’s easy to say to kids “work it out” but who in the world takes the time to actually teach kids how to work through conflict?  We used weekly Family Meetings to teach our kids the skill of conflict resolution, which included an emphasis on communication and it worked well.  Ask a parent you see who has kids who get along how they taught their kids to work it out.  It doesn’t mean the strategy will work in exactly the same way for you, but I bet you pick up a tip that you could try.  There are great books out there to help as well.  Start with Non-Violent Communication if you want to influence the entire family.

  3. Focus your attention on the behaviors that you want to see more of.  That doesn’t mean you praise those behaviors.  It means you notice them, acknowledge them and let the kids know, that YOU know how hard it is to walk away from a fight or to forgive a brother who is bugging you or how helpful they are and how much you enjoy their company in the kitchen, etc.  Remember that you get more of what you pay attention too, so if you want to raise kids who leverage their strengths and develop character traits that will last a lifetime, focus your attention and energy on those.

Fighting can easily become a way of life if you aren’t armed with multiple strategies for creating a peaceful and harmonious household.  It is possible though and with some thought, it can be an exciting journey.

Question:  What is your go-to strategy for teaching kids how to get along?

3 Tips: Creating New Parenting Habits

Tips for creating NEW parenting habits.Q & A with Vicki Hoefle

Question: My husband and I are sold on this less is more approach to parenting.  We have implemented Family Meetings, replaced praise with encouragement, are trying to foster independence and get real with our expectations.  How do I transition between my old style of parenting and my new improved style?  Habits are hard to break and I am really struggling.

Answer:  The truth is, there is no easy way to break an old habit and replace it with a newer, healthier habit.  But there are a few things you can do to make the transition a little more enjoyable for everyone.

Here are my top 3 tips for creating NEW parenting habits:

  1. Identify the old habit you want to replace (choose the easiest to break) and the new habit you will replace it with. For example:  My old habit is to give my kids to many choices for breakfast and that leads to fights and power struggles.  This week my new habit is to give my kids two choices and I will make sure they are food choices I know they will eat. Or, another example might be:  My old habit is to nag my kids to get moving in the morning.  This week my new habit will be to trust that they can take care of everything on their own if I give them a chance and to wait in the car quietly until it is time to go.

  2. Focus on that one new habit for no less than 2 weeks.  It’s easy to feel bombarded with all the changes you want to make, but take it from me, focusing on one habit and sticking with it will create crazy momentum that will make future changes easier and more enjoyable.

  3. Track and CELEBRATE your progress and improvement. We live in a world that tells us to buy the new wardrobe AFTER you drop that 60 lbs, by a new car AFTER you get the corner office (you currently work in the mail room), and take that big vacation AFTER you have $200K in your saving account. REALLY?  Instead, find an easy way to track your progress on a regular basis (I recommend either daily or ever other day) and then find simple and meaningful ways to celebrate them.  This is guaranteed to keep you inspired AND you are modeling for your children that the process is as important as the goal.

As Tony Horton from P90X would say – Do your Best and Forget the Rest.  If you set reasonable expectations for yourself, you focus on one thing at a time and you make time to celebrate – you won’t be disappointed.

Question for you:  What strategy have you employed to implement new habits?

Back to School One Liners

okeedokeeBack to school is a great time to offer children ownership in their daily lives. When children “get” invested in a system like the morning routine, clothing choices, food selections, homework sessions and so forth, they discover what works for them and in turn, they enjoy the process!

But how do we “get” our kids invested?

We ask!

We find out what their ideas are, what they want to try, when they want to try them and for how long they want to practice. Then we give them space to decide if it’s working or if they’ve discovered the best system for them. And then we say these simple back to school one liners:

Okeedokee kiddo, give it a whirl!


Here are a few primers to get you going:

  • Where do you want to hang your backpack everyday after school? I’ll let you hang the hook. (There? Next to the fridge? Okeedokee, there it is.)
  • Are you going to pack lunches at night or in the morning? (Even if you think, sheesh there’s no way you’ll have time before school! ALLLRIGHTYTHEN– 6am it is).
  • What would you like in your lunch? Let’s go shopping together so you can pack your lunch. (Yogurt + yogurt raisins + yogurt smoothie? Okeedokee I guess you like yogurt).
  • When would you like to get your homework done? After school? After dinner? In the morning? (Okeedokee... homework might not happen because you like playing outside after school).
  • What time do you think you should get ready for bed? What time do you think is good for lights out? (ALRIGHTYTHEN…you think you’ll be able to get ready in 4 minutes, try it.).
  • When are you going to take a bath? Oh, you want to shower? Ok…when? (Even if you’re thinking really? At night? Okeedokee…bedhead.
  • How do you want to wear your hair? Or what kind of pants do you want to wear? (Really, no jeans? Ever? Track pants and shorts for 180 days? Okeedokee, try it.)
  • What time should we be IN the car if we want to be at school on time? How will we remember this time? (You’ll set an alarm to go off in the kitchen one minute prior? Okeedokee – let’s see how it works).
  • Do you have clean socks or would you like to do your laundry this weekend? (Okeedokee you think those four socks will last you seven days? Alrightythen*.).
  • When would you like to have family meetings during the school year? Seriously? Saturday mornings at 7:30? (ALRIGHTYTHEN…no sleeping in…that is until one day THEY realize I’ll be by the sleepover at 7:15…and that’s not gonna work.)

Do you have any favorite back to school one liners?