All posts tagged relationship strategies

Tips to Stop the Fighting!

Q&A with Vicki Hoefle

stop the fightingQuestion: I know many families who have kids that do not fight. Mine do. What’s the trick to stop the fighting?

Scenario: I have two kids (ages 9 and 6) who are very physical when they fight.   I’ve tried to ignore it when I can, I tell them to work it out and it still continues. They kick, scratch, squeeze and hit one another on occasion. No one has gone to the ER but they have drawn blood.

Answer: The good news is, there is no trick.  

Most families that have kids who consistently get along and do not demonstrate a high degree of physical fighting have one thing in common.  They layer their strategies and create an entire system for raising respectful kids who know how to handle frustration and how to work things out without resorting to physical fighting.  Why doesn’t every parent use this layering technique if it gets such great results?  Because like anything worth having it can be difficult in the beginning.  Here are a few tips to help you turn things around and stop the fighting.

  1. Understand that most kids fight for their parent’s attention (no not always, but enough of the time that it’s a good place to start).  What happens if you leave the room, or put headphones on?  Do they follow you?  Do they get louder?  When they tattle, what is your response?  Do you say – “Oh, wow.  That doesn’t sound fun at all?” Or, do you start playing referee and trying to help them come up with ways to solve the problem.  If you are involved in the back and forth, chances are good that some of the fighting is for your benefit.

  2. It’s easy to say to kids “work it out” but who in the world takes the time to actually teach kids how to work through conflict?  We used weekly Family Meetings to teach our kids the skill of conflict resolution, which included an emphasis on communication and it worked well.  Ask a parent you see who has kids who get along how they taught their kids to work it out.  It doesn’t mean the strategy will work in exactly the same way for you, but I bet you pick up a tip that you could try.  There are great books out there to help as well.  Start with Non-Violent Communication if you want to influence the entire family.

  3. Focus your attention on the behaviors that you want to see more of.  That doesn’t mean you praise those behaviors.  It means you notice them, acknowledge them and let the kids know, that YOU know how hard it is to walk away from a fight or to forgive a brother who is bugging you or how helpful they are and how much you enjoy their company in the kitchen, etc.  Remember that you get more of what you pay attention too, so if you want to raise kids who leverage their strengths and develop character traits that will last a lifetime, focus your attention and energy on those.

Fighting can easily become a way of life if you aren’t armed with multiple strategies for creating a peaceful and harmonious household.  It is possible though and with some thought, it can be an exciting journey.

Question:  What is your go-to strategy for teaching kids how to get along?

Power Cleaning With Kids

power cleaningRecently, a parent asked:

“I can be pretty flexible when it comes to a spotless house – but every once in a while I REALLY need the kids to step up their game and help me out. How do I do that without becoming the nag?”

Truthfully, I can set completely unrealistic, over the top expectations when I am entertaining. Instead of throwing mutual respect out the window in a mad dash to a spotless house, I would employ this tried and true solution  with my own children.

First and foremost, I didn’t want to compromise the relationship with the kids by ordering them around and making them feel as if I thought they were total slackers who required me to ride them just to get the house what I call “company clean.” At the same time, I really, really, REALLY wanted a top to bottom, white glove clean. Finding the balance was my starting point.

So here’s what I’d do:

I’d rally all the kids together and tell them the truth. “Look – here is the deal. You know that most of the time, the house is great and it works for all of us. AND, you also know that sometimes I can be a bit of a lunatic about the house when so and so is coming over or we are having guests for the weekend. Would you guys be willing to help me give the house a white glove clean? And if you are, here is what I propose:

  1. We do a FLASH MOB Clean.

  2. Crank the best Music we can find on.

  3. Bust our buns for 30 minutes.

When I yell GO, we jump on our assigned tasks, throw some serious elbow grease into the job and crank it out. And just to keep it as fun as possible, every once in a while I will change the music and we will  drop the brooms and mops and dance it out- as hard and as crazy as we can.”

Well, I’m glad to say, the kids loved the idea. Together we jammed out the cleaning, felt good about our accomplishments and the best part was that we harbored no resentment or frustration. Not to mention the house sparkled! Balance achieved. This is a lifestyle system we still employ today and the kids use it in their new lives as independent adults. Remember to keep things simple. Identify what’s most important (usually achieving a balance) then think outside the box and go for it.

The takeaway? Have some fun with it and the kids will too. xo -Vicki

Video: Wild Boys Cleaning Session

They don’t have to be big to buy into a rowdy house hose-down. – Jamaica 

Share your cleaning dance party flash mob sessions pics and videos on the Parenting On Track facebook wall!

Interview: Jillian Lauren

Jillian Lauren with her family. Jillian is the author of the Today Moms Article: Why We Don’t Punish Our Son, Ever. Together, they are committed to parenting with “empathy and respect.”  (Photo:

A few months back we discovered this article on Today Moms: Why we Don’t Punish our Son. Ever, written by Jillian Lauren (April 2011). Jillian is a popular writer, speaker and performer who lives an extremely busy-but-impressively-balanced life with her musician husband, Scott Shriner of the band, Weezer. Together, as a dedicated team, they are committed to raising their son “T” with compassion, patience and punishment-free communication.For obvious reasons, this article caught our attention – its summary reads:

No time-outs, no yelling, no spanking, no taking away toys. When contributor Jillian Lauren’s son acts up, she treats him with ’empathy and respect.’ How does it work?”

After reading this article, and noticing a year had gone by since she wrote the piece- we reached out to follow up- and we were thrilled to connect with Jillian. Read what she says about non-violence, the “hairy eyeball” and life without bargaining, controlling or punishing.

Vicki: So it’s been just over a year since you wrote the article and we are curious how are things going?

Jillian: This has been like nothing I have ever expected or anticipated. Being a parent is a greater love and more fulfilling experience than I have ever imagined and harder than anything else I have ever done in my life.

Vicki: You have a busy active life – what does your life look like?

Jillian: My husband and I are both in the arts and our schedule is very volatile. It changes and sometimes I am home more and my husband is home more – we split the parenting duties, I am currently in NY looking out the window at the Empire State Building and Scott is home –usually we try to travel together but not this time.

Vicki: Because your lifestyle is not a traditional 9 – 5, I suspect that agreeing on a parenting style is more important because there is not a routine or system in place?

Jillian: My husband and I have had an easy time with this – which is not true for everything in our lives. We have both been very active in coming up with a parenting style that works for both of us. One of the things that has been the most successful and cohesive force is that we are on the same page about parenting decisions and we make each and every decision together.

Vicki: Did you make a distinction between punishment and discipline?

Jillian: No, certainly not at that time. I will tell you that I have tried things when I am at the end of my rope. I’ll try almost anything under the right circumstances and I keep coming back to no punishment. We don’t do time-outs, we do time-ins – we hug it out. I remove him from situations. He bites and hits. It’s hard, embarrassing, and dangerous. It’s been the thing that has me tearing my hair out. I remove him, I contain him and hold him in my arms and hug it out. He tells me, when he is ready to go back in. He knows when he is “dis-regulated” and he has no impulse control and his emotions get the better of him. I use a timer with him to offer structure.

Bargaining works for a second and then he’s on to it – when I say, “Oh no TV,” It’s like it just comes out of my mouth. He’s super smart – it does not work. I’ve even tried stars for this and a star for that – when you get so many stars you get a toy. But he’s so on to the sticker chart. He’s like I got my misty mountain adventure, now I am going to poop in my diaper.

Vicki: One thing we talk about with parents is that if you are going to use a discipline strategy it has to have 4 elements:

  1. Has to teach self-discipline.
  2. Has to work no matter what age – otherwise it’s a control issue.
  3. It can’t ever jeopardize the child’s sense of dignity and worth.
  4. It can’t fracture the relationship between parent and child.

Taking these 4 criteria, the goal is to move away from punishment and move toward teaching self-discipline – or as you put it self- regulation and then there is the framework, so you make progress moving forward. It sounds to me like you are being creative about trying things and figuring out quickly what is working and what feels like this is just a show and my child has figured out I have a preferred outcome and he is not really at free choice.

Vicki: When you decided that you are not punishing, was it about a belief system or was it about what you were seeing out in the world?

Jillian: We went to parenting classes at the Echo Center in Los Angeles for Non-Violent Parenting and Education. I highly recommend it. It’s amazing and incredible. I was raised with a lot of violence. Before I was a parent, I read Alfie Kohn books and responded to it. Being raised with violence and rage and berating you into behaving correctly, I decided that I would never do that. Actually what I discovered was that I would do that by default, if I did not find some other tools. I went to these classes. It helped me a lot and it gave us a common language and a way to talk to my son about his feelings and our own feelings. That is really how we came around to it- it has offered us a baseline.

Vicki: That makes sense going out and finding the thing that resonates. It is much in line with what we are doing over here. One thing we always tell parents is that if you don’t find something to replace what you don’t want to do, you always fall back on what it is you know. Did you get “push back” from your decision or did you find that you were supported in your decision to “not punish” and, specifically, what kind of responses did you get when you were giving a hug rather than a time-out?

Jillian: We know a lot of people who practice Non-Violent Communication and it’s definitely in the wheel house of parenting – but there is also the playground and the doctor’s office and definitely the hairy eyeball. Worse than the hairy eyeball from other people is my own hairy eyeball – saying to myself that everyone thinks your kids is a monster and feeling ashamed – but really I have to just talk back to my internal hairy eyeball and say, “You have no idea about my kid and I know what he needs, you don’t know what he has been through and It’s my job to parent him and treat him appropriately.” The hairy eyeball drives us into punishing children to make them feel bad and behave differently. I have a responsibility to raise a person. This is the core that makes it possible for me to go back to the fundamental decision we made.

I am not perfect and there are these times that my mother emerges and I do find myself yelling and it just does not work. Even if it worked for the minute, it doesn’t accomplish anything. When I find myself giving into the internal hairy eyeball it is because of sheer exhaustion and embarrassment. Really those times are when I am not making the best decisions. I recognize that when I am sane again and I realize that was lame and that did not work, I have to go back, regroup – repair and apologize.

Vicki: It sounds like you decided to invest in the relationship that you are building with this child and less on trying to manage him based on the way the world has said that he should behave. And as a parent who has made the same decision, I get this. Can you tell me what life would be like if you had decided you would use punishment?

Jillian: Part of being focused on the relationship is allowing myself to do this poorly and be able to communicate with him about this. The other day, I got angry and went back and apologized and his four year old reply was “It’s ok to feel angry, you just should not direct it at me.” And I thought wow look what I got back. I can’t even imagine what life would be like with constant bargaining, controlling, and punishing. I would feel like a person that it is not very fun to be. By being understanding of his emotions he is understanding of my emotions and I get the benefit of that back.

Vicki: That’s amazing. He’s four years old. Even at four years, you hear back his new blueprint of how you are in relationship with other people. To hear a four year old articulate that – this is the benefit of investing in the relationship. Before we end – what would you say to parents that would help them to adopt a different approach instead of punishing?

Jillian: When I wrote the article, I got a bunch of slack – folks would say to me, “Talk to me about that when your kid is robbing my store.” You know, fear based stuff, but it was just as common for me to receive supportive emails from people. Specifically, a friend of mine who has four amazing, kind, wonderful kids – her eight year old boys play with a four year old kid in a gentle way. She would say it made sense. For example, when kids hit a kid over the head with a toy, the toy goes away – you don’t have to add a random consequence or lecture. There are people who do this instinctively. If you are not one of them, go find something that will give you the tools to retrain yourself. This is a thoughtful process and many of the decisions are based on what you see happening with your child specifically and not based on what the general public has to say you should be doing. Just try it. Your kids won’t end up in jail because you try this for a month.

Photo via

About JillianAuthor and performer Jillian Lauren grew up in suburban New Jersey and fled across thewater to New York City. She attended New York University for three minutes before dropping out to work in downtown theater, where she performed with Richard Foreman’s Ontological Hysteric Theater, among others.She is the author of the novel, PRETTY, and of the New York Times bestselling memoir, SOME GIRLS: My Life in a Harem, both published by Plume/Penguin. SOME GIRLS has since been translated into fourteen different languages.

Jillian has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Magazine, Flaunt Magazine, Opium Magazine, Society, Pale House: A Collective and in the anthologies My First Time: A Collection of First Punk Show Stories and Tarnished: True Tales of Innocence Lost.

She regularly blogs at TODAY Moms and Jillian is married to musician Scott Shriner. They live in Los Angeles with their son. For more on Jillian and to read her writings visit

Follow Jillian and Scott on Twitter: @jillylauren & @sgs711

5 Ways to End Public Shaming

No matter what you believe, or what style of parenting you are using to raise your kids — Attachment, Tiger, Free Range, Feminist, or anything else — now is the time for each of us, as parents, grandparents and educated adults – to come together against one big parenting trend that has no philosophical relevance or psychological benefit. It’s time to take a simple, straight forward stance on this latest shaming and humiliating children trend.

End The Trend Campaign

As I mentioned in the last post on this topic, it’s clear why this trend is not only a lousy idea, but harmful to children as individuals, harmful to the family as a whole and damaging to our communities. The goal here is to educate and provide a safe space for those who DO choose to abandon their support for this trend in search of a healthier discipline option.

Here are 5 things you can do today, to help bring awareness to this issue and to take an active role in changing it – and perhaps save one child from experiencing the devastating effects of humiliation at the hands of a parent.

It’s time for those of us who are appalled at these incidents, to do more than merely complain or judge. It’s time to take a stand.


If you’re going to blog about it or chat it out publicly, focus on what can be done to change the trend, not a running list of why these parents are “doing it wrong” or are “bad parents” Remember, parents are doing the best they can with the information they have. An attack on a parent will do two things:

a) Create a defensive parent who isn’t open to considering a new approach to parenting
b) Engage us in acts of cyberbullying against them, perpetuating the cycle.

Let’s stay away from play by play editorializing and instead, bring awareness to the unintended realities and effects of their actions. Remember, there is NO GOOD in making the parents feel guilty by SHAMING THEM for their choices and subsequent actions. Many will realize that their support for this trend was not in the child’s best interest. We want to encourage the NEW thinking not “punish” or “humiliate” them for their old thinking. Otherwise, we’d perpetuate the same cycle!


If you have the time, jump in with a comment that refers to objective, identifiable facts – that public shaming can rally up a mob mentality (one video mentions people were swearing at a child forced to wear a sign), affect the child’s dignity, leave an undesired effect on a child’s legacy, fracture the parent/child relationship, teach submission to a bully, degrade human spirit, and so on. Feel free to link back to valuable quotes on this thinking or our END THE TREND board on Pinterest.


Encourage people to take the Parenting On Track “End the Trend” pledge (or any other Pledge)! Tag yourself in any “END THE TREND” pic on our Facebook wall. Tell people about what’s going on and tirelessly link it back to the bullying/cyberbullying connection.

Nearly every parent on the street will say they don’t support bullying, but they haven’t made the connection that humiliating and shaming kids IS a form of bullying. Put it out there that shaming our kids is NOT “creative discipline”, it is bullying. Make the point that if teachers or employers decided to publicly shame students or employees, it would be a series of explosive, high profile HR complaints and obvious lawsuits. If we, as a society, accept one form of public shaming, we’re teaching that it is okay to bully one another! Again, make a statement, drop a link to a valuable site. (More resources coming your way).


Putting our focus and energy on learning how to develop mutually respectful relationships with our kids, instead of trying to “get the kids” to comply with our every demand, ensures that we will raise a generation of thoughtful, respectful, rational adults who will have the capacity to lead our communities and our country. The shaming trend is just another, more impulsive and detrimental version of every other “quick fix” strategy on the market meant to control kids into behaving in accordance with a parents expectations (sometimes reasonable, often times not)! Share this pin , attend a workshop, get informed.


Give people positive, thoughtful, realistic examples or insights that will shift their thinking. Share simple ideas and good information not only on the subject, but on the basic human value we all carry in this world. We’ve all been overwhelmed, we’ve all be embarrassed by something our kids did or said and we’ve all had moments of bewilderment when raising kids. That does not give us the right to shame and humiliate them and then to brag about it in cyberspace. There is a bigger picture here that get’s lost in the sensationalism of this topic. Find a way to elevate the collective thinking.

If you respect others, this is unarguably disrespectful. If you value mistakes as vehicles for growth, then you cannot value the public humiliation of those who make mistakes. If you want to teach children not to bully, then you cannot play the role of bully. Take it seriously as it’s very important as a society that we see the connection and educate those who do not.
Good luck and we’ve got your back!

Shaming Children? Shame on Us!


Without even getting into the effects (that’s for the NEXT post) and issues about the popularity of public shaming, I’m writing this post as an overview FYI for you, the Parenting On Track parents who are probably looking around, looking at each other, scratching your heads and wondering, WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON??

Is public humiliation of children happening as much as I think it is? The answer is YES.

What is public shaming?

According to Wiki, “Public humiliation was often used by local communities to punish minor and petty criminals before the age of large, modern prisons” … and “involved a variety of methods, most often placing a criminal in the center of town and having the local populace enact a form of “mob justice” on the individual.

Popular (antiquated) methods included: tarring and feathering, stocks, “chair of shame”, dunce cap, hazing, donkey ears, and so forth. (The Scarlett Letter ring a bell?). I noticed it’s lumped up with torture in some examples as the “flute of shame is on display at the torture museum…enough said). So, bottom line via the wiki page: ”humiliation can (still) be a psychologically “painful” aspect of punishment because of the presence of witnessing peers (such as fellow prisoners), relatives, staff or other onlookers, or simply because the tormentor witnesses how self-control is broken down. This is also true for punishments in class.”

What does it look like in US today?

Well, it’s on the rise folks- you probably heard of the dad who shot the laptop or the “Ohio Mom” who posted an X on her daughter’s face and shamed her on facebook. You may have heard several incidents where a mom or dad forced their children to wear a sign stating their “crimes” or more shockingly about the couple arrested for making their teen daughter wear a diaper as punishment. Even more tragic, you probably heard that a child recently died after being punished and forced to run outside for three hours – all over petty, child or teen incidents.

If this is news to you (or perhaps this was overshadowed by recent arguments of which mother is the best mother (yes, commentary on that subject en queue) here are some links ripped straight from the headlines:

You GET the Point!

Who thinks it’s a good idea?

Here’s where it seems shocking based on the trend and then we see numbers like this supporting public humiliation by parents as a punishment or discipline tactic. When the Today Show posted the “Ohio Mother” story link on their wall, the responses were overwhelmingly in support of the mother (and freakishly felt in favor of bullying and showing who’s boss- not questioning the situation, the context anything circumstantial- not that that’s even necessary). 

After the Ohio Mom’s creative punishment, “more than 7,000 readers responded to poll about the Ohio mom’s method of punishment — and 77 percent of them supported her.” 
Comments came in saying things like,

      “More parents like this one needed now!!!!
      Good job Mom, love the creativity!!!”
      “I am the mother of a twelve-year-old girl, and I think this was PERFECT.
And I don’t see it as “humiliating.”
      “No different than a kid being
called out in class by a teacher for misbehaving.”
      “I love it! My kids are little yet but I’ll tell you it’s now n (sic) my list of
punishments! Lol! The girl will live, if she’s embarrassed too bad”
    (People are really jazzed up about this “creative discipline.” Read the thread and view the overwhelming support for her actions


Why People think it’s OK:

People feel the kids are too out of control and that any way to GET THEM TO behave is acceptable. The praise for this new trend seems to applaud parents for taking back the power– however, very little is being said about the effects and the real reason kids are “misbehaving” (hint: the parents are almost 100% part of the problem to begin with if they’re getting angry at their children for their own lack of training OR for expecting them to NOT make mistakes, challenge authority or make their own decisions). Their response is sending a message, but I’m going to put a stake in the ground and say it’s the WRONG message.

The purpose of this is NOT to focus on the parents who have chosen public humiliation because in their minds, it was reasonable to shock and awe. PLUS honestly, it would only perpetuate the “public shaming” of another person. So, bottom line, the mothers and fathers are not the focus — the children and how we can change this thinking is and will be the focus. I’m not about to scold a parent but I am about to crack open the thinking behind this horrible, disgraceful trend in parenting.