All posts tagged Parenting On Track

3 Secrets…

pediatricianYour pediatrician NEVER told you.

There’s no instruction manual so take these to mind when you’re navigating life with little ones:

  1. Children are done baking at 5.
  2. Children don’t grow out of, they grow into.
  3. Children always do what works, parents consistently do what doesn’t.

The Takeaways:

1. Start as early as you can! Kids will be far more cooperative if they get a jump start in the art of cooperation, feeling empowered through contributions, and supported by parents who know that the journey is for the kids – not mom and dad.

2. Don’t feed those weeds. I know, it’s hard but they won’t wake up one day NOT being the “whiner” or the “noodler” they’ve been labeled and catered to! Help them grow INTO confident, competent young adults with TRUST, FAITH and DUCT TAPE to stay out.

3. Remember, children are simply brilliant at doing whatever it takes to make it work for them- even if we don’t like it! If all those bandaids over bullet wounds worked, we’d be out of business. See the cleverness in the chaos and encourage change- but don’t slap quick fixes on temporary issues. Take time for training and stay focused on the relationship- then the kids will choose what works for the entire family.

Watch This or View MORE Parenting On Track Sample Chapters

Freedom to Roam

When I was growing up in Southern California, my fondest memories were of roaming the streets of the neighborhood unencumbered by adult supervision – or so I thought. There was a group of kids ranging in age from two to fourteen. I remember, at the ripe old age of five, riding my bike, playing cards stuck in the spokes with clothes pins, making that click-click-click sound that made me feel like I was riding through the sky. Riding next to me was a neighbor girl five years older on her Schwinn with her small dog packed neatly into a pink basket on the front of her bike. I remember the sense of freedom, independence, and how powerful I felt knowing that I could ride from one end of our block to the other, as fast as I could go and never worry about a car coming down the road. We flew through the streets on bikes on skateboards on roller skates and anything else we could get to move.

Oftentimes one of the older kids would ride their bike and pull one of us younger kids behind them on our skateboards. No helmets, no gloves, no knee pads, no gear at all. Just the shrieks and giggles of children completely captivated and entranced in the moment. It never occurred to any one of us that we should be concerned for our safety. We were outrageously courageous and foolish.

We traveled through backyards, hopping fences, climbing trees, staging circus acts on someone’s old, rusty swing set. We dug in sandboxes and made mud pies that we lined up and pretended to sell to anyone passing our “stand”. We picked ripe oranges, grapefruits and avocados from our neighbors small orchard and gorged until we were sick to our tummies. We ducked into neighboring homes to use a bathroom or grab a quick glass of water.

Our parents had created a system, a perfect system for allowing their children to believe that they were completely free and on their own while still maintaining the safety of the neighborhood. How did they do it? A parent planted at one end of the street and one at the other end of the street ensuring that no car could get by and no child could escape unseen. It was a perfect balance of freedom with order, carefully crafted and orchestrated by loving mothers who found pleasure in visiting with each other instead of hovering around their children. It was a win-win for everyone.

But times have changed, or so it seems. Now more than ever parents hover cautiously around their children, doing their best to prevent a physical injury or worse yet an abduction.

Recently though I witnessed a new kind of freedom with order demonstrated at the Mad River Glen ski lodge. Our good friends K and S invited us to join them at the lodge and listen to some music with them. We accepted and because we were joining them in the “bar”, we mistakenly assumed that it would be occupied by adults only. When we arrived the place was packed. And I mean wall to wall people packed – people of all ages. As it turned out, this is a family affair. When my husband and I arrived we were greeted by giggles, hugs and kisses from three of our favorite small children – T. S. and Z.

They showed us to the table where their parents were sitting with several other parents and their kids. We pulled up chairs ordered a beer and enjoyed the music.

After just a few minutes, I noticed that all three of the children were MIA. I grabbed K’s shirt, looked her in the eye, ready to deliver disastrous news, and informed her that the kids were “missing”. She giggled at me. Then she pulled me aside and said:

“Do you remember telling me about growing up in your neighborhood in California?”

“Yes!” I said, “But what does that have to do with missing children?”

She explained, “I wanted that for my kids. I wanted them to be able to run around and be with older kids and learn to be observant and to check in with us and then go on their little mini adventures. I wanted a community that would look out for our kids and we would look out for theirs, without interfering with their freedom and fun, and that is what we have done here. I know exactly where the kids are. Look.”

She pointed out the window and there they were. Properly dressed for the weather, in the company of kids five years their senior (which meant the oldest was 12), hiking up the mountain with sleds in tow.

“Your story inspired S. and I to find a community where we could make this a reality for our kids, and we did it,” she told me.

I enjoyed the music that late afternoon, but what I enjoyed even more was watching these three little munchkins run in and out, check in with their folks, connect with kids of all ages and enjoy the adventure that comes from being young and free.

I encourage all of you to create that safe neighborhood somewhere in your child’s life and give them a chance to roam free, engage in adventures and connect to the world around them. It is possible to obtain that balance of freedom with order if you are open to finding it.

Quit your Job

You’re Not the Maid Again, Are You? Just Checking!

Hey folks. I know, spring fever is upon us. Vacations. Traveling. Cabin Fever. Messy Houses. This can make us all feel like we are literally going stir crazy. I remember being inside with five children during many Vermont winters. It takes every ounce of energy to keep things moving and not get hung up on squabbles and the biggest of these springtime stresses – the messy house. There are boots everywhere, jackets, toys from the days off, mud, dog hair, three different coats for each kid, because the weather keeps changing and more mud.

If you can remember what matters and keep your mantra to stay out of that maid uniform and focus on quality time together, you will all benefit in the end.

Let that bathroom get toothpaste coated and let your kids hear a friend say, “wow, your sink is grungy” because then they will realize people notice. If you march up there and say, “well friends are coming, I’ll just do it for them.” Then you’ve just roped yourself into their business and now it becomes yours.

Expect your kids to do the jobs they pick at Family Meeting, EVEN if it takes longer or they have no laundry in their drawers. Kids are brilliant and they will figure something out if they want to go play next door.

Don’t think you can let it go? The biggest trick to NOT being the maid is to give yourself permission to step out. It’s okay to say, “not my problem” and step back and give your kids room to figure it out in their own. Of course you can help if they need something, but you have to be willing to detach your identity as a good mother from the state of your house. It’s just not the case.

In fact, think of some of the most inspiring people you’ve ever been around. Did they have spotless houses or creative messes because they were out being a part of the world? Maybe you don’t even know what their homes looked like and so what does that tell you? It does not matter. No, it doesn’t.

Yes, organization is nice and shiny floors look good, but if the kids are checked out, there’s no value to the system. So, in short, stick with it and again, give yourself permission to let the house go and take that time with your kids to learn on their own. It gives your room to stay emotionally available, rested, relaxed and on top of your game.

How do you want your kids to remember you? As the best director, reminder, nagger, picker-up-afterer on the block or their biggest champion and teacher?

Hang up that apron and get a cup of coffee, would ya??

Get a life – Not your kids’

I love this post. Please read it. I share her sentiments.

Five Reasons “My Kids Are My Whole Life” is a Stupid Thing To Say

On Zoe’s first day of school, she bravely, with only one glance back at me, walked through the school doors and into her life as a student. No crying, no gnashing of teeth, no clinging to me. That was 13 years ago. She has loved almost every day of her school life. Why? Well, there are several reasons.

  • School is for her. And because school is for her, she took ownership of it and of her experience while she was there.
  • I didn’t interfere with her experience that first day.

Next to me, on Zoe’s first day of school was another mother with her daughter who was clearly distraught. The 5 year old was crying and then screaming, and then pouting. She climbed up on her mother leg and up into her arms until her mother was holding her, almost like an infant. The 5 year old began to talk baby talk and the mother cooed to her using the voice we reserved for our newborns. When it was time for the child to walk into school, she couldn’t do it. In fact, it took near 15 minutes for this child to make it through the doors (parents were not allowed in on the first day – smart thinking on someone’s part).

Later, as we gathered for our instructions on how to be good PTO mothers and Room Mothers, the woman turned to me and said, “I noticed how easily your daughter went into school.”

I nodded and smiled.

“The thing is, my daughter and I have, how do I say this, a very deep and special bond and she NEVER wants to be away from me. Our love for each other is deep. Really deep.”

I froze. Back then, I had even less tact than I have now. I turned and looked at her and said, “You have got to be kidding me? You think that drama was a testament to the love you have for each other. Ha. You might want to talk to a few folks and get a reality check.”

I stood up and walked out.

She never spoke to me again, but that’s okay. I was pissed. I got over being angry and even tried to make eye contact with her, but to no avail.

5 years later, I happen to see this woman and her child on another “first” (dance class this time) and to my astonishment, the daughter pulled the exact same stunt, only this time, mom looked embarrassed.

I felt for her. I felt for them both.

No mother, intentionally ties themselves to their kids in unhealthy ways, but it happens. So, as the article above by Leslie Irish Evans suggests, take a step back, question your motives, decide if what you are doing is more for you than the child and then take a page out of our kid’s life and “get a life.” You will be happy you did and so will your kids.

As the author suggests, replace the statement “My children are my whole life,” with “My life is deeply enriched by my children.” Feel the difference?

If you need help making this transition and noticing character traits and qualities about your children that enrich your life and you appreciate, the Marble Jar app is just the tool to help you shift your perspective and increase your awareness!

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… 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.


    “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?”


    “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!

NHPR: Vicki Hoelfe on Word of Mouth

On Tuesday, March 1 – Virginia Prescott of New Hampshire Public Radio’s, Word of Mouth interviewed Vicki with special guest, Catha Lamm, mother of 3 and Director of Information Technology at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Catha has been blogging about her experiences using the Parenting On Track™ program with her family for the past 2 years. Her posts are insightful & inspiring. If anyone wonders how to put the concepts from Parenting On Track™ into action, just read her blog.

Vicki has been working tirelessly for over 20 years to spread the word about Adlerian Psychology and her amazing program, changing the lives of countless parents and children along the way. If you are interested in learning more, listen to the interview here.