All posts in Proactive Parenting Strategies

Siblings Part 3: Tips To Bring More Joy

stop the fighting

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

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

appreciate

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

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

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jens kids

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

Siblings Fighting? Making Small Tweaks Can Change the Game

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

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

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

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

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

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

Tweens, Technology and…..Sexting

Sexting. Some parents have difficulty just saying the word, never mind admitting that their child might – just might – be participating in it.  Our sweet, innocent 3rd and 4th graders have suddenly become tweens and teens and they are growing up in a world very different than the one most of us grew up in – a world surrounded by technology. Many children will not remember a time when they didn’t have instant access to a friend living half way around the world or the ability to see their grandparents each week via skype. These kiddos can receive an immediate and accurate answer to a question about pre-historic dinosaurs and link classrooms and share poems with students in Ghana and Kansas. This invaluable technology has also introduced our children to texting, social media, youtube, cyberbullying and yes, even sexting.  With the awesome comes the not so awesome.

As parents we can stay in denial and try to convince ourselves that we have the ability to protect and shield our kids from internet dangers like sexting, or we can get educated, grab our courage and meet our kids where they already are – cell phone in hand deciding in a split second whether or not to send a racy picture or post a decidedly inappropriate picture on social media. Contrary to popular belief, technology is NOT the problem. 

The problem is our lack of preparation around this issue, it’s the lack of intelligent conversation we have with our kids that is the problem and it is our fear of the unknown that is the biggest roadblock. Remember our job as parents is to teach, prepare and work along side our kids as they learn to navigate the world of technology filled with all the pluses and minuses.

Parents come to me confused on how to handle the issues surrounding their tween/teen and technology. This subject often either leads to power struggles between parents and their kids that negatively impact the relationship and the entire topic of responsible technology use gets lost in the mix of fighting and battling or it leads to a “if you can’t beat them, give up and let them” attitude with no structure, conversation or boundaries in place. It’s not unusual for me to ask a room full of concerned parents this question as a jumping off point: “What do you know about your child to ensure that you have set up a structure that will work for her?” Silence. “Uh, structure?” Often the story is, “My son turned 13 and all he wanted was a phone. All of his friends have them and he was dying for his own so he could text and stay connected.  Now, just a few months later, it’s a mess. The phone bill is sky high, he’s on the screen all the time, he’s neglecting homework and family. It’s a nightmare.”

Okay. Let’s back this bus up a bit and see if an analogy will make it clear where we get tripped up.

Before handing someone the keys to a car, that person has

  1. Reached a certain age.
  2. Passed drivers education.
  3. Practiced driving for hours with an experienced driver.
  4. Proven they can handle the responsibility of paying for a car or gas.

Right? And even if parents are scared to death that their son or daughter will get behind the wheel of a car and be in a serious accident, we can’t stop them.  We know this and so we accept it. We prepare our kids and we prepare ourselves for the inevitable.  We don’t fight against it – we work with it.  And that is what makes the difference.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to preparing our kids to handle technology. In many cases, parents skip those steps and go right to the “car” – then realize that their child may not have the necessary skills to adequately navigate the tricky terrain of internet use.  When parents can reframe the idea of technology and create a plan for preparing themselves and their kids for its inevitable arrival, everyone wins.

With a specific concern like sexting, the situation becomes a bit more serious and as a result, a parent’s fear factor increases. The idea of talking openly and frequently with kids about sex is tough enough, now we are forced to combine sex and technology in the same conversation. No wonder parents are sidelining these conversations until they can no longer avoid them.  Here’s the thing, no matter what you do to prevent it, there is a strong likelihood that your child will either sext someone or receive a sext from someone. The goal is to come to terms with this and do what you need to do as a parent to prepare yourself so you can discuss the situation openly and honestly with your child and prevention, danger, recovery, restitution and healing from a humiliating experience.

Include technology in the conversations you have with your children about healthy and unhealthy relationships – sexual and not sexual. If you aren’t comfortable talking about the topic, how do you expect your child to open up and talk to you about it?  Our kids need to know we have the confidence to tackle any difficult conversation with love, respect and understanding.

Here are a few tips to make the process easier.

  1. First, do what it takes to find the courage, to talk with your tween/teen about the various scenarios that might come up and how she/he might handle them.
  2. Ask questions. Find out about your teen’s cyber IQ. How tech savvy is she? Does she realize once something gets out there in cyberspace you cannot get it back? Or does she really think that once the image disappears from Snapchat it is gone for good?
  3. Work in other areas of life with your child to ensure that he has the tools to navigate tricky subjects. Does he accept responsibility? Does he value himself and others? Does he practice empathy and respect? Does he crave attention and long to fit in?
  4. Come to fair and reasonable guidelines with your child around technology use and include sexting in the conversation. Have a plan and stick to it. Remember your kids need to know they can trust you. Following through on an agreement demonstrates this. They may be mad at first, but the bigger message is – you do what you say, which means you can be trusted.
  5. Respect your child’s privacy. Have faith in your child’s ability to keep the agreements. This doesn’t mean turn a blind eye to what is going on, but it does mean that you don’t have an app that sends all your children’s texts to your phone, too. Finding out what is on your teen’s cell phone is about trust and respect. If you focus on those aspects of the relationship, your teen will invite you in – on her terms.
  6. Demonstrate your understanding that being a teen is hard enough; Let your child know that you understand and that the added element of technology, social media and sexting is one that you didn’t have to figure out when you were 12, 14, and 17-years-old. It’s more than just saying that you’re there if they need you. If your child does get in trouble, it is what you do next that matters most.

Does your tween/teen have the courage make their own choices and not succumb to peer pressure when it comes to sexting? What can you as the parent do to support your child’s independence in this area?

 

Believe It Or Not, Your Kids Want To Contribute!

 

For

more information on elementary education visit KidsInTheHouse.com

 

Self-esteem is based on two things: Your ability to take care of yourself in totality and your ability to contribute to a group that you’re a part of.

When you’re talking about young children, the first jobs, the first tasks, the first skills that you teach them are self skills. How to take care of themselves, pick out their own clothes, get dressed, make a bed, brush their teeth, take a shower, wash their hair, make toast, pack a backpack, make lunch. Those are all valuable skills that kids are hungry to learn. It also feeds their self-esteem. By the time they’re 3 and 4, they’re looking for opportunities to help their parents in real life situations. They don’t want plastic kitchens, they want to be in the kitchen. They want to unload dishwashers and set tables. They want to help sort laundry and put the soap in. They want to help run the vacuum and get the dust buster.

For some reason, parents think that good parents delegate their children to the sidelines while they do all the work and the kids play alone. But what we know is where children want to be and what their natural drive is is to help out around the house.

All a parent has to do is make a list, extend an invitation, do a little bit of training, and they will have a child who believes that contributing to the health of their family includes helping out around the house.

Focus on the Relationship


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Oftentimes when I’m working with a parent and they are describing life with their kids, it’s as if they’re looking through a very small lens down on the ground. “I have to get my kids up, and then pick out their clothes, and then get them to the table, make sure they eat a healthy breakfast before they go to school.” And what they’re talking about are things – the minutiae of day to day life. But what’s happening is their kids are in the home with them. There are relationships that are either being built or fractured.

When I work with parents I talk about lifting your head up. Forget the minutiae for a minute. Do an inventory of what life is like in your home during the morning routine. Are people making connections? Are people talking to each other? Are people eating meals together? Are children engaged in their own life? Are they taking care of themselves? Getting dressed? Talking to mom and dad? Interacting with siblings? And oftentimes parents report that there’s very little of that going on. So instead we want to focus on what’s happening between the relationships with everyone in the home. We want to emphasize that this is what really makes for a healthy family, that taking care of the day-to-day minutiae of life isn’t really what creates a healthy, happy, sustainable family.

Now the good news is that once you shift your focus to the relationships that you have with the people in your home, the day to day stuff starts to take care of itself. You start to delegate jobs to people. Folks start to be more cooperative together. Kids start to take responsibility for their backpacks, and their lunches, and their homework so that Mom and Dad have more time to check in with their kids about how friendships are going or how the relationship with their teacher is. So it’s really just a shift in what you’re noticing. Then both of those things, the day to day life with kids and the relationship, start to work in balance with each other.

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. 

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.

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

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.

Less is More does not mean Permissive


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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.

How to Stop Screaming and Start Engaging


For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

As parents, most of us will ask our kids to get dressed, or brush their teeth, or go get their homework so we can get in the car. As kids, they typically will ignore that first request. We then follow with a few more requests using a really nice calm voice. The kids continue to ignore us. And it’s at that point that we change from nice to screeching, yelling, demanding, and threatening. And it seems to us as parents that’s the only time our children get engaged, when we escalate into the screaming, which is not really what we want to be doing. Most parents I speak with say they would love to be able to stop screaming.

It’s important for parents to understand that first of all most kids are parents deaf. It’s a little bit like the Charlie Brown scenario. What they hear through those first requests is [wah-wah, wah-wah]. All of these requests and reminders train the kids that they don’t really have to move until we escalate. So one of the ways to break that pattern is to start out by giving our kids choices, because they have to answer you.

When you speak to your kids change from a direction to a request or a choice. “John, would you like to brush your teeth now or after this commercial? Mary, would you like to get your homework now or after we finish dinner. Jamie, do you want to brush your teeth now or after we finish reading the book?”

The child is required to then respond in some way. Once you receive a response, you can move the conversation forward. Even if the child replies by saying, “neither”, you have the beginning of a conversation started and you can answer, “I see. When would you be willing to…?” Try it and see if this helps you to stop screaming.

Vicki’s Golden Nugget of Parenting Advice


For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

Imagine that your child comes home at 25-years-old with her best friend. Everyone is sitting at the table and your child’s best friend ask your child to describe you in one word.

    What would your child say? What word would she use?
    What do you as a parent want that word to be?
    Are you the person you want your child to describe?
    How are you demonstrating this value every day?
    What actions do you take in relationship with your child that support who you want to be?

The golden nugget of parenting advice? Decide. Decide who you want to be and take the time and make a plan to be that person and practice. Run every decision through this value and practice every day.

Parenting Help is Just a Phone Call Away

vicki-burton3

If you ever find yourself wanting some parenting help, support to work through a challenge or gain clarity around a certain situation but you aren’t sure what your options are, I want to let you know (or remind you) that I am available for phone consultations. Often parents wonder if just one phone call will be enough to address a specific challenge and design a solution that will work to bring about significant change. What better way to answer that question than a testimonial from a couple I worked with recently who experienced first-hand, the power of one phone consultation with me.

    Hi, Vicki.
    I¹m still thinking about our phone call from the other day, and how incredibly helpful it was.

    My husband and I had read Duct Tape Parenting, listened to it repeatedly on audio, and now are in the midst of Parenting On Track.

    From the first moment of your teaching, we felt calmed and reassured that we would find our way. We¹d spent many years trying to make parenting choices that created a self-aware, resilient, and confident little boy. But more and more we were seeing that we were also getting in our son¹s way, with all of us getting frustrated and farther from our goal. Daily life was sometimes so difficult we felt demoralized. But in the past year there has been so much change in our house, and although it¹s still difficult, we¹ve felt so much hope. More than that, we¹ve felt we¹ve had a clear direction. We understand when our parenting behavior is effective and we¹re clear when a choice we¹ve made has brought us off track. We¹re better able to see our son¹s amazing strengths, and we¹re better able to support him where he¹s still struggling. Still, family life is fast moving and complicated, and it is sometimes hard to know exactly what to do or say in a given moment. Our phone call with you came after a very painful day, where all our attempts to get on track made things worse. You made the downward spiral of the day suddenly very clear, and we understood just what we had done to contribute, how we had muddied the water, what we had missed in our child, and exactly what we could have done differently. You helped us clarify our parenting goals and how to bring those goals into the moment, shifting where we put our attention, and offering us concrete things to do or say. Our conversation was rich, useful and surprisingly enjoyable. Even though we were talking about mistakes we had made, we felt safe, supported, and knew how closely you were listening. We even laughed! We brought you what seemed like an elaborate problem, and you immediately simplified it to basic themes. We got off the phone invigorated and ready to try again. The following morning your ideas were fresh on our minds so we were able to put them into action right away, and we had a great conversation with our son when usually it would have ended in an argument. Success!

    Vicki, it¹s a relief to know you¹re out there for support as we master these new ideas. I can¹t thank you enough for the work that you do, and for taking the time to personally guide us
    through it.

    Kimberly

Visit our website to learn more about phone consultation options with me.

Social Interest – A guide for choosing your kids over your image

social interestAdler said, the healthiest human beings are those with the highest social interest. If we want to ensure our children are emotionally healthy, we must ensure that we raise them in a home where their parents are demonstrating social interest as a way of life.

Social Interest is not the same as social action. Social Interest is defined as “Meeting the needs of the situation.”

Here is how a parent would demonstrate high Social Interest in daily life with kids.

Situation: Your toddler has been fighting you all morning and demanding that she goes to Day Care in her pajamas.

Self Interest: What will the Day Care Providers think of me as a mother if I allowed my child to arrive in their PJ’s? With that thought you begin to muscle the child out of the PJ’s and into what you consider appropriate clothing for the occasion – whether she likes it or not.

Social Interest: The needs of the situation require that I support my child’s budding independence and interest in making choices, that I am not overly concerned with what other people think of me as a mother, remember that I am raising a thinking child and at times it can be messy and that I believe that mistakes are opportunities to learn. I believe tomorrow I will offer two choices that are reasonable for the weather and see if we can’t work more cooperatively together.

Situation: Your 5th grader has left his science project till the last minute and he wants you to run out to buy supplies at 9:00 pm so he can finish up and turn it in on time.

Self Interest: What will the teachers think of me as a mother if my son goes to school without his science project? With that thought you begin to lecture about time management and procrastination and being better organized. Eventually, you head to the store to pick up the supplies and then continue with the lecture while the child tries frantically to finish the project. In the morning you are still resentful and may throw in a few more lectures – but at least no one at school will judge you for sending your child to school unprepared.

Social Interest: The needs of the situation require that I allow my child to learn a valuable lesson about time management, following through, the discipline it takes to turn off the television and get down to work and allow him to go to school unprepared and face the consequences. In doing so I am helping him build the courage to accept his mistakes, to learn from them and the ability to make another choice next time he is in a similar situation. I will talk with my son about how confident he feels in setting deadlines and managing his time and if he needs my support we will think of a solution together.

Situation: Your teenage daughter arrives home from school and begins picking on a sibling, refusing to answer your requests that she help with dinner, and then turns the music on to the point that no one can hear themselves think let alone carry on a conversation.

Self Interest: I don’t have to put up with this nonsense. I am the adult, I am the parent and I will put an end to this and let my daughter know just who is in charge.

Social Interest: The needs of the situation require that I assess what is really going on with my daughter who is normally good-natured, polite and loving. It requires that I not take what is happening personally and remember that she is struggling with something and needs some encouragement. I will walk away until I am calm, and look for a moment to make a connection, and find out what is behind all this disruptive behavior.

When we teach ourselves so slow down and answer this one question – “the needs of the situation require that I do what?”, we tend to make thoughtful, respectful and wise parenting decision. Try it and see if life doesn’t improve for both you and your kids.

Five Ways to Preserve your Teen’s Freedom (and the Relationship)

Be a ChampionI am teaching an Adolescent Class this month, and reminded again how difficult it can be for parents to give their teens the freedom they so desperately yearn for. In the teens’ attempt to break free from their parents and create some autonomy, their parents experience increased stress and as a result, begin tugging at the little freedom their teens do have in an attempt to recreate the closeness they once felt when their teen was a toddler.

If you are the parent of a younger child, the time to start is now. Spend some time learning how you can start supporting your child’s independence in small ways over the course of many years so that when they finally reach the teen years and your instinct is to pull back the reins – you will have experience that tells you – your child can handle this exciting and exhilarating time of life.

Timeline

At infancy, we are connected to our children – body, mind and soul – in a way that will never be duplicated again during their lifetime. We teach ourselves how to listen for small subtle changes in the babies’ cries, we spend hours holding, feeding, changing and just staring at these small wonders. At no other time will we be as connected to a human being as we are to our child during early infancy.

As they become toddlers, we are still close at hand, ready to swoop in at a moment’s notice if necessary. Imagine a rubber band tethered to both you and your toddler. They may travel as far as five feet away from you at any given time, but the truth is, you are close enough to scoop in, pick them up football style and remove them from any impending danger. And yet, they are beginning to experience the first thrill of freedom and independence. They are exploring, learning, and experiencing the world with just a bit of autonomy.

As they reach school age they enter what I call “The Grace Period”. They are old enough to understand certain dangers and how to avoid them, so we allow them to stretch the rubber band — and we even add a bit of extra slack, conveying to the kids that we trust them. Because we are more relaxed, and because the kids feel this loose line between themselves and their parents, they tend to check in regularly. No need to stay far away because they are certain that after a quick check in with mom or dad they will be allowed to travel back into the world and explore.

And then our kids reach the tween years and suddenly parents are acutely aware of how dangerous the world is and how one bad decision could lead to a ruined life, so they pull that rubber band in as close as they had it during the toddler years.

Because we are unable to articulate our fear in a sensible and respectful way and because our kids have no idea why we suddenly stop trusting them and begin hovering around them as if they were two-years-old, tensions rise.

Soon power struggles ensue. Our teens want parents who extend more freedom not less with even more slack so they can continue their march toward independence. What they get are parents who begin tugging and pulling on the metaphorical rubber band and with each tug the child becomes more determined NOT to turn and reconnect with their parents.
All for fear that if they dare to come close, to look for guidance from a parent, to feel a connection that reminds them they are loved and safe, their freedom will be taken from them and they will be forced to fight their way back to the independence they so desperately need.

After a few rounds of this, teens soon learn to stay away and parents. In the haste to be a part of their teens’ life, parents begin snooping, interfering, prying, and they stop honoring privacy. The relationship continues to suffer.

Here are 5 tips that will help you lengthen the cord, trust your teen and preserve your relationship.

1. Accept when your children are infants (or whatever age they are at the time you read this) that they are going to leave you and that you are charged with ensuring that when they leave they are ready to fly on their own.

2. Begin backing out of your job as your child’s “manager” the minute they arrive on the planet and by the time they are 18, you will both be ready for more physical distance without feeling emotionally distant from each other.

3. Be honest with your kids about any trepidation you have about their increased freedom. Ask them to help you be more reasonable and to accept that they can handle more responsibility for their world. If you do, you will inevitably create a bond that makes both of you feel closer and more connected to each other.

4. Make sure that you are talking with moms who have kids 3, 5 and 7 years older than your kids and ask for their perspective, their tips and what life is like when you accept that your children will move away from you and how to bridge that gap with grace and dignity.

5. Trust your kids. They love you. They want you in their lives. They do not want to be smothered or worried about or babied or saved. They want to prove to you, that they are strong, wise, and resilient. They want to prove that they can handle the next phase of life, so be their champion not their babysitter.

Do you Interfere with or Enhance your Relationships?

interfering with or enhancing the relationshipSometimes we forget WHY we had children in the first place. Our lives get busy, our resources get tapped, the parenting techniques passed down from our own parents and learned from all the expert books we’ve read aren’t working and we find ourselves screaming at – or giving in to our children, just so we can get through the moment and onto the next thing.

  • Long gone are the promises we made to be patience and understanding – no matter what.
  • Long gone are the dreams of smooth mornings and calm nights
  • Long gone are the visions of siblings who played together peacefully and with nothing but joy on their faces.
  • Long gone is the belief that our child would love school and relish homework.

These dreams and promises have been replaced with reality and that reality includes tired, grouchy children who throw endless temper tantrums or make unreasonable demands and fight with their siblings until everyone is in tears and the reality of parenting, the truth of what it means to live with children day in and day out, brings us to our knees in frustration and exhaustion.  We resort to bribing, begging, screaming and finally punishing or giving up.  And the reasons we first decided to have children slip further from our minds.

It Doesn’t Have to be Like that

Okay, so maybe that was a bit melodramatic.  In truth, only occasionally, do most of us feel completely defeated in our role as parents. The rest of the time we find a way to put on our big girl panties and do the best we can. At times a genuine smile from a child whose arms are wrapped tightly around our neck is enough to restore our passion and enthusiasm for parenting.

One thing about this parenting journey that is true and I believe is worth remembering is this

“In every moment we are either interfering with or enhancing the relationship we have with our kids.”

Everything we do, every parenting decision we make is either interfering with or enhancing the relationship we have with our children, but we rarely take the time to evaluate which of these we are doing – interfering or enhancing.

It’s clear that most of us want to spend the majority of our time enhancing the relationship we have with our kids.  After all, it’s when we start interfering on a regular basis that things get really ugly and we find ourselves wondering why we thought having kids was a good idea in the first place.

Here are three of my tried and true tips for enhancing the relationship with our kids.

  • Superimpose the face of your best friend on your child.  Now, talk to your best friend and if you wouldn’t say it to her, don’t say it to your child. ( I am not suggesting you be your child’s best friend, this is a great test to keep the way you treat your children in check.)
  • Imagine you overhear your child describing you to his or her best friend.  What word would best capture you? Is it the word you hope your child will use to describe you?  If not, change what you are doing and act accordingly.
  • Decide that being right is overrated and you would rather be wrong if it means that you and your child maintain a healthy, happy and satisfying relationship for years to come.

And finally, as the infamous Mr. Rogers said:

“I doubt that we can ever successfully impose values or attitudes or behavior on our children…certainly not by threat, guilt or punishment.  But I do believe that they can be induced through relationships where parents and children are growing together.  Such relationships are, I believe, built on trust, example, talk and caring.”