Search Results for: timeline for training

Training without a Sticker Chart

take-time-trainingThe illusive, yet necessary training of young children remains a lively and interesting conversation by parents everywhere. Certainly, those of us familiar with the Parenting On Track™ program now available to download, and the idea that self-esteem is developed by contributing in meaningful ways to the family (and by extension the communities we are a part of) are ahead of the game.

Create a Timeline For Training by answering the following 3 questions:

  • What can your kids do that they will do?
  • What can your kids do that they don’t do?
  • What don’t your kids do because they haven’t been trained?


With the first list, remember to acknowledge and notice progress, improvement and what it takes for your child to actually do the tasks on a regular basis with no help from you.

Move to your second list and follow the recommendations I made: Have a conversation, create a list together, ask the kids what they would like to work on first, choose a new skill every week or two, acknowledge progress and improvement and then celebrate. Move to your third list and follow all the procedures you used for the step above.

It’s really very simple. You are creating a system, a routine that you will be used for the rest of your child’s life. There is no reason to make this more complicated than it needs to be. When you make it complicated, the kids get confused and then discouraged and then they fight you about the contributions and you quit and say it doesn’t work.

It does work. And the sooner you create the system and actually use it, the easier it will be on everyone.


This is important. You have to stay in front of your kids. Remember, they are learners. We teach them something new, they master it in 5 minutes and it takes us 4 weeks before we teach them something else. CRAZY. Our job is teach the kids as quickly as they can learn it.

Your kids gobble up life at break neck speed. It is hard for you to stay in front of them AND you may even worry that you are piling on too much. But fear not, soon enough, they will move past that and they will slow down, all on their own. This is called a rhythm. Yes, a rhythm. Your child’s rhythm to be exact. You can not imagine how many parents have no idea what their kids rhythm is and mistake a slow rhythm for laziness or dis-interest. So stay alert.

Keep updating and teaching and remember to include self skills, life skills, social skills and more self, life and social skills. Again, it is a cycle, a rhythm. It never ends. Build on, dive deep, make it juicy.

And finally, so as to elevate any confusion

I used the contributions at Family Meetings to create all of this. I did not have 5 different charts. I had a white board per child. Each morning, they woke up and wrote down, or put the picture of the task on their white board. We did this together. It was a time for me to connect with them. If my oldest had the Kitchen as her contribution, it meant that she: set the table, cleared the table, loaded the dishwasher and started the dishwasher. When my son (who was 5 years younger) picked the Kitchen, it meant: set the table & clear the table. The Kitchen list grew as they did until, when my oldest reached 9 and she drew the Kitchen, it meant the entire kitchen, top to bottom. Done. Easy.

Remember you can’t pour self-esteem into kids with stickers, treats, and praise. Self-esteem is developed along the way, by practicing, messing up, trying again, and eventually finding a solution that works. Relax and enjoy the process!

Siblings Fighting? Making Small Tweaks Can Change the Game

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

Here are the 3 simple tweaks (the first step) you can make to break the cycle of fighting in your home and create a little more peace, harmony and enjoyment from all that I promised you.

1. If YOU are still trying to GET your children to get along, the solution is simple: STOP. (In the next post I’ll share the most powerful strategy there is for eliminating the majority of the fighting in your home.) But first, I want you to stop getting involved and observe.

2. Because kids fight for their parents, the solution is to just watch what happens when you act like you don’t notice and walk out of the room or act like you found something more interesting to pay attention to. That doesn’t mean you ignore a situation where you think someone is in serious jeopardy of being hurt, but it does mean you learn to ignore the fighting that is designed to engage YOU. I walked around with headphones on and pretended to listen to music. This drove my kids nuts, but within a few short minutes, they were either dancing with me, or laughing at my taste in music. In either case, the fighting stopped and we could move on with our day.

3. If you are doing things for your children that they could do for themselves, the solution is to: Invite, Train, Encourage and Support your children as they begin to engage in navigating the hills and valleys of their own lives. By inviting, training, encouraging and supporting your children, you will begin to notice that EVERYONE is in a new relationship with each other and that no one seems all that interested in fighting with anyone else.

If you just realized that you do too much for your children, I invite you to learn more about how to implement the Timeline for Training Strategy.

Parenting On Track Videos

Discover the Home Multimedia Program and listen to Vicki Hoefle in these sample workshop videos:

Three Secrets Your Pediatrician Never Told You – Ch 1 Sample

Buttons! What Buttons!? – Ch 2 Sample

Timeline for Training -Ch 3 Sample

Mistaken Goals of Behavior – Ch 4 Sample

Roadmap for Success – Ch 5 Sample

The Crucial Cs – Ch 6 Sample

Art of Encouragement

Show me!!

Family Meetings

Rabbit Hole

Slippery Slope

Celebrate Every Day

Quit your Job as the Maid

A Timeline for Training.

“If they can walk, they can work.” – Vicki Hoefle

Many parents are feeling more like the maid, and less like the guiding adult in their children’s lives. They also feel resentful as they rush around waiting on kids who are acting entitled and ungrateful! It’s a cycle many parents are stuck in – and there are many myths that keep this dynamic in motion. Vicki offers solutions to get out of the habit of “doing for” kids and allowing them to participate in their lives (even if it gets a bit messy!)

Timeline for Training: How it all Started

Years ago, when her children were still very small, Vicki noticed a good friend had unintentionally lost herself in the madness of motherhood. She watched as her friend ran herself ragged waiting on her kids, cleaning the house, doing all the planning, prepping and so forth (like many mothers today!). She also remembers her friend’s children seemed ungrateful and unmotivated as they made constant demands on their parents. Vicki knew at the beginning of her journey that she wanted to be mother to her children and not the exhausted, unappreciated maid. This is when she adopted her now famous slogan “If they can walk, they can work.” 20 years later, and as research continues to support her work, her “Timeline for Training” technique continues to be a favorite of parents across the country.

Why this Approach?

Children want to participate in their lives. They want to contribute to the family. They want to become independent and self-sufficient. However in our “hurry-up”, over-scheduled world, it’s not always clear to parents how to slow down and invite their children to participate more fully. Stepping back and letting go of micromanaging, saving and perfection opens up an intentional space for children to think, act, practice and develop habits on their own.

But, quitting as the maid is only part of the process! (And oh, what a fun part it is!)

The second part is where the magic happens. This is when mom and dad train their children, slowly, thoughtfully and over time – to take on more responsibility. Once kids are trained to step up (and mom and dad are trained to stay out!), they can expect to see children who do their laundry, help with dinner, pack their own lunches, do their “chores” and contributions regularly, and a number of other “responsibility” shifts within the house. Squabbling will go down and harmony does find its way into real homes, real families and real children (like yours!)

Presentation Overview

In this presentation, Vicki debunks the myths that keep parents in a merry-go-round of maid work. She uses stories and anecdotes to highlight what it looks like from the child’s perspective when mom and dad “help” too much. She explains why power struggles are vital to a teenager’s social development and shares how parents can use them proactively to empower decision making vs. repeating a stressful fight & fallout cycle. Vicki also highlights that mistakes are a good thing and she encourages parents to see them in a positive light by planning for them (on purpose!) so that kids can practice navigating life’s ups and downs when the stakes are low.

Vicki not only covers WHY this is important, she also covers the HOW. She shares her “if they can walk they can work” strategy and teaches parents the basics for creating a timeline for training. Vicki understands that parents may have great intentions of quitting but without NEW thinking about the role of the parent in this dynamic and a solid how-to plan in place, it can be difficult (harder than it may seem!) to simply quit being the maid. This is why she focuses on replacing old thoughts and habits with new insight and actions. This presentation supports parents looking to quit their job as the maid and foster independence and resiliency in their children!


Work is worth.” – Vicki Hoefle

Parents leave this presentation inspired to quit being the maid because they have good information and a strategy for training their children to become more independent. They understand change happens over time so they can feel confident that all small steps move forward, toward scenario two! When they return home, parents quickly discover that children appreciate being a part of the family and they want to be invited to participate.

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.

Mind Blowing Reflections

Graduation season is behind us. Maybe you attended Kindergarten Step-Up Day or a college graduation or maybe something in-between.

We had our own graduation celebration here in East Middlebury this past weekend. My middle child graduated from High School and will head out on her own come September. Graduation is always a time for me to reflect on the child who will soon be flying solo.

Here are a few reflections as they pertain to the Parenting On Track™ Program (because as I mentioned in the last post – YES, I do use the program and here’s how:)

1. Do Nothing – Say Nothing: This remains my secret weapon of choice. Here’s why. My kids change. They change all the damn time. I tend to change less often as I get older, so it is up to me to find ways to change along with my kids. The only sure fire way I know to do that – is to shut-up and watch for 7 days. I do this on a regular basis. In fact, I do it at least 2 times each year, sometimes more, if I know a particular child is going through a major growth spurt. As a result of shutting-up, observing and learning, I am able to parent each child in a way that supports their unique personality and perspective. This in turn, builds a deep and lasting relationship that can stand the ups and down that every relationship is bound to experience. In this particular child’s case, I have learned: she is extremely loyal, independent, funny, easily embarrassed, hates making mistakes, loves children and people over the age of 92. This is helpful information if I am to stay close to her as she ventures further and further from home.

2. Buttons: As I have said repeatedly, this one strategy alone is like holding the key to a locked door that hides treasures more valuable than gold. Whenever I start acting crazy, I know my kids have accidentally stumbled upon one of my activating events, a mistaken belief, a “BUTTON!” Listen, I can not begin to calculate how many hours of misunderstanding, fights and power struggles I have avoided because of this one simple, easy to use concept along with a strategy that literally takes 5 minutes to put into place.

3. Timeline for Training: You can’t raise kids who have the ability at 18 to make all the necessary arrangements for living abroad for another year, defer from college for a year AND maintain their scholarship money, if you don’t start by asking them to unload the dishwasher every single day before they leave for school and every evening before they jump on the computer. It just won’t happen folks.

You can’t raise kids who trust themselves, feel confident making decisions, are willing to take chances, rebound from blunders without missing a step, and have a realistic view of themselves and the world they live in, if you haven’t invited them to participate in their own lives EVEN when it was easier to manage their lives for them.

The Timeline for Training is a concept, when understood and used regularly, empowers the entire family and creates a kind of kinship and comradery that translates well beyond daily contributions.

4. 4 Mistaken Goals of Behavior: Here is what I know: our kids have a certain solution that they adopted around the age of 3, 4 or 5. This solution has now become their biggest and most reliable problem. The good news is, once you know what that problem is, you can provide a support system to your kids that is free from judgment and disappointment. It is liberating.

It is not uncommon for me to pour myself a cup of tea and wait patiently for my child to hit up against the same obstacle she has been hitting up against for 12 years. I am ready, with kindness, compassion and empathy. I am in no rush to give her the answer or try to make life easier for her. On the contrary, I am there to provide a sounding board for her, because I know, there will be a moment in her life, when she realizes that the problem she faced when she was 7, is the problem she is facing at 27 and suddenly, the answer is there, waiting for her. And at that moment, my kid will realize that I was there, beside her, trusting her to figure it out when she was ready and she will know how deep my love and respect is for her.

5. All of the “Invest in the Best” strategies have provided me years of pleasure as a mom. They are the tools I use to build strong, healthy, loving, accepting, respectful relationship with not only my kids, but anyone else who is important to me in my life. When the relationship we have with our kids is solid, there is little need for discipline strategies. I don’t care what anyone else tells you, come talk to my five kids and they will tell you that “punishments and consequences” just weren’t part of their childhood experience – and yet, there was order in our lives and there were clear expectations and there was restitution and there were thousands of solutions.

My husband I decided to invest heavily on the relationship we were building with each child, knowing that it would take years for us to experience the payoffs. And let me say right now, that having kids who truly like, care and respect you as a parent and a person is a payoff worth waiting for.

6. The “Tools of Necessity” became my teeny, tiny, secret weapon. I became a master at utilizing these tools when I felt us sliding down the Slippery Slope towards the Rabbit Hole. These common sense strategies saved my ass more times than I care to share AND the best part is my kids began using them as a way to support the family when we all seemed to be stuck or struggling. It is truly amazing to listen to teenagers who care so deeply about their family’s emotional health, that they will use the “distraction” strategy to break the tension even if it means looking like a complete idiot in the process.

7. Over the years, we have found ways to celebrate our lives together as a family that can only describe as “mind blowing”. From simple gatherings around lit candles where appreciations we given and received, to major trips anchoring a storm weathered that brought every member of the family closer together.

As my oldest daughter likes to say –

“We have a “way” of being together that draws people towards us. We have a “way” of being together that tells a special story about who we are to each other.

And she is right, we do. And that is because we worked at it.

Why Train a Toddler?

Balancing checkbooks, time management, college essays, jobs, friends, family and more. These are just a few of the things our teens are juggling every day.

How they manage the ever more challenging aspects of daily life, is up to us as their parents.

When we take the time to invite children into their lives from the earliest ages, take time to train them and nurture their independent spirit, we ensure that they will enter their teenage years eager to take on more and more of what life has to offer.

What excites me about the Parenting On Track™ program and in particular our chapter on creating a Timeline for Training, is the benefit for every single member of the family.

If you’d like to rest in the confidence that YOUR child will not only be prepared for life beyond your home, but enjoy all that life has to offer, bring the Parenting On Track™ Program home today.

Ready to Give your Notice?

featured I quit

Quit your job as the maid!

There are many things in life that are black and white. Parenting isn’t one of them. Not all of the strategies we talk about here at Parenting On Track™ work the same way for every child, or every family, and everyone’s kids are at a different place when it comes to training. That’s why, when it comes to training our children to participate more fully in their own lives, we recommend creating, maintaining and USING a timeline.

By creating a timeline, individualized for your children, you can:

  • Track where your child is today in terms of skill development
  • Identify what areas require additional training
  • Relax with the confidence that your children are becoming capable, cooperative, responsible and respectful

Many of you started your timelines with the first week of class when you spent a good deal of time just watching your children to see what they were already capable of. From there you had the information you needed to identify areas that required additional training. For the next couple of weeks we are going to use the feature article to explore what a timeline for training means for each specific age group of children.

This week however, is a time for you to stop – look – listen. So take some time this week and update your assumptions about what kids can and will do and then get ready for a powerful series that will walk you through the training process for each of the significant stages of your child’s development.

For more information on creating a timeline for training and inviting your children to participate, purchase our Home Program. View video samples here.

No More Lunch Lady

lunch-ladyWe are always trying to find ways to simplify our lives. There are entire books, magazines and TV shows dedicated to this very subject. One of those times in almost all of our lives that could use a little simplifying is the morning routine. Last week we touched on some of the broad, universal things you could incorporate into your daily lives to make the morning routine a little smoother. This week, we decided to team up again with Porter Hospital Dietitian, Amy Rice, to talk about how to train your children to make their own school lunches.

I know, right now you are thinking, “What? Are they crazy?! If little Johnny makes his own lunch he’ll end up eating Cheetos and Ring Dings everyday!” And, while this might be true, we have some guidelines for an easy way to train your children how to make a healthy lunch and hopefully avoid the excessive processed food and sugar intake you fear.

Here’s what Amy has to say:

The strategy that I usually suggest to my clients and that I have instituted with my own 3 year old and 5 year old is the Protein/Vegetable/Fruit lunch. When packing their lunch, teach your child to choose a vegetable, a fruit, and then a protein-rich food. Depending upon their choices, at this point, an item from the breads/grains group may be added. For example, your child first picks from the vegetable he’d like in his lunch. He chooses baby carrots. Then he makes his fruit choice, a banana. Now for his protein-rich food, he chooses hummus and packs this as a dip to use with his carrots. Perhaps he wants to add a few crackers or pretzels to dip in the hummus as well. Lunch is done.

Why start with the fruit, vegetable, and protein-rich food? Many children’s daily intakes of fruits and vegetables do not meet the recommended amount of at least five a day and protein is an important nutrient for growth and development. Choosing from these three categories first stresses their important while moving the focus away from the starches that typically flourish in a child’s diet beyond recommended levels.

Training your child to pack their own lunch will help teach some basic principles in nutrition, meal planning, and independence. With this method, you will be creating a healthy lunch structure within which your child has the freedom to make their own food choices. Even if some of their food combinations sound strange, remember it is their lunch and their culinary exploration. Who knows, maybe a new family favorite may be happened upon from your six year old’s palate!

Take some time, today, to talk with and train your children about what a healthy lunch is and let them do the work. You will not only be freeing up some of your time each morning, but you will be instilling healthy eating habits that will last them a lifetime.

For more information on training your children, inviting participation and encouraging independence, view the Parenting On Track™ Home Program details page, Chapter 3, Timeline for Training.

Danger: Thin Ice

Thank you to Jamaica Jenkins for sending us this blog to post.

While on a walk, I was prompted into an “ah-ha” moment by this sign. As parents, we would never imagine lacing our kids up into a pair of shiny new skates and sending them out on a half frozen pond. It would be considered irresponsible, negligent and most obviously, dangerous. Then it occured to me – all too often, we send our kids out into the world not knowing if they will fall through the ice or make it across to the other side of the pond. We’re not really sure they’ll know how to get a job, pay their bills or understand how to take care of their most basic needs. We “think” it’ll be ok, but in all honesty, we’re just not sure. It sounds crazy when we put it that way. Why wouldn’t we make sure they know how to do the things the real world expects from them?

One reason is it’s easier, cleaner, neater and more timeline friendly to just do most everything ourselves. That is one huge contributor to autopilot parenting – we just aim to keep the house moving along without really knowing if the kids are picking up skills along the way.

Another reason is that we don’t know how to prepare them! We think they’ve learned a lesson but then again, we’re not sure if our “techniques” strategies and tactics are even sinking in. Seriously, do we know if our kids will get out of a jam, if we’ve only lectured them on how to avoid them, punished them because they got into one or saved them from heading right towards one. A real jam. With real consequences. We just don’t know until we set them loose outside of our homes and we wait to see what happens. Will they know how to communicate with professors or will they have us parents calling in to request a class schedule change? Will they rack up a credit card and start off with 10k in debt because they can’t budget? Will they understand how to get insurance? Take a risk? Stand up for themselves? All without us jumping in? These are questions that will answer themselves at one point or another.

The question is, would you rather know they can handle it or simply leave it up to chance? If you’re interested in testing the strength of their skills before they head off into the world, then you have to be ready to start training them now, when they’re 2, 5, 7, 10 – whatever age they are in this moment. That pond is waiting for them at 18. Let’s make sure they can make it across (falling down onto the ice is one thing, falling through is another).

Back to School Routines

back-to-schoolAlong with buying new pencils and notebooks, “back to school” also means a return to routines, alarm clocks, and the responsibilities that many of our children left behind with the last bell in June. I have developed a “top 10” list for making the transition from frog collecting to number crunching a smooth one, for kids and parents alike.

With these pointers in mind, you’ll help your children begin the school year on the right foot.

1. Ask yourself, “What will it take for my children to manage their schedules independently?” Make a list of everything that needs to happen in order for your kids to be ready for the school day.  Access what they can do already, where they need some training, and what they need to learn from scratch. Set aside time each week to practice these life skills, and be sure to acknowledge growth and progress.

2. Allow your kids to establish a routine that works for them, even if they flounder for a week or two.  This means not reminding them to pack their homework or asking if they remembered their soccer gear.  Having to sit out a game or miss recess is a far more effective way for youngsters to learn to be responsible than parents constantly reminding.

3. Have faith that your children can handle the natural consequences of their decisions. If your daughter refuses to do her homework, let her work it out with the teacher, even if her grades suffer. Whereas the grades will come and go over the years, the self-reliance and sense of accountability that she’ll learn by solving her own problems will serve her well for the rest of her life.

4. Show empathy and help your children work through any problems that arise, but don’t be their savior.  School offers a perfect testing ground for kids to learn how to be responsible for themselves and acquire the skills they’ll need in the “real world” after graduation.

5. Set parameters about acceptable dress for school that you and your kids can agree on, and then bite your tongue.  Many schools have rules about attire (such as no midriffs or undergarments showing) that can help you frame this discussion.  You may not love the outfits that your children choose to wear, but showing them that you respect their choices and believe in their ability to select their own clothing is far more important in the long run.

6. Establish a framework for discussing the ups and downs that your kids are sure to encounter as the school year progresses. You want your children to know that you’re on their side, no matter what.  If your son brings home an “A” or scores the lead role in the school play, encourage him by asking questions about the experience. How did he prepare? What did that accomplishment feel like?  Did he need to work hard to reach his goal, or did it come easily to him?  Likewise, if your daughter comes home with a “D” or doesn’t make the hockey team, you can ask her about that experience. How did she prepare for that moment? How does she feel about her grade? Was this important to her? What could she do differently next time?

7. Create a roadmap with your children to help them set goals for the year and begin thinking about what it will take to achieve those goals. Your kids will feel a sense of empowerment as they define and take ownership over their plans for the coming year.

8. Set up a time every week to connect as a family. This could be a dinner, a family outing, or a scheduled family meeting. The gathering does not have to take place at the same time every week, but be sure that it’s on everyone’s calendar so that it doesn’t fall through the cracks.

9. Figure out what you, as a parent, can let go of to encourage your children’s independence. Deciding not to “remind” or “do for” your kids may be hard at first, but in doing so, you are demonstrating to your children that you have faith in their abilities.

10. Go slow. Encourage progress and recognize growth, and remember that you are the best parent for your child.

For another example of getting back into the school routine check out an article we found on the greatergood berkeley site.

For more information on creating Roadmaps and Timelines for Training check out our program details.