All posts tagged parenting news

20 Awesome Flashbacks from 2013

Well folks, a new year is upon us. As an official goodbye to 2013, we thought we’d look back one last time at some of last year’s highlights! Enjoy!


Flashbacks from 2013:

20. Duct Tape Parenting was translated into Spanish!

19. Parenting On Track Officially became Vicki Hoefle – Parent Educator, Speaker, & Author on Facebook.

18. Vicki was a featured expert in September’s Better Homes and Gardens Issue in the  article, “The 4th R, Resilience!”

17. We all discovered How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps

16. We got an update on the Head Shaving Incident.

15. We discovered a hilarious moment of ZEN.

14. We witnessed more repaired relationships. “One (of the many) reasons I absolutely LOVE parent coaching is the opportunity to witness the moment when a discouraged mother realizes she and her adolescent daughter will be close again.” – Vicki

13. We had our first Skatepark Session!  Parenting Workshop at Talent Skatepark

12.  Many of us shared a few smiles at last spring’s Duct Tape Parenting Presentation in BTV:

11. This fantastic satire stuck with us:   Warped Childhood, Restoration Hardware Style.

10. Duct Tape Parents continued to be thrilled with their children’s interest and willingness to participate.

9. This mom QUIT HER JOB as the MAID in a very creative way:

8. Parents continued to invite their children to participate – see this fan’s kiddo, who is an expert shopper.

7.  Who remembers this Portlandia Parenting Advice?

6. We added more Duct Tape Moments (please share yours!)

5.  Flockmother’s Blog- we hope to see more inspiration in 2014!

4.  Did you get the chance to see this? It’s adorable! An Open Letter to Moms from Kid President

3. Ha! In 2013, it was crucial to remember to  Worry About Yourself!

2.Who didn’t LOVE LOVE these Kid Quotables via Flockmother

1. Yes, we’re biased but thinking kids are messy (and slightly weird but that’s a-ok).

Research Says Knock It Off…

Every now and then, it helps to get a little confirmation that we’re parenting in the best interest of our children.

We’ve pulled together some research and credible headlines that confirm we do not have to meddle in the affairs of our offspring nearly as much as we may THINK we do. Take it from the experts- interfering is ineffective. Many of you are recovering from Helicopter tendencies (we all have at one point or another!).

This post is to inform you and inspire a boost in motivation to continue down the Duct Tape Parenting Road.

In Short Knock it Off and Don’t Be:

The Dictator Children are less engaged when moms tell them how to play, according to a study that finds kids have more negative feelings toward “directive” moms.  Read the post, here.

What does this mean for you? It means you can butt out when kids are playing. You can let them argue, disagree, play something you don’t really like, lose at the game and so forth and NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT IT. In fact, throw some Duct Tape on your ears (if it’s annoying to you) and go put your feet up and enjoy the freedom to stay out! Heck, have an adult conversation. Go for it.

The Homework NAG

“The practice of forcing children to begin working what amounts to a second shift after they get home from a full day of school has absolutely no proven benefits before high school, and there are increasing reasons to doubt its value even in high school.[6]  What kids need, therefore, are parents willing to question the conventional wisdom and to organize others to challenge school practices when that seems necessary.  What kids don’t need is the kind of parental involvement that consists of pestering them to make sure they do their homework –  whether or not it’s worth doing.” – Alfie Kohn

Click HERE to read the entire Washington Post Article, Is parent involvement in school really useful?

What does this mean for you? This means if your life is all about getting things done, checking work off the list, giving up free and creative time, and making sure kids are on it, on it, on it all the time, then you can let go and NOT FEEL GUILTY about it. You can challenge the fact that this might not be the right way to spend your time with your child (and know it won’t screw up his entire future if you choose say, reading or creative or quiet time over the daily nag festival). [hr]

The Helicopter Parent

Overparenting is characterized in the study as parents’ “misguided attempt to improve their child’s current and future personal and academic success.”

From: Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail: A new study explores what happens to students who aren’t allowed to suffer through setbacks.

“Year after year, my “best” students — the ones who are happiest and successful in their lives — are the students who were allowed to fail, held responsible for missteps, and challenged to be the best people they could be in the face of their mistakes.” – Jessica Lahey – Read the entire ATLANTIC article, here.

What Does this mean for you? It means go for it, step back. Let that kid go to school in PJs. Allow the child to forget a lunch. Oops, he forgot a mitten? Great! Think of all the little lessons your child will learn when you refrain – even if you REALLY WANT to swoop in and fix, save, help, and avoid discomfort. Let ’em ride and DON’T FEEL GUILTY about it. It’s good for these kids to fall and bounce. We call these “Duct Tape Moments” – write yours down and tell us about it.

The Power Tripper

“Assume that children naturally want to be authorities, that they want challenges (even if it hurts), that they want to take responsibility, make decisions, make mistakes, and learn from consequences—just like the rest of us. (Actually kids tend to be better at all this than adults.)” – Rick Ackerly, Author of The Genius in Every Child.

What does this mean for you? This means that you can toss the idea that power struggles must be won at all costs. You can challenge the notion that kids who don’t listen the first time are “bad” or that because you are the “adult” you must always win. Allow the kid some space to choose NOT to obey or make his own agenda, like: making his lunch, choosing the clothes he likes and so forth. It’s natural for kids to want to try things and even fail. So, again, no feeling bad if you let your child have some slack (and he screws up) or you lose a battle (keep the ego in check!). No biggie. Keep it moving. [hr]

The Punisher

Alfie Kohn: Why Punishment Doesn’t Work

“What punishments—even if they’re euphemistically called “consequences” (so we can feel better about making a child feel bad)—really do is make the child angry, teach him that you get your way in life by using your power over those who are weaker, and make it less likely that he’ll focus on how his actions affect others.”

“Kohn’s view is consistent with the perspective of restorative practices, which seeks to develop good habits in students not only when someone is watching, but more importantly when no one is looking. That means that children (and also adults) have to find their own intrinsic motivation and take responsibility for their own behavioral choices.” – Read the EdWeek article here.

What does this mean for you? It essentially says that punishment is really about power, not teaching the child a lesson- so you can ease up on the “punishment” reflex (if this is one of your parenting tripups)! He indicates having a “fixed” list of punishments for “offenses” (vs. having a flexible, case by case response) is not really in the interest of the child. He mentions when we get all rigid and don’t allow for context (zero tolerance style), it’s just a  “doing to” approach and not a “working with” approach. Children will learn so many lessons without parental interference (mom and dad driving home a superimposed lesson to prove they were right or the child was wrong) that it’s unnecessary and unhealthy for the relationship if we abandon the “working with” response. Bottom line, working with a child who makes mistakes is more effective than punishment by “doing to.” [hr]

Article via the Washington Post: Life skills all teens should have before graduating from high school– By Mari-Jane Williams


“We do all of these protective things when they are in high school, and then a lot of them end up partying more and forgetting to do laundry, forgetting to study, especially because they’re not in the habit of doing these things and no one is telling them to do it. None of these things are particularly earth-shattering, but they do add up.”

What does this mean for you? It means slowing down to realize all the ordinary (to us, not them) ways  teens can practice creating their own personal structure systems for: schedules, accounts, communication, studying, and more. This  means spending an afternoon explaining ATM deposits and withdrawals and letting him or her practice IS a good way to spend a Saturday. It means letting their laundry become their responsibility, even if they don’t get it done. It means taking the time to train them to use a calendar- or other organizational tools. It means powering off so they can practice real world conversations, planning, cooking and so forth.  The key takeaway is that kids only have a few years to practice this kind of “real life stuff”- and there’s a lot of it! If parents don’t realize the importance of this process, the kids will be out the door with an iffy sense of how to navigate the world. So, go for it- slow it down. Let the teens do all that stuff we don’t like either. It’s good practice. 🙂

Note: Start the training early so by this time, they’re ready to move on to bigger things than laundry!



Podcast: Kids, Money & Ron Lieber

lieber-podcast-300x222Today’s blog post features a practical, insightful podcast with Ron Lieber, “Your Money” columnist for The New York Times.

In this conversation, we talk about his new book, due out in 2014 titled The Opposite of Spoiled.Ron shared the premise of the book and his unique take on how parents can combine teaching kids about finances with the development of strong character traits ensuring they don’t end up in the spoiled category. His ideas were fascinating and I walked away with an arsenal of ideas I’ll be sharing with parents with young kids.I encourage you to not only listen to the podcast, but to follow Ron on Facebook where he will be sharing this adventures in writing his book with his readers.

You can also follow him on twitter  or visit his website. Add this to another resource in the case for training kids to be independent!

Click to Listen–> Parenting Strategy: Give your Kids Money & Cultivate Values with Ron Lieber


Spoiled Child? Quit as the Maid

Today’s parents are not just “helicopter parents…They are a jet-powered turbo attack model.-Hara Estroff Marano- Author, Nation of Wimps

By now, you’ve probably heard of “helicopter parenting” and all its over-protective qualities like: hovering, correcting,doing-for, helping, etc.

For the sake of this post, let’s not end the list there- let’s be thorough and include a lot of chopper noise, see the pic below!

The classic ‘helicopter parent’ is far more than a hoverer – a helicopter parent is the maid, the chef, the chauffeur, the agent, the coach — all of it wrapped in the guise of one overprotective, loving parent.


The Good News: We Know it’s a Problem and We’re Looking for Change

Luckily, there IS good news: slowly and steadily, we are recognizing this is not turning out well for our kids OR the future of our society. In the recent article, Spoiled Rotten Why do kids rule the roost? by Elizabeth Kolbert, Kolbert looks at several books, authors and research that support this point: kids who aren’t contributing to their own lives, let alone the community, are turning out ill prepared for the real world (and in short:spoiled). Translation to well meaning parents everywhere: you’re NOT really doing anything for your child when you literally “do everything” for your child!

I Get the Problem, What is the Solution?

Those of us who are stepping back see this problem written in in bright lights across the sky. What’s not so easy to see? The solution! Parents may know with every ounce of reason that they SHOULD not raise a spoiled child but they run into this:

So then what? What do I do? How DO I let go? Where do I start? Or what might I already be doing that I want to keep doing to increase my child’s independence?

Once the wheels start spinning, it’s often, to the frustration of the parent, nowhere fast.


Yep, that’s it. Just quit. But before you toss the apron on the ground, you have to mentally be ready:

  1. to see messes,
  2. to watch the kids meltdown w/ new routine
  3. to stay patient and
  4. to teach them how to do their own stuff.

Once you’re ready mentally, then you can totally and completely quit being the maid. Instead, you’ll be one of many “contributors” to the family vs. the one running around keeping everything together, neat, orderly and within reach.

As you get started, remember:

  • Start early (ideally)
  • Invite vs. demand
  • Take time for training
  • Be consistent!

(Stay tuned for more HOW TO and WHY BOTHER resources to keep it moving forward.)

If It’s That Easy, Why Am I STILL EMPLOYED?

Ha! There are two things that keep even the most well-intentioned parents wearing that perfect little apron:

ONE: We make little excuses, which are really just myths (we’ll get deep into this habit in Duct Tape Parenting)

TWO: We don’t take the time. It’s not a quick fix so yes, it takes a bit of time to get into the groove. But nobody really says, gee, it’s worth it. So, I’m telling you now: GEEEEE, it’s worth it!

Vicki Hoefle on WCAX, BTV — Quit your job as the maid!

Sold, So What Will IT Look Like?

Once you quit being the maid- the one who cleans, preps, sweeps, stuffs, packs, checks on, and keeps the house moving (think Alice from the Brady Bunch!), you’ll be able to do this:

  • have coffee in bed while the kids get themselves out the door, leaving you more mental space for what matters
  • chat casually (and stay emotionally available) while your six year old unloads the dishes
  • not sweat when guests come over because the kids know what to do (if they haven’t done it yet, you won’t feel guilty!)
  • encourage the kids to find solutions vs. YOU finding all the solutions (and running in circles to keep people happy)
  • celebrate the progress as your kids gain independence and confidence with each task
  • see connections to the contributions IN the family to their success OUTSIDE the family
  • notice resiliency, respect and responsibility grow as you remain consistent, calm and cool about quitting!

Remind Me Why I Should Do This Again

Happily. Here’s the situation: parents who over protect and pad their children from hard work, consequences, the judgement of others, and physical bumps and bruises are ultimately interfering with their child’s independence. I’m not making this up: the books, articles and research on this fact is astounding– and it’s everywhere. We have to…HAVE TO get “new thinking” about what it means to raise our children as a society!

If these children are to be future leaders, sheep howdy, they should learn to wash their socks, clean their own toilets and own their own messes. If they don’t get the gift of trial and error, oopsies and what ifs while they are young, the real world – you know the one WE live in– will not be a very welcoming place. It will be a harsh reality check, and quite frankly, any child who has not developed resiliency, independence and personal judgment, will not enjoy the experience very much. Our job is to get them prepared for the world, not protect them from the world until the day we throw them into it!

Parenting Advice: Crap, Rant or Fad?

My job is to travel around from state to state, town to town, and school to school giving advice and helping families make changes in their lives. While I’d like to attribute the Parenting On Track gold to my charismatic charm, humor, wit and deep intelligence, I can’t. I have listed below exactly WHY this stuff works.

1. Philosophy – Dr. Alfred Adler. His work has been around for nearly 100 years. There are thousands of Adlerian Psychologists, therapists and parent educators who work around the world bringing Adler’s work to those looking to develop stronger relationships with spouses, children, co-workers and family members. I’ve spent 20 years studying and adapting his philosophy to meet the needs of the parents I work with. I quote people who are specialists in this field. I don’t make it up! (Yes, okay I admit, I do coin some cool phrases based on this theory).

2. No Play By Play – My approach to helping parents deal with a child’s pesky behavior is to focus on what the parents are doing, not what the kids are doing. Everything I recommend is based on improving the relationship between parent and child, not teaching parents how to dole out discipline or punishment. Everything I teach is relationship focused. Efforts that improve the relationship FIRST, lead to improvement in behavior second. It works all the time.

3. Solutions – I make it a point NOT to go on and on about problems or what a parent should have done in a given situation. I’m in this work to deliver solutions. Solutions grounded in theory that are aimed at improving the relationship. Without a solution, it’s a rant!

4. Real Life Examples – I use real life examples to help parents better understand a situation they are struggling with and believe me, after 20 years in the field, I have lots of examples at my disposal. Examples help parents connect information with action. Without the connection the information can swirl around in a parent’s head leaving them more confused than ever.

Without these to anchor my advice, insight and “wisdom” I’d be pulling tips and tricks out of thin air based on my perception at the moment, and my perception of the situation would lead parents on a wild goose chase, not closer to an understanding of what they could do differently to bring about change.

The reason for this post?

I’ve spent the past few weeks diving into what’s floating around the internet – holy guacamole folks, no wonder parents are confused! I guess this explains why parents arrive at my classes or workshops with some crazy ideas about parenting. I have discovered that advice is mislabeled from one end of the triple W to the other.

Here’s the deal, if you’re looking for “advice” on the web, you can either say forget it altogether OR you can check it against these following five points:

1. Philosophy – Does it have a legitimate, long-standing philosophy? If yes, then check that the advice is grounded in the main pillars of the belief system.

2. Expert – Is the author trained in the philosophy? You wouldn’t take money advice from a landscaper, unless the landscaper was an entrepreneur teaching you how to grow a business via his journey. See the connection? Experts come in various shapes, so this doesn’t mean you can’t seek tips from a non-traditional source. Just be sure that the source knows his/her stuff and can give insight, context and information that is accurate to the experience.

3. Check for “Get your kids” – Does the article or blog have the words “make your child” or “get your child to” do this not that or do that not this to your child? If yes, skip it! It’s about control and discipline, not the relationship. You’ll just end up further in the weeds. It might work for a minute but you’ll be right back where you started.

4. Rant, rant, rant – Just because a mommy blogger has a great story or wants to share her experience via a credible blogging site doesn’t mean it’s advice! Let’s be clear, I’m not dissing mommy bloggers, they make the web go round! They are fun and they are the best people to share ideas and tricks and tips that worked for them. Remember though, the story they are sharing worked for them and it doesn’t mean you have to run out and try their approach. However, if a mommy blogger uses a credible philosophy (see points 1 & 2), then it’s worth looking into!

5. Lovey-dovey-foo-foo-zoom-zoom – If you just read something and your first thought was, no $h^t Sherlock, then it’s just fluff and you already know it so don’t worry about the latest fad method to introduce the same old common sense!

Parents want to feel connected to or to identify with the ups and downs they experience – this is where a mommy blog or a lovey dovey article does have a purpose. It’s not that the article is crap, it just might be crappy ADVICE. See? So, read headlines that attract you but don’t buy in until you know if it’s rant, crap, fluff, or fad or if it’s grounded in a bigger picture.

So What Does a Parent Read?

Having said all that, here is some of the GOOD STUFF TO READ:

1. Opinion – Opinion articles/blogs can be great food for thought. They can be well researched and can contain facts that back a person’s opinion. (No facts or references? It’s likely a RANT).

2. Blogs by Experts/Organizations – They might not be featured on the biggest sites but you can find life changing tips, tricks, wisdom and so on.

3. Fact Articles – Top tens and other informative articles can give you some new info and let you process it – just be sure to check the credibility of source/author.

Can’t you Simplify This?

I know it’s a lot to process. That’s why I’ve decided to introduce a Parenting On Track Series:

Duct Tape Dragnet: Parenting Articles Worth Reading

Now you can have access to quality articles delivered to you and you don’t have to go wading in the mud to find good opinions, ideas, thoughts and lessons in parenting. Heads up for our first in a series of blogs, articles, sites, books we find on the web that are worth reading!

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Parenting APP: Marble Jar

About a month ago, Anna Rosenblum Palmer of contacted our office. She was in the process of developing an iphone app and wanted to talk about a few things with us.

I knew who Anna was right away. She and her husband participated in a six-week-live-class that I taught two years ago in Williston, VT. She is one of those moms who you notice in a crowd – smart & savvy – and who I immediately noticed in my class – part skeptic & part enthusiastic optimist. She asked insightful, inquisitive questions and truthfully, kept me on my toes. After the class ended, I told Jennifer, that I hoped there would be an opportunity for Anna and Parenting On Track™ to work together some day. When she invited us for coffee, we jumped at the chance to sit down with her and hear what was on her mind.

Anna is the kind of business person you want to work with; no nonsense and gets things done. She is inspiring and creative and has a sharp mind that drives projects forward. Anna, as it turns out is not only a fierce business woman, she is a techie, and for those of you who know me, I am not. Over the years, as Jen and I have heard from dozens of parents that we should develop an app, make your site mobile ready and deliver emails that parents can check on their iphones and….” , all we could do was nod politely and walk away – until now.

Anna told us that she was inspired by Parenting On Track™ to create a parenting app for the masses and would like us to work with her on this project. Clearly, this was the break we were looking for.

With this new project Anna will be leveraging my 20 years of experience as a Parent Educator and we will be leveraging Anna’s experience as a tech savvy business woman and software designer. The first app will hit the stores by Mother’s Day. We will be sure to keep you updated as the project moves forward or feel free to check back for future updates!!