All posts tagged Strengths

What is Your Child Thinking?

jenkins-3

Are you living with a child who is constantly challenging your rules, your ideas, the outfits you choose, the lunch you pack, the bedtime you set, or the morning routine you created step-by-step? Do you feel as though this wonderful child is all-of-a-sudden challenging your authority? I get it, you’ve lived for years on this planet, you know your child very well, and you know what he needs to function at his best. It makes sense that you put it all into play. You may often ask yourself, Why is he so defiant? What is he thinking?

And then you go to the grocery store and there is the child, the child you wish was yours just for this moment. You know, that do-as-you’re-told fellow with textbook manners, neat clothing, exquisite restraint, sticky sweet personality and the cherub-like smile that appears just at the most opportune time.

You wonder what is that parent doing, you compare yourself and clamp down further on your own child. Only to receive more push-back and more lip. Before you drive yourself crazy, take a moment and think about what is “motivating” this child to “behave.”

For a Moment, Consider This

Sure, he’s compliant, he’ll follow orders, and never talk back, but do you ever stop and wonder why? Is he afraid of punishment or to disappoint? Is he being bribed and working toward a reward? Or is he praised to the point that he is afraid of making a mistake? None of these thoughts are healthy when they appear in adult relationships, so why are we using strategies that create these thoughts when our kids are little?

One thing we do know is that that child is 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.

Your defiant, obstinate, bossy, pain-in-the-neck child is telling you that he wants to develop his voice, figure out what works best for him, and practice making mistakes and revising his plan. Your job is to support him through this process, because it could get messy.

Thinking kids are Messy

Why encourage your child to think for himself when you already know what’s best and can avoid all that mess? Here’s why: Because, eventually, your child will have to either make his own choices, or go along with the crowd (because you’ve trained him to do this) 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 or 16 year old.

Raising thinking children takes effort, however when you consider the alternative, it’s worth it. I encourage you to allow your children time to practice navigating their own lives according to their values, their preferences and their interests, while they are living at home with you. In other words kids who practices making choices when they are little, will be strong enough to make smart, thoughtful, and skillful choices later – when the stakes are higher. 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, bedtime, 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.

Interested in learning more about raising thinking children? Learn how with Vicki’s Tools for Success. Take the time to develop confidence in your parenting decisions and to trust your child to make his or her own choices. (Italicize the paragraph) and linke Vicki’s Tools for Success to the link below.

www.vickihoefle.com/tools-success

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

This post started out as a simple list of all that I am grateful and thankful for, which seemed the perfect post for our weekly Newsletter which happens to fall on Thanksgiving Day.

162 entries later, I realize the folly in this exercise. This will never do. I can not complete this task. There is no end.

Alas, I did not throw my gratitude list away, but saved it in a folder to share with my family during our private feast on Thursday evening.

No Accident

I am participating in a course titled A Month of Self-Reflection and many of the exercises are creating a “space” for me to remember how much I am loved, supported and accepted in my life.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, I share one of my favorite poems with you.

This poem takes me back to a difficult time in my life, where I recognized that although there is pain, there is love, support, acceptance and comfort available in every moment.

This time is the moment when I knew that my life would be about living this and that all at the same time.

May you find much to be grateful and thankful for today, and always –Vicki.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

— written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s —

Attitude is Everything

One of the reasons I so enjoy this video is because this young man is addressing High School kids. Most people I know feel awkward and nervous when addressing teenagers.

They are so accustomed to the idea that teens are

  • Hard to reach
  • Disrespectful
  • Self Centered
  • Uninterested
  • Cold-Hearted
  • Cruel
  • Disconnected
  • Immature
  • Sassy

This limiting belief in turn, limits the amount of interaction and conversation whenever possible.

In this video, it is clear, that this young man is connecting deeply with these kids. He isn’t afraid of them. He can’t afford to be afraid! If he was, he would still be in bed wondering why he was born with no arms and no legs.

Instead, he invites these young people into his life. He uses his sense of humor and the confidence he has developed over a lifetime of dealing with daily challenges, to connect to a group of individuals who will do more for creating a culture of acceptance and inclusion, than an audience of middle aged, teary-eyed, soft-hearted adults (who, will forget all about this kid in an hour when their lives take center stage again).

It’s not just this young man’s story that is inspiring, but his willingness to “invest”, yes invest, in the younger generation. I suspect, that this one assembly will leave a deeper imprint in the lives of the teenagers, than anything else they attended during their high school experience.

And I suspect that all the “talk” about acceptance, inclusion, tolerance, kindness, respect – that they have been hearing from adults for 15 years means nothing in comparison to these few moments, with a real individual, who openly and honestly shares his story.

This video isn’t just a reminder to us to be grateful for all we have, but a reminder to me, that young people, when given a chance, can become ambassadors for a kinder, more accepting future.

For more about this amazing young man and his story visit http://www.attitudeisaltitude.com/

The Road of Love!

The Longest Mile

Not sure exactly what prompted her to start screaming. Could have been a number of things and truth-be-told, the “trigger” isn’t what’s important.  The event itself isn’t even all that important.  What’s important is the learning. What’s important is what I am going to do the next time this happens and what I am going to do in all the moments in-between that make up my daily life with this extraordinary child.  What’s important is that I found the courage to look at my 9 year old daughter with love, compassion, respect and admiration, while she was screaming at me (at the top of her lungs) as we walked down our quiet back road and out onto the main road during our morning walk to school.

The Courage to Love

I had to rally every ounce of courage and strength inside me in order to look at this 9 year old, nostrils flaring, fists clenched, teeth baring and lips snarled, walking backwards in front of me screaming, as the neighbors walked from their homes to their cars and drove by us, afraid to make eye-contact.

I had to muster up bucket loads of self-restraint not to retaliate when she hit my elbow and my morning cup of coffee spilled out onto my leg and her arm, which precipitated a blood curdling scream from her and a claim that I poured my HOT coffee onto her, just as one neighbor was getting into her car.

Every creative cell that inhabits my body was called into action when it came time to remember her as the peaceful, beautiful, loving baby that was born unto this earth.  And to repeat this quote from Rudolf Dreikurs in my mind, with each step,

“In order to be able to exert a constructive influence on your child you must learn to observe her objectively. This you can do only if you take her misbehavior less seriously. You must stop regarding her faults as a moral issue. The child who misbehaves is not a “bad” child. She is only unhappy, misguided and discouraged, and has not found the right answer to the social problems which confront her. Every misbehavior indicates an error of judgment in her efforts to find her place within the family and to meet the demands and pressures to which she is subjected.” -Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, “Coping with Children’s Misbehavior: A Parent’s Guide.”

No, for those of you asking,  I did not remember that quote word for word – however I have read it enough times and embraced the concepts in the Parenting On Track™ program founded on these principles, that I could access the essence of this in my heart, my body, and my mind.

Inspired to Give In

After 1.2 miles the screaming stopped, a soft, gentle, small hand reached up and grabbed mine. That small hand held on so tightly and so completely that I immediately gave thanks to the Universe for keeping me safe and strong, and keeping me from behaving in a manner that would cause fracture to this delicate and yet solid relationship.  With a voice hoarse from screaming and full of genuine sorrow and integrity – my daughter apologized.

Now What?

We proceeded to walk the rest of the .5 miles to school and created some connections about the road, the leaves, our strong leg muscles and full bellies to fuel us through the day.

On the walk home, I reflected. Reflected on what just happened, what I learned, and what I would do the next time my discouraged child joined us for our morning walk to school or trip to the grocery store or…

New Information

1.    I believe in this circumstance, using the adage “move your feet” actually fueled the fire.

I believe if I had found a rock or a tree stump along the way and chose to sit down, the yelling would have stopped. I know in my heart, she would have found it completely distasteful to yell at someone who was trapped, open and vulnerable. She probably would have jumped into my arms for a heart-felt hug.

Instead, my walking just offered energy to the situation and her determination to wrangle me in.  I could be wrong, but at least I have a plan for the next time.

2.    Connection – That is what she craves. Give it to her. Give it to her as often as I can in all the moments in between. I have nothing else to do with her (as she manages her life quite nicely and could actually manage a Fortune 500 Company or a Country for that matter), so spend time with her connecting.  What does that look like you ask?

  • Make eye contact and don’t break it for anything.
  • Listen to her like there is nobody else in the room.
  • Ask her opinion on everything.
  • Ask her for help solving my problems.
  • Take heed to her advice, when she has a better idea.
  • Hug her. Hug her like there is no tomorrow.
  • Smile when I see her coming, even if she is mad at me.

Energizing Perspective

On my walk home, I also spent a great deal of time re-framing my perspective and finding the “good” in the morning.

1. I live with one feisty, stubborn, tenacious young woman and she is NOT afraid to say NO. May she have the courage to access those qualities when someone who does not have her best interest at heart, tries to influence her.

2. She knows what she believes in and is not afraid to stand up for it. She is still working on the best way to communicate her beliefs, but by-golly she knows what she knows to be true and is NOT AFRAID to let you know it.

Courage is not always tidy.

My daughter is courageous.  That is who she BE!  She stands up for herself. She stands up to bullies. She stands up for those she loves (and those she doesn’t). She stands up to ME. I love her and I am committed to matching her courageous nature with my own.  I commit to doing whatever it takes to BE the Mom she deserves.

Lizzy, I love you!

Social Interest and Healthy Families

Simply put, we are a culture preoccupied with our own Self Interest which, unfortunately is reinforced on a daily basis.

Two prevailing attitudes which emerge with regularity are:

  • What’s in it for me? OR What will I get?
  • What will people think of me?

Here are a number of questions children ask themselves every day which can be influenced by the What’s in it for me/What will I get attitude.

What will I get, if I…

  • Use the potty?
  • Sleep in my own bed?
  • Sit still for a hair cut?
  • Let the doctor give me a check up?
  • Say I am sorry?
  • Help with daily contributions?
  • Stop fighting with my siblings?
  • Apply myself at school?
  • Agree to come home on time?
  • Stop calling my family names?
  • Drop the attitude?

Scary, isn’t it? You begin to get a sense of how that attitude might affect your kids as employees, spouses and parents.

The second attitude – What will people think of me is more commonly seen in adults. It sounds something like.

What will people think of me, if…

  • My kids aren’t properly clothed, fed, washed, groomed?
  • My kids are disrespectful, rude, display bad manners, are sassy to me?
  • My kids do poorly in school or are not star athletes?
  • I can’t afford to have my kids do all the things their friends do and have what their friends have?
  • I can’t control my kids?

This attitude is disastrous for parents and children alike. As parents, it is difficult enough to make responsible and respectful decisions regarding our children. To compound the problem by adding the – What will people think of me, significantly limits our ability to parent from our best. The decisions we make about and for our children can no longer be influenced by what others will think of us.

Tips for Success

If you, as the parent, ever wonder about HOW you are making decisions, take a few seconds and answer this one question:

The needs of the situation require that I do what?

Here is what Adler had to say on the subject of Social Interest:

    “A healthy person is concerned for other people and has a sincere desire to contribute to society. So, Never do anything for a child that a child can do for herself.”

    “The first step in teaching social interest is to teach self-reliance.
    So, Never rob your children of opportunities to feel capable.”

Here are 3 examples that illustrate the power of Social Interest:

1. Imagine your child arrives at school properly trained in Social Interest. He may look around the room and say, “The needs of the situation require that I…”

  • Choose a place to sit.
  • Have a pencil to write with and all the other supplies I will need for the day.
  • Raise my hand when I have a question.
  • Do my homework as is expected of me.
  • Allow other children to speak.
  • Follow through with the agreements I make with the teacher.

Imagine a school room with students who are ALL asking themselves this same set of questions. Powerful stuff.

2. Now imagine your children at home and asking themselves internally, “The needs of the situation require that I…”

  • Help my brother out with homework because he is struggling and math is easy for me.
  • Say no to friends who ask me out and I know they will be drinking.
  • Practice my instrument, because I made an agreement with my parents and music teacher.
  • Miss my soccer game so I can go to an important family function.
  • Do my contributions, even though I was up late, because everyone else is expected to do theirs.

Yes, I know it seems too good to be true, but consider this for a minute, we are always in the process of choosing. That includes how we interpret situations. So either our kids are asking themselves, what will I get out of this, or they are asking themselves the needs of the situation require that I do what. Why is it so hard for parents to believe, that children, when given a chance, will act from the position of the highest social interest?

Okay, lastly –

3. Imagine yourself, as a parent who asks on a regular basis, “The needs of the situation require that I…”

  • Allow my children to experience frustration, so they can learn more about themselves.
  • Stay cool and put this on the agenda for Family Meeting.
  • Apologize when I make a mistake.
  • Remain flexible as my children learn to navigate their way around an ever changing world.
  • Model empathy, compassion and forgiveness if I expect my children to develop these attributes.
  • Avoid comparing my children with anyone else – ever.
  • Allow my child to make a choice, even though I know it may end poorly.
  • Respect the natural consequence my child is going to experience with faith and confidence.
  • Explain to the teacher why my child is coming to school with no lunch and no homework.
  • Refrain from telling stories about my child in social situations where everyone else is complaining.

Again, you see the power this one question has in influencing every decision we make. So this week, anchor the power of developing Social Interest in yourself, your children and your family.

Top 10: Duct Tape Parenting

This summer, as word spreads about the amazing, almost hard to describe results parents who are using the Parenting On Track™ program are experiencing, more and more folks are contacting us asking us one simple question

How do I know if Parenting On Track™ is right for me and my family? To make things simple, here is my list of the Top 10 Reasons to “PonTify” your family.

    10. You are still helping your 5 year old get dressed in the morning, and that includes throwing his clothes in the dryer, so he will get dressed without throwing a tantrum or laying them out for her in the morning.

    9.
    You make 3 different meals at dinner, because your children are picky, picky, picky.

    8.
    You pack extra….yes, extra everything! Just in case.

    7.
    You snap, point and stomp. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the “hairy eyeball” face to get your kids to listen to you.

    6. You keep telling your kids they have to be nice to each other and stop fighting. You tell them repeatedly – “The Morgans Do Not Fight!!!” And still they bicker and pick and fight every single day.

    5. You run to your three-year old when she cries (and she cries about everything), because if you don’t run to make things better, she will make you pay for the rest of your day!

    4. You say “Good Job!” at least once every day.

    3. When your child says, “I’m bored”, you think it’s your problem.

    2. You have never considered that a 13 year old absolutely, will not, under any conditions, sit in the naughty chair. If you had, you wouldn’t be sending your three-year old to the naughty chair.

    1.
    You spend more time doing laundry, picking up toys, packing lunches, emptying back packs, checking homework, monitoring the computer, shutting down cell phones, checking on whereabouts, returning late library books…..than visiting with your children.

If you said “yup, that’s me” to any or all of the above, then maybe it’s time for you to consider a new way of parenting. After all, parenting is supposed to be about raising the next generation of leaders and less about getting through another disastrous morning.

And really when you dreamed of having children, was your dream filled with micro-managing their lives or was the dream about the strong bond, the deep connection, and the richness parent/child relationship would bring to your life?

Shifting Perspectives

A few months ago I came across a post written by Maya Frost introducing her book “The New Global Student”. I ordered her book immediately, read it, and then invited everyone else in the family to read it. They did, much to my delight, and as a result, the way we look at “education” completely shifted.

Today, I received an email from Maya who is changing course. Instead of focusing on “studying abroad, saving on college costs, avoiding student debt and getting a personalized international education”, she is moving in another direction. She is growing along with her life and taking her own advice. To live outside of the box.

She sums up in her post, what I try to communicate on a daily basis over the last 20 years as a parent educator.

1)“Fear causes paralysis.” You cannot parent effectively from a place of fear. Get informed. Gather new information. Practice. Take risks. Make mistakes. And find strength in my confidence and belief that YOU can do this and YOU are the best parent for your child, until you have developed your own confidence.

2) “I can inform, cajole and cheer (and I continue to do so, with active members in the forum) but in the end, the decision to overcome fear in order to soar is not mine to make.” My business partner and I talk about our lives with our families, the deep connections we have with each of our children (9 between the two of us), the joy we feel when we are in their company and we marvel at how fortunate we are. The feelings we have are indescribable. We arrived in this place because we pushed through our fears and we work tirelessly in our job as parents.

3) “Exhaustion limits perspective.” I say this all the time in my program. In order to remain emotionally available to your children, you must quit your jobs as the maid, the bottle washer, the chauffeur, the head-chef, and personal assistant. When you are exhausted from managing your children’s lives (plus your own) you have no reserves left when your kids really need you. We have a choice. We can choose to remain emotionally available, so we are there for our kids when they truly need us to be present and accessible, or we can fill our lives up waiting on perfectly capable kids, performing useless tasks, so we can openly complain about how much we DO for our kids and how lucky they are to have us.

4) “It’s easier to ignore than to innovate.” In the case of Parenting On Track™, one of my favorite and most powerful strategies is to indeed ignore. The difference is that we are intentionally ignoring what it is you do not want. We do this so that we do not find ourselves behaving worse than our children. We do this so we do not fuel the fire or feed the weed, as I like to say. We do this so we have creative energy to develop a roadmap for success, a plan, a pro-active strategy that will move our entire family closer to what it is they want. When we ignore what we do not want and we focus on what we want, we step into the innovative process. We take chances, we learn to trust ourselves and we share this with our children.

5) “The world is changing, and ultimately, it is up to each of us to decide if, when, and how we will change along with it.” The strategies our parents used are no longer valid. We must adapt our parenting styles with the ever-changing world we live in.

6) “Life goes on.” In the end all that matters is the relationship you have with your kids. We are not perfect. Our children are not perfect. Do your children know, believe, feel like you are their biggest champion? If that is true for them, that’s all you need.

In tribute to Maya and so she knows that people are taking advantage of all she offers, here is a recap of what’s happening at my house.

Colin is pursuing an education that is completely “hands on”, out of the ordinary, and is absolutely suited to his unique personality and nature. As a result of his positive experience in taking risks and following his passion, he has applied to Peace Corp and fully expects to begin his 2 year volunteer service in 2011. Talk about a non-traditional education that holds up against ……

Zoe, who graduated this year, was accepted to Whittier College, but decided to travel abroad for a year spending 26 -40 weeks volunteering in an early education program in Argentina. Her love of children, travel and Spanish inspired her to “think outside of the box” and to jump into life, before she committed to a classroom setting. Her confidence and willingness to do this, was in part, the result of her reading Maya’s book.

Kiera and Brady are still in the process of examining all of their options and oh what fun it is. Instead of SAT tutoring, financial aid paperwork, and pulling hair out about application deadlines, student aid and writing entrance essays they are enjoying this summer and engaging in conversations about possibilities post high school. It is pushing all of us in the family into re-examining our lives in general.

Click here to learn more about Maya Frost.

If you want to raise confident, cooperative, capable, respectful and responsible children in the 21st Century, I created a 12 Chapter multi-media program that walks you through step by step and shows you how to do this. Click here to learn more.

If you are considering purchasing the Parenting On Track™ program or contemplating when or if to dive into the Do Nothing Say Nothing week of the program. I invite you to read Maya’s latest blog post.

Are you raising a bully?

Annie Fox’s blog this week titled “My Child? A Bully?” reminds us all that bullying is present and pervasive. It is troubling to consider that any one of us could be raising, fostering, or housing a bully, in spite of everything we do to raise caring, respectful, compassionate human beings.

Although this is a difficult conversation to have, and an even more difficult idea to consider, it’s worth braving the murky waters of bullying to better understand how we can influence our children in positive ways.

Annie shares a quick bullet list that provides insight and challenges us to look deeper into ourselves and our family dynamics.

Here is the list taken directly from the article.

Hints that your child may be a bully:

  • You or your partner is a bully.
  • Your child is bossy at home.
  • Your child’s closest friends are not the nicest people.
  • Your child makes rude comments about other people.

Click on the link below and read the entire article. It’s worth it, even if you are certain, you are not living with a bully.

My Child? A Bully? by Annie Fox

Look for part II on Tuesday, July 20th!

Mind Blowing Reflections

Graduation season is behind us. Maybe you attended Kindergarten Step-Up Day or a college graduation or maybe something in-between.

We had our own graduation celebration here in East Middlebury this past weekend. My middle child graduated from High School and will head out on her own come September. Graduation is always a time for me to reflect on the child who will soon be flying solo.

Here are a few reflections as they pertain to the Parenting On Track™ Program (because as I mentioned in the last post – YES, I do use the program and here’s how:)

1. Do Nothing – Say Nothing: This remains my secret weapon of choice. Here’s why. My kids change. They change all the damn time. I tend to change less often as I get older, so it is up to me to find ways to change along with my kids. The only sure fire way I know to do that – is to shut-up and watch for 7 days. I do this on a regular basis. In fact, I do it at least 2 times each year, sometimes more, if I know a particular child is going through a major growth spurt. As a result of shutting-up, observing and learning, I am able to parent each child in a way that supports their unique personality and perspective. This in turn, builds a deep and lasting relationship that can stand the ups and down that every relationship is bound to experience. In this particular child’s case, I have learned: she is extremely loyal, independent, funny, easily embarrassed, hates making mistakes, loves children and people over the age of 92. This is helpful information if I am to stay close to her as she ventures further and further from home.

2. Buttons: As I have said repeatedly, this one strategy alone is like holding the key to a locked door that hides treasures more valuable than gold. Whenever I start acting crazy, I know my kids have accidentally stumbled upon one of my activating events, a mistaken belief, a “BUTTON!” Listen, I can not begin to calculate how many hours of misunderstanding, fights and power struggles I have avoided because of this one simple, easy to use concept along with a strategy that literally takes 5 minutes to put into place.

3. Timeline for Training: You can’t raise kids who have the ability at 18 to make all the necessary arrangements for living abroad for another year, defer from college for a year AND maintain their scholarship money, if you don’t start by asking them to unload the dishwasher every single day before they leave for school and every evening before they jump on the computer. It just won’t happen folks.

You can’t raise kids who trust themselves, feel confident making decisions, are willing to take chances, rebound from blunders without missing a step, and have a realistic view of themselves and the world they live in, if you haven’t invited them to participate in their own lives EVEN when it was easier to manage their lives for them.

The Timeline for Training is a concept, when understood and used regularly, empowers the entire family and creates a kind of kinship and comradery that translates well beyond daily contributions.

4. 4 Mistaken Goals of Behavior: Here is what I know: our kids have a certain solution that they adopted around the age of 3, 4 or 5. This solution has now become their biggest and most reliable problem. The good news is, once you know what that problem is, you can provide a support system to your kids that is free from judgment and disappointment. It is liberating.

It is not uncommon for me to pour myself a cup of tea and wait patiently for my child to hit up against the same obstacle she has been hitting up against for 12 years. I am ready, with kindness, compassion and empathy. I am in no rush to give her the answer or try to make life easier for her. On the contrary, I am there to provide a sounding board for her, because I know, there will be a moment in her life, when she realizes that the problem she faced when she was 7, is the problem she is facing at 27 and suddenly, the answer is there, waiting for her. And at that moment, my kid will realize that I was there, beside her, trusting her to figure it out when she was ready and she will know how deep my love and respect is for her.

5. All of the “Invest in the Best” strategies have provided me years of pleasure as a mom. They are the tools I use to build strong, healthy, loving, accepting, respectful relationship with not only my kids, but anyone else who is important to me in my life. When the relationship we have with our kids is solid, there is little need for discipline strategies. I don’t care what anyone else tells you, come talk to my five kids and they will tell you that “punishments and consequences” just weren’t part of their childhood experience – and yet, there was order in our lives and there were clear expectations and there was restitution and there were thousands of solutions.

My husband I decided to invest heavily on the relationship we were building with each child, knowing that it would take years for us to experience the payoffs. And let me say right now, that having kids who truly like, care and respect you as a parent and a person is a payoff worth waiting for.

6. The “Tools of Necessity” became my teeny, tiny, secret weapon. I became a master at utilizing these tools when I felt us sliding down the Slippery Slope towards the Rabbit Hole. These common sense strategies saved my ass more times than I care to share AND the best part is my kids began using them as a way to support the family when we all seemed to be stuck or struggling. It is truly amazing to listen to teenagers who care so deeply about their family’s emotional health, that they will use the “distraction” strategy to break the tension even if it means looking like a complete idiot in the process.

7. Over the years, we have found ways to celebrate our lives together as a family that can only describe as “mind blowing”. From simple gatherings around lit candles where appreciations we given and received, to major trips anchoring a storm weathered that brought every member of the family closer together.

As my oldest daughter likes to say –

“We have a “way” of being together that draws people towards us. We have a “way” of being together that tells a special story about who we are to each other.

And she is right, we do. And that is because we worked at it.

It’s Just A Pink Cake…Right?

Have you ever – in your life – seen such a cool birthday cake? Doesn’t it just make you smile from ear to ear? If not, imagine a cool super hero with a cape and mask.

Okay, I admit it – if someone had suggested that I buy MY daughter a Pink Barbie Birthday Cake when she was 6, I would have been insulted and indignant. I would have protested that the very fabric of feminism was in jeopardy and that I would not be a part of it.

I didn’t know then, what I know now. As the mom of 3 daughters who are now all young women, I know that one Pink Barbie Birthday Cake does not have the power to influence their ideas about being female as much as I might have believed. In fact, over the years, I have come to realize that there are other factors which influence the way our children view themselves in terms of gender identification that are more powerful and influential than media images and peer pressure.

1. Honest Conversation – Frankly, it can be difficult to talk with kids about gender identification in a world that spends billions of dollars a year trying to define it for us. That’s why it’s important to start the conversation with kids about the world around them when they are still young and before gender has any real meaning to them. Starting the conversation when they are young, will make it easier to navigate through the more difficult discussions that are bound to come up. Tackling issues like discrimination, exploitation, and sexism is essential if our children are to process the information being thrown at them through music, media and pop culture with some level of discernment. Allowing children to express their views, preferences and desires (without editorializing) allows our kids an opportunity to explore, accept, or discard what they are being exposed too.

Without honest conversation, children are left with either the media or their peers to help them navigate this tricky aspect of growing up. Make sure that the conversations have a “curious” tone to them. This will encourage kids to share more deeply what they think, how they feel, and how they make decisions.

2. Exposure – I believe that education and exposure go hand in hand in this area. When kids are educated about what they are being exposed too, they tend to make better decisions than when they are merely exposed to an idea or point of view and then left to interpret that information without guidance. And let’s face it, you might not bring home the Barbie Birthday Cake, but just turn on the TV or radio and your kids will be exposed to the media’s ideas of gender. Education in this area is key to keeping an open and honest conversation going for years.

Exposing kids to “real” people who may break the stereotypical molds helps give our kids a broader perspective of what it means to be male or female. As a mom, I made sure that for every lousy ad on TV depicting women or men in one kind of role, I introduced my children to “real” men and women who could offer another perspective on life. These relationships turned out to be some of the most important and influential in my kids’ lives. These individuals brought credibility and could challenge the media perspective with an authority that I didn’t necessarily have. In other words, leverage the people in your life who have challenge gender stereotyping.

3. Encouragement – We say we want our children to be their “authentic” selves and yet we limit their ability to choose because we are afraid of what they might choose. Encouraging our children to listen to their internal voice and honoring what they like and don’t like, is far more important than keeping “pink and blue” out of the equation. Encouraging self discovery allows our children to talk to us openly about how they view themselves, what their preferences are and how they want to express themselves to the outside world. Encouraging our children to decide for themselves who they are and how they choose to express that means taking a step back and trusting that our kids have the ability to wade through the crap and find essence of who they are.

4. Flexibility – As parents, staying flexible is a pre-requisite for raising children. We know that our kids will change their minds thousands of times in the course of their life. At one point your daughter wants pink, pink and more pink and a year later, she wants soccer balls and lax sticks lining the room. Your son wants baseballs, bats and helmets and two years later he is asking for oil paints and a canvas. Staying flexible and supporting our children as they discover for themselves who they are, is a sure way to support an independent, thoughtful, grounded young person who isn’t likely to be as influenced by the media or their peer group as a child who has been sheltered from all the options available to them.

The next time your son or daughter asks for a pink birthday cake, or a super hero outfit, try to look past the stereotyping and create an environment rich in opportunities for your children to discover for themselves who they choose to be.

Prepare for Departure

Last week we had our good friends over for dinner and games. They brought their 3 kids with them. This is the story of Zach, their 11 month old son and how “letting go” when kids are young, pays off in ways that are easy to overlook if you don’t know WHAT you are looking for.

Zach is 11 months old. Because he is the 3rd child and because he spends a good amount of time at our house (he splits his time between me and my teens), his experience of the world is one of constant invitations to “participate”. He isn’t babied, he isn’t indulged, he isn’t spoken to like a pet. He is treated like a contributing member of the group. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we relish this cherub cheeked youngster, but there is a difference between goobering all over a yummy “baby” and clinging to the idea of him staying a baby.

As a result of his parents’ approach and his relationship with my family (and other factors as well), he is a relaxed, confident, interested, engaged, curious child. He is comfortable meeting new people and hanging out with a group (without demanding all the attention). He moves through the house with the speed and agility of a professional skateboarder, not a cautious crawler. He is neither clingy nor distant. Already you can sense the balance in his young life. He is preparing for departure, even at 11 months of age.

I have to give kudo’s to his parents who accepted that their children are leaving the nest and never look back. Like every parent, it gets easier with each child, and this is their 3rd. But still, letting go can be difficult.

What I notice about this remarkable 11 month old is the confidence he feels in himself, the people around him and to a certain extent, the world at large. Because I am continually asked to talk about the “letting go” process, it’s important that I look at it from all angles. It’s easy for me to talk about it now that my own kids are grown, but what parents are looking for is an inside view of what it looks like to “let go” when children are young. They want to know what the benefits are when they embrace both the idea and the process of kids growing up – out and beyond us when they are YOUNG.

Zach is a great case study. He is young. What does it look like to start letting go of a child who so recently arrived? Here are a few things I have observed over the last several weeks that might help parents better understand not only the reality, but the benefits to letting go intentionally.

  • Contain your excitement when your child accomplishes new tasks and skills. Instead, encourage the first few times and then move on to a new task. Keep encouraging and moving forward.
  • Let your children know you are available to help, show them what to do and then leave them alone to try, try, and try again. After several attempts are made, go back in for more training- if necessary.
  • Walk away when they need space to fail – sing a song, look away and start a conversation or be quiet (this one can be painful but worth it). Letting go means allowing children to learn about their thresholds, how to deal with frustration and how to recover all on their own. Empowering.
  • Have Faith. Know in your heart, that they can do ANYTHING they put their minds to, even if they fail the first few 100 times. Keep “seeing” your children successful and soon enough, they will be.

Here are a few words from Kathy herself: “I recommend working on self skills between 1 and 3 years. The trick is “to stay sane while you are doing it. The benefit is that you are working yourself out of a job and working them into self-esteem – something most of wish we had more of. When things get out of balance or the routine has changed remember to look at your children as if they are asking “How do I belong in this family” then if you still can’t move past that call Vicki for a coaching session.”

Letting Go is a natural process. One that can be enjoyed and even savored by loving and committed parents. Letting go doesn’t mean throwing our kids into adulthood, it means providing an environment where they are engaged in all the yummy-ness the world has to offer them.

Thanks for sharing Kathy and Steve. You are truly an inspiration.

Letting Go

When my oldest asked if she could shave her legs for the first time, I had an out-of-body experience. There she was, with a razor in her hand (a pink Daisy, I think), a serious all-grown-up look on her face and a voice that demanded I pay attention. What I saw through my mothering eyes, was my first child, still an infant, quietly nursing in the privacy of her softly lit bedroom. I was having a flashback. I was caught off guard. It was the first time I experienced what so many parents had shared with me during my early career as a parent educator – the reality that their children were growing up and they, the parents, were struggling with the idea of “letting go”.

I am forever talking to parents about “letting go” and recognizing that the moment our babies land in our homes, they begin the slow journey of moving out. Yes, it does start the minute they arrive. I know this and here I was getting ready to yank my own kid back into infancy.

It’s been years since I thought of that incident. I remembered it because Jennifer (my business partner) was talking with me about a similar experience with her oldest daughter. We began a poignant conversation about the phenomenon of letting go and growing closer all at the same time. It’s the “this and that” factor again. As I was reminiscing, she was in “real time.” I could hear the delight and wonder in her voice as she relayed the story. So similar to mine that it was uncanny. I watched her face deepen with love and admiration for her daughter. And then she said, very simply, something I have been trying to communicate to parents for years…

“Ya know, the thing is, if you can embrace the “letting go” process with your kids, they don’t seem all that interested in running away from you. In fact, I think they tend to move closer and stay longer.”

So, here is my short list, for letting go and hanging on without ever losing your balance.

  1. Stop pretending that your kids aren’t going to leave. You know they are AND they are supposed to. It is complete indulgence when parents act as if they won’t be able to handle the eventual departure of their children. I sometimes wonder if parents who hang on tightly think it’s an indicator of how much they love their kids. We all love our kids. Clinging is a lousy litmus test for love.
  2. Think about the message you are sending your kids when you talk about how hard it is on YOU that they are growing up. Here the kids are, doing their best to move forward in their lives and they have some clingy parent hanging on to their pant cuffs screaming – “Don’t leave me.” “Don’t grow up.” “I can’t handle it.” You really think your kids think this is a sign of love? I doubt it. It serves as an indicator to the kids that your life is too focused on their life, hence the “get a life” campaign.
  3. Remember that growing up, doesn’t mean growing away. Children leave our homes, they don’t leave our lives. If we give them the space they so desperately require to grow into the people they are meant to be, they will choose to stay close to the people that helped them get there.

All parents will experience a multitude of milestones with their children. At some point, every kid is going to pick up a razor, male or female, and you will decide at that moment whether you will be part of this incredible stage in your child’s life, or whether you will live in the past.

11 years ago, I sat on the edge of the tub with Hannah. I filled the tub with warm water and we both dangled our feet just below the surface. We lathered up our legs with shaving cream. I pointed out all the tricky spots on a woman’s legs – around the ankle, the shin line and the knee cap. I explained that using a sharp razor was a sure way to limit the nicks and cuts so dispose after of old razors after 2 or 3 shavings. We practiced taking long strokes up our legs. She was nervous and tentative and I felt needed and loved and connected to this amazing young woman. The experience lasted about 30 minutes. The water was temped by the time we finished. I gave her a gift of Jafra Almond Lotion – a kind of coming of age gift, to make her legs shiny, smooth and soft. She was radiant.

Throughout the day I caught her running her hands up and down her legs, feeling not so much for the new smooth feeling of her legs, but for what they smoothness represented. I remember doing the same thing at her age. Stroking my first real step into adulthood.

I have thousands of these memories with my kids and because I was willing to let go of their childhood, I was able to step into the moments with them and become a part of their experience. Letting go allows our children to stay close. Trust me.

Is letting go easy? Not always, but I understood that my kids were leaving the moment they entered the world, so I was prepared AND I decided to relish their walk towards adulthood instead of fight it. That made all the difference in the world.

The next time your child takes a step toward the door, put your fear aside and make the decision to walk with them. Imagine the conversations you and your children will share when they realize you have no intention of disrupting their walk towards independence and adulthood. Yummy is the only word I can use to describe it.

Next year at this time, your, my children, our children will have another year of new experiences under their belts. Will you be there with them, or will you be sitting on the sidelines still fighting the inevitable “letting go”?

A note from Jennifer: “I am so grateful for Parenting on Track™. Everything I have learned over the past 9 years has brought me to this moment. Letting go and watching my children grow into young adults is magnificent. Its difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced this – but as Vicki likes to say – “It’s DELICIOUS.” And it’s not only the relationship I have with the kids that helps me embrace letting go, its my confidence in them – as people – as thinking individuals who are navigating their lives the best they can and I so appreciate the invitation from them to be a part of the journey.”

Acts of Kindness

Have you ever had someone lend you that coin that you were short of at a check-out counter? Or have you ever had someone stop you on the street because you were about to leave one of your mittens behind you? There are many, small wonderful things that strangers do for each other every day because, well, just because.

Here is one story about a good Samaritan that takes it one step further.

“My parents have been going through some rough times lately. Among those hard times, they’ve been trying to sell their home. They needed to replace a large broken appliance in the process of getting their home ready to be listed. My mom went out one day and made the purchase at a large department store. When she got it to her car, she realized that it wouldn’t fit in her trunk, wouldn’t come anywhere close. She hadn’t even considered how she’d get it home, having so much on her emotional plate. As she was standing in the parking lot almost in tears, having no idea what she’d do, an unfamiliar woman pulled up. She said “I think that’ll fit in my truck; where do you live? I’ll follow you home!” They got it in her truck, she followed my mom home, helped her unload it, and went on her way, not accepting anything for her efforts. Just an angel out of nowhere, who swooped in when we needed it.

I recently came across a very elderly, very shaky man with a walker trying to make it down a flight of stairs, and while I normally would have hurried on to the appointment I was late for, I thought of that angel, and stopped to help him get down the stairs. It made me a few minutes late, but so what – if that angel had been there that day, she would have done it for him, for sure – and I had learned something from her. It won’t be my last time, either – I’ll see to that. Someone who would do something so selfless for a total stranger – that’s someone I want to learn from.”

One person can make a big difference in the life of another. Keep your eyes out for your chance to be that person.

This inspirational story was found at http://www.responsibilityproject.com/stories/entry/an-angel-out-of-nowhere/

Fasten Your Seatbelts and Prepare for Departure

prepare-f-departureWhat’s the point of training our children to get themselves up in the morning, or unload the dishwasher, or organize their time? Is it because it will make our lives easier? Well no, that is an added benefit, but that’s not the real reason. The reason we train our children is to prepare them for departure.

One day our children will leave our houses; it doesn’t matter how much we make them the center of our universe—they will leave someday, and it is our job to make sure they are ready. By the time our kids turn 16 through 18, there is a lot of growth happening. They are learning to drive, opening bank accounts (if they haven’t already), applying for college or for jobs, dating, and possibly doing lots of other things like drinking, drugs…sends shivers up the spine just thinking about it.

Our children are getting ready for their lives because they know they are leaving, and they need all the support we can muster to help them jump into their lives and “out of the nest.” Last spring I heard a lot about parents of high school seniors who were having a hard time letting go. This was causing all sorts of havoc in the family and between the parents and children. Being the parent of a three- and five-year-old, I can’t say that I completely understand how those parents were feeling. But, I vividly remember the ache in my heart and stomach as I watched my “baby” walk down the hall for the first time to her kindergarten classroom, and I can only imagine what it will be like to watch her walk across the stage at 18 to receive her diploma.

So, what is a parent to do? How can we support our children as they ready themselves to depart, while we feel like falling apart? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Support them with any additional training they might need in real-world skills.
  • Loosen the boundaries around them a little without letting go; it will do wonders for your relationship.
  • Trust them.
  • Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Unfortunately, from the moment they arrive, our children are preparing to depart and live their own lives. So it is our job to give them a “map,” by training them in self and life skills, and then fasten our seatbelts, enjoy the ride, and know when to let go.

Celebrate Together

Your kids are changing. You know they are, but does the teacher? Sure, they can see the subtle changes that happen within the classroom, but sometimes they miss the big changes that happen at home.

For instance, a child who refused to get up without 10 nudges from mom in the morning is now rising with an alarm clock. Or a child who could noodle away 20 minutes chasing a moth in the house is now redirecting himself, staying on task and leaving the house with a smile on his face.

Here is what one teacher said about the changes happening at home:

“Parents are excited about the changes they see in their children. As a teacher, it would be great to celebrate these growth changes and encourage further growth, or look for ways to use this new information to encourage growth within the classroom. Sometimes it feels like a one way mirror. A quick note to let me know what is happening in the life of a child at home would mean so much to me and help me teach in a much more personal way. After all, we all want the same thing for the child.”

Learn more about effectively communicating your parenting plan to your child’s teachers in the Parenting On Track™Home Program. For more details and video samples visit www.parentingontrack.com/program/details

Ready to Give your Notice?

featured I quit

Quit your job as the maid!

There are many things in life that are black and white. Parenting isn’t one of them. Not all of the strategies we talk about here at Parenting On Track™ work the same way for every child, or every family, and everyone’s kids are at a different place when it comes to training. That’s why, when it comes to training our children to participate more fully in their own lives, we recommend creating, maintaining and USING a timeline.

By creating a timeline, individualized for your children, you can:

  • Track where your child is today in terms of skill development
  • Identify what areas require additional training
  • Relax with the confidence that your children are becoming capable, cooperative, responsible and respectful

Many of you started your timelines with the first week of class when you spent a good deal of time just watching your children to see what they were already capable of. From there you had the information you needed to identify areas that required additional training. For the next couple of weeks we are going to use the feature article to explore what a timeline for training means for each specific age group of children.

This week however, is a time for you to stop – look – listen. So take some time this week and update your assumptions about what kids can and will do and then get ready for a powerful series that will walk you through the training process for each of the significant stages of your child’s development.

For more information on creating a timeline for training and inviting your children to participate, purchase our Home Program. View video samples here.

End the Day Your Way!

End of DaySo why is it that some parts of the day seem to go fine, while other times just fall apart? And they don’t just fall apart once – they fall apart day after day after day. If this sounds familiar, chances are there is a routine in your day that requires a bit of tweaking.

Many of us overlook the fact that each separate part of our daily lives requires its own routine. If you think about it, it makes sense. Each part of the day has its own rhythms and activities – afternoons are for sports, activities, homework and dinner preparation; meanwhile, after dinner is a time for homework, relaxing, and preparing for bed.

In order to make these routines as efficient as possible, it is most effective to design them around your children’s natural rhythms. All children have their own unique rhythm, and they will thrive when their day is focused on order, regularity and rhythms that keep in time with them.

Finding the right rhythm may take some time. Here are some ideas to get you going,

  • Identify what you want your after school and evening routines to look and feel like.
  • 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.

You won’t know if a routine will work for your family until you try it out. Worst case, it isn’t quite right and you have some tweaking to do. The best case is a calm, connected family that navigates sports, activities, homework, dinner and bedtime with ease.

New Beginnings

new-beginnings
Our children are getting ready! Summer is almost over and you can almost feel the excitement and nervousness in the air. Pretty soon, if they haven’t already, our children will be headed off to a new school – preschool, high school, college – or a new grade, maybe with a new teacher. It’s all very exciting as we begin to prepare ourselves for this change by buying new clothes, shoes, notebooks and backpacks.

This excitement and readiness for change is often what it feels like during the first night of my Parenting On Track™ classes. Parents have come to the class for a host of different reasons, but during that first night they all seem to have an “Ah ha” moment when the information in the class starts to click with them and they begin to feel energized and ready to face their family armed with new information and a fresh outlook.

Here’s what some Parenting On Track™ parents have said about this experience in their Blogs:

“ (A)s I watched Vicki, I started doing that thing– that head nodding-as-if-she were-in-the-room thing. Like the amen, sister, thing … Read more of the parentingontracktales blog

“We finished the all-day seminar and feel totally inspired. Finally, a structured plan to foster our children’s independence and well-being! Who knew I’ve been going about this mom thing all wrong? … in just one day, Vicki served up a big, fat awareness sandwich. For me at least, awareness grabs hold of my brain and doesn’t let go. Once I have it, I cannot ignore it. At that point, I had no choice but to follow through.” Read more of the Flockmother blog

You can check out the Parenting On Track™ Home Program, which is exactly like taking the six week class from the comfort of your own couch! Isn’t it time for a new beginning for your family too?

New Thoughts on Habits

fresh-perspectiveSunny mornings on the deck, lazy afternoons by the pool, fresh veggies from the garden … does it get any better than summer? There are a few weeks left before we all have to get back to reality and start our lives of school, activities and all that comes with having busy lives and busy children.

I have spent this summer enjoying a full house with all five of my children here. It has been, at times, chaotic and busy but mostly it has been a wonderful summer full of laughter, fun and memorable times spent together. The house was full of friends and music and the smell of great food on the grill. I don’t know when I will ever have all my children under one roof for an entire summer, so I am savoring every last minute of it.

It’s now, before the summer ends and the school year begins, that I take a few hours and reflect back on where is it we’ve been as individuals and as a family and where it is we may be going in the coming year. It is a chance for me to revisit the milestones we set for ourselves and acknowledge the progress and improvement we have made in the areas we identified for ourselves as “challenging”. I wonder what new goals we will set for ourselves when we gather for what we have dubbed the “The Dinner of the Roadmap”. It is a site to behold. Food everywhere, poster board, paints, markers, magazines, glue and scissors, pens and pencils. Mostly though, there is conversation. Deep, rich, questioning, encouraging, challenging, loving conversation. We are a passionate bunch and the gathering is no exception. Fears are shared, dreams are ignited, plans are made and as a result each of us feel a deep connection that defines who we are as a family.

What started out as a Parenting Roadmap quickly changed to not only a Family Roadmap, but Kid Roadmaps as well. Iain and I have been encouraging our kids for many years now, to approach their Roadmaps with a fresh perspective. to dream big, to hold themselves accountable and to go for it – what ever “it” is.

Throughout the years I found it helpful for me and for other parents to talk with each other about the triumphs and tribulations that we have had recently to keep us focused on what goals and milestones were attainable or realistic. I’d love to hear from all of you in the Comments section about how your summers were, the moments that became memories. Your experiences help all of us see that we are not alone in parenting struggles and we can all congratulate each other on our parenting successes.

Hope your summer was a good one, and I look forward to hearing from you.

For more information on the Roadmap, see Ch. 5 of the Parenting On Track™ Home Program or our blog, “Parenting Is a Journey? I Think I Need Directions!” May 13, 2009

Back to School Routines

back-to-schoolAlong with buying new pencils and notebooks, “back to school” also means a return to routines, alarm clocks, and the responsibilities that many of our children left behind with the last bell in June. I have developed a “top 10” list for making the transition from frog collecting to number crunching a smooth one, for kids and parents alike.

With these pointers in mind, you’ll help your children begin the school year on the right foot.

1. Ask yourself, “What will it take for my children to manage their schedules independently?” Make a list of everything that needs to happen in order for your kids to be ready for the school day.  Access what they can do already, where they need some training, and what they need to learn from scratch. Set aside time each week to practice these life skills, and be sure to acknowledge growth and progress.

2. Allow your kids to establish a routine that works for them, even if they flounder for a week or two.  This means not reminding them to pack their homework or asking if they remembered their soccer gear.  Having to sit out a game or miss recess is a far more effective way for youngsters to learn to be responsible than parents constantly reminding.

3. Have faith that your children can handle the natural consequences of their decisions. If your daughter refuses to do her homework, let her work it out with the teacher, even if her grades suffer. Whereas the grades will come and go over the years, the self-reliance and sense of accountability that she’ll learn by solving her own problems will serve her well for the rest of her life.

4. Show empathy and help your children work through any problems that arise, but don’t be their savior.  School offers a perfect testing ground for kids to learn how to be responsible for themselves and acquire the skills they’ll need in the “real world” after graduation.

5. Set parameters about acceptable dress for school that you and your kids can agree on, and then bite your tongue.  Many schools have rules about attire (such as no midriffs or undergarments showing) that can help you frame this discussion.  You may not love the outfits that your children choose to wear, but showing them that you respect their choices and believe in their ability to select their own clothing is far more important in the long run.

6. Establish a framework for discussing the ups and downs that your kids are sure to encounter as the school year progresses. You want your children to know that you’re on their side, no matter what.  If your son brings home an “A” or scores the lead role in the school play, encourage him by asking questions about the experience. How did he prepare? What did that accomplishment feel like?  Did he need to work hard to reach his goal, or did it come easily to him?  Likewise, if your daughter comes home with a “D” or doesn’t make the hockey team, you can ask her about that experience. How did she prepare for that moment? How does she feel about her grade? Was this important to her? What could she do differently next time?

7. Create a roadmap with your children to help them set goals for the year and begin thinking about what it will take to achieve those goals. Your kids will feel a sense of empowerment as they define and take ownership over their plans for the coming year.

8. Set up a time every week to connect as a family. This could be a dinner, a family outing, or a scheduled family meeting. The gathering does not have to take place at the same time every week, but be sure that it’s on everyone’s calendar so that it doesn’t fall through the cracks.

9. Figure out what you, as a parent, can let go of to encourage your children’s independence. Deciding not to “remind” or “do for” your kids may be hard at first, but in doing so, you are demonstrating to your children that you have faith in their abilities.

10. Go slow. Encourage progress and recognize growth, and remember that you are the best parent for your child.

For another example of getting back into the school routine check out an article we found on the greatergood berkeley site.

For more information on creating Roadmaps and Timelines for Training check out our program details.