Blog Entries

When we change, the kids change. It’s that simple.


For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

It’s important for parents to recognize that it doesn’t matter if their children have been exhibiting pesky negative behaviors for two years, five years, seven years, or twenty years. It’s possible for change. It may take a little longer depending on the age of the child, but it’s possible. And it’s really very simple once you create a new plan in your own head as the parent. So if your connection with this child has been through power struggles, and that’s the relationship all of the time, what changes it is my response to that invitation to the power struggle. So if it’s cold out, and my child says, “I’m wearing shorts”, and what he expects is for me to say, “no you’re not”, I can say, “okay, wear shorts.” And let it go. And watch in that moment as suddenly there’s a new look on his face as he realizes something different is happening. If you did that over the course of a couple of weeks, your child would have to change because your responses to him were changing. That’s the power of this approach to parenting. We’re back in the driver’s seat as parents. When we change, the kids have to change. It’s that simple.

The Gift of Duct Tape

Ok, wait! Before that thought goes anywhere it shouldn’t, I’m going to get you thinking about what ONE roll of duct tape can do for your parenting experience.

First, let’s take a second to think about you and your kids. I (probably) don’t know your children, but you do so go ahead, think about them in action. Now think about you in action as a parent. What seems to go smoothly (bedtime routine?) and what seems to fall apart every single time (morning routine?). Now, think about your favorite parenting strategy. Do you have one? I bet you do but you might not even know it. You might think, well, I don’t use anything consistently – but remember yelling, nagging, reminding, lecturing, and so on (and all those reactive habits) are strategies. Now, here’s where the duct tape is handy.

Imagine (and some of you have actually done this. I have.) taking a piece of duct tape and putting it right over your mouth. What would happen? You physically would not be able to remind them what to be doing, thinking, or saying all day long. Now sit in a chair. Imagine you’re duct taped there – guess what? You cannot run into the living room with every little spat. You can’t carry every backpack, or bring shoes for kids who left them at home. You can’t clean the entire house. In fact, all you can do is learn to sit there and accept what’s happening around you.

This, my friends, is the best gift you can give yourself, and it’s the gift that you can give your children. For 2015, I challenge you to learn to “duct tape” yourself out of all the nonsense that goes along with raising children. With this one gift of duct tape, you can give them the golden experience of independence, problem solving, failure, forgetting, learning, asking, remembering, discovering, unfolding, realizing, trying something new and creating a life that is their own. In one year, imagine the difference.

So parents, get out the roll of duct tape and have a Joyous Holiday and start thinking about next year right now!

For instructions on how to use the duct tape, grab a copy of Vicki’s book here. 

For Auld Lang Syne

SnowflakesI hear those sleigh bells ringing… It’s that time of year again and everyone here would like to extend to all of you our best wishes for a happy holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, this month is sure to be filled with parties, excitement, presents and, truth be told, stress!

During these trying times, It’s easy to overlook the very thing that we are supposed to be celebrating – our relationships with family. It’s easy to be short-tempered when your To-Do List requires more hours in the day than you have or your kids are bouncing off the walls from excitement or sugar.

Whatever the case try to remember a few simple tips:

  • Be easy on yourself and your kids.
  • Don’t worry if each moment isn’t picture perfect.
  • Don’t worry if those cookies didn’t get made because you preferred to listen quietly by the fire to the snow falling with your little one (or big one) curled up next to you.

So whether you’re riding in a wonderland of snow, or drinking a cup of kindness, we hope you all enjoy this holiday season and wish you all the best in the New Year.

~Vicki

Self Control. Who has it?

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If I ask 100 people about their thoughts on control, 99.5 will whisper “I am a control freak”, as if this is a bad thing. Personally, I embrace and celebrate my “control freakish” nature. Why? Because the truth is, being a control freak is not the problem.

The problem comes from trying to control the external world instead of developing control of your internal world, which really means – demonstrating consistent self-control.

Of those same 100 people, 99.5 of them will readily admit that they spend the majority of their time trying to control everything outside of themselves. Why? Because it’s easier to try and control someone else or something else (ha) then it is to control your own thoughts, words and actions and to a certain extent, I agree.

I agree that it’s easier to “try” and control other people and situations than it is to develop the discipline necessary to control yourself. But the truth is, and we all know it, is that we can’t control ANYTHING beyond our own thoughts, words and actions.

Now when we think about the many ways, we well-meaning parents try and control our kids, it’s important that we also look at the consequences of our decision to try and control them.

Subtle Control– Subtle control can best be described as a friendly dictate from a well-meaning parent. You know? A parent who has their child’s best interest in mind. A parent who only wants their kids to experience the brighter side of life. A parent who KNOWS that if the child would just do what they say, the way they say to do, the child will most certainly turn out to be a happy, well adjusted, never sent to the principal’s office kind of kid. But alas, the child who is subjected to subtle control soon loses their voice and as the voice goes, so does the mental muscle to navigate their way through the world with any sense of confidence and enthusiasm. In other words, we create kids who will follow along with little resistance but who in essence are sitting on the sidelines of their life, while their parents do it for them.

Overt Control – Overt control can best be described as the bossy, dictatorial, I-said-so kind of control. These parents don’t care to disguise their decision to control their kids and their kids’ lives. And surprisingly enough, their motivation to control is much like the subtle parents reasons. To ensure the kids make few or no mistakes, cruise through life with ease, and make their parents lives as easy as possible.

There are some inherent problems in this kind of parenting, not the least of which is that the kids begin to “push back” under all this heavy handed controlling. They quickly learn that controlling other people is a primary goal in life. After all, they are learning from the most important people in their life. Is it any wonder the kids begin to assert their own kind of control of their parents. But the other problem, and one far more concerning to me as a parent, is the fracture it leads to between parent and child. In an overtly controlling dynamic, constant jockeying for position replaces other, healthier ways of connecting.

If you wish to model for your children the benefit of developing and maintaining self-control, start with these simple exercises:

• Start paying attention  to what you are thinking. Seriously. So often, a parent’s mouth will start moving before they have paused long enough to “THINK” about what it is they are going to say next and if it will enhance or interfere with the relationship they have with their child.

Teach yourself to pause and to change what you are thinking. Learn to spin the thought on its axis until you have sniffed out any desire you might have to control the wee little one in front of you. As you begin to develop mental muscle, your ability to actually decide on your thoughts will become easier and easier. And if we are to believe that what comes out of our mouths is based on what we are thinking, then controlling the words we use will be infinitely easier. The words we choose will be in line with our thinking and our thinking is to demonstrate self-control and enhance the relationship with our child. Fabulous.

Remember, your body works for your thoughts.  As your thinking and speaking shifts from directing and reactive to thoughtful and intentional responses, your actions will follow. Imagine actions that are kind, patient, intentional, supportive, forgiving, loving, kind and understanding. Picture yourself influencing your child’s life from this perspective and you can quickly see the distinct advantages of practicing self-control rather than wasting time and energy trying to control the external world.

• Have fun.

Practicing Gratitude

gratitude

I believe this is the third or maybe fourth year that we have posted this story. The fifth grade student who orchestrated this scene below is now a senior in high school. You may have read this before, but we can never be reminded enough about the simple beauty of practicing gratitude.

“Thank you very much, thank you. Thank you very, very much.”

Those words were sung by the enthusiastic students at a recent assembly held at a local elementary school. The applause and appreciation were for the school’s longtime janitor.

At the assembly, a fifth grade student and the art teacher requested that the janitor come to the front of the room. I watched as this humble, gentle man, caught off guard by the request and the cheers from the students, was asked to remove his ball cap, which was replaced with a crown made of decorated construction paper. He was instructed to take a seat on a “throne,” reserved just for him.

He sat on his “throne” as poised and calm as anyone I have ever seen-looking out at all the children, teachers, and parents with complete admiration and appreciation for each and every one of them. There we stood, his audience, appreciating him, honoring him, & thanking him.

I see this man every morning, greeting the children as they arrive with a “Hey, you, how are you?” “Good morning!” or “Have a great day!”

Then he always turns to me and says “That’s why I do this, you know-those kids. It’s important they have a clean place to go to school and learn.” Maybe that’s why the kids wanted to appreciate him, because they can feel his heart in his work and in his commitment to them.

Friday those kids practiced the art of gratitude. They took the time to notice and appreciate a special person in their lives.

So the next time you find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, find your child or another family member and say “Thank you for being you – just the way you are.”

Living our values, whether it be gratitude, respect, integrity, kindness or whatever rings most important to you, takes intention, commitment and practice.

As always, feel free to share ways that you have practiced living your values in your life.

How to Handle Toddler Meltdowns

toddler meltdownParenting Q & A with Vicki Hoefle

Question: How do I handle “bad” toddler behaviors- aka toddler meltdowns?

Scenario: My 2.5 year old daughter does not do this often, but three times in the last 2 weeks she has either hit me or thrown a toy at me. My friend witnessed one of the episodes and told me I should take a firm stand on this behavior and let her know that I will not tolerate it. Should I sit her down and tell her that her behavior is unacceptable, send her to her room or is there another strategy that might get better results.

Answer:

Wow, only 3 times in 2 weeks. I would be toasting to that exceptional behavior, not trying to find a strategy to punish her which I am fairly certain will turn your 3 times in 2 weeks to 3 times every day.

When stumped on how to handle toddler meltdowns, consider this:

Kids hit, throw, bite, pull, punch, scream, spit, holler, cry, pout, hug, kiss, cuddle, laugh, and say I love you because they are learning.

What are they learning? How to interpret the world. They are looking for responses to all these behaviors as a way to inform them on which ones bring mom and dad closer to them, and which behaviors push mom and dad away from them.

The best and most effective strategy is this – pay attention to the behaviors that will best serve your child (these are sure to delight you as well) and ignore the ones that will cause her trouble as she grows and matures.

QUESTION for YOU: Have you ever had a moment when you didn’t know how to handle toddler behaviors? What did you try and how did it go?

What is Your Child Thinking?

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Are you living with a child who is constantly challenging your rules, your ideas, the outfits you choose, the lunch you pack, the bedtime you set, or the morning routine you created step-by-step? Do you feel as though this wonderful child is all-of-a-sudden challenging your authority? I get it, you’ve lived for years on this planet, you know your child very well, and you know what he needs to function at his best. It makes sense that you put it all into play. You may often ask yourself, Why is he so defiant? What is he thinking?

And then you go to the grocery store and there is the child, the child you wish was yours just for this moment. You know, that do-as-you’re-told fellow with textbook manners, neat clothing, exquisite restraint, sticky sweet personality and the cherub-like smile that appears just at the most opportune time.

You wonder what is that parent doing, you compare yourself and clamp down further on your own child. Only to receive more push-back and more lip. Before you drive yourself crazy, take a moment and think about what is “motivating” this child to “behave.”

For a Moment, Consider This

Sure, he’s compliant, he’ll follow orders, and never talk back, but do you ever stop and wonder why? Is he afraid of punishment or to disappoint? Is he being bribed and working toward a reward? Or is he praised to the point that he is afraid of making a mistake? None of these thoughts are healthy when they appear in adult relationships, so why are we using strategies that create these thoughts when our kids are little?

One thing we do know is that that child is definitely not learning to challenge the world around him. Of course, it’s not his fault, he’s been trained to be a “great” kid (and yes, we all want great kids,) but there’s something missing in this child’s life: the ability to think, to choose and to do for himself.

Your defiant, obstinate, bossy, pain-in-the-neck child is telling you that he wants to develop his voice, figure out what works best for him, and practice making mistakes and revising his plan. Your job is to support him through this process, because it could get messy.

Thinking kids are Messy

Why encourage your child to think for himself when you already know what’s best and can avoid all that mess? Here’s why: Because, eventually, your child will have to either make his own choices, or go along with the crowd (because you’ve trained him to do this) and although this may not be concerning when you’re living with a 2, 5, or 7 year old, it can be damn alarming when you’re living with a 13 or 16 year old.

Raising thinking children takes effort, however when you consider the alternative, it’s worth it. I encourage you to allow your children time to practice navigating their own lives according to their values, their preferences and their interests, while they are living at home with you. In other words kids who practices making choices when they are little, will be strong enough to make smart, thoughtful, and skillful choices later – when the stakes are higher. They will also know how to take responsibility for those choices, good, bad, or indifferent. And when amends are in order they’ll be willing to make them.

So, the next time your child is willing to make a choice around clothing, shoes, bedtime, food, baseball, piano lessons, ballet, or anything else for that matter, stop and ask yourself, “Is this a chance for me to let my child choose?” Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure is worth a moment of reflection.

Interested in learning more about raising thinking children? Learn how with Vicki’s Tools for Success. Take the time to develop confidence in your parenting decisions and to trust your child to make his or her own choices. (Italicize the paragraph) and linke Vicki’s Tools for Success to the link below.

www.vickihoefle.com/tools-success

Problems with Potty Training? Give up

potty-training

Your attempt to have all the power.

When parents ask me,

How do I GET my kids to use the toilet?
How do I GET my kids to eat dinner?
How do I GET my kids to go to sleep at night?

My first thought is “how the heck should I know?” I’m not in the business of teaching parents more ways to control their kids.

Never in my 25 years of motherhood have I ever been able to GET my kids to do something they didn’t want to do. More specifically when it comes to potty training, eating and sleeping challenges, there is typically a deeper issue at hand.

Think about this for a minute. How do you make a child go the bathroom? How do you make a child eat something he refuses to eat? How do you make a child fall asleep? When it comes to these three areas,  the child is clearly in control.

Now don’t get me wrong, bribing, coaxing, and rewarding may provide the desired result in the short-term, but the downside is that you can find yourself right back at it only moments later. With these problems the quick fix method does nothing to facilitate independence in your children over the long term or solve the problem in the short term.

Any attempt to try and “get the kids” to do what you want only reinforces for the child that, “you can’t make him” and here he asserts his own personal power. So if you are experiencing trouble in any of these areas, take a moment and think about your relationship with your child.

Are there areas of his life where you could offer him more control? Is he picking out his clothes? Is he able to decide on certain foods he will eat? Have you incorporated some of his ideas into the bedtime routine? Does he have free time to do what he thinks is fun? Are you inviting him to help out with the real jobs around the house or are you sending him to play with his toys?

Most of the behaviors we experience with our kids are symptoms of an underlying problem. As parents we tend to hone in on changing the symptom and miss the real problem all together. The next time you are tempted to ask, “How do I get…” think about a different question, “What will it take for my child to…” This will help you look at situation(s) from a different perspective, identify what might be missing for your child and what you can do to help him move forward.

Remember, you are the best parent for your children. It’s not an easy road, but it’s a road worth traveling.

-Vicki

Sibling Rivalry: A Parent’s Role

mom with duct dape zip itMany parents suspect that they have something to do with all the fighting, but they simply can’t figure out what that something is. If they knew, they’d avoid it all together.

Well, here’s the deal. Your kids are often fighting for you. Hard to believe, but true. Think about it – how many times have you left the room when the kids were fighting and they were kind enough to bring the fight to you? Exactly. They fight for you.

And as they follow us around the house, the fighting escalates, and as a reaction to the rising level of agitation, our (likely unconscious) idea of the “right” parenting strategy is to start talking to them about stopping. And because they generally ignore us, we start to get frustrated and then angry and then downright ticked off at them and before long, our voices have escalated into a scream (and, huh, that sounds just like their fighting, doesn’t it?). Exactly. They wanted us to join the party. And here we are wearing a party hat, waving our hands at the tiny little hosts.

And so we go from wanting nothing to do with this little shindig to dressing up and responding, YES! When we join in like this (even though we didn’t want to), we say “I will give you my undivided attention when you fight. I will stop what I am doing, start yelling at you to stop and even allow my emotions to get the best of me.”

What kid wouldn’t fight for the chance to control mom or dad— not only into attending but becoming the entertainment? Silly right? Ready to RSVP “No” to the next invitation?

Give Family Meetings a Fresh Start

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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.

10 Tips to Happier Parenting!

Pierce-lingelbach

Happier Parenting doesn’t happen by magic. It takes practice. Here are my favorite tips for creating a life with kids that is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.

 

 

1. Stop Worrying

About how your children express themselves in terms of their personal style (this includes their wardrobe, accessories, hair and makeup). Learn to notice character traits that define your child as a unique human being.

2. Ignore strangers

In the grocery store who give you the hairy eye-ball when your child throws a temper tantrum.

3. Learn to Wait Quietly

As your child finds his/her own solution for dealing with disappointment or frustration (or just being too tired to shop).

4. Don’t Interfere

If your child decides to go to school in jammies, wear sandals in the snow, or watch tv instead of doing homework. Nature is the best teacher.

5. Celebrate Your Child’s Courage

To make a choice and listen as he/she shares the experience without judgment or criticism.

6. Ignore Mistakes

Big and small, yours and theirs, and remember that mistakes are opportunities to learn. Resist the Urge to Say:

“I told you so” “What were you thinking?” and “If you had listened to me in the first place, you could have avoided the whole mess.” Imagine yourself in your child’s shoes and then respond accordingly.

7. Leave the mess.

When your child is 35 how do you want her to remember you? As the best damn, nagging housekeeper in the neighborhood or as her ally, champion and teacher?

8. Never ever, ever, ever, ask your neighbor how she parents.

You wouldn’t take your car to an accountant for an oil change would you?Consider yourself the expert in your child’s life.

9. When you don’t know what to do do nothing.

Challenge every belief you have about what “good” parents do and don’t do and replace it with accurate, factual information that will help you parent from your best.

10. Don’t make the mistake

Of believing that your children ARE their mischief making. Mischief making is your clue that you are living with a discouraged child. The only solution is to encourage and encourage again.

Guest Post: Another Setback

MillieOnce again Millie’s raw account and honest reflection of her day with her daughter inspires.

We all make mistakes along our parenting journey. Our job is not to be a perfect parent or raise perfect children. Our job is to be the best that we can be and times like this, it means digging deep, taking responsibility for what is ours, and doing it differently the next time. Apologizing and making amends goes a long way to raising a compassionate and empathetic human being. Thank you Millie by sharing your experience you are helping others!  Enjoy! – Vicki

I failed at parenting today.

It was supposed to be great! We changed up Olive’s school schedule so that she can now attend on Fun Fridays and, also so that she and I can have a whole day each week to ourselves. I was really excited to spend some time with Olive. She’s been so, well, great, lately. She’s been quick to help out when we’re picking up, she has cleaned up her messes after she makes them, and she’s been helping me in the kitchen. And, I mean really helping. I can put a pound of hamburger meat in a skillet and she can chunk it up and stir it and make sure it cooks evenly. There have been several moments when I’ve just stood still and marveled at how cooperative she’s been. (Every time she responds to my requests for help or to pick up with, “sure, mom,” I’m blown away.)

Based on all of these changes, I anticipated a day of good times and laughing and fun with my girl. Olive loves to go, go, go, so I figured she would have a great time running some errands, eating out, and doing a little shopping with me. Our first stop was the gym, Kids Club for Olive, which she LOVES. She was so excited, apparently, that she couldn’t stop making really loud and silly sounds and talking like a baby when we got there. Okay. Fine. She’s excited. Whatever.

Read the entire post on Millie’s Blog.

Guest Post: I Bully My Daughter.

The blog post was republished with permission from the author, Millie Shaw. Her courage and honesty continue to inspire.

I bully my daughter.

Oh, and I humiliate her in public, too.

I didn’t realize that was what I was doing. I thought what I was doing was called “parenting.” It wasn’t until I had a difficult coaching session with Vicki that I figured it out. Well, actually, I didn’t figure it out until she told me that’s what I was doing.
Why it was so hard to see that behavior that I would consider to be abominable if it was directed toward any other person in the world, I viewed as perfectly acceptable when it was directed toward my own children, I do not know. I only know that now that I’m aware of what I’ve been doing to my daughter, I am ashamed of myself.
It all started so innocently — as it always does!

You can finish reading the original post here.

Resources on Sex and Kids

With so much information out there, it can be difficult to approach the topic of sex with your children.  I’ve read my share of books on the subject, and today’s blog post highlights two authors whose expertise is helpful to parents of boys and girls of all ages.

About Michael Thompson

An expert in child and family psychology, Dr. Thompson is the author of nine books and has consulted with hundreds of schools. In his thirty-five years as a clinical psychologist, he has developed incredible insight into the emotional and social development of boys in particular. Read more about Michael Thompson here.

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of  Boys (with Dan Kindlon, Ph.D)

Discussing a nation of boys that is “emotionally illiterate”, Kindlon and Thompson set out to answer the question: “what do boys need that they’re not getting?”
Learn more

It’s a Boy!: Your Son’s Development from Birth to Age 18 (with Teresa Barker)

In exploring the developmental, psychological, social, emotional, and academic life of boys, Thompson and journalist coauthor Teresa Barker identify key transitions in psychological and emotional growth, and the many ways in which boys attempt to define themselves.
Learn more

Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children (with Cathe O’Neill-Grace and Lawrence J Cohen)

Thompson and Grace demonstrate that children’s friendships are alternately intimate and intense, and cruel.  These two experts use a combination of research and their own experience in schools to give parents a deeper understanding of the motives and meanings of children’s social behavior.
Learn more

About Leonard Sax

Dr. Sax is a longtime psychologist and family physician, and has worked with hundreds of schools and spoke on child and adolescent development in eleven countries.  He uses scientific research and his own experience as a parent and a doctor to gain insight into the unique challenges our kids face today.

Boys Adrift

Dr. Sax argues that a combination of social and biological factors is creating an environment that is literally toxic to boys. Outside forces such as overemphasis on reading and math as early as kindergarten, too much time spent playing video games, and overlooked endocrine disturbances are actually causing damage to boys’ brains.  The result is a generation of men who are less resilient and less ambitious than their older peers. However, Dr. Sax tempers his argument with simple remedies and action plans that parents can begin to implement right away – and includes inspiring stories of success.
Learn more

Girls On the Edge

Young women are at risk today. In Girls on the Edge, Dr. Leonard Sax shares stories of girls who look confident and strong on the outside but are fragile within. Sax provides parents with tools to help girls become confident women, along with practical tips on helping your daughter choose a sport, nurturing her spirit through female-centered activities, and more.
Learn more

Resources for 2014

Oh those lazy days of summer…or maybe not. Regardless of how you are able to spend your summer days, here is a recommended reading list for all of you. There a many experts in the field of parenting and many who have specific expertise. Bookmark this blog and when you have the time you can peck away at this list of my absolute favorites. Next week I’ll post my top resources on Kids and Sex.

Protecting The Gift
by Gavin de Becker

In Protecting the Gift, Gavin de Becker shares with readers his remarkable insight into human behavior, providing them with a fascinating look at how human predators work and how they select their targets and most important, how parents can protect their children. He offers the comforting knowledge that, like every creature on earth, human beings can predict violent behavior. In fact, he says, parents are hardwired to do just that.
Learn more

Mindset
by Carol Dweck

Every so often a truly groundbreaking idea comes along. This is one. Mindset explains:
Why brains and talent don’t bring success
How they can stand in the way of it
Why praising brains and talent doesn’t foster self-esteem and accomplishment, but jeopardizes them
How teaching a simple idea about the brain raises grades and productivity
What all great CEOs, parents, teachers, athletes know
Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success—a simple idea that makes all the difference.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
Learn more

Children the Challenge
by Rudolf Dreikurs

Children: The Challenge gives the key to parents who seek to build trust and love in their families, and raise happier, healthier, and better behaved children. Based on a lifetime of experience with children–their problems, their delights, their challenges–Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs, one of America’s foremost child psychiatrists presents an easy to follow program that teaches parents how to cope with the common childhood problems that occur from toddler through preteen years. This warm and reassuring reference helps parents to understand their children’s actions better, giving them the guidance necessary to discipline lovingly and effectively.
Learn more

Nurture Shock
by Po Bronson

What if we told you…
that dishonesty in children is a positive trait
that arguing in front of your kids can make you a good role model
and that if you praise your children you risk making them fail
…and it was all true?

Using a cutting-edge combination of behavioural psychology and neuroscience, award-winning journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman have produced an innovative, counter-intuitive read that will change the way we interact with our children forever.

They demonstrate that for years our best intentions with children have been our worst ideas, using break-through scientific studies to prove that our instincts and received wisdom are all wrong. Nurtureshock is the Freakonomics of childhood and adolescence, exploring logic-defying insights into child development that have far-reaching relevance for us all.
Learn more

Queen Bees and Wannabees
by Rosalind Wiseman

When Rosalind Wiseman first published Queen Bees & Wannabes, it fundamentally changed the way that adults looked at girls’ friendships and conflicts. From how they choose their best friends, how they express their anger, their boundaries with boys, and their relationships with parents—Wiseman showed how girls of every background are profoundly influenced by their interactions with each other.
Now, Wiseman has revised and updated her groundbreaking book for a new generation of girls, and explores:
How girls’ experiences before adolescence impact their teen years, future relationships, and overall success
The different roles girls play in and outside of cliques as Queen Bees, Targets, and Bystanders, and how this defines how they and others are treated
Girls’ power plays—from fake apologies to fights over IM and text message
Where boys fit into the equation of girl conflicts and how you can help your daughter better hold her own with the opposite sex
Checking your baggage—recognizing how your experiences impact the way you parent, and how to be sanely involved in your daughter’s difficult, yet common social conflicts
Packed with insights on technology’s impact on Girl World and enlivened with the experiences of girls, boys, and parents, the book that inspired the hit movie Mean Girls offers concrete strategies to help you empower your daughter to be socially competent and treat herself with dignity.
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Masterminds and Wingmen
by Rosalind Wiseman

In 2002, Rosalind Wiseman wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes and established a new way to understand girls’ social dynamics. Now Wiseman has done the same for boys. Wiseman’s new book, Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, shows what’s really happening in boys’ lives. It creates a new language and analytical framework to understand the power of boys’ social hierarchies and how these influence their decision-making and emotional well-being. Wiseman’s hard-hitting challenge to parents and educators establishes a road map to reach boys and help them to grow into the best brothers, friends, students, athletes, boyfriends, and sons they can be.
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The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence
by Rachel Simmons

In The Curse of the Good Girl, Rachel Simmons argues that girls are pressured to embrace a version of selfhood that sharply curtails their power and potential. Unerringly nice, polite, modest, and selfless, the Good Girl is an identity so narrowly defined that it’s unachievable. When girls fail to live up to these empty expectations—experiencing conflicts with peers, making mistakes in the classroom or on the playing field—they become paralyzed by self-criticism, stunting the growth of vital skills and habits. Simmons traces the poisonous impact of Good Girl pressure on development and provides a strategy to reverse the tide. At once illuminating and prescriptive, The Curse of the Good Girl is an essential guide to contemporary girl culture and a call to arms from a new front in female empowerment.
Looking to the stories shared by the women and girls who attend her workshops, Simmons shows that pressure from parents, teachers, coaches, media, and peers erects a psychological glass ceiling that begins to enforce its confines in girlhood and extends across the female lifespan. The curse erodes girls’ ability to know, express, and manage a complete range of feelings. It expects girls to be selfless, limiting the expression of their needs. It requires modesty, depriving them of permission to articulate their strengths and goals. It diminishes assertive body language, quiets voices and weakens handshakes. It touches all areas of girls’ lives and follows many into adulthood, limiting their personal and professional potential.
We have long lamented the loss of self-esteem in adolescent girls, recognizing that while the doors of opportunity are open to twenty-first-century American girls, many lack the confidence to walk through them. In The Curse of the Good Girl, Simmons provides the first comprehensive action plan to silence the curse and bolster the self. Her inspiring message: that the most critical freedom we can win for our daughters is the liberty not only to listen to their inner voice, but to act on it.
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It’s Okay Not To Share
by Heather Shumaker

Although it flips convention on its head, It’s OK Not to Share… is based on child development and emerging neuroscience research. Discover concrete skills to help your child prevent bullying, channel active energy, express feelings appropriately and much more. It’s designed to make you rethink what you thought you knew about parenting and give you saner days.
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Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years
by Michelle Icard

 

Middle School Makeover is a guide for parents and educators to help the tweens in their lives navigate the socially fraught hallways, gyms, and cafeterias of middle school. The book helps parents, teachers, and other adults in middle school settings to understand the social dilemmas and other issues that kids today face. Author Michelle Icard covers a large range of topics, beginning with helping us understand what is happening in the brains of tweens and how these neurological development affects decision-making and questions around identity. She also addresses social media, dating, and peer exclusion. Using both recent research and her personal, extensive experience working with middle-school-aged kids and their parents, Icard offers readers concrete and practical advice for guiding children through this chaotic developmental stage while also building their confidence.
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Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain
by Daniel J. Siegel

In this groundbreaking book, the bestselling author of Parenting from the Inside Out and The Whole-Brain Child shows parents how to turn one of the most challenging developmental periods in their children’s lives into one of the most rewarding. Between the ages of 12 and 24, the brain changes in important and often maddening ways. It’s no wonder that many parents approach their child’s adolescence with fear and trepidation. According to renowned neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel, however, if parents and teens can work together to form a deeper understanding of the brain science behind all the tumult, they will be able to turn conflict into connection and form a deeper understanding of one another. In Brainstorm, Siegel illuminates how brain development affects teenagers’ behaviour and relationships. Drawing on important new research in the field of interpersonal neurobiology, he explores exciting ways in which understanding how the teenage brain functions can help parents make what is in fact an incredibly positive period of growth, change, and experimentation in their children’s lives less lonely and distressing on both sides of the generational divide.
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Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children
By Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D. and Catherine O’Neill Grace with Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D.

 

Friends broaden our children’s horizons, share their joys and secrets, and accompany them on their journeys into ever wider worlds. But friends can also gossip and betray, tease and exclude. Children can cause untold suffering, not only for their peers but for parents as well. In this wise and insightful book, psychologist Michael Thompson, Ph.D., and children’s book author Catherine O’Neill Grace, illuminate the crucial and often hidden role that friendship plays in the lives of children from birth through adolescence.
Drawing on fascinating new research as well as their own extensive experience in schools, Thompson and Grace demonstrate that children’s friendships begin early–in infancy–and run exceptionally deep in intensity and loyalty. As children grow, their friendships become more complex and layered but also more emotionally fraught, marked by both extraordinary intimacy and bewildering cruelty. As parents, we watch, and often live through vicariously, the tumult that our children experience as they encounter the “cool” crowd, shifting alliances, bullies, and disloyal best friends.
Best Friends, Worst Enemies brings to life the drama of childhood relationships, guiding parents to a deeper understanding of the motives and meanings of social behavior. Here you will find penetrating discussions of the difference between friendship and popularity, how boys and girls deal in unique ways with intimacy and commitment, whether all kids need a best friend, why cliques form and what you can do about them.
Filled with anecdotes that ring amazingly true to life, Best Friends, Worst Enemies probes the magic and the heartbreak that all children experience with their friends. Parents, teachers, counselors–indeed anyone who cares about children–will find this an eye-opening and wonderfully affirming book.
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How to Handle Toddler Meltdowns

toddler meltdown

Question: How do I handle “bad” toddler behaviors- aka toddler meltdown?

Scenario: My 2.5 year old daughter does not do this often, but three times in the last 2 weeks she has either hit me or thrown a toy at me. My friend witnessed one of the episodes and told me I should take a firm stand on this behavior and let her know that I will not tolerate it. Should I sit her down and tell her that her behavior is unacceptable, send her to her room or is there another strategy that might get better results.

Answer:

Wow, only 3 times in 2 weeks. I would be toasting to that exceptional behavior, not trying to find a strategy to punish her which I am fairly certain will turn your 3 times in 2 weeks to 3 times every day.

When stumped on how to handle toddler meltdowns, consider this:

Kids hit, throw, bite, pull, punch, scream, spit, holler, cry, pout, hug, kiss, cuddle, laugh, and say I love you because they are learning.

What are they learning? How to interpret the world. They are looking for responses to all these behaviors as a way to inform them on which ones bring mom and dad closer to them, and which behaviors push mom and dad away from them.

The best and most effective strategy is this – pay attention to the behaviors that will best serve your child (these are sure to delight you as well) and ignore the ones that will cause her trouble as she grows and matures.

QUESTION for YOU: Have you ever had a moment when you didn’t know how to handle toddler behaviors? What did you try and how did it go?

Five Tips to End Sibling Rivalry

It’s the Simple Things that Trip us Up

Let’s say you’re having one of those June-Cleaver-would-croak-if-she-saw-you moments. Your kids are rowdy, screeching and tearin’ the place apart. You look into the mirror and say, “If only they could get along and end this sibling rivalry my life would be bliss.” (Yeah right ☺).

Screaming and fighting happens. Sometimes it’s as simple as a child who is over tired or hungry. Maybe it’s the time of day that triggers a fisticuffs between siblings. And truth is, sometimes it’s something more. But before you spend too much time probing, rule out the simple reasons kids can go at each other without provocation.

With a little preemptive planning, you can cut off the small ‘skirmishes’ that pop-up and drain your energy leaving you feeling more like Lizzy Borden than Mrs. Cleaver.

Here’s how you find that mommy bliss and get back to your buntcake and bonbons:

  • Stop and think: Is there a simple reason the kids are fighting? Do they just need food? Offer it without engaging.
  • Notice the rhythm of your children’s behaviors. Redirect the energy BEFORE the “He hit me, no I didn’t” song starts to play on full blast (on repeat).
  • Zip your mouth, ma. The “telling them” and trying to “get them” to get along doesn’t work. Ignore it and find something productive to do instead. And if you invite them into an activity that seems more interesting that the fight, they are bound to check it out.
  • Stay Out Of It. It’s that simple. Don’t care. Don’t get annoyed. Don’t listen to the tattles. Don’t correct the kids. It’s none of your business. (Of course, if they are in harm’s way, do what you have to). Put your headphones on if need be and sing away. You’d be surprised how many kids will give up a fist fight when they hear a parents singing to Talking Heads.
  • Give them something else to do. AHHHH – There’s the rub. Most parents aren’t sure WHAT ELSE TO DO – so they return to the old ways….

Fighting can be avoided with a little investigation, a bit of redirecting and a willingness not to make things worse. Best of all, practicing these tips over time – goes a long way to eliminating sibling rivalry.

What’s the Trouble with Kids Swearing?


In one day, I saw two posts on the topic of kids growing up in homes where it was okay for them to swear. The most recent on the website of Michelle Icard (who just authored a fantastic book for any parent who will ever be living with a kid in middle school. – Middle School Makeover (Bibliomotion 2014) 

I was inspired to share my thoughts on this topic.

excited-kidw explative

As a mom who raised 5 kids – all young adults living on their own  now with their own unique relationship with swearing,  I appreciate this dad’s ability to change some of his core beliefs about swearing and land squarely on what is most important to him, his relationship with his daughter.  

I felt the same way with my kids. I was good about keeping the swearing out of the house when they were young, but once I found myself living with three young kids, on twenty uncleared acres and three temperamental horses, whose stalls needed to be cleaned daily and their frozen water buckets emptied and refilled, I resumed my relationship with swearing and started letting the bombs fly.

I heard my first swear come out of my two-and-a-half-year-old son’s mouth one morning when he was trying to drag a hay bale across a three foot sheet of ice.

“What the f… is up with all this d.. snow and ice?”

His two older sisters and I stopped dead in our tracks.  Not because of the swear, but because he sounded exactly like his mother.  Uh Oh. The girls giggled and I gave them the, this is NOT funny look, but they knew that inside I was busting a gut.

Over the course of the next two years, I became more relaxed with my swearing and the kids began to pick up bits and pieces of it.  The story continues this way for years and it never really occurred to me to address the ease in which they integrated a few swear words into their everyday conversations at home until an acquaintance stopped by and she was appalled at what she heard.

Like the father in the article above, I began to question my own beliefs about swearing, the correlation between swearing and respect and my beliefs around the idea that I would raise truck-stop-swearing kids who would never be able to hold down a job because every other word out of their mouth would be an expletive.

But that’s not what happened.  My kids, having learned swearing from their mother, also learned when to use it and when to keep it tucked away out of sight.  They navigated this tricky landscape with ease and confidence.  They swore with their friends, and they swore at home. But rarely did they swear anywhere else.

 I know now, looking back, that my kids also felt my unwavering support for them as growing, maturing, learning human beings and that my goal in life was to continue to receive invitations into their lives.  Because swearing wasn’t something we fought about, they were able to share openly and honestly about really difficult topics.

Every parent, at some point, must wrestle with the beliefs we have about things like swearing, dating, drinking, lying, smoking, cheating, and so on and decide not only how we want to address these challenges, but what, at the end of the day we want most in terms of our relationships with our kids.  The answer won’t be the same for any two parents, but I have learned, that swearing is not a good indicator of what kind of human being I was raising.
 

Less is More does not mean Permissive


For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

Duct Tape Parenting; A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids (Bibliomotion 2012) has been published for almost two years and we have had the great fortune to introduce this philosophy to over 10,000 parents through our book sales.

A common question that we have received from parents who are interested in reading the book, but not yet ready to step back and let go of the helicopter hover, has been how is “less is more” different from Permissive Parenting? First I would suggest reading the book and the answer will be clear, however in simple terms – Permissive Parenting is no boundaries while Less is More is boundaries (order) with the freedom to make mistakes and learn from experience.

Children raised in a permissive household tend to have real difficulty with any kind of boundary or structure outside of the home. Typically they’ve been indulged and mom and dad have done everything they can to avoid any kind of meltdown, temper tantrum, disruption, sadness, or anger. So the children really never gets the chance to develop the kinds of resources that will help them deal with a much different world, one that doesn’t really take into account that they’ve been pampered and spoiled and not expected to take care of themselves or recover from any kind of upsets.

As these kids begin to grow, their anxiety increases because there’s a sense that they’re not navigating the world around them as well as their peer group. They don’t have the resources. They don’t have the confidence. They don’t have the experience. They’re used to just asking and receiving. Or having someone save them from a difficult situation. Or even making those situations go away altogether.

So consider stepping back, letting go and inviting your children into the process of living, making decisions, making mistakes, developing necessary life skills and resources. Remember we are raising 27-year-olds, not seven-year-olds and they need loads of time to practice – within a designated set of boundaries, that grow as they do – to come out on the other side with the mental muscle, courage, and resilience it takes to navigate life as a healthy adult.

Are you a Discouraged Parent with Discouraged Kids?

If we want our children to change their behavior, we must first change ours.I received this today, from a parent who took my class when her oldest was a mere babe – 15 years ago. This is what is possible when we, as parents – find the courage to question our parenting style, our parenting decisions and our parenting motives. And at the end of the day – isn’t this what every single parent wants to say about their kids – “thank goodness, I didn’t raise an ass.” Okay, maybe we want to say more than that, but you can’t deny that that one sentence sums it up for hundreds of thousands of us.

Today as I was driving home I was reflecting on the day’s events.

I was grateful for the conversation I had with my 17-year-old son about parenting in general and specifically about how and why parents make some of the decisions they make about raising their kids. We talked about the sometimes unrealistic expectations parents have for their kids and that with a few exceptions the majority of parents I know are doing what they believe to be in the best interest of their children. My nearly grown son was engaged in the conversation, curious and interested in learning and sharing his perspective with me. A perspective that made me think that when he is a parent, he will be so much more prepared than I ever was to become a parent. Best of all though, we were totally connected in the moment.

I was appreciating the morning conversation with my 15-year-old daughter about competition among her sisters and that when they are discouraged they can be quick to bring one of them down a notch, but in the same second if that same sister needs something, they are all there for each other, without fail. We were sharing how we all in our family (parents included) can do that quickly – bring someone down if we are feeling upset or discouraged – and sitting quietly with that truth. The conversation was thoughtful, honest, reflective and again, I was glad to be invited in to her young adult life and learn from her wisdom.

I was appreciating the courage that my 11-year-old daughter was demonstrating as she navigates a relationship with a fellow classmate, who continually puts her and at times other members of our family down. I have offered support and she assures me she’s “got this” and continues to process and bounce ideas around with me. I listen quietly and send her love. She knows I am here loving and believing in her and I appreciate the invitation to be a part of this process and her young adolescent life, inspired by her courage, confidence and conviction.

I was grateful for the problem solving skills and tenacity that my 8-year-old daughter offered when she created an appreciation board for all of us to use. She felt our family was acting a bit discouraged and weekly appreciations at Family Meeting “just must not be enough.” She created the board and posted it with an appreciation. Her oldest sister asked, “What happens if someone does not get an appreciation?” Her reply with a wink was, “Then I guess that person isn’t being very nice and might decide to offer something good up.”

I came into the house filled with love and admiration for these fine young people, ready for another cup of coffee and a facebook scan. Immediately, I noticed two posts.

“I don’t think my nagging is working any more. I think I’ll switch tactics & try leaving notes around the house. If you come to my house and see “please replace the toilet paper if you take the last of it” or “if you drop the hand towel please hang it back up” please know that they’re not directed at you. :)”

I was grateful that I had learned that nagging is not a strategy that teaches kids to take care of themselves and glad that I had found the answer to this problem.

Then I read this.

“When I get old, I’m going to move in with my kids, hog the computer, pay no bills, eat all the food, trash the house and when asked to clean up, pitch a fit like its killing me.”

With comments that followed:

“Leave all the lights on, have a ton of animals that I “swear” I will take care of, leave all the cupboards open and still be bored as s— and wan’na go somewhere other than home…..

Trash the car, leave food and dishes all over the house, spill something on the floor and leave it there, hog the remote.

Wow, parents can trash kids, but expect the kids to be respectful of them. When kids do what their parents do on facebook, the parents get mad, so mad they shoot bullets in the computer, or publicly shame the kids on facebook, the internet, or the street corner. And our society accepts and applauds this behavior from those adults.

I gave thanks for my family and realized the problem. We live in a culture where discouraged parents are raising discouraged kids.

Solution: Duct Tape Parenting. 15 years ago I found a philosophy that lifted me up and out of my own discouragement. I discovered a philosophy along with strategies that gave me the tools to encourage myself, encourage my children and to support my children’s natural desire to be independent, capable, confident, cooperative, respectful, responsible, and resilient human beings.

If you are ready to stop feeding this cycle of discouragement that seems to be mounting to epidemic proportions, read the book. It will mean something different for you, than it did for me. You will not parent your children, like I parent mine. You will learn how to develop the courage to be the parent you dreamed of being, to parent from your best, and to allow your children to grow into their best selves.