All posts in Behavior & Discipline

5 Simple Steps to Happiness

We found a great article this week posted on Real Zest.com5 Simple Ways to Get More out of Life

It was posted for women and men everywhere, and we felt that it applied perfectly to moms and dads, too – especially those of you who use your kids as an excuse NOT to take care of yourselves. Enjoy!

1. Be more selfish about your time.

“When you take time for yourself you recharge all the things that make you wonderful. When you’re all charged up and your best self, oh how easy it is to adore you!”

To do starting this week: Identify what your kids can do for themselves, and then get out of the way and let them do it. Then, each week, identify one thing your kids can’t do, and teach them how to do it. Keep adding each week, until finally, the morning has become your coffee break and all you do is hug and kiss your kids before they head out the door.

2. Belittle more imperfections.

“If you’re like other fabulous people I know, you’re very, very good at belittling your (and other’s) finer points. Maybe the things that feel like imperfections are actually things that set you (and others!) apart from the crowd. Make a point to belittle the things that deserve belittling. The paltry, annoying, meaningless idiocies we all encounter but spend too much time on. You know what I’m talking about.”

To do starting now: Start replacing mean thoughts with nicer ones. It’s a bit like singing when your sad just to turn things around inside. Now, take a look at your kids. Is what you are getting all hot under the collar about going to make a difference in the long run. Really? Start looking at those little imperfections as strengths that your kids can develop over time.

3. Be more present whenever possible.

“We love you, we need you, we adore you, we’d like to spend more time with you! But it doesn’t feel like you’re actually with us much of the time. You’ll get more out of conversations with friends if you’re not checking on your digital posse quite so often.”

To do starting this evening: Shut your smartphone down and keep it in your purse whenever you’re with your kids. We say our kids are the most important people in the world, but damn how can that be if they come second to your facebook friends and your smart phone.

4. Be more available for friends (and family.)

“Real-life friends are a lot like Farmville in that you only gain points with lots of time and careful tending! If you make a point to add just a few more touches per week, you’ll see the love pour back in greater volume than you dished it out.”

To do starting this week: Ask your kids specific questions about their day and listen without judgment or comment. We all ask, “How was your day?” and most of the time are met with, “Fine.” This happens for two reasons, 1. Your kid knows you are not really listening OR 2. If she gives you any information, you are going to offer your unsolicited opinion. Try asking these questions instead. “What did you study today? What was one thing you learned that you did not know before? Did you make someone laugh? Did anyone make you laugh? If you could do one thing tomorrow, exactly the same as you did today, what would that be? If you could do one thing differently…?”

5. Be more willing to say not right now

“Saying no to people is never fun. It sucks to disappoint others, particularly when you really care about them. But we both know you’ll crash and burn and be of no use to anyone if you try to do too much.”

To do starting today: When your kids ask you for help, ask your kids what specifically is tripping them up. Let them show you how much they CAN do and then teach them or help them with the one aspect they are stuck on. This will lead to more confidence for them and less requests for help from you.

“Do you have any additional points to add? Share this post with a friend and let them know what you’re doing each day to be more alive!”

And go back and read the real zest post and if you have tips and pointers that apply to your life outside of your kids, post on their site, I am sure they would appreciate it.

Parenting for RIGHT NOW?

The other day I was chatting with a few moms – okay, I was listening while they were chatting – and they started to discuss how at times they found themselves “disciplining (correcting, reminding, nudging, nagging, lecturing) their kids for doing things that were just – well – annoying and probably didn’t really fit into the category of discipline problems. HMMM. Interesting. I kept listening.

One of the moms said she felt as if sometimes she hit the “automatic parenting button” without really thinking about what she was saying or what she was doing. This not only concerned her, it made her wonder, really wonder, how many times she hit the “auto” switch and how that might be effecting the kids and more importantly, her relationship with her kids.

I am loving this. I shouldn’t be, but I am. This mom is on it. Now, if she can just keep challenging herself and get to the big “aha” moment, we are in business.

Another mom chimed in, inspired by the insight and courage the first mom showed and proclaimed with the kind of clarity that gives me goosebumps “ya know – sometimes I jump in when I start thinking about everything that needs to be done. Like, the trash needs to go out NOW, and I have to get to work NOW, and they have to go to bed NOW. And I justify some stupid parenting strategy, that doesn’t even work, just so I can have something happen NOW.”

A big pause from all the moms. I could feel the intensity. I knew they were really sinking into something big.

Today is a good time to stop and think: will all that micromanagement train the child to eventually take out the trash on his own? Will that same kid ever get up and out the door on his own? Will the two rumbling brothers ever find a better way to solve the discord? Perhaps, but not before you’re wiped out from sheer exhaustion and you’ve checked out of the relationship (it’s hard work getting them to “do” all the things they should and have to “do” isn’t it?).

As parents, it’s important to regularly step outside ourselves and peer down over the railing from the stairwell and watch and ask: is this scene that plays out everyday doing any good? Does anything ever change. Do they ever wake up and say, gee, I really learned from that lecture or gee, mom’s going to yell at me to put my shoes on so I’ll get it done ahead of time? Of course not! They do the same thing, and we respond out of habit and the cycle continues.

This is why we have to climb up and observe from the perch — and spy down on our actions within our families. Yes, we’ll also see we look like dingdongs when we are driving our kids’ lives (set on comfy cruise control) to simply get through the NOW.

So when you see this happen, ask yourself , “What about later?” And figure out what YOU CAN DO NOW, that will support your kids for later.

Kids are Like Computers, they Upgrade to New Versions (Of themselves!)

You’ve probably noticed, that with each new age and stage, your child’s behavior looks freakishly familiar yet, it’s loaded with a shiny new set of operating tools. He’s bigger. She’s smarter. They’re louder. The behavior is beefier. More mature. Less “cute”. (Face it, a tantrum at two is far more tolerable than a full blown hissyfit by an 8 year old).

As your child grows “into” more advanced versions of their discipline issues (whining, excuses, arguing, controlling, sassing, etc), you’re faced with the same problem, different year.

When this happens, tribes of parents head out to find the NEW most age appropriate response, punishment, discipline tactic to fight the aging beast (the behavior, not the kid). Because lo and behold, the strategy for a tantrum at two would never work for a 13 year old, right? I can see it now, the emo hipster wanna be with her head down in the naughty chair. It’s not pretty and it’s clearly not effective. So why do this to a two year old if we know it’s

    a) not going to make the problem go away and
    b) it’s going to resurface at 13?

Probably because it makes us feel in control. It’s a logical response to an undesired behavior. However, if we don’t realize the behaviors we see at two will be the behaviors (only upgraded) at 6, 8, 10 and so forth, then we stand to make it waaay harder on ourselves – and the kids – than it has to be.

The question is, how do we curb behaviors without having to run out and find a new strategy every 1-2 years?

The answer: we focus on the relationship. We study our children. We recognize the problem areas and we let the rest go. We don’t try to steer them through a perfect childhood without pain, failure or real world ups and downs. We train them to take care of themselves and be a meaningful participant within the community. Inviting a child to help at two will work the same as inviting a child to help at thirteen- and it will get more of what you want from them.

Sending a kid to the naughty corner at two and to her room at thirteen will not rid her from flailing and stomping when she doesn’t get her way. And you can bet it’ll come back when she’s in the dorms and doesn’t get the classes she wanted. Or the engagement ring she saw in the magazine. Or the car all the other moms drive. And bam. Will she live with it? Sure. Could she spare to do better without that habit? Definitely.

(Look around, you know any adults who still throws hissy fits? Exactly).

Parenting is not about Parents

After I receive the 5th email asking me what I think about an article or encouraging me to give it a read, I figure a post is in order.

Read the article here.

This refreshing article supports what we here at Parenting On Track™ have been saying and more importantly, what Adler was saying 100 years ago – Kids need to develop their “mental muscle” if they are to live satisfying, engaged, interesting lives when they leave our homes at 18.

In order to do that, parents must take a backseat and allow their children a chance to navigate their lives as often as possible.

The entire Parenting On Track™ programs draws from Adler’s work and his most important and powerful ideas concerning child rearing.

Most noteworthy of these ideas are :

    1. Children must be supported in their desire to become independent and self-sufficient at every turn. An over protective and over involved parent only serves to slow this process down and create children who are dependent on the parent rather than themselves.

    2. It is a parents’ responsibility to show faith and to trust that their children will recover from hurts, disappointments, fears, rejections and failures and need not be saved from them. After all, life gets harder from 18 – 80, not easier and the ability to develop a deep sense of courage and a resilient nature comes from learning that life is an ebb and flow of experiences and that more often than not, we land on our feet.

    3. Parents have an obligation to invite, train, support and encourage children to contribute to all aspects of family life. This ensures that children are prepared and willing to contribute to the success of every group they are a part of.

    4. Children develop the “mental muscle” necessary to deal with life’s complexities and challenges by participating fully, completely and regularly in every aspect of their life without interference from parents.

This is yet another wake up call for parents. It’s time to find the courage to challenge your ideas about what it means to be a responsible parent and to do what’s necessary to ensure that your son or daughter is developing the mental muscle he or she will require to a live deep, satisfying, joyful life.

Parenting isn’t about us, it’s about the kids.

It is NOT a Discipline Problem

I’m a junky when it comes to compelling video of individuals who are smarter, sassier, more inquisitive and more insightful than I am. Here is an example of another one of those videos – provided by our friends at TED staring Dr. Clifford Stoll, who looks like your typical “crazy professor”, until he delivers a short, but compelling message that hit home in a big way.

This is the passage that stuck with me.

    “I am supposed to talk about the future. And my feeling is, asking me to talk about the future is – bizarre. It’s silly for me to talk about the future.

    I think that if you really want to know what the future is going to be like – you don’t ask a technologist, scientist, physicist. No! Don’t ask someone who is writing code. No! If you want to know what society is going to be like in 20 years, ask a Kindergarten teacher. They know. In fact don’t ask just any Kindergarten teacher ask an experienced one. They are the ones who know what society is going to be like in another generation. I don’t. Nor I suspect do other people who are talking about what the future will bring. Certainly all of us can imagine all the cool new “things”. But to me things are not the future.

    What I ask myself is – what is society going to be like…… when kids today are phenomenally good at texting and … screen time, but have never gone bowling together. Change is happening.” –Dr. Clifford Stoll

It is important to me that I make a difference in the world, in whatever way that I can. And hearing what Dr. Stoll said lit a fire in me.

I believe this is why Parenting On Track™ is so important at this time in our history. And I truly believe that raising thinking children who have strong relationship skills is the very thing that will change our world for the better.

This is why, parents must educate themselves on how to ENHANCE the relationship with their children while PREPARING them for an unknown future. This is why we must ACKNOWLEDGE our children’s demands to remain connected to us, their parents, and ENCOURAGE them to become a powerful force in the family dynamic. We must find the COURAGE, as parents, to raise our thinking children to voice their opinions, contribute to family policies, to help solve family challenges. We must make the time and find the energy to engage in robust conversation on topics ranging from playground fights, teacher favorites, peer pressure, politics, intimacy, substance abuse, domestic violence, financial responsibility, and more. We must talk about the things that make us nervous and unsure, if we are to have any chance at preparing our kids for a rapidly changing, interconnected world, that seems to be moving faster and faster each year.

In a world that will provide more and more ways for kids to “technologically connect to vast amounts of information”, we must provide them with, at the very least, 18 years to hone their relationship skills through communication opportunities.

Dr. Stoll suggests that a generation of children, more tech savvy, then relationship savvy, could be problematic. And I couldn’t agree more.

So, if you are a parent who has a child

  • Who has “unplugged” from the family
  • Who still demands that you take care of their “stuff” because they see you as more maid than mom
  • Who hasn’t connected the dots that helping out around the house is what they will be doing from 18 to 80 (unless they can afford a full time housekeeper)
  • Who struggle to communicate in ways other than demands, whines, sass or contempt
  • Who can’t manage their screen time, phone time, chat time without a thousand reminders from you
  • Who has decided that school “sucks”, or church is “stupid”, or family gatherings are “lame”

Let me assure you, that you are NOT faced with a discipline problem. You are faced with a RELATIONSHIP problem. And this relationship problem you have with your child is not just yours – its society’s.

Parents it’s time we educate ourselves about what we can do today, to better prepare our kids for the challenges that await them in the 21st century. And although we have no idea ourselves, what technology will make possible, we can guess, with some accuracy, that what will NOT change, is that life is about the relationships we have with our self and with others.

Take a moment, take a day, or take a week, and ask yourself what you are doing to prepare your children for their future.

How to Break the Cycle of Fighting

siblings fighting

After 25 years in the field of Parent Education, countless hours spent talking with other professionals in the field of Family Dynamics and having raised five children who are now successfully launched and are good friends with each other. I continue to stand strong in my conviction that there are three reasons parents struggle to bring peace and harmony into the home. In fact, many of the strategies used by well meaning parents actually hurt rather than help the relationship between siblings

There are basically three major reasons kids fight, either with each other or with their parents:

1. Kids fight because parents focus on GETTING kids to get along with each other.

Are you, as a parent, doing any of the following?

  • Telling the kids to be NICE to each other
  • Telling the kids how important it is to treat each other with respect.
  • Saying things like “we are a family that treats each other with kindness and understanding.”
  • Saying things like – “You are so lucky to have a brother or sister and you should show each other that every day.” And they look at you like – What are you talking about – I didn’t ask for a sibling – that was your idea.

Listen, if talking to our kids about being nice worked, the world would be full of siblings who strolled down the sidewalk hand in hand. But the truth is, this tactic is wasted on children who could care less about the intrinsic value of being nice to each other.

2. Kids fight for their parents. Oh yes they do. And as parents, we already know this somewhere down deep. Think about it – how often 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. For US.

And as they follow you around the house, the fighting escalates, and our idea of a fabulous 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 that sounds just like their fighting.

And the message we send to the kids is this –

“I will give you my undivided attention when you fight. I will stop what I am doing, starting yelling at you to stop and even allow my emotions to get the best of me.”

What kid WOULDN’T fight just for the chance to experience a moment of complete control over their parents??

3. Kids fight because parents are doing for their kids what their kids could do for themselves.

And NOTHING breads fighting like kids who are:

  • Bored because they are waited on.
  • Discouraged because they are treated as if they are incompetent and unable to manage their own lives.

Kids fight. While this is a natural part of life, you can create a balance between natural sibling conflict and siblings who not only get along, but actually enjoy each others’ company.

This week, I challenge concerned parents to observe themselves and consider the following;

  • Are you guilty of telling the kids to get along or work it out, and if so, how often do you resort to this ineffective tool for creating sibling harmony?
  • Are you guilty of getting sucked into their fights when they tattle, cry loudly or scream from the other or chase you down the hall as you try to escape? And, have you noticed that this might be making things worse as one child or another tells you that you are playing favorites, or you don’t understand or you like his brother more than you like him?
  • Are you guilty of doing too much for your kids? In fact, you have noticed that when you are busy cooking, doing laundry, picking up the mudroom, etc., the kids are busy fighting. Are you willing to consider that if the kids were more involved in the running of the home, they would have less time to fight with each other?

Before you introduce any strategy into your family, it’s important, no imperative, that you understand exactly what is going on. Many parents throw solutions at problems without really understanding the dynamics of the problem. Instead of wasting your time, and a potentially awesome solution, take this week and observe yourself using these three prompts and by the time you are finished gathering information about what’s really going on, I will publish a post that offers some reliable solutions to bring you a bit of relief from the sibling squabbles.

Are you raising a bully? Part II

If you liked last week’s post from Annie Fox and were looking for some follow up solutions, check out Annie Fox’s second blog post My Child? A Bully? Part II. You will find 6 suggestions for addressing the bullying behavior.

Among them are a few of my recommendations as well.

At the top of the list is the Family Meeting. As the mother of 5 and part of a blended family with kids who have very strong personalities and a mother who is not opposed to using “power” to get her own way, our Family Meetings were a venue that held each and every one of us accountable for our behavior. My husband and I experienced the same consequences the kids did when we resorted to any bullying tactics to get our own way.

For those of you who know me, you will know that this didn’t happen often, but even I can be pushed into behaving in despicable ways. Luckily, we created a powerful tool for supporting each of us as we grew into our most respectful selves.

My second recommendation for addressing bullying behavior is to work with an outside source. Whether you see a parent coach, a traditional therapist or a member of the clergy, getting an outside perspective, having an impartial ear and a voice of reason will go a long way at “rebooting” your family and giving every member the skills they need to stay respectful and thoughtful with each other as well as everyone else in their lives.

“The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander” by Barbara Coloroso is still my hands down favorite book for truly learning about, understanding and then addressing the issue of bullying.

Over the years I have been asked repeatedly to address the subject of bullying and I have declined each and every time. Instead, I choose to focus on the task of teaching families how to create an atmosphere that is pro-active and provides opportunities for building strong relationships.

All of us at Parenting On Track™ encourage you to start creating this atmosphere of mutual respect, encouragement, contribution and cooperation right away. Don’t wait until you see the signs of bullying in your child. Don’t wait until you experience yourself (not parenting from your best) in your child’s behavior to do something differently. Build healthy relationships today and offer your children another way to “be” in relationship with themselves, their siblings, their friends, and the community at large. Click here and learn more about our multi-media home program now.

Summertime: Easy Living?

In just a few short weeks, kids across the country will throw open the doors to their classrooms and walk out of school for the last time and into – (insert screams of delight from thousands of school kids here) summer vacation (more screams of delight).

  • Later bedtimes and lazy mornings
  • A slower pace and time to “chill
  • More spontaneity and less structure
  • Endless possibilities and oodles of time to explore
  • Forts and food fights, pool time and sunburns, crafts and bug collecting, sleep overs and camp outs
  • Time with friends and more time with friends
  • A family vacation or two or maybe even three

Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

I agree. So I was surprised to hear, over a cup of tea with a few close friends (who shall remain anonymous) what summer vacation means on the other side of the fence.

  • Bedtime battles and stalled out mornings
  • Late, late and more late – to everything
  • Too many choices and too much negotiating
  • No chores, no contributions, chaos and fighting
  • Bad food, late bedtimes, cranky kids, dirty clothes, emergency room visits
  • No time for adult “stuff” until it’s too late to enjoy adult “stuff”
  • OMG – ANOTHER bad family vacation followed by another one and maybe even another one

After we shared a few giggles, we started to talk seriously about the upcoming summer season. We realized that we were painting the worst case scenario – a scenario that none of these savvy moms would ever experience. This particular group of moms has worked hard at this parenting thing (and I have been lucky enough to watch from the sidelines as they continue to develop wonderful relationships with their kids), so the summer will indeed provide opportunities for fun, family and friends.

But for many other moms and dads out there, what could be a season of delight and memory making – will most likely be a season of stress, frustration and a countdown to September.

So here are a few tips on how to make this summer a season full of delightful memories.

  • Write down your expectations for summer and have your kids do the same thing. Do it individually so that no one is influenced by anyone else.

  • Exchange lists without commenting. This is a chance for everyone to see another perspective. This is important.
  • Together, talk about setting realistic expectations that can be met by everyone in the family.

  • Here is an example:

    Mom wants everyone to continue with their daily contributions which are to be done by 7:30 am and 5:30 pm. The kids think they should only have to do them once a week. Setting a realistic expectation about daily contributions will alleviate fights, frustration, confusion and chaos. Remember to be flexible.

  • With this information, create a Summer 2010 Road Map. First, decide as a family what you want to SAY about the summer when it’s over. In other words, create a vision for your summer before it starts. And then use your Road Map to plot a course to getting there. This may take several days or several weeks to create.
  • Post the Summer 2010 Road Map somewhere you can see it. You will use this to inspire, redirect, and remind everyone in the family what summer is all about – according to you anyway.
  • Plan a series of Family Meetings that focus on the areas of the summer that might trip you up. For instance, family vacations, how many sleep overs per week, bedtimes and morning wake-ups, technology use, etc. Create a clear set of agreements and post these as well.

This might seem like a bit of work, but think about how you prepare for any important trip you are about to take. Do you just throw some “stuff” in a bag and hope you get to the airport on time? Of course not. So don’t leave your summer up to chance. Invest a little time up front this year and enjoy each and every day of summer vacation.

Take Time to Pause

I have been teaching this program for over 20 years and still, still when I receive a story like the one I am sharing with you below, it drops me to my knees and I know I truly have the best job on the planet. The mom in this story took one of the first parenting classes I offered in the state of Vermont. The 5 year old daughter she refers to is now a Freshman in College.

Enjoy and be inspired!

-Vicki

I am a bit of a skeptic. Somewhere along the way I learned to be a conscious observer, one who would not allow the word SUCKER to be pasted across her forehead. Whether it was a long stretch of being an unhealthy pleaser or that foolish pyramid scheme I paid into in my early twenties…as an adult, I decided not to just buy into everything I heard and read. So when my friend and neighbor asked me to join her for a parenting class, I thought “probably not…I’m too busy….it’s hard to get out at night…blah blah blah”. I had a perfect out because I couldn’t make the first one anyway. After attending the first class without me, my persistent friend was totally on board and she would not take no from me for an answer. I joined her.

My head was spinning with new thoughts. A misbehaving child is a discouraged child. Praise is different from encouragement. Punishment doesn’t really work. Lecturing doesn’t really work. Really? I don’t know. I’m skeptical. I don’t believe that I could (lovingly) walk out of the grocery store, leaving behind an almost full cart and do without groceries for a week to help instill a sense of respect and responsibility in my child(ren), not after the effort it took to get the four of them and myself that far in the store! Oh, my thoughts were spinning. I didn’t quite buy it.

It was time to pick my kids up from school…three boys and a girl. They all rounded the corner full of energy, papers flying, backpacks bouncing. In they piled, the boys rolling over each other, grunting, laughing, pushing, vying for position in the van. The noise level escalating…my daughter, age 5, was screeching, bossing, witching, fretting. I was about to reel around and get in her face when the most miraculous thing happened. A truly new and momentous thing happened. I paused. That was it. I paused. Oh my god, I didn’t react. I thought “A misbehaving child is a discouraged child”. That pause gave me a moment to consider…maybe she’s had a bad day…maybe… who knows? Instead of reeling around, yelling in her face and shaking my finger at her, I simply reached around and held her hand.

She stopped her noise. She whimpered. And she settled down. Something washed over her…and me. It was grace. I blinked away the tears. I knew this was it. I felt in love with her. A minute ago I was ready to “take her down a peg”. I felt a release of anger. Instead there was tenderness, kindness, empathy….and a quiet astonishment. Imagine…I could discipline with encouragement. In every moment – I could choose to offer a respectful stance. I could throw a lifeline rather than hold the kid under to comply. I realize now that what happened in that moment was that she felt connected, she knew she counted. She didn’t have to rail against the three boys to find her spot.

That wave that washed over me changed my life. I understood encouragement all in one moment. Things would never be the same in my life. Really, all I needed to do was to pause.

The Rubber Band Effect

I have been using the “Rubber Band” analogy for years to explain the “letting go” process AND the idea of teenage rebellion. It seems fitting to wrap this whole “letting go” conversation up with this.

Imagine if you will, a rubber band that exists between you and your child. When they are infants, the rubber band is tight. They move to far away and in you “swoop” to pick them up and move them safely back to you.

In other words, they are never more than arm distance away. As it should be. We all know how quickly babies can encounter danger. It’s a lot of hard work and at times it’s downright exhausting. We ask ourselves, will there ever come a day when I can just sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee without worrying about the stairs, the stove, the dogs, the…whatever.

And then it happens. The “Grace Years”. It’s usually between 1st and 5th grade. The years when you can sit down and read a book, or start a conversation with a friend, because you know the kids will be alright on their own for a while. The constant worry is behind you. You can relax. They made it through infancy and toddler-hood.

The best part of the “Grace Years” is these same kids still snuggle with you and say they love you and ask for your advice and you, me, we are lulled into thinking it will always be like this. And because you are secure in your position in their life, you extend them a little leeway. You treat them a bit more like an adult than a baby. You afford them a few extra privileges and you loosen the reigns on them. You start asking for their opinions and inviting them into some of the decision making. They are easy and fun and they share stuff with you and you come to believe that all is well. To use the rubber band analogy, you have provided them with LOTS of slack. You are comfy and they are comfy. All is right with the world.

But not so fast – Just as everyone is getting comfy with the extended rubber band, your child is suddenly ready to step into adulthood through the doors of adolescence and at that moment every fear you ever feared becomes real and you YANK that kid right back in and SLAM, you are suddenly nose to nose with a kid who is looking at you like – “Hey – What do you think you are doing?”

And your brilliant response might sound something like “Hey – Don’t think you are going anywhere young lady or young man. I’m not ready for all this. Stay close so I can keep you safe. There are dangers, real dangers out there in the big wide world. Stay right here where I can keep my eye on you.” HMMM, where have we heard THAT before. Oh, right, the last time you uttered those words, your child was 8 months old and crawling.”

No wonder kids rebel. If they didn’t have the “rubberband” snapped back at them, maybe they wouldn’t have to pull so hard against it.

As the mother of 5 teens, I know, yes I KNOW just how scary the world can be for kids who are UNPREPARED for it. But our kids ARE prepared. As a parent, you can ensure that YOUR kids are ready to cope with real life situations. When you take the time to do that, you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that they will navigate their way with clear heads and a strong connection to you. Keep the rubber band loose. Show your faith in their abilities. Yes, they will continue to make mistakes, but not nearly as many as you think they might and not all of them will end badly.

Keeping your kids close, too close, is a sure way to drive them away. Try extending the rubber band just a bit every day and before you yank them back, take a second and remember, you prepared them.

If you would like more information on how to prepare your children for adolescence, check out the Parenting On Track™ Home Program.

Holiday Traditions

Cookies, presents, gingerbread houses, decorations, more cookies, cards, candles, traditional food, more cookies . . . and the list goes on. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa—or a combination of these—there will be lots and lots of traditional things that you can or might do over the next month. Most of us look forward to the traditions of the holidays. They create a sense of community, familiarity, and the warm feeling of home that we can re-visit each year.

But sometimes, too much of a good thing is, well . . . too much. As December rolls along, it often begins to seem like time is running out, we get stressed, and those wonderful traditions start to feel like they are turning into a part-time job. And then there is the pressure to be like the other families you know, the ones who seem to be able to do it all and do it with a smile. I find myself saying, “You made cookies, again?”; or “Wow, you make your gingerbread house from scratch—and it’s two stories high?”; or “Your children make special cards for each grandparent, aunt, uncle and cousin?”

Needless to say, it can be hard to do it all and enjoy every moment of it too. That’s why, this year, we suggest something different. Instead of trying to do every tradition you can think of, pick one or two that you can do year after year. Find a tradition that isn’t too time-consuming, expensive or difficult to pull off but that is meaningful—one that your kids will remember and love as much as you do.

For example, our family tradition each year is to go over to the rural property we own in a neighboring state to get our Christmas tree. We take the whole day to do this, together as a family. We eat lunch on the road, cut down the tree and then stop for hot chocolate on the way home. We now look forward to this trip all year, and it has become as meaningful for the kids as it is for my husband and me.

We encourage you to find a tradition that your family enjoys, and make the most of it. Once you have accomplished your personal traditional event, everything you do can feel like icing on the cake (or cookie). To get help with ideas for creating a new tradition with your family, here are some links:

See http://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/catw2004/traditions/index.html for examples of holiday traditions from around the world. The site is organized by country.

Check out www.inlu.com for an alternative to traditional gift-giving. Your children or family can sign up for a specific gift, send a notice to friends and family who can contribute toward the gift, and any extra money received goes to the charity of your choice. Inlu takes care of everything, from the notification to the distribution of money AND the thank-you notes! It’s a great idea worth checking out.

To discover ways that children around the world celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, check out http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/holidays/

Science Supports Alfred Adler

Between 1901 and 1937, Alfred Adler espoused a new way to look at parenting and relationships. Adler understood that everything that happens in life, especially to children, is important. His theories and practice have shown to be productive when applied to the development of children and encouraging their sense of significance, competence and independence. Unfortunately, even though Adler’s theories are even more relevant today in the 21st century, his ideas have yet to become “mainstream.”

Now a new book, “NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, gives some scientific evidence for how right Adler was. NurtureShock challenges many popular, mainstream parenting ideas and techniques with scientific studies that will have, for many, very surprising findings. If you think praise is good, good children don’t lie, or that infants learn language by watching baby DVD’s, this book is for you. As the authors of NurtureShock put it, for a long time the parenting books have “mistaken good intentions with good ideas.”

As we see it:

  • Alfred Adler told parents “what”
  • NurtureShock explains “why”
  • and Parenting On Track™ tells parents “how.”

For the past twenty years, Vicki Hoefle and Parenting On Track™ have taken the theories of Adler ( recently studied and proven again by NurtureShock) and transformed them into practical strategies that before long become a way of being with your children, rather than just a way of disciplining or dealing with problems. For example, the first chapter of NurtureShock is about the reverse power of praise – sound familiar? Adler recognized the pitfalls of praise, introduced encouragement as a way to foster healthy self esteem and Parenting On Track™ takes it to the next step by showing parents not only how to replace praise with encouragement, but how create an encouraging home environment. (see Ch. 7 of the Home Program).

We recommend you get your own copy of NurtureShock. Theories and scientific information is important in understanding our children and why they do what they do. And maybe more importantly, why what we are doing doesn’t work. But, when you want more, when you want to find out how to put all of the great studies and statistics to work in the real world, look to Parenting On Track™.

We make the “how” easy – just check out the Home Program at www.parentingontrack.com/program/details.

Read a review of the book by Pamela Paul in The New York Times.

Encourage Yourself

encouragementThis month, the Parenting On Track™ blog has focused on “The Art of Encouragement” as a relationship strategy. We’ve talked about the difference between praise and encouragement (“Put an End to the Praise-Junkie”), how to use encouragement to motivate kids (“Encourage That Self-Motivation!”) and how to use your skills as a talent scout to encourage your kids toward success (“Parent as Talent Scout”). By now, you can consider yourselves well-versed in the benefits of using encouragement every day to enhance the relationship you have with your kids.

You probably, after all of this watching and observing, know a little bit more about your children than you did a month ago. Are you surprised, delighted, and maybe even a little bit emotional over the wonderful things you have uncovered about your child? Do you want to find a way to hold on to these feelings of wonder, awe and love that you have right now, in this moment, so that you can continue to encourage your children and yourself, even during the rough times?

Here’s how I would do it.

  • I would sit down and write my child a letter, and in it, would tell them where I started from this month—trying to focus on encouraging them through life’s ups and downs.
  • Then I would tell them all of the wonderful things I learned. For example, I used encouraging messages like “I’m glad you are here” and saw the smile in their eyes; I asked encouraging questions and found out that they draw sunsets because it reminds them of our trip to the lake last summer; I had empathy while they did a task they didn’t like and found out exactly what it is about the task that they don’t like; I watched and marveled at the way they kept the beat while listening to their favorite song on the radio…maybe it’s time for music lessons.
  • Then I would tell them that I love them, unconditionally.
  • I might share this letter with my child. Or I might keep it for myself, to read first thing every morning or maybe just when I need a little pick-me-up.

Encourage yourself by taking the time to look at and write down what you have observed about your wonderful, growing children; how your relationship has changed since you started using strategies like encouragement; and how you can see that you are now on the right path towards a healthy, strong relationship with the people you love.

For more information on Encouragement, see Ch. 7 of the Parenting On Track™ Home Program

Play Date Gone Awry

“How do you tell a mother that her kid is more than a handful and that you’d rather HALT all future play dates?!” (NYC Moms Blog).

playdate-gone-awryIt’s part of the parenting landscape, a dilemma most moms and dads face at some point in their parenting life. Play dates that turn into a nightmare. Sometimes that nightmare is the result of your child’s behavior, often times it’s the other child’s behavior, either way it ends badly. Parents feel stressed and frustrated. What’s worse is that sometimes a perfectly good friendship ends because – (HMMM, so why does a perfectly good friendship end?)

First of all, who ever heard of kids under the age of five knowing the first thing about play dates, the purpose of play dates, the rules of play dates, the expectations of play dates or anything else having to do with play dates. I have talked to enough parents after the fact to know that what most moms and dads wanted, was either

  • Time with another adult so that they kept their vocabulary at a 12th grade level (they are still paying off college loans that paid for that impressive vocabulary and no 2 year old is gonna steal it)
  • Time away from their kids so they can…..you name it. Life with small children is exhausting – emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually. It’s smart to make time for yourself if you plan to go the distance from 0 to 18.

Now, it would be easy to blame the demise of a perfectly good friendship on the standard – “the kids just didn’t mesh”, but we all know there is more to it than that. What we do tend to do is start looking for advice AFTER the play-date for answers to, “Should I talk to my friend about their child?” or “How many times can I apologize before they stop inviting my child over to play?” or “What discipline strategy should I use to solve the problem the next time the child comes over?”

It seems to me, that this whole mess could be avoided if parents took the time to implement a few simple, proactive steps BEFORE the play date was even arranged.
For instance:

  • Identify the GOAL of the play date:

    Is it for adult company, or that much needed break?

    Or Is it to help teach kids how to interact socially and to adequately represent to the kids what they can expect from the outside world when they choose to hit, bite, scratch, pout, cry, scream, etc?

    Or is it to establish that play dates can be a great training ground for the next generation of community members and leaders?

  • Set clear expectations for reaching that GOAL.
  • Identify how you “discipline” each other’s kids and still respect each other’s different parenting styles.
  • Identify what you will you do to solve a problem between the children once it happens.
  • Identify what you will do if either of you decides that play dates just aren’t working

By having a conversation, creating a clear set of goals, and then coming to an agreement about how to handle potential landmines, you and your friend(s) are much more likely to avoid disaster all together. Instead, you will quickly create a community of support, acceptance and you can watch as your children navigate the often treterious slopes of social interaction.

The choice is up to you – take your chances, or be pro-active and ensure a better play date for you and your kids.

For more information on The Parenting On Track™ program and Proactive Parenting.

Stop the Fighting

sibling-rivalryThe news media, blogging world, and twitters alike have all had a lot to say about Madlyn Primoff, the New York mother of two squabbling tweener girls who dropped them off on the side of road and drove off without them. For those of you who would rather save yourself the time, the trouble, and the hassle that that decision may cause, this post is for you.

Listen, nobody wants to drop their kids off on the side of the road because the fighting has gotten so bad that it is a danger to drive, but I say bravo for at least keeping the other drivers’ safety in mind.

What occurs to me is this:

Kids fight. Parents accept that this is a natural part of life. And to a certain extent, I agree. But come on, when a 10- and 12-year-old can’t get along in a car for a 30-minute drive home, something’s wrong.
It IS possible to create a balance between natural sibling conflict and siblings who get along. It IS possible to live in a peaceful house, with children who respect and love each other. What does it take? It takes time—a little training—and faith, with a capital F.

I’m gonna cut to the chase here because it seems unduly cruel to make you read through a bunch of crap to get to a few ideas that have worked for a mother of five (now teens), who are not all biologically related. First I want to say this:

  • My children are average, everyday kids. Nothing special about them.
  • I am an average, everyday mother. Nothing special about me.

But I figured out, a long time ago, that fighting isn’t usually because kids “can’t stand each other”, and although this isn’t where it starts, if it goes on long enough, it is where you end. So here it is, a mother with 20 years’ field experience, sharing a few things that can make life more pleasant and save you from bloggers around the country trashing you because you made a decision that seemed downright brilliant at the time, and regrettable 12 hours later.

PROBLEM: If you are still trying to GET your kids to get along, you are wasting your time. In fact, you are making things worse. I could write an entire book on this topic alone.

SOLUTION: All I can say is this: STOP! Your children are more than their fighting. As soon as you start to notice all the other things they are, the fighting will start to diminish. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it.

PROBLEM: Kids fight for their parents. Yes—they do.

SOLUTION: Just watch what happens when you act like you don’t notice and walk out of the room or you find something more interesting to pay attention to. Either the fight follows you—told you—or it stops (told you again). Now, I will say here, that the longer the kids have been at it, the more invested in it they are, so don’t be surprised if things get worse before they get better. But here’s the thing, if this is the way you connect to your kids (talking, reminding, yelling, and threatening are all forms of negative connection), then your kids are not going to give up the fighting, without someone offering them another way to connect with their parents in a positive way.

PROBLEM: The number one reason kids fight is this: Parents doing things for their children that they could do themselves, and as a result, 1) the kids start to question their own ability to do ANYTHING well besides fight with a sibling; and 2) the kids are bored beyond belief because instead of being trained on how to manage their lives, which would keep them busy for years, they have nothing to do but start picking on the person closest to them.

SOLUTION: Invite, Train, Encourage and Support your children, as they begin to engage in navigating the hills and valleys of their own lives. When you put your time and energy into this endeavor, and you find yourself and your children enthusiastic, excited and connected around this whole NEW relationship, the fighting seems much less INTERESTING to your kids.

Yes, I know it sounds too good to be true, but that doesn’t mean it is. I know. This is my big secret weapon (thanks go to Dr. Alfred Adler for this).

Appreciations – What’s the Point?

appreciation-postI Appreciate …

  • “I appreciate that you shared your poster with me, so I could have one on my side of the room.” – Child, eight years old.

  • “I appreciate that you included your brother in what you were doing this afternoon when he was bored. You were able to make both of you happy.” – Mom of two, ages five and two.

  • “I appreciate that you stopped doing your own homework to help me with my history project (to sibling). I know you had to stay up a little late to get your own work done.” – Child, 15 years old.

  • “Thank you for playing with me (to a sibling).” – Child, two years old.

  • “I appreciate that you don’t embarrass me in front of my friends (to parents).” – Child, 12 years old.

  • “Dad, I appreciate that you put up the swing set for us, because you had a lot to do to fix up the house.” – Child, four years old.

These are some real life examples of appreciations that have been shared during the Family Meetings of families I know.

Imagine if you and your family shared appreciations each week during your weekly Family Meeting. Is it reasonable to think that these kind words and caring attitudes would eventually spill over into the conversations you have during the rest of the week? And imagine that soon, this kindness and appreciative nature would spill over into your conversations with colleagues at work, and your children’s conversations with friends and teachers at school?

Imagine if we all sent our children out into the world looking for the good in people and then appreciating it. Imagine the impact it would have on everyone concerned. It all starts with one appreciation, once a week, at the Family Meeting.

More information about Parenting On Track™ Family Meetings and Appreciations can be found in Chapter 9 of the Parenting On Track™ Home Program.

The Truth About Lying…

—and Other Nonsense

A very close friend of mine, let’s call her N, called last week in tears.  I thought her treasured Golden Lab had finally passed.  Every time I asked why she was crying, she cried harder.  I was really worried.  Finally, she squeaked out—“I caught Adam lying.”

Silence.  It took me a second.  The sobbing seemed disproportionate to what she had just said.

“Are you telling me that all this sobbing is because Adam, your four-year-old son, lied to you?”

“Yes,” she said, “but be quiet; I don’t want anyone to hear you.”

I couldn’t help myself. I started laughing. The kind of laugh Julia Roberts burst into when Richard Gere SLAPPED the jewelry box closed and surprised her in Pretty Woman.

N is an intelligent, educated, down-to-earth woman.  She navigated her way through a colicky baby and a husband who traveled a lot during the first three years of Adam’s life, and she never got caught up in the whole “breast feeding, sleeping with, weaning from” craziness of our culture.

So, I was completely caught off guard by her response to this infraction from her four-year-old son. I did compose myself quickly, when I realized she really was upset.

We chatted for a while, I ran her through the A-B-C exercise, and she experienced a MAJOR “Aha!” moment. We ended our call with her having a “plan” and me feeling like I had redeemed myself and regained her trust after my ‘insensitive’ outburst of laughter.

Fast-forward three weeks:  I get a phone call from N. She is giggling, happy, and excited as she shares that Adam lied again, but she used the plan, and WOW!—Will I do her a favor?

She asks me to share the A-B-C exercise, because she suspects that other parents, moms in particular, will find this a powerful tool, which they can use immediately to squelch the nasty stories playing in their heads that are making them act like—in her words—ninnies.

Here it is, courtesy of N.

A – Activating Event
In N’s case, a child who lies. If you have ever said, “they know just how to push my buttons,” consider that to be YOUR activating event. It could be anything: manners, hitting, bad grades—anything that sends you into orbit fast.

Question: What is YOUR activating event?

B – Beliefs
In N’s case, children who lie will become full-time liars who will flunk out of school, lose their friends and their jobs, and, eventually, turn into adults whose lives—again in N’s words—SUCK.  What’s worse though, is N’s belief about HERSELF as the mother of this lying child.  What will people think of a mother who is raising a liar? Nothing good, I can assure you.

I could go on here, but you see how this line of thinking could get you into big trouble over a little thing like a four-year-old telling a lie.

Questions:

  1. What do you believe about children who…
  2. What do you believe about parents who raise kids who…

C – Consequence
This is the emotional consequence that both N and Adam pay for N’s over-the-top response.  In her case, a long lecture, tears, moralizing, more lecturing, phrases like “Do you understand how SERIOUS this is Adam?”  “You cannot—must not—lie to your mother. EVER.”  Poor Adam; can’t you just picture him looking completely bewildered and terrified at his mother’s outrageous outburst? Poor baby.

Question: How do you over-react to your activating event?

D – Disputation
This is the good part. This is where you get to create a brand new story for yourself that sets you free to parent from reality and not some past fantasy. It didn’t take N long to create a more realistic story that allowed her to deal with the situation in a calm, rational, loving manner.

Question: What is your new story? Anything will do. You don’t have to believe it yet; you just have to be willing to try it.

E – Encouragement
Finally, and most importantly, using encouragement to release the past and accept the present helps us stay on course until the shift in thinking is complete. N shared stories of her own childhood in which she had told a lie or two, and then had the courage to admit that even as an adult, she has told a lie from time to time. What she realized was this: she is a high-functioning, loving, productive, fully engaged woman, wife, mother and friend. That is the truth, and that is what set both she and Adam free from her madness.

Question: How will you encourage yourself and your child, as you adopt more useful
parenting strategies that focus on this:

  • What will it take for my child to find the courage to tell the truth?
  • What will it take for me, as the parent, to find the courage to update old, limiting beliefs so that I can parent from my best?

Thanks, N.

Big Love, Vicki

Albert Ellis is responsible for this amazing tool.

Bribing: It doesn’t always work!?

The majority of parents I have talked to during my 20 years as a parent educator have told me that, at some point in time, they bribed their kids. No kidding! Who hasn’t?

But recently it was brought to my attention that there are lots of bloggers and blog readers out there who have been discussing the effects of bribing on their kids. Since bribing seems to be a universal parenting tool, I thought I’d share my two cents’ worth.

Personally, I think bribing is insulting to not only the kids but to the parents as well. Yes, I know it works from time to time, but that’s the problem. It only works some of the time. I consider myself a lazy parent.
Here’s my list of “musts” when I consider any parenting strategy:

  • It has to work 90% of the time.
  • It has to be something that other people will use with my kids.
  • It can’t make things worse.
  • It has to be respectful to everyone.
  • It has to teach my kids something so they can build skills to use when they leave my house.
  • It has to work so well that soon, I am only using it 5% of the time.

Bribing, I’m afraid, doesn’t do any of that.


Here is what it does do:

  1. How would you feel if, at the end of dinner, when you were feeling full as a tick (my husband’s description, which says it all), your child said, “Mom/Dad, I’ll make my bed every morning this week if you eat the rest of the broccoli.” Absurd, right? Well, that’s what we sound like when we try to bribe our kids.
  2. We have already established that bribing works sometimes—they always eat their veggies for an extra helping of dessert—but what about the times it doesn’t work? Then what? More bribing? Bigger bribes? A full-blown temper tantrum? Face it—you got nothin’.
  3. What about the way it makes your child feel when you take away their decision-making power by trying to bribe them into doing something? What do you think this manipulative “parenting tool” ultimately does to your relationship with that child? And, who else might use bribing as an effective strategy on your child? HMMMMM—now there’s a truly scary thought.

Bribing is a “last ditch” parenting strategy. If it worked, we would use it all the time for everything. We know it doesn’t work to create lasting, sustainable change, so why use it at all?

One dad blogger, who wrote about bribing, captured my sentiments exactly.  For those of you who know me, you’ll understand why this blog had me howling.

To Spank or Not To Spank?

To Spank or Not To Spank?I’ve been reading a lot on the web lately about punishment. People want to talk about spanking, or “consequences that work,” or ways to get your kids to behave. What we know is that punishment, spanking and punitive consequences DON’T work. Consider this recent New York Times Magazine article which remarked on this,

“A recent study found… (p)arents who resorted to yelling or spanking were far more likely to say their disciplinary approach was ineffective. Given that parents often don’t admit to yelling and spanking, the study probably underestimates how widespread the problem of ineffective discipline really is.”

For more information see the link to the Parker-Pope article below.

Why are we stuck?

So, if we all agree that traditional discipline methods are not effective, to say nothing of how lousy they make us feel, then why are we still going back to them time and again? Because it’s easier? Because we’re frustrated? Or, maybe it’s because we simply don’t know what else to do?

After working with parents for over 20 years, and raising 5 children of my own, I strongly believe that 99 times out of 100, parents are doing the best they can with the information that they have. And it is because of a lack of new information that so many parents go back to those old discipline methods which are not only ineffective, but also pull everyone down along with them.

So, I am going to give you some new information in order for you to put aside any mistaken notions you might have about discipline and move forward with some new ideas on building relationships.

Okay, I’m ready for some new information.

In many cases, traditional discipline strategies don’t work because children have figured out that it is much easier to get your attention by misbehaving. It’s as simple as that. Children have learned that if they misbehave, you stop what you are doing, and then you pay attention to them through time-outs, lecturing, yelling, spanking or whatever it is you do to punish.

Now that you know this, you might be thinking, “Okay, then what do I do?” One thing you can do is to pay more attention to your children’s “useful” behavior. Stop what you are doing, whether it’s talking on your cell phone, watching the football game, or making dinner, and pay attention to your child when they are playing nicely, sharing with their siblings or helping set the table. Show them, again and again, that their “useful” behavior is worth your time and energy, and you will begin to get more of the useful, and less of the useless.

The Parenting On Track™ program is firmly rooted in these types of positive, relationship-building techniques, and our multi-media Home Program can take you step by step through the ins and outs of putting aside ineffective discipline strategies and focusing on moving your family forward.

Let’s put an end to the debate about spanking – it has gotten way too much air time in my opinion – and instead talk about parental involvement, empowerment and teachable moments.

“It’s Not Discipline, It’s a Teachable Moment,” by Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times Magazine, Sept. 14, 2008.

Bullying – What’s a Parent’s Role?

Bullying...School started just over a month ago and, already, I’ve gotten questions from parents about “bullying.” What can a parent do about a child that is being bullied, witnessing the bullying or is even being a bully him or herself? Parents are worried and looking for answers, and the “experts” seem to have thrown their hands in the air because they don’t know what to do.

I know… scary stuff, right?

I think the reason others have not come up with an answer to the problem of bullying is because there is no “quick fix.” There is no one sentence, slogan or catch phrase that will just make it all go away overnight.

Instead of a quick fix, and we know those really just amount to a whole lot of false hope, I can offer you a REAL solution – one that starts with a powerful new perspective.

Rather than asking, “How do I get rid of the bullying quickly?” try asking, “How do I deal with bullying?” Yes, it’s a small change, but an important one because from this new perspective we can begin to tackle this problem realistically.

My answer to our new question, “How do I deal with bullying?” is to change the climate, first at home, so that changes at school can follow.

For the child that’s being bullied

It can be helpful to start by asking, “Why is my child being bullied?” Now, it may be that there is some form of bullying going at home which is contributing to the problem. Remember, we’re coming at this from a whole new perspective, so let’s just take a deep breath and look at this together.

Demanding, dictating, telling, making decisions, thinking your way is the only way… or the only “right” way… all of that can feel a lot like bullying to a young child. And, by the way, it doesn’t matter if you have a sweet, syrupy voice. If it is your way or nothing, and if your kids can’t challenge you or stand up to you, how are they supposed to learn how to challenge or stand up to anyone else?

When these kids go out into the world without having practiced the fine art of non-physical, self-defense, the “Bullies” can spot them a mile away. Mind you, there are varying degrees of bullying and it can come from a variety of sources – from peers to adults, basically anyone looking to influence or intimidate impressionable kids. And these ill-equipped kids are easy for them to spot – they look scared, don’t know how to say NO or to say YES, cannot or choose not to articulate their preferences, or stand up for what they believe, and this makes them easy targets.

Bottom line? Protecting your child from bullying starts at home, and it is well within your power to start making a difference today!

And what about the child that may become the bully?

Now, back to that same child, the one who experiences what is, in effect, bullying… though you as the parent may feel you’re just “looking out of their best interests” or “making things easier” by making the “right” decisions. Imagine that this child decides that no one else is EVER going to push them around, so they decide to become the bully… just to make sure they have the power and, therefore, cannot lose. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense, and I imagine some of us could look back and find instances where we’ve done exactly the same thing. In this scenario, the child doesn’t really choose the bully position – they actually choose NOT TO BE BULLIED by taking that powerful position for themselves. And, based on their experience, they think they’re faced with an Either/Or proposition – with no options available for them in the middle.

Okay. My eyes are open. Now what?

In order for your kids to have the confidence to stand up for themselves, look people in the eye, walk and talk with confidence, express their opinion, support other people’s opinions, walk away from fights, and stand up when necessary, they are going to have to practice – you guessed it – in your home.
And, of course, the parents… yes, that’s you… have to be fully on board to help make it happen.

For help changing the climate in your home to facilitate and support the development of these important life skills, check out our downloadable Parenting On Track™MP3 – Parenting Styles. This audio will help you to immediately change the climate just by learning a little bit about what your parenting style is, and how you can make positive adjustments to it. If you like what you hear, the Parenting On Track™Multi-Media Home Program can help you make even greater changes – changes that can significantly improve the health of your family today and long into the future.

I know bullying is a tough topic, and some of you may have strong opinions you’d like to share. I invite and encourage you to share your thoughts right here using the blog comment forum below. Thanks again for visit and your continued support. Parenting On Track™ is… OK, OK, I say it… on track to reach more families in 2008 than ever before!