All posts tagged grit and resiliency

Talking to Teachers: Homework

worth it

Raise thinking children!

Like any other parent, I was nervous going in and talking to teachers about homework, parent/teacher conferences and parent/teacher alliances.

However, with my oldest child I knew had to dig deep, grab hold of my confidence and the fact that I had thought about my views on all these subjects, had talked to experts in the field and felt sure that if I followed my inner compass, I could support all my children through their academic experience.

I made an appointment with the teacher early on in the year. I took the time to show appreciation for the teacher at the first meeting. I told her how much confidence I had in her as a teacher and was looking forward to the year ahead. I asked if she had any questions for me and of course, she did not. I think she thought that was an unusual request.

I shared with her my views on the following subjects:

  • I let her know that it was my intention to raise a thinking child and in my short experience with children, I knew that a thinking child is often a messy child. I told her that since she was in the teaching professional I was guessing that she was trying to raise a thinking student. This was my first step in creating an alliance.

  • I told her that I would be a very hands off parent. For several reasons. The first was that if I was overly involved in “helping” my child at home, in other words, doing more teaching, that she, the real teacher wouldn’t get a proper understanding of my child. I indicated that she would have a much clearer sense of how my child was doing academically if I stayed out of the way. And because I had confidence in her ability as an educator, I wasn’t worried that my child might have difficulty in reading, or math. If my child had difficulty in a particular subject, I was sure the teacher would want to know that so that she could find the proper teaching method for my child. My second reason for staying out of the way was because I would be focusing on the other areas of my child’s education – social skills, relationship development, conflict resolution, becoming independent and responsible. These were my primary jobs I explained and I would be focused on them while my child was with me.

  • I indicated, that if my child asked for my help with an assignment or a project or with reading, I would be available to them. But I was also clear that I would in no way be involved with daily homework and that if my child waited until the 11th hour to inform me he needed glue sticks for the project due tomorrow, I would not be driving out to find a Ben Franklin that was open.

  • I indicated that I would not be signing homework logs or reading logs and that I would be giving my child permission to sign my name. And then I told the teacher why. And I was clear about this. I went back to my original statement – I am raising a thinking child and I have no intention of interfering with their thinking by lecturing, nagging, reminding, scolding, bribing or saving them from their first chance at investing in their own educational success. Homework I stated was between the teacher and my child and if there were consequences for not turning in homework I expected the teacher to dole them out to my child. I would support the teacher unless humiliation was involved in the consequence.

  • I shared my thoughts on the double education that is happening for kids – there are math facts and there are organization skills, there are spelling tests to study for and time management skills being developed. The more I stayed out of the way, the quicker and easier a time my child would have at learning both sets of skills.

And then I wrapped it up. I thanked the teacher again, looked forward to an inspiring year and ended by saying – I encourage my children to get sent to the principals office or to time out or where ever it is you send children when they make mistakes – at least once a year. I told her that I encouraged my children to do this for 2 reasons: The first is so they would know the principal, and would not be afraid of making mistakes and second, so they would develop empathy and compassion for the children who found themselves in trouble more often then not.

And then I left. By the time my oldest was in the 3rd grade, word spread about my role in my child’s academic experience. I had very little difficulty getting along with all my children’s teachers, coaches or anyone else who dealt with my kids. I set my posture. I was respectful, I was committed and I was serious. Everyone knew it. And, as a result, my kids had a fairly stress free educational experience. – Vicki

Talking to teachers about homework can be intimidating. To learn how you can build resiliency, be sure to read Duct Tape Parenting and check out this handy dandy SCRIPT to keep you on track.




How to Help Children Rejected by Peers

5 Ways to Help Your Child Deal with Rejection and ExclusionParents must accept that children will be rejected by peers at some point in their lives and that there may come a time when their child is the one doing the rejecting and excluding. Having a long-term plan to help kids develop social/relationship skills that are inclusive and compassionate along with communication skills that invite and show respect for all parties involved will help parents and kids work together to successfully navigate any and all relationships now and into the future.

5 Ways to Help Children Rejected by Peers

1. SHOW FAITH -It is the parents’ responsibility to show faith and to trust that their children will recover from hurt, disappointment, fear, rejection and failure and do not need to be saved from them. After all, life gets harder from 18-years to 80-years-old, not easier and the ability to develop a deep sense of courage, a bit of grit and a resilient nature comes from learning that life is an ebb-and-flow of experiences and more often than not, we land on our feet.

2. BUILD MENTAL MUSCLE – When children feel supported by parents who have faith in their ability to recover, they develop the “mental muscle” necessary to deal with life’s complexities and challenges. Talking with your children after an upsetting event, listening to their perspectives, validating their feelings or interpretations and allowing them time to process the experience with a level-headed adult, will confirm for you and your kids that they have what it takes to move beyond a negative experience and recover fully intact.

3. SUPPORT INDEPENDENCE – In order to fully develop the skills necessary to overcome upsetting and challenging situations, children must be supported in their desire to become independent and self-sufficient at every turn. The more in-control a child is of her life, the more confidence she has to successfully navigate the social stage, which will make up a good portion of her life. An overprotective and over involved parent only serves to slow this process down and raises children who are dependent on the parent rather than themselves. These children tend to lack the confidence to deal with the challenges of everyday life.

4. MODEL – The most powerful tool any parent has at their disposal is modeling. What you hear and see on the playground sounds and looks very much like what you hear and see in a typical family – yelling, demanding, shutting people down, fighting for your position or to be right or to be heard. Kids take what they hear and see at home and try it in the classroom, the playground and the sports field. If we don’t like what we hear and see from kids, changing the dynamic at home will inevitably instill a new set of social skills our kids will try out in their own microcosm of the world.

5. GO SLOW – Developing social skills and the ability to overcome disappointments, rejections, exclusion and hurts take time. If you remember to look for improvement, faster recovery times, a more resilient nature and a child who gravitates towards kind individuals and stays open to all, you can rest assured that you will have raised a well-balanced person who is both inclusive and able to rebound from any exclusion or rejection they may experience.

Question: Have you aided any children rejected by peers? How did YOU handle it?

Kid Quotables via @Flockmother


Last week, we shared an inspiring post by @flockmother that showcased how great it is when we invest in the relationship with our children.

This week, we’d like to share another wonderful post from her blog that showcases how our children do benefit and they do appreciate it when we, as parents, aren’t all “up in their business.”

If you’d like to read more from @flockmother, you can read her journey here: 12 1/2 Weeks: Parenting On Track- One Family’s Story.  If you’d like to learn more about the Parenting On Track Home Program, click here. (PS We only have a limited number left so look while you can! Now, on to the GOOD STUFF.  Shared with Permission From the Post, Quotables

You know you’re a Parenting-On-Track family when you hear:

  • “Mom, come on! Let’s go! I don’t want to be late for school!”
  • “She’s not willing to clean the sink, so I’m going to do it for her. Can I use the yellow sponge?”
  • “I found out that when I’m left alone, I like to clean. We cleaned the kitchen, now we’re going to clean the house.”
  • “Ok, if you’re willing to play Frisbee later, then I’ll get my work done now.”
  • (As I started to give advice): “Mom, please don’t. I’m so tired of people telling me how to do stuff all day at school.”
  • “I have a problem. I haven’t been getting to bed on time lately. I think if I go to bed too late there should be a consequence.”
  • “Mom, stop staring at me like you know I’m about to figure this out.”
  • “I take pride in having a mom who doesn’t tell me what to do.”
  • “My family is awesome.”

Read ALL the  inspiring quotables and other true stories, HERE.

Thinking Kids > Zombie Kids

thinking kids can do for themselvesWe’ve all encountered a zombie kid—you know, that do-as-you’re-told fellow with textbook manners, neat clothing, exquisite restraint, sticky sweet personality with entirely nothing to say for himself.

Sure, he’s compliant, he’ll follow orders, never talk back but he’s definitely not learning to challenge the world around him. Of course, it’s not his fault, he’s been trained to be a “great” kid (and yes, we all want great kids) but there’s something missing in this child’s life:

the ability to think, to choose and to do for himself.

Bottom line? A zombie kid will do as he’s told. At first thought, that seems great! Why encourage your child to think for himself (we already know how messy thinking kids can be) when you already know what’s best?

Here’s why: Because, eventually, that little zombie will have to either make his own choice, or go along with the crowd and although this may not be concerning when you’re living with a 2, 5, or 7 year old, it can be damn alarming when you’re living with a 13 year old.

Raising a thinking child takes effort and when you consider the alternative, it’s worth doing whatever it takes to ensure your child is navigating their own life according to their values, their preferences and their interests.

In other words a kid who practices making choices when they are little, will be strong enough to make smart, thoughtful, and skillful choices later. They will also know how to take responsibility for those choices, good, bad, or indifferent. And when amends are in order they’ll be willing to make them.

So, the next time your child is willing to make a choice around clothing, shoes, food, baseball, piano lessons, ballet, or anything else for that matter, stop and ask yourself, “Is this a chance for me to let my child choose?” Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure is worth a moment of reflection.

How to Raise Independent Children

thinking-kids-messyParents are so immersed in the day-to-day challenge of juggling work, family and kids – they can (often unknowingly) find themselves doing great disservice to their children in an honest attempt to simply make things easier and more efficient – for everyone. While this might be easier in the moment, it is undeniably detrimental to the emotional health of our children – not to mention the relationship we are building with them.

If we want to raise independent children – thinking kids- who are resilient decision-makers, we must:

  • provide them with abundant opportunities to practice making decisions
  • allow them to make mistakes
  • step back and let them solve problems
  • recognize progress, celebrate success

If we want to raise independent children – thinking kids- who have a strong sense of belonging within the family and a deep sense of self worth out in the world, we must:

  • maintain an environment that is respectful and inclusive
  • trust children as they learn how to manage their lives
  • invite them to be part of the entire process- from planning to practice to celebration to discovery

If we want to raise independent children – thinking kids- who learn through challenges- then we cannot:

  • micro-manage every aspect of their life – after all, kids learn by experience
  • decide what’s best for them all the time
  • save them from all heartache, discomfort and embarrassment
  • force, steer, beg and coerce them into compliance
  • tie our value (as parents) to the decisions our children make (in otherwords, we cannot make parenting decisions that are rooted in how we look and have nothing to do with our children at all! Example: If he doesn’t do the homework, the teacher thinks I don’t care. Therefore, I nag, remind, lecture and put it in his backpack for him.)

Share your thinking kid stories on our facebook wall!

AFTER Brother Shaved Her Head…



Highlight for mom:  Because she chose to “duct tape” her reactions, she enhanced the relationship with her child. She let the lesson run its course, and her daughter accepted the “natural consequences” of shaving her head!

Highlight for Lily:  Well, it was “fun” having her brother buzz it, but “it didn’t turn out how she expected.” She then discovered hair grows back in “sprouts” and she had the chance to ponder what she would do differently next time.

Here’s the original #ducttapemoment:

Go to the Principal’s Office

go to the principal officeThis time of year, parents are always chatting about “how to talk to teachers” and “what to do” about communication between the home, the school and the child.

Having been in the trenches myself with five kids, I understand that moms and dads alike worry about how to make the school year a success for everyone – and that means sometimes focusing on keeping things neat and tidy and ensuring the kids don’t draw too far outside the lines, so to speak. Other times, however, it doesn’t really matter if they stay in the lines or go waaaay off the paper. This is their time to let the colors fly. So…

When parents ask for my advice on this topic, I say:

Here’s what I did…take it or leave it, but it’s not about getting through safe, clean and unruffled.

Are you ready for this?

I told each of the kids that if they didn’t get sent to the principal’s office at least once each year, they weren’t living dangerously enough. I said, go ahead-it’s your life and I trust you’ll figure it out. I gave them the green light to try something that rocked the boat just a little. And then I stepped back. (Yes! I said that.)

Why Would I Do This?

Here is why. I wanted them to take a chance, voice their opinion, stick up for a kid being embarrassed by a teacher, skip a class to help a friend, stay at play practice late in lieu of of completing the science project perfectly. In other words, I wanted them to do something outside the lines and rock the boat just a bit. So my kids weren’t afraid of making mistakes, getting in trouble and they were familiar with the folks in the office and had empathy for the tikes who were sent there on a regular basis.

What Happened?

Big surprise that as we entered the last month of school, not a one (well maybe one) hadn’t seen the inside of the principals office and were feeling a bit panicked about it. Good problem to have, right?

So, What Do YOU Do with This Information?

Whatever you want. You can say, gee…I’m so glad you said this- if Vicki can do it, so can I. Or, if it’s too extreme, you can say well, gee no thanks BUT I’d be willing to tell the teachers a few basic bits to help foster independence, choice and mistakes without encouraging a trip to the principal! *Gasp* …

And the Point?

The point is, it doesn’t matter what you decide, as long as you have a plan that works for your child and the only way you can make a plan is to know who you are as a parent (print the Duct Tape Parent Pledge- hand it to the teacher if it helps!) and what it will take for your child to learn (and by learn, not just “submitting work on time, doing homework and sitting quietly). The truth is, when you set out on school adventures, you don’t really know what it will take for your child to develop a true sense of self so why not let the messes fly (if you keep it too tidy, they’ll miss out on their own problem solving!).

Big Picture Thinking, AKA The 10,000 Foot View

With all the fuss over hover parents and school safety (yes, safety is important but I’m talking excess precaution, like no more cartwheels!? too dangerous?– sheesh) – anyway- with this “panic button” thinking permeating our schools, teachers are up against no discomfort for my kid mentality but if they know where you stand on these issues, and that you are likely to support them (and that in fact, you are encouraging your kids to take a few reasonable risks) you will have created an alliance with the teacher. And, it’s likely that the teacher will begin to see your child with new eyes. Eyes that reflect your goals for your child – independence, curiosity, engagement, social justice, etc.

If you’re clear up front in the first meeting with the teacher, you will all be able to relax a bit more.  It’s a win/win.

8 Thoughts, “Nuggets” or Un-Advice

1. Keep in mind, you are both in this together.

2. Define what you both want for your child at the end of the school year.

3. Pick / encourage things other than academic success as measurement for learning.

4. Talk specifically about some other participation angle like citizenship, or an area your child struggles in like organization. Stay on SOLUTIONS vs. problems.

5. Tell the teacher what your goals are for your child – to raise a thinking, engaged, curious, empathetic, courageous child. Don’t get crazy. Keep it simple.

6. Design a plan for talking with the teacher about the progress and improvement you would want to see during the year and how you will support the child.

7. Get clear about how each of you will deal with the child’s mistakes, forgotten homework etc., so there are no misunderstanding and expectations are clear.

8. Send notes of appreciation to the teacher at least once a month or at the end of a specific “unit”.

Let us know what you think or keep us updated on YOUR teacher-parent communications!

Finding the Courage

courage-200x300The conversation I have most often with parents, is around the idea of courage.

I talk about “having the courage to …” when it comes to parenting.

I talk about ways that we can help our children develop courage.

I talk about how much courage it takes just to get out of bed in the morning, let alone apologize to someone we have hurt.

I talk about how important it is that our kids leave home at 18 with “bags full of courage” in order to participate in an exciting and challenging world beyond our threshold.

My dear friend Catha, in her latest blog post, drives home the power of living an “Intentionally Courageous” life and the impact it has on the children she is raising.

Today, I invite you to look at your life as an adult and to see how often you find the courage to do what needs to be done and how often you take a safer route.

When you are finished assessing your own state of courage, I invite you to look with fresh eyes on your children and their willingness to develop courage in the face of all that life throws their way.

Today, I will find the courage to right a wrong that I could have righted weeks ago and didn’t. Thank you Catha for once again, inspiring me to be more, risk more, & love more.

Read Catha’s blog post.