All posts tagged encouragement

Tips for Back to School Transition

All over the country, kids of every age are leaving home and venturing out into the world and for most of those kids, the world is the school yard or college campus. And some of us are sending our wee ones off for the first time, whether to daycare, pre-school, kindergarten or somewhere else that constitutes their first time on their own, outside of our home for even just a few hours. I’ll never forget the first day of school for each one of my children – the memories are as bittersweet as the longer-term goodbyes are today.

I was reminded of those first, short-term goodbyes last week by one of my good friends, who said goodbye to her oldest child at pre-school. She called me with a choked-up voice and told me how seamless it went. “Seamless?” I said, “Then why are you crying?” I asked. “Because… because I needed the goodbye hug more than she did.”

Many of us have had these seamless transitions from home to school with children who are confident and excited for the next phase in their life. But many of us have had the opposite. The child who doesn’t want to let go and cries a lot the first few weeks of school. If you live with a child who is having a hard time transitioning into pre-school or kindergarten, the only thing I can say is, “hang in there.” As hard as it may seem at this moment, your child will get through it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Have faith in your kids and their ability to rebound. Make sure that you have a strong connection with the child before you say goodbye, but then say goodbye with faith that they will be okay.
  • Have faith in yourself and the fact that you made the decision to send your young one off after serious thought. You can feel good about that. You will be required to do much tougher stuff than this as they grow and spend more time away from home.
  • When you see each other again, be sure to spend a few minutes just connecting before you start asking dozens of questions. Whether they are sobbing in your arms or they have a smile that extends from one ear to the next – connect.
  • Let the child set the pace for answering your questions. Some kids want to share every aspect of their day and other children are ready to move on and leave the day in the past. Take your cues from the kids, not from your own curiosity or fear.

The truth is, all of our children will experience change and transition into new experiences many times throughout the course of their lives. Some of those transitions will be seamless and others, not so much. All we can do, as parents, is support them, listen to them, encourage them and hope that we need the goodbye hug more than they do.

What Great Parents Do – Another Giveaway!

75Once in a while, a book comes along, written so well, that you wish you had been the one to write it. Such is the case with “What Great Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Kids Who Thrive.” by Erica Reischer, PhD. This new book offers you a way to improve your skills over time, it engages you in a way that a slick, try it, it will work strategy can’t. If you have ever worked with me or attended one of my presentations, you know that all change happens, over time when we focus our attention on one thing until we have mastered it.

Okay, here is a short list of what makes this book great.

  • You can start anywhere and improve your parenting.
  • It’s not really about changing your kids, but more about improving your skill set when it comes to parenting.
  • She includes research, common sense and years in the field to compile a thoughtful, well organized and relevant guide any parent can use if they want to improve their parenting skills and the relationship they have with their children.
  • You could take each chapter and work on refining your parenting skills or approach over the course of a week or a month.
  • Instead of jumping around trying to address bedtimes, sass, technology and so on, she offers parents insights into their mindsets, their responses and how making small changes can bring about big results.
  • The book helps parents understand children in new and clearer ways and breaks down old myths concerning kids and their behavior.
  • She uses science to back up her assertions so that parents don’t have to do all the heavy leg work themselves and can instead access what’s available and put it to good use immediately.
  • It is uplifting, realistic, full of possibility and inspiring.

Here’s the thing. I am a firm believer that we are all doing the best we can with the information we have. Sometimes we just need new information. I believe that we really all can be great parents and it doesn’t mean – we have to be turned into someone else. It just means we have a choice. Do we apply the new information or not?

This is a must for every new parent and for anyone already in the trenches with kids. So we are offering another giveaway. Comment below by midnight on Friday 8/26 and we’ll add your name in a drawing for a free book. Enjoy the end of your summer!

End of the Praise-Junkie

praise v encourage

What’s a Praise-Junkie?
A Praise Junkie is a child who depends on his/her parents to give constant feedback on what a “Great job she is doing” and “How proud they are of him?” It’s the child who asks “Do you like it?”, “Did I do a good job?”, “Are you proud of me?”, “Did I do it right?” kinds of questions.

A Praise Junkie is a child who looks to the outside world for approval instead of looking inside and using an internal compass to answer the question – do I approve of what I am doing and who I am becoming.

A Praise Junkie is a child who is so use to being judged on the end result, that the joy, the mystery and the excitement of being completely immersed in the Process has lost it’s meaning.

A Praise-Junkie is a child who is at risk of being manipulated by someone – out there – who will gladly give the approval and the applause that this child has become addicted to at the hands of well meaning parents.

When I first started studying Adlerian Psychology and began reading about the dangers of Praise, I, like most people I know, felt completely shocked by what I was learning.

“Praise – the feel good strategy of choice, not good for our kids? How could that be?”
I spent years talking with professionals, reading about the effects of Praise, observing how my own children responded to Encouragement instead of Praise and was soon convinced that Adler presented a good argument for closing the door on Praise and keeping it closed.

Read one Mom’s account of her daughter’s experience when her sister said, “I’m so proud of you!” You will see that when kids are raised with Encouragement from their parents instead of Praise, when someone says to them, “I’m proud of you,” it feels awful. It feels as if you weren’t able to do whatever it was that the parent was proud of, the parent would be disappointed. As parents you may think you are helping your child to feel good, but it has the opposite long-term effect.

So if I was going to give one piece of advice to parents it would be this, “Stop praising and telling your children you are proud of them.”

Even today, with all the research available to parents, I still hear – “How can that be? How can saying, ‘Good job’ or ‘I’m proud of you’ be bad? It makes my child happy, it makes me feel good and it’s easy!”

I admit, it can be a hard habit to break and the fact that it “feels good” (to us) only increases our resistance to giving it up.

So what is my alternative to praising? Encouragement of course.

Encouragement is an observation that can be given at any time, to anyone, in any situation. It is an observation, an acknowledgment, a statement that focuses on effort, improvement or choice, and it helps to promote self-esteem and a sense of self-worth in our children. Encouragement implies faith in and respect for the child as he/she is.

Encouragement is when you look at a drawing your child made and instead of just merely saying, “Good job!” you say, “You chose yellow. What about yellow do you like? Why that shade? What were you thinking about when you drew this? Would you do anything different next time?”

If you use encouragement on a regular basis with your children, it will teach your children to:

  1. Create an internal framework for themselves in which to self-assess their own lives, their preferences, and their progress:
  2. Figure out what is important to them;
  3. Spend less time asking the outside world what they think of who they are as people.

More than any other tool, strategy, concept or skill I use, encouragement has been and continues to be my strategy of choice. In fact, I consider encouragement “a way of being” more than a strategy I use. I believe that if parents developed and mastered the art of encouragement, they would experience dramatic and lasting changes in both their children’s behavior and the quality of the parent/child relationship.

If you’d like to learn more about Encouragement, I discuss the strategy in detail in my books Duct Tape Parenting, A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible and Resilient Kids and The Straight Talk on Parenting, A No Nonsense Guide to Growing a Grownup.

Getting The Kids Involved

Getting the Kids Involved Means Letting them Participate 

work is worthIt sounds super obvious to most parents that if you want kids to follow a daily routine, they have to help create it and then feel supported as they practice mastering the routine on their own. Well, that’s not always how things play out. We often “let” the kids participate when it’s convenient for us or when they are doing things “right” but as soon as they fall behind, or don’t do things exactly the way we want them, we step in and muddle everything up. Creating, executing and mastering routines takes time and while the kids are practicing, life happens. But if we can shift our thinking, if we can let the routine lead the day, we’ll find that children can take on more responsibility, become less dependent on us for everything and we can all enjoy that time between activities vs. rushing and hurrying things along.

What does this mean? It means, if your child is supposed to pack a backpack for school, you wont jump in and do it as the clock starts ticking louder and louder. And so, yes, you’ll be late. Yes, your kid will wear PJ’s to school. Yes, they won’t have a lunch if they don’t feel like making one. Once you learn to let go, the child will know you trust they can do it and that’s when the magic happens. Obviously, allowing a kid to go to school hungry because they forgot their lunch or left their homework behind, is a hard lesson to learn! Most parents think they just can’t let that happen. But they soon find out they can and it only happens once or twice.

IMG_6573Over time, once your children realize you’re going about the routine and that you trust them to manage on their own, they begin to master tasks that lead to confidence and capability. After the peaceful, relaxed and orderly routine is established, you’ll never look back!

Are you ready for a routine?

Kids CAN Do So Much! With a solid routine and less interference, kids of all ages CAN and WILL:

  • get dressed
  • make lunches
  • bring a backpack
  • get ready for bed quickly
  • wake up for school on time
  • finish homework
  • brush their teeth
  • feed the pets
  • and so much more!

Head’s Up! It’ll be bumpy for just a short while. Once you master the routine, it’ll get smoother and sweeter. In the beginning, you’ll have to focus on these few things:

kid workPatience. Don’t step in, even if you’re late.

Correcting. If a kid packs three granola bars for his lunch, hey it’s a start. It’ll get better- don’t get caught up in the little stuff.

Let go. You’ll just have to sacrifice a few events (like bball practice or dinner out) in order to learn the routine.

Once it’s in place, it’ll be just fine.
Trust the kids. Just trust them. They will find a way if you’re not there doing everything for them.

Routines 101

Routines Rule The Roost (Sorry parents!)

kids need

Two of the most common issues families face are a lack of cooperation and crappy time management skills. These two biggies affect every part of the family’s day, from the minute the alarm clock rings to the final light’s out, there is often struggle and frustration with the flow of daily activities, chores and expectations.

Any family can get through the day by winging it as it comes. What happens though, is we have no idea how the day will really unfold! Mornings can unpredictably rock or end in a full- blown temper tantrum, bedtimes might fluctuate, and responsibilities shift according to mood and patience level. Often we’re just going along, from one task to another, hanging on to sanity by a thread. Then after a marathon of chaotic sprints, we fold, plunking down in a chair, fully exhausted and ready to check out with a dose of reality TV. We hate to admit it, but we sometimes dread the following day simply because it’ll start all over again, ending right in the same LazyBoy with little to no energy for what’s to come.

Without a solid routine, families meet all kinds of interesting and tiresome issues include meltdowns, tears, fighting, breakfast in the car, mismatched socks, stinky breath, homework undone, and so forth.

You want to enjoy the morning with your munchkins. You want them to take care of their business. You want the stress level low and you want to get out of the house on time!

Don’t we all?

Ben Franklin

So what’s the solution? Routines! Routines that rock, actually. And here is how it works.

WHAT SUPPORTS ROUTINES THAT ROCK?

  •  Identify what you would like the morning, after school and evening routines to look and feel like in your home.
  •  Identify what you do now that works, and what isn’t working.
  •  Identify what your kids can do for themselves and what you would like them to be able to do.
  •  Develop a plan for your routine that takes into account your child’s needs, leaves room for their growth, as well as a little flexibility for the  unexpected and try it out.

Practice makes progress parents! I’ll be back with Part 2 in a few days.

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.

mail.google.com

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.

Young Adults Leave The Nest, But Not For Long.

 

 

I came up with a motto, a slogan to help me parent. And it was this: It is my job to make sure that when my children turn 18, I have trained them in everything that they need to learn so that they can open the doors, walk over the threshold, and enter young adulthood with confidence and enthusiasm. I have 18 years to prepare them. It is my job to teach them how to run their life so they don’t need me any longer. But so many kids leave home at 18, young adults, and find themselves at college and don’t know how to manage their lives, how to navigate their lives, how to make simple decisions, how to organize. And they’re forced back home. And I can’t think of anything worse for those kids to admit that they couldn’t make it on their own, or for their parents who have to say “come back home,” knowing that in some way it was their fault. If you find a child who has to come home because they couldn’t make it, this is a chance to start fresh. Look back and ask yourself what areas of this child’s life did you do for them because you thought it would be too hard or they would make a mistake or they would make a mistake and it was just easier if you did it for them. And teach them. It’s not going to be fun, because they see themselves as adults, but they already know that they’re missing some of the life skills that they need to be successful. Sit down, have a heart-to-heart, make a list start at the top, and teach them everything they need to now. Set a timeline that says, 6 months or a year from now we’re going to try it again. This is not the worst thing that will happen to you. Together we’re going to figure this out. We’re going to get you ready to go this time. And you’re going to give it another shot.

PRE-ORDER your copy of The Straight Talk On Parenting HERE

Noticing Strengths

Meet my friend Millie. Millie is a mom I met several months ago after she read Duct Tape Parenting, found herself slightly perplexed, & decided to contact us to get some clarity around my “less is more” approach to parenting.

Millie is open, honest, aware and truly committed to gathering new information, letting go of some old parenting habits, creating some new ones and investing in the relationships she has with her kids.

We’ve had many conversations since the first one (and are in the process of recording some to publish as podcasts.) Millie even decided to start a blog  and here is one of her posts. She touches my heart daily and my hope is she will inspire someone else out there to be the parent they dreamed of being. Take it away Millie.

I adore my daughter.

pink-umbrellaI do. And so many of the things I adore about her are the things that also drive me bonkers.

I adore that she is so incredibly certain of herself and what she wants. As an adult who struggles with indecision and immediate buyers’ remorse, I marvel at her ability to make decisions and stick with them even in the face of intense pushback (often from me).

I adore that she is an early riser and is always eagerly ready to greet the day, usually with a song.

I adore that conventional songs cannot adequately express her thoughts and emotions, so she finds it necessary to make up her own, sometimes very lengthy songs. She also relies on made up words to convey her (very strong) ideas. I adore her made up words so much that many of them are now my passwords for my most secure sign-on information. Although they are random combinations of sounds that mean nothing to anyone else, they mean a lot to me.

I adore her tenacity. I despise her tenacity. I adore her tenacity. I have to tenaciously cling to my adoration for this quality because it often makes my life very difficult. She has no problem deflecting my (sometimes brilliant) efforts at redirection and distraction. When Olive sets her mind to something – She. Will. Have. It. At the same time that I’m wishing for a more compliant child, I’m also kind of pleased to think that she might have gotten a little of that tenacity from my side of the gene pool. My husband and I both have been known to sacrifice a great deal to achieve some goal we want to accomplish.

I adore her ravenous appetite for life. I could do without her ravenous appetite for cheese and ice cream and I often worry that she inherited my own garbage disposal approach to eating. But, Olive eats life up. It seems like she can’t get enough. Can’t get enough songs, shows, days at school, pink pairs of pants, playdates, ice cream . . .

I adore her never ending efforts to always skew the situation in her favor. She is “always closing.” (In sales, so my husband tells me, one of the mottos is: ABC: Always Be Closing. Olive would be great at sales.) This is a quality she certainly did not get from me and one I definitely have to work not to take personally. Closely related to her tenacity, this inborn instinct means that she literally never takes no for an answer. Her motto could be, “It never hurts to ask at least three times.”

One of the things that scares me the most about parenting is the fear that all Olive will see from me is my frustration and irritation because that is what shows up on my face most often. When she grows up and looks back on her childhood, I want her to remember my face as open and loving and adoring. I don’t want her to remember my frustrated, angry face. Of course, for that to happen, I need to spend a lot more time showing her my adoration, not just feeling it after she goes to bed and writing about it on my blog.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to adore my daughter.

We’ll be featuring Millie’s blog posts from time to time. To read more of Millie’s work, visit www.confessionsofanauthoritarianparent.com

Encourage instead of Save

Emcouragement

Question: My 5 year old son has recently started having great difficulty handling things that don’t go his way with his peers that he feels really passionately about. For example, he’s really into soccer right now and if he is playing with others and they decide to stop playing, he immediately melts down, crying and looking to me to change the situation. I try to explain that sometimes this happens and I try to encourage him to play what they want for a while and maybe try again later, but he really struggles with this. What can I do to help him not feel so threatened and hurt when this happens? He is definitely an attention seeking kind of kid (and an only) and makes me feel as if the more attention I give him the more he seems to need.

Answer: It’s tough for little folks to be excited about a new sport or hobby or interest or vacation or toy and not have everyone on the planet just as excited, but that’s life.  Maybe these will help in the future:

  1. Show empathy and compassion without getting sucked into the drama.

  2. Understand that this will happen a million times in his life and as much as you want your wisdom to float from your head to his, it isn’t going to happen.  He is going to have to EXPERIENCE this in order to learn to deal with it in a healthy way.

  3. Resist the urge to make things better.  You can’t.  Only the person who is feeling the frustration or discomfort can make things better.  You can stay close at hand, but in the end, he will have to decide to move along.

  4. It can be hard for only children to connect with their classmates.  They think their peers will treat them the same way their mom and dad do.  So from time to time, try being too busy to listen and be less then completely enthusiastic about whatever it is he is passionate about.  This will help him develop skills that will assist him with his friends.

Happy Holidays: Lower Your Expectations and Relax!

holiday travel with kidsHappy Holidays to You and Yours

For some of us, just the thought of the Holiday hustle and bustle can cause anxiety. For most of us, Holiday related stress or anxiety kicks in when it’s time to pile into the car, take that long drive or pack our bags for the airport. We begin to worry, asking and wondering questions like:

  • “Will the kids behave?”
  • “How do we discipline them in front of our friends/relatives?”
  • “What do we do if they can’t sit still for the long car, train or plane ride?”

Search the web and you’ll find plenty of advice on what to bring, how to pack and all that “practical” jazz. What you won’t find are quality tips for handling the hair-raising moments while you’re IN THE MOMENT. You know these moments when:

  • Your child is running up and down the aisles or screaming non-stop on a crowded airplane (and everyone is giving you the hairy eyeball); or
  • When your child is melting down at Grandma’s house because it just isn’t the right cheese and cracker; or when
  • Your child takes the present from Uncle Joe and instead of saying thank you, says “Is that all I’m getting?” or “I don’t like it.”

Moments like these are going to happen because, frankly, our children aren’t perfect. And it’s time that we stop expecting them to perform perfectly during the holiday season, when we are more stressed than usual, kids are tired and excited all at the same time, and we are pushing the limits of their coping skills with all of the shopping, traveling and visiting we’re doing.

What matters most is not if our children behave perfectly, it’s how we respond to them when they don’t.

It is often overlooked that our response to our children’s behavior is so often the thing that makes it either go away or causes us to slide further down that slippery slope into the rabbit hole. If we give in to the whining, try to yell or bribe them back to good behavior, or embarrass them with a forced thank you, it will surely backfire either then and there or at some later point. So what is a parent to do?

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Lower your expectations. It’s ok if the children aren’t perfect. Give yourself some space to relax.
  • Have conversations ahead of time about what it means to behave well at a party, on a plane, or wherever you will be. Ask the kids to help generate a list of expectations for their behavior.
  • Give them examples of kindness and gratitude every day with appreciations—you’ll be surprised at how much they learn by modeling, and it’s never too late to start.
  • Take your cues from the kids: Are they tired? Then leave the party early. Are they bored? Then find out how they would like to spend the hour layover in the airport.
  • When you find yourself in one of those “moments,” confronted with a child who is acting other than you would like, try distraction. Do whatever it takes to move them away from the moment or the thing they are melting down about, and worry about what caused it later.
  • Invite children to decorate, pick “fancy outfits” or dresses, frost cookies and so forth. Get them invested in the Holiday events! But remember, if they don’t want to be, don’t force it. It’s not the end of the world if your child isn’t willing to pose with the cat for a Holiday card.

If you invite your children into the process of deciding for themselves how they want to behave, how they would like to spend the long hours in the car, or what it means to be grateful for something, then you will find that those tough moments become fewer and farther between. Similarly, when you show respect whenever it’s clear they’ve hit their limits, they will calm down and reel it in much faster. So, when you are in the moment—do your best to relax and try to get out of the situation with distraction and re-direction, so that you can enjoy yourself and leave the 2013 holiday season with good memories.

Encouragement Without Praise

EncouragementA Podcast with Vicki Hoefle

In this conversation with Vicki Hoefle, we talk about encouragement.

Encouragement implies faith in and respect for children.

Today many parents mistake praise for encouragement, However, praise presents numerous problems for parents and children.

Listen in and discover what you can do to encourage your child and why it is a good idea to let go of the praise.

10 More Encouraging One-Liners

faith in the childAre you looking for even MORE encouraging responses to use with your children? Would you like to step back and allow your children more practice in decision making, cause-and-effect and creative thinking? If you do, we have 10 More Encouraging One-Liners to help create space for trial and error, modeling and problem solving. PLUS we have a few *bonus* suggestions from Rick Ackerly.

Note: If we go about each day with a goal (to use encouraging phrases), we will find it easier to slow down, relax, let go and say, sure- let’s see how this plays out (instead of reacting, steering or trying to control the outcome of ALL the ups and downs, bumps and hiccups along the way). Good luck and please share your encouragement tales!

  1. Can I join you? (Instead of assuming: I can join just because I’m the parent.)
  2. How would you fix this problem?(Instead of saying: What a mess! or Look what you did!)
  3. I never would have thought of that. (Instead of wondering: WHAT ON EARTH are you doing?)
  4. Hmmm…interesting choice (Instead of reacting: NO WAY! Not ice cream for breakfast!)
  5. That was a mistake. Oh well. (Instead of commenting: You should’ve done this or that.)
  6. What an improvement, don’t you think? (Instead of hinting: You’re not getting the dishes 100% clean.)
  7. I’m sorry. (Instead of acting like: I’m right just because I’m the adult.
  8. I noticed how hard you tried to do that. (Instead of noticing: Why didn’t you get it right?)
  9. I’ve learned a lot from you. (Instead of claiming: As a parent, I teach the valuable lessons).
  10.  What you did made a difference in the situation.(Instead of: Focusing on the outcome, ignoring the effort).

Bonus! Rick Ackerly added:

“You can handle it.”
“What was the worst thing about that?”
“Oh.”

“Oh can be said with many different inflections. You might want to practice them in front of a mirror or with a fellow parent–take turns saying “Oh” to each other.” – Rick Ackerly

Remember: your face, tone and body language can say something very different than your voice. Have fun and let us know how it goes!

 

 

8 Encouraging Parenting Messages

EncouragementMore than any other tool, strategy, concept or skill I use,  encouragement has been and continues to be my strategy of choice. In fact I consider encouragement “a way of being” more than a strategy. I beleive that if parents developed and mastered the art of encouragement, they would experience dramatic and lasting changes in both their children’s behavior and the quality of the parent / child relationship.

– Vicki Hoefle

Click to see them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Awesome Ways to Encourage

integrityLet’s call this, the summer of 2013, the summer of love and encouragement!

Encouragement is a key component of the Duct Tape Parenting lifestyle- we don’t ZIP IT and check out. We do ZIP IT and check in. We take one step back and one step to the side, so we can see without steering.  This summer, let’s all make a conscious effort to encourage our children as they navigate their lives.

Of course we aren’t perfect, but we can try to use the following strategies everyday, in some way to make the relationship with our kids stronger and to aid them in building resiliency, independence and confidence. When we encourage, we parent with our child’s interest and integrity in mind.

12 Awesome Ways to Encourage Your Child:

  1. Set Realistic Expectations – Value the child AS IS by saying and showing that you believe she can do this and let her try.
  2. Show Radical Faith – This summer, have confidence and avoid checking in, monitoring and questioning how things are going all the time.
  3. Build Self Respect – Avoid comparisons and proving of worth with words and actions that say, “you are capable and you are loveable for all reasons.”
  4. Recognize Effort & Improvement – Communicate clearly that she is unconditionally acceptable and avoid focus on completed tasks or “could be” “should be” statements.
  5. Focus on Strengths and Assets –Look around and proactively help your child embrace the resources and assets around him, vs. focusing on mistakes.
  6. Ask Your Child vs. Telling – This is a simple strategy we can easily forget as parents! By asking and supporting their choices, we encourage kids to try, explore and make decisions.
  7. Identify Resources – Become a talent scout and use “vision” to see a talent in its raw or under-developed stages and accept when a she says “no” to activities you may have thought she would enjoy
  8. Direct Your Child Accordingly – Using “vision” means recognizing potential outside of your preference and even still, encouraging your child to follow a natural direction (even if you previously envisioned a this path!).
  9. Use Interests to Energize – Once your child expresses an interest, run with it without steering. Start small, think creatively and strategically to create spikes of excitement in your child’s life.
  10. Listen and Make Eye Contact – If your child has the courage to tell you what he or she would like (or not like), be sure you’re focused on your connection so that you can support him or her. Bonus: You can model what a good relationship feels like – it’s profound, even for adults, when someone stops what they are doing and listens to us- so let’s pass it on! 
  11. Be There –  Let’s say your child makes a decision that doesn’t work out. Consciously refrain from commentary, judgement or I TOLD YOU SOs. Let the lessons sink in with minimal interference. This is a great way to say “I accept you as you are.”
  12. Have a Sense of Humor – What seems like a mountain today, will look like a molehill down the road. Make mistakes and laugh at them. This teaches our children that mistakes are a part of life and they do not define who we are.

Do you have any other points to add? Let us know! Want to PIN this list? CLICK HERE TO SEE THE AWESOME PIN!

 

 

 

Encouragement and Relationship Strategies

relationshipSummer is a great time to slow down and practice our encouragement skills. Here’s what many people don’t realize:

Try to find as many ways to enable POSITIVE contributions and interactions within the family.

Little, daily doses can go a long way. Before you know it, cooperation will be the name of the game.

So, what is more important than taking the time to foster a healthy sense of self?

Nothing!

Take the summer to work on this- it’s fun and very rewarding for everyone.

 


Think, Look, Plan- Then DO

A parent wrote in the following scenario:

Vicki HoefleDuring a casual dinner, a neighbor’s daughter got up from the table and my friend said, “sit down we are not finished yet.” The little girl proceeded to walk away and come back with a yogurt smoothie and my girl friend said, “Do not drink that or you will be in trouble.” The little girl proceeded to turn the smoothie over and dump it on the floor. (She is almost 4.) My friend then grabbed her and put her in a time out. I thought, HMMM…I know that didn’t seem to go well –what would YOU DO?

-Perplexed Spectator Parent

Vicki Hoefle: Hi, Great question! As a Duct Tape Parent, I follow a LOGICAL, SOLVE-ALL PROCESS (one you can too!) that leads me to this answer:

I always: think, look, plan- then DO.

THINK

It’s important to stop and think: parenting problems are not really problems, they are SYMPTOMS of either a fractured relationship or a lack of training or both.

 

So, in this case these are the symptoms: girl shows complete disregard for mom by walking away, dumps yogurt, doesn’t listen to mom, won’t stay in her seat and shows a lack of respect for both herself and her mom.

Then, I’d walk through a couple questions- what is my reaction? What is the goal of the behavior?

In this case, mom gets pissed, and asserts her power by saying NO. She tries to win. Her clever and powerful daughter pushes back and eventually mom takes the child to time out. She may have quick fixed it with a “bandaid” but it sure didn’t heal the underlying “bulletwound” – which is a combination of relationship and training problems.

Hint: because mom is emotionally charged and angry, there is evidence of relationship stress and because the child carelessly makes a mess and is physically moving around, there is evidence of a training problem.

LOOK

Look at the relationship. How close am I to my 4 year old right now? I’ve been annoyed at her lately and  a little checked out.
Look at the training. She didn’t understand the proper way to stay seated or clean up a mess.
Look at the behavior. Ok, she’s engaging me in a power struggle so the goal of her behavior is power – not to take mine- but have her own. For more on identifying the Mistaken Goals of Behavior, click here.

PLAN

Once the entire situation has been put into perspective, I’d plan to work on the relationship and training the child.

Relationship Plan– (Mom and daughter are definitely in a classic power struggle so here are my recommendations)

  • Invite the child to participate vs. shutting her down and making more conflict.
  • Invite her to make decisions with me- which drinks do you think are ok to have at dinner? Peach smoothie or milk?
  •  I’d also increase the respect I show toward her preferences, since her pure disrespect is reflecting something important: the mutual respect is running low- on both ends.

Training Plan: (Obviously, if the child knew what a pain it is to clean the smoothie, she wouldn’t have thought it was a good idea to chuck it on the ground.)

  • Before showing her how to CLEAN the mess up, show her how to master some simple kitchen tasks. The more included she feels and the more confidence she will have around cooking and cleaning.
  • Begin to train her in self skills, picking out her own clothes, getting dressed, setting the table, etc. When children feel competent, they work WITH their parents, not against them.
  • Plan to do the training when you and your child are both relaxed and in a cooperative mood.

DO

After I’ve thought about the relationship / training problem, looked at the realities, and made a plan, I’d DO THIS:

  • Refrain from quick-fix responses to her behavior. (No bandaids on bulletwounds)
  • Take time to implement the relationship plan. (Invest in the relationship)
  • Practice dinner routines, but NOT during dinner. (Take time for training)
  • Be patient and celebrate success. (Focus on what I want more of)
  • Train to clean up her own spills. (Quit being the maid)
  • Encourage her to participate authentically in family dinner. (Prepare her for departure)

So, there you have it folks- as you can see, this process can work with any behavior challenge you face! Duct Tape Parents refrain- they think, look, plan and then DO. They have learned to stop before slapping a bandaid on a bulletwound or disciplining a kid who hasn’t been trained properly. Duct Tape Parents put the relationship first (fix that, worry about spilled smoothie second). YOU have this in your mind so have courage to think this way when it starts to slide into the rabbit hole. 🙂

 

What Would You Do? T.E.S.T.

Recently, I was asked to share my thoughts on the ABC program, “What Would You Do,” specifically  the videos catching strangers reacting to parents who are not “parenting from their best.” The situations staged are based on real life headlines of outrageous parenting moments (ones that may or may not be as theatrical as the parenting moments on the show) that caught controversy or buzz.

Here’s the deal. The videos, while they show us some real life compassion and concern for the children, highlight a few things that are telling of our society and why we still struggle with how to get involved when we see anyone, let alone a child, being treated unjustly, unfairly or downright awful.

    • In one clip, 200 people passed by the “situation”. This means 200 people did not have the courage to say something or to get involved in some way or they simply didn’t know what to say. (The bystanders didn’t have a plan.)
    • Of the people who stepped in, almost all of them had a plan: call the police. (Truthfully, a “quick fix” plan: punish the mother.)
    • These scenarios clearly illustrate, to me anyway, that any and all “parenting dilemmas” usually stem from either: a lack of training the children or a fractured relationship. These meltdown moments were ripped from the most desperate parenting decisions. (The parents didn’t have a better plan.)
    • The show doesn’t have a clear takeaway: are we supposed to intervene? Call the police? Make a judgment call? Help the mother? Help the kids? From what I saw in the clips, it just asks what would you do and then shows what people do, which is a variety of responses to an already popularly divided topic. (The show doesn’t offer a plan.)

Have a Plan

I could say a million things but the only VALUABLE response to offer is this:  you – we – must have a plan or process in our minds so that when we encounter an incident, whether it’s  bullying, shaming, lashing out or fighting — whatever it might be that has our gut yelling “do something” we don’t freeze up, look the other way, walk by as quickly as we can ( like the 200 highlighted in one show) and instead, we KNOW what we would do.

My very educated bet is that a person’s reluctance to get involved is based on two things: fear that stepping in would cause more problems, lead to arrest or some kind of backlash  OR the simple answer to the title: “I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL I’D DO so I guess….nothing?”

The Plan

If you ever encounter an incident on the playground, bus or elsewhere, you can walk yourself through this T.E.S.T. strategy. I’ve done this many times – and remember, I’m not a superhero or claiming to be one – I’m  a mom of five kids who simply decided to act (an act here is NOT some heroic save, it is an icebreaker, a moment of support when someone has hit their limit). You can also feel empowered to act, simply by taking the time to stop and walk through a very simple T.E.S.T. process.

      • T. Take inventory. What is going on? If it’s morally or physically questionable, or heading that way, it’s a good time to recognize the parent is most likely emotionally  bankrupt and has no idea what else to do. She’s at the bottom – and her best thinking got her there.  If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t be in this situation.
      • E. Empathize. Instead of judge and plot punishment. Here’s where I take control of my thinking and remember that most parents rely on “quick fix” solutions. Their thinking does not get clearer  when they are at their wits end. Parents feel like they have to do something – even if that something makes things worse or belittles the child. We all know we’ve been there from time to time.
      • S. Say something ENCOURAGING to the parent. “Look, I get it, I have five kids — is there anything I can do?” Be present and kind – the parent already feels discouraged. Judging and scolding is not going to do any good – no matter what you THINK to yourself – stay focused on the goal: to help take the lid off the pressure cooker and change the dynamic.
      • T. Trust the mother to reboot. Trust the mom will use this exchange to make a better decision next time. Trust that even GOOD moms make crappy decisions. (Let’s face it she wouldn’t do that at 9am after a good sleep and a cup of coffee.) Trust that not every mistake requires a punishment. Trust that little efforts add up. Trust that the problem is not “good or bad” but lack of training for the kids or fractured relationships between parent and child – both of which she can fix, with support.

Note: if it’s extreme or it’s clearly morally or physically dangerous, trust your gut and call police or get help. This strategy is for the everyday exchanges that we consistently opt out of because we aren’t sure it’s our business or what we should say. We’re in this together- every mom (or dad) at the bottom of the rabbit hole should have a rope outif she doesn’t take it, that’s her business. If we don’t throw it, that’s our business.

The Goal

The goal is to make contact, lend a moment of support and allow mom or dad to examine the incident in private, later and use that experience to make the next parenting decision. Yes, sometimes it won’t do any good or they may not get the takeaway they could, but if this one exchange, from a caring person, allows a parent to rethink her approach for the next time, that’s a win-win in my book.  And when that happens (and it will as more people choose to diffuse and trust), our collective efforts have paid off, one new thinking opportunity at a time-Vicki

Have you witnessed a moment you felt you had to intervene? Did you have the courage to speak up? Was it difficult? Share your thoughts on the Facebook Wall or REPLY in the comment box below! Thank you.

I Believe in You

I believeLast week, this quote below arrived in my inbox. I appreciated it and it moved me. It moved me enough to include it in the blog, because more times than NOT, when I chat with parents about their families – they forget.

If a child believes in his/her ability, the child can do anything.

If we want our children to believe in themselves, we MUST believe in them FIRST.

Let me tell you something about YOU.

YOU can do anything you want. YOU are in control.

YOU can achieve as much success as you want to.

YOU can and will pick yourself up when life knocks you down.

I BELIEVE IN YOU.

So instead of making sure your child has completed her homework, has the perfect outfit for the play, is signed up for a Spring sport, and is invited to the birthday party this weekend – STOP and ask yourself, Do I believe in my children’s abilities to handle their lives? How have I shown this to them today? How will I show them tomorrow?

I believe in you. Go for it.
– Vicki

PS: These are big, fat, juicy, delicious concepts. These concepts bring parents to their knees. If you are not sure that your child can handle what life brings, take a moment and observe. Look for all the ways your child already handles adversity, disappointment, success, conflict, packed schedules, appreciation, confusion, forgetting something and the list goes on. Take a moment and write them down. Store those examples in a place where you can access the list and reflect. These are the moments that matter.

The Risk of Rewards

Here it is again. Another article trying hard to educate parents on the dangers of praise and rewards.

Read Article Here

I pulled out one of my all time favorite books today The Art of Encouragement; Human Relations Training and skimmed through several chapters. Now, of course, I have to go back and read the whole damn book. It is just so good.

Here are just a few snippets I pulled out that focus on Encouragement which of course, is the remedy for a culture addicted to praise and rewards.

  • Encouragement focuses on strengths.
  • Encouragement is believing in ourselves.
  • Encouragement conveys faith in a person no matter how well or poorly things go.
  • Encouragement focuses on effort or improvement while praise focuses on outcome.
  • Encouragement challenges us to develop our potential while praise threatens us to do what is expected.
  • Encouragement can be given anytime.
  • Encouragement frees us to be our unique selves. Praise obligates us to obey authority.

Encouragement is an art form. It is subtle and powerful. It can be present at all times and can influence the direction of any situation, as soon as, it is activated.

I know how hungry parents are for ways to show their love, support, confidence and faith in their kids. And I know, with as much information readily available, that breaking the addiction to praise and rewards is still a daily challenge.

If you haven’t already committed to creating an encouraging atmosphere in which to raise your kids, take a few minutes and examine the decision you are making about praise and rewards in your child’s life.

If you find that you are ready for more ways to introduce encouragement into your family, let me know and I will write more about it. Learn more about the Parenting On Track program.

Get out of the Way!

Every day I am inspired by nuggets of wisdom from Vicki Hoefle, Creator of the Parenting On Track™ program.

Yesterday it was. “If you want your children to have faith in their abilities, first you, the parent, must believe in their abilities.” I have heard this 100s of times and yesterday I experienced its power.

Here is how it played out.

My husband was away on business and I offered to drive the older kids (13 & 15) to town before school, so they could meet some friends for breakfast. I would come back home and make another trip to drop off the younger ones (9 & 6) at the elementary school.

The morning was humming along – kids in the shower, getting ready…5 minutes before I am scheduled to leave, I announce to the two youngest, that I will be leaving with the two oldest and back in time to drive them to school.

The 9 year old – starts to pitch a fit – I mean pitch one. I had a moment where I thought “I have to tape this, because nobody will believe this is happening – I don’t believe this is happening.” She is screaming, “I can’t do it, I NEED your help.” Now mind you – I have been teaching this child the skills necessary to get out of the house on time, prepared for school in the morning since she was 2 and she has been practicing for the past 3 years, solo. I really have not “helped” this child for the past 3 years, in any aspect of her morning routine.

I personally have practiced the skills of disengagement, as she has on occasion attempted to draw me in with her “cheap” drama. She is an amazing dramatic actress. Now for those of you who don’t believe that these types of fits are cheap drama, and that this poor child needed her mother to tend to her…..read on.

I stick to my word, as we are a family that practices following through. And I tell my daughter that I have faith in her abilities and that I have no reason to believe she can not handle preparing herself for the morning. I attempt to kiss this child who really looks like she is in the middle of an exorcism – and am forced to retreat in order to avoid a kick to the belly. She is invested – full body invested.

I kiss my other child who is sitting on the big overstuffed chair by our woodstove, looking very cozy I might add and watching her older sister intently.

I lock the door behind me and head out.

As I am driving back into our driveway some 25 minutes later and about 45 seconds from the door, I call from my cell phone.

    “Hello.”

    “Hey babe, it’s Mom.”

    “Hi Mommy, we are having a snack of hot chocolate, grapes, cheese and pretzels.”

    “Excellent, what else do you have to do to be ready for school?”

    “Oh nothing, just clean up our snack, put on our boots and our coats.”

    “Ok, do you think you can do that in 30 seconds?”

    “Yep.”

    “Ok, I’ll meet you outside of the mudroom door.”

    “Ok” she says. “Do you have the key?” she asks.

    “Why yes, yes I do.”

    “Ok good, because I will make sure the door is locked and don’t want you to be locked out when you get home.”

    “Thanks, I’ll see you soon”

I am so grateful for these girls. I appreciate how resilient, clever, tenacious, and capable they are. As powerful as this moment was for us, it’s entirely possible that 4 days from now, when we come together for our regularly scheduled Family Meeting, I will have no memory of it and I will forget to appreciate these amazing daughters of mine. So, I will take the necessary steps to imprint this memory in my being and remember it for Saturday.

In May of this year, I will have access to an amazing iphone app developed by Anna Rosenblum Palmer of winwinapps inspired by Parenting On Track™. This app will be called Marble Jar and will have a Bright Spot feature that will enable me to record this moment on my phone and easily access it tomorrow or 4 days from now at our Family Meeting. Imagine being able to stop & record the remarkably wonderful things our children do, rather than always trying to figure out how to fix the mistakes they make? Priceless and soon to be available at your fingertips.

Yowza!! I have practiced for the past 10 years showing faith in my kids and trusting in their abilities along with taking the time to train and support them and it is paying off in spades. I am so grateful that I was able to let go of & look past the screaming, the kicking, and the near miss to my abdomen and walk away.

I was reminded AGAIN, of how capable my kids are at getting themselves ready in the am and of their attempts, to at times, convince me otherwise when they are feeling discouraged. I am also reminded that the best thing you can do for capable kids – is step aside (get out of the way) and watch them soar!