All posts tagged training kids

If They Can Walk, They Can Work!


Old enough to walk, old enough to work!

A) You’re not alone

B) Now’s the time to do something about changing roles, and

C) Believe it or not, both you AND the kids will be glad you did now, and for years to come.

I realized at an early stage in my pregnancy with my first child that I could either be the maid or be emotionally available to my children, but I could not do both. Since there’s a far greater payoff to being emotionally available, I decided to train my children early on to help with the household chores.

Now, if you’re at all put off by the word train, here are a few other verbs straight out of my thesaurus: teach, coach, educate, instruct, guide, prepare, tutor… and you’ve got to love this one… school.

I use the word train because that’s what it is. And let’s face it, training is useful – it makes us all better at what we do. And knowing how to learn from our training is a skill in and of itself. A skill, I might add, that will serve your children well as they go off to school, into the workplace… but that’s another topic for another day. Back to making everyone’s life easier and more pleasant by taking off that maid’s outfit and giving your children a chance to be part of the family fun.

Is there an optimal time for training?

The quick answer is YES! Over the years I developed a very simple answer for parents when they would ask me how young they could start training their children to help around the house. My answer is, “If they can walk, they can work.” That’s right moms and dads, it’s never too early.

There are two good reasons to start training your children in what is essentially the fine art of cooperation and contribution, as soon as possible.

1. The first reason is that, if children have been invited to participate in family chores from a young age, contributions will be a normal and routine part of their daily lives by the time they hit the pre-adolescent, “I am not interested” age. So, it’s actually less painful for both you and your kids if you start ‘em young.

Consider this. When our children are very small, they come to us asking to help and we are quick to reply with, “No, too hot; too heavy; too dangerous; too sharp; too fast; you are too little; too slow; too short.” And then we send them out of the kitchen and into the other room to play with the plastic kitchens and plastic food and say, “Now go play and have fun.”

We continue to do this, over and over, for years, until one day, about the time that same child turns 10, WE decide it’s time for them to be responsible for their stuff and we start in with, “Hey, pick up your back pack; unpack your backpack; put your dishes away; clear the table; pick up your room; do your laundry…” Sorry ladies and gents, but by then, it’s too late! We have missed the most opportune time for training.

You see, when children are very, very interested in just about everything around them – including mimicking mom and dad, you, as a responsible, pro-active parent, can use that natural curiosity to everybody’s advantage and get everyone involved in doing their part around the house.

2. The second reason to start training your children early to contribute to the household chores is a very practical one – kids need years of practice to become good at doing “stuff” around the house.

Just take a second and look around your home. I’m sure you’d agree that tasks which truly contribute to running even the simplest of households require some pretty complex skills, and developing any skill takes practice, more practice, and even more practice. The sooner you start practicing a skill, the sooner that skill develops.

So, just how should I go about training my toddler to contribute to the household chores?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • An immaculate house is NOT the primary goal. If you want it clean to your standards, wait until the kids are in bed and clean it yourself – but for goodness sakes, don’t get caught!
  • Set reasonable expectations based on the child’s age.
  • Notice what your child is doing, and talk about it.
  • Train in small time increments.
  • Start with something relatively easy, like putting back toys, then move on to more advanced tasks like picking up trash and helping with the dishes.

The following checklists should help you get started with your first attempt:

Planning Basics

  • What two jobs can my toddler attempt successfully?
  • When am I going to train him or her? (Pick a time in the day that works for you and your child.)
  • What are my expectations?

When Your Child Says, “No”

  • Smile and walk away.
  • Go do something more interesting like read your book, listen to music, paint…

It’s also good to keep in mind that training in the art of cooperation and contribution doesn’t have to be explicitly planned during the early stages of training. As long as you’re ready when the opportunity presents itself, you can instill this spirit at a moment’s notice.

When Your Little One Tugs On Your Pant Leg to Play

  • Say “Yes, I would LOVE to play with you, as soon as we use bubbles to wash the dishes!”
  • Ask another question like “Would you like to learn how to squeeze the dish soap or turn on the dishwasher?”

Above all, DON’T GIVE UP — the ability to cooperate and contribute is a life skill that takes practice. And, whether you know it or not, your little ones will notice that you never give up on them, and that means the world.

If you have stories about how life has changed, now that you have handed in your feather duster and started training your kids, please share your comments below!

For more information on HOW to stay patient, set reasonable expectations, teach in small increments, and encourage your child (& yourself) along the way, purchase our Home Program and join the forum — Today!

Getting The Kids Involved

Getting the Kids Involved Means Letting them Participate 

work is worthIt sounds super obvious to most parents that if you want kids to follow a daily routine, they have to help create it and then feel supported as they practice mastering the routine on their own. Well, that’s not always how things play out. We often “let” the kids participate when it’s convenient for us or when they are doing things “right” but as soon as they fall behind, or don’t do things exactly the way we want them, we step in and muddle everything up. Creating, executing and mastering routines takes time and while the kids are practicing, life happens. But if we can shift our thinking, if we can let the routine lead the day, we’ll find that children can take on more responsibility, become less dependent on us for everything and we can all enjoy that time between activities vs. rushing and hurrying things along.

What does this mean? It means, if your child is supposed to pack a backpack for school, you wont jump in and do it as the clock starts ticking louder and louder. And so, yes, you’ll be late. Yes, your kid will wear PJ’s to school. Yes, they won’t have a lunch if they don’t feel like making one. Once you learn to let go, the child will know you trust they can do it and that’s when the magic happens. Obviously, allowing a kid to go to school hungry because they forgot their lunch or left their homework behind, is a hard lesson to learn! Most parents think they just can’t let that happen. But they soon find out they can and it only happens once or twice.

IMG_6573Over time, once your children realize you’re going about the routine and that you trust them to manage on their own, they begin to master tasks that lead to confidence and capability. After the peaceful, relaxed and orderly routine is established, you’ll never look back!

Are you ready for a routine?

Kids CAN Do So Much! With a solid routine and less interference, kids of all ages CAN and WILL:

  • get dressed
  • make lunches
  • bring a backpack
  • get ready for bed quickly
  • wake up for school on time
  • finish homework
  • brush their teeth
  • feed the pets
  • and so much more!

Head’s Up! It’ll be bumpy for just a short while. Once you master the routine, it’ll get smoother and sweeter. In the beginning, you’ll have to focus on these few things:

kid workPatience. Don’t step in, even if you’re late.

Correcting. If a kid packs three granola bars for his lunch, hey it’s a start. It’ll get better- don’t get caught up in the little stuff.

Let go. You’ll just have to sacrifice a few events (like bball practice or dinner out) in order to learn the routine.

Once it’s in place, it’ll be just fine.
Trust the kids. Just trust them. They will find a way if you’re not there doing everything for them.

Parenting Land Mine

As anyone who knows me can attest, I was a free range parent long before the words helicopter parenting, tiger mom or free range were part of the parenting landscape.

I parented with 2 things in mind.

1. keep the relationship with my kids strong, healthy, honest and robust

2. foster their independence in every moment


Yes, I received dirty looks from shop-keepers and store-clerks when my kids were allowed to roam inside their establishments unsupervised while I stood outside and waited for them. The scowls turned to smiles as my kids navigated the aisles without breaking anything “fragile” and then opened their purses and paid with their own money for the little treasures they found in these stores. Fostering independence comes with scowls and skepticism. That’s okay. It didn’t stop us.

I got phone calls from coaches who informed me that I needed to make sure my kids had all their “gear” and were at practice 15 minutes before practice – huh? I politely declined their invitation and let them know that I was committed to raising independent kids who could figure out how to manage something as simple as a pair of cleats, shin guards and a water bottle. As far as getting to practice on-time, I
suggested that perhaps they might also like to foster a bit of independence in the kids they were coaching and ask the kids to make sure they were to practice when they were expected to be there.

As the kids got a bit older, I supported their innate desire to wander further from home (and truth be told, I was a bit nervous the first 42 times they suggested it). But with training, some guidelines and practice, I knew it was the right thing to do if I was really going to stand behind my (here it is again) value to raise independent kids who would one day become adults.

Did I take unnecessary risks? Hell no, but I would bet Danielle Meitiv didn’t think she was taking unnecessary risks either time she supported her kids in walking the short distance home from school.

vicki-training kids blog

I find it remarkable that there is a conversation suggesting that these parents be bullied into changing their parenting style because of the fear that CPS will get involved. I wonder where the world would be today if the woman suffrages ran home because they were scared of a little controversy and backlash from the powers that be. If I was inclined, I could probably think of a dozen or more instances in history where people stood up for their rights at the risk of imprisonment, but maybe parenting is different. Maybe in fact, more of us should parent according to what our neighbors think is appropriate or at the very least, parent according to popular culture norms and our biggest fears, which at present seem to be that an organization established to ensure the safety of children might threaten you with taking your children if they disagree with your parenting style.

Am I the only one that sees the intrinsic danger in where this is going? Fortunately for me, my kids are grown. Unfortunately, in the next ten years they will begin their own parenting journey and it is my great hope that as a society we find the balance needed in order to raise a generation of people who can make informed decisions, are invested in their communities and take personal responsibility for their words, attitudes and actions. But maybe that is asking too much as well. Maybe, along with raising independent children, we should abandon these other traits and be satisfied raising compliant children who do what they are told by people who are not their parents.

What is happening to the Meitivs is another example of how extreme and out of balance parenting has become. At one time, there was a code of conduct among parents that read something like: Do not judge, lest you be judged and help out when you can. Simple. Now it’s judge everything, especially if you know nothing about the people or the situation, share your opinions and judgments openly and often with as many people as you can find and turn your back on a parent who in any way parents in a style you deem unacceptable. It’s a minefield out in the parenting world and anyone who claims that parents stick together is living under a rock. Yes, of course there are wonderful tribes to be had, but more often then not, parents are finding themselves alone, judged and changing the way they parent in order to, in the case of the Maryland parents, keep their kids at home where
they are most certainly safer than they would be in Child Protective Services or Foster Care.


I don’t believe this is happening to this family because of who they are or what they are doing necessarily. I think that the spotlight is on them in order for us to begin a
dialogue about the new age of parenting and how we must all adapt, work together and support each other if we are to raise children who flourish as adults.

With all that has been written about the hazards of over-parenting, helicopter parenting, micro-managing kids, the real crime is crippling children by parenting from a place of fear, guilt, and shame.

Siblings Part 3: Tips To Bring More Joy

stop the fighting

Watching your kids play nicely together, hearing a shared giggle, watching a potential fight averted, because of some savvy negotiating between your 6 and 8 year old is just about every parent’s idea of a dream come true. But raising kids who truly enjoy each other is a process that takes years. It’s important that parents recognize that building on small moments, bringing a child’s awareness to the moments that “work” with a sometimes pesky sibling, providing situations in which kids can practice solving problems around play, will go a long way in creating sibling relationships that will stay strong and loving for years to come.

Personally, I made the decision when my kids were young, that if I could choose between kids who got along between 2 – 18 and kids who were close from 18 to 80, my choice would be the later. One of the major trip ups for parents around kids getting along when they are young, is the belief that we parents are responsible for those relationships. Maybe if we did more of one thing or less of another, we could guarantee our kids would be each other’s best friends for life – pinky swear. But nothing could be further from the truth. Take a page from your adult experience and trust that by following these easy but powerful 10 tips, you will indeed raise kids who truly enjoy each other’s company more with each passing year. And yes, you will witness this before they leave home.


1. Appreciations: Just like suggesting to someone who has a head ache that they drink water, before they run to the doctor for an MRI, using appreciations as a way to combat sibling squabbles is often overlooked because of it’s simplicity. But as a mom who raised 5 kids in a blended family dynamic, this was the key to my kids not only enjoying life together under one roof, but the reason the 5 of them are still as thick as thieves as young adults.

2. Adler’s Golden Rule: “ I use Adler’s “see with their eyes, hear with their ears and feel with their heart” to help my children understand a sibling they are struggling with. Inevitably, there is a moment of empathy and awareness, which translates into a more relaxed and accepting dynamic. This has become the foundation for conversations when one sibling is struggling with another’s choice of behavior.” Mother of 4 children, ages 7 – 16.

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

3. No Blood – No Break – No Foul: “I stay out of every single squabble that doesn’t include blood or break. And yes, it’s tough. Especially in public. It’s easy for parents to get pulled into the tussle and as soon as I’m there, I can see the entire dynamic change. It’s no longer an opportunity for my kids to work together to solve the problem, it’s about me trying to decide who needs to change or do something different and the relationship between the kids takes a psychic hit. I would say, that at this point, my kids spend less than 10% of their time squabbling for more than just a few minutes. They have strategies that work for almost every occasion, including walking away, writing it on the problem board, negotiating and sometimes, just throwing themselves down on the ground and hoping for a sympathetic sibling to concede the toy.” Mother of 3 children, under the age of 5

4. Use Reality as your Guide: “I had kids who were very physical and it really concerned me. I thought that the fighting defined the relationship and it scared me. Over time, as I learned to watch the kids in other situations, I realized that they had a high degree of respect for each other and often times worked together in ways that I overlooked. I think it’s important for parents to really challenge their beliefs about what it means for kids to enjoy each other because truly, I think it can sometimes be a bit Polly-Anna. And today, my kids are as close as any siblings I know.” Mother of 3 children, ages 25 – 19

5. Get an accurate idea of how often your kids get along and how they “do” getting along. Most parents admit that when challenged to do this, they recognize that the kids get along more then they give them credit for. So take a deep breath and relax. Remember to acknowledge when the kids are working together or enjoying each other and be specific so they can use this information again and again.

6. Give them a break from each other. Even kids can get sick and tired of hanging with the same folks for too long. Sometimes it’s that simple. Allow them time alone, with other friends, with parents one-on-one and don’t get caught up in the “it’s not fair” song and dance.

7. If you have friends with older kids (like young teens) leverage them. They can teach your kids the importance of getting along with their siblings in a way that we, the parents, can’t. Hearing a story from a 10, 13 or 16 year old about how awesome they think their sibling is, or a time when their sibling came to their rescue, can go along way in helping shift your child’s perspective towards their pesky sibling.

8. Stop fretting. Most kids do enjoy each other. They might not show it the way you want them too, but they are young, they are doing the best they can. Allow the relationship to grow over time, slowly and naturally. Watch that you aren’t comparing or judging and that your expectations are in line with reality.

9. Keep your own childhood out of the picture. You aren’t raising yourself and over compensating for a lousy relationship with your sister will only guarantee that your kids struggle to create meaningful relationships with each other. If you model for your kids what a healthy relationship looks like, sounds like and feels like, they have a much better chance of establishing a healthy one with their siblings. Trying to force kids to get along usually back fires and causes more fractures not less.

10. Take pictures of the times people are enjoying each other and post them around the house. When kids start to squabble, bring them over to a picture and ask them to remind you of what was happening in the action. Along with this, make sure appreciations during Family Meetings includes when kids are rockin it out together. Remember, whatever you pay attention too – you get more of.

jens kids

Remember to pace yourself. It’s not nearly as important to have young children who have developed the skills which makes it possible for us to get along with people day in and day out for years, as it is to help them build a strong foundation that will grow with them over time and solidify the relationship they have with their brothers and sisters.

Siblings Fighting? Making Small Tweaks Can Change the Game

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

Here are the 3 simple tweaks (the first step) you can make to break the cycle of fighting in your home and create a little more peace, harmony and enjoyment from all that I promised you.

1. If YOU are still trying to GET your children to get along, the solution is simple: STOP. (In the next post I’ll share the most powerful strategy there is for eliminating the majority of the fighting in your home.) But first, I want you to stop getting involved and observe.

2. Because kids fight for their parents, the solution is to just watch what happens when you act like you don’t notice and walk out of the room or act like you found something more interesting to pay attention to. That doesn’t mean you ignore a situation where you think someone is in serious jeopardy of being hurt, but it does mean you learn to ignore the fighting that is designed to engage YOU. I walked around with headphones on and pretended to listen to music. This drove my kids nuts, but within a few short minutes, they were either dancing with me, or laughing at my taste in music. In either case, the fighting stopped and we could move on with our day.

3. If you are doing things for your children that they could do for themselves, the solution is to: Invite, Train, Encourage and Support your children as they begin to engage in navigating the hills and valleys of their own lives. By inviting, training, encouraging and supporting your children, you will begin to notice that EVERYONE is in a new relationship with each other and that no one seems all that interested in fighting with anyone else.

If you just realized that you do too much for your children, I invite you to learn more about how to implement the Timeline for Training Strategy.

Young Adults Leave The Nest, But Not For Long.



I came up with a motto, a slogan to help me parent. And it was this: It is my job to make sure that when my children turn 18, I have trained them in everything that they need to learn so that they can open the doors, walk over the threshold, and enter young adulthood with confidence and enthusiasm. I have 18 years to prepare them. It is my job to teach them how to run their life so they don’t need me any longer. But so many kids leave home at 18, young adults, and find themselves at college and don’t know how to manage their lives, how to navigate their lives, how to make simple decisions, how to organize. And they’re forced back home. And I can’t think of anything worse for those kids to admit that they couldn’t make it on their own, or for their parents who have to say “come back home,” knowing that in some way it was their fault. If you find a child who has to come home because they couldn’t make it, this is a chance to start fresh. Look back and ask yourself what areas of this child’s life did you do for them because you thought it would be too hard or they would make a mistake or they would make a mistake and it was just easier if you did it for them. And teach them. It’s not going to be fun, because they see themselves as adults, but they already know that they’re missing some of the life skills that they need to be successful. Sit down, have a heart-to-heart, make a list start at the top, and teach them everything they need to now. Set a timeline that says, 6 months or a year from now we’re going to try it again. This is not the worst thing that will happen to you. Together we’re going to figure this out. We’re going to get you ready to go this time. And you’re going to give it another shot.

PRE-ORDER your copy of The Straight Talk On Parenting HERE

25 Skills to Practice Today

SkillsSummer is a great time to help our children practice their self skills and life skills.

The more our children feel connected, encouraged and capable, the more independent and confident they will be in their tweens and teens (and eventually as adults). So, this summer, when the opportunity arises or whenever you can carve out some time for training, encourage your children to practice and master:

  1. Getting up on their own
  2. Making their own beds
  3. Brushing teeth
  4. Taking showers / baths
  5. Washing hair
  6. Getting dressed
  7. Choosing clothing
  8. Making breakfast
  9. Packing backpacks
  10. Watering plants / yard
  11. Organizing homework
  12. Organizing time
  13. Setting the table
  14. Unloading the dishwasher
  15. Cleaning the kitchen
  16. Doing the laundry
  17. Stacking wood
  18. Making / packing lunch
  19. Sweeping floors
  20. Vacuuming
  21. Cleaning bathrooms
  22. Making grocery lists
  23. Learning to cook
  24. Planning menus
  25. Answering / talking on the phone

Which skill will your child practice today?




Appreciations and Contributions

family meetingsMany families put off or hesitate coordinating family meetings or following through with contributions because they get “stuck” on logistics:

How do we do it? What does it look like? What if I do it wrong?

The answer is simply:

  1. Keep it simple,
  2. Start small (one task at a time)
  3. Be consistent.

Whether you’re stuck on the logistics or you could use some fresh ideas, take this inspiration from REAL families on our Facebook page and use them to create a system that works for you!

Note: If you’ve fallen off, you’ll notice that sometimes a reboot to the process can get your family back into the swing in no time. Consider scaling everything back for summer- just don’t drop it altogether. Think of the confidence your child will have dancing off to school after a summer of being invited to participate!

Thank you to the families who shared ideas and if you have a system- show it off so we can all stay inspired. You never know who might find your simple genius their game changer. Enjoy! Be sure to visit our Facebook wall for ideas and more motivators.

Click here to see the REAL FAMILY Systems!

Sh*t Thinking Kids Can Do

shitThinking kids bring problem solving, skill practice, ingenuity and enthusiasm to the table when it comes to contributions, chores, work, cooperation and preparation. But hey, why tell you when we can show you? (Thank you to all the parents who have sent these in and/or shared them with us! We love sharing them with other families as a source of inspiration). Note: all of these tasks are safe and age appropriate after  the child shown has been trained and proven proper use and handling! You can always show your thinking kid photos on our Facebook wall.

Click to view our Thinking Kids Pinterest Board!

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!

10 Reasons to Slow Down

Stop Quick-Fix Parenting and Connect with Your Kids


In the last post, we uncovered the answer to an age old parenting question: HOW DO I GET MY KID TO DO WHATEVER I WANT?

The answer, in short was:

However you want- with a variety of bandaids and temporary quick fixes. These might get the job done for a moment but they don’t work well or for long.

You see, slapping a bandaid (a bribe, a threat, a timeout, etc) to GET MY KID TO will only masque a deeper bulletwound – a problem rooted in a lack of training or a broken relationship. Both are worth fixing and yes, both are in mom and dad’s court to mend (not the child’s).

 Slow Down, Toss the Bandaids

1. Slow Down to Show Them

Creating healthy habits takes time. Training kids takes time. Be intentional. Go step by step. If you want your child to learn to do laundry, you must slow down to show him how to sort, carry, load, turn on the washer, the dryer, add soap, etc.

Each step takes time to master. We often rush kids, set our expectations too high, get frustrated with them and reach for a bandaid (bribe, timeout, punishment) because they didn’t get it done (hitting turbo mode once again).

Be patient and see errors and setbacks as positive- kids will be far more willing to cooperate when accepted,  encouraged and invited to participate (vs. steered and managed).

2. Slow Down to Let Them Learn (and Practice)

Since the goal is NOT to have a clean room but INSTEAD to train the child to care for his room, focus on teaching a process vs. demanding a final result.

Think about it.  If you’ve recently learned something new, you get that mistakes are part of the learning. Slowing down gives kids space to:

  • mess up (oops, I didn’t put enough food in my lunch, next time I will)
  • (gasp) do it “half-assed” (how does that usually work out as adults- you end up doing it again, right?)
  • put it off for way too long (and discover for themselves how fun it is to do all the laundry at once…on a Saturday afternoon).
  • find their rhythms (I can’t stand missing out on play time after school so I’ll do my contribution before school).

Trust they’ll learn more if you step out a bit.

3. Slow Down to Say I Think You Can Handle Your Life

Nothing says, hey, you can handle your life more than trusting a child to well, handle her life. And for a child, her life is her room and all her “stuff” like: homework, lunch, backpack, wardrobe, music, and more. If you’re rushing to get out the door, you miss not only the opportunity to let her practice but the chance to build trust and in turn, strengthen the relationship.

4. Slow Down to Uncover Solutions

“You can’t think of solutions while you’re nagging.”  Meghan Leahy.

There are many ways to solve a problem – consider using roadmaps – trying and failing until you move toward a sustainable solution. There’s value in discovering, together, that the first few ideas didn’t do a bit of good. But that third idea? Whoa. It was the keeper.

 Once you play around with HOW to solve a problem and let the kids participate, you’ll discover there are more solutions to try (not all will work!) than there are bandaids in the quick-fix box.

5. Slow Down to Notice and Monitor Progress

If you’re zipping everywhere, with the focus on getting things done, you won’t even notice all the tiny shifts that happen when your child progresses toward independence. You don’t want to miss how far they’ve come because you’re looking three steps ahead!

6. Slow Down to Identify What Matters

Maybe it’s not such a big deal that her clothes match or his notebook is signed. Maybe what matters is she’s willing to get dressed on her own and he’s learning to get the reading done on his own. When you slow down, you quickly realize most of the stuff we think matters right now this second doesn’t matter. Cleaning up the “it has to be like this” or “it must get finished now” brain clutter will diminish power struggles and make the everyday flow much easier.

We are a culture obsessed with outcomes and this kind of thinking keeps children from learning to use the “process” as a teaching tool. So choose carefully what really matters to you – the outcome or the child.

7. Slow Down because Parenting is about the Kids, Not the Parents

Stop worrying about how perfectly you do this or how well your kids behave  or how quickly they listen when you say boo. Try, instead (and I know this is tough) to turn away from the snarky folks at the check out line who are giving you the hairy eyeball as your child s-l-o-w-l-y counts through her money bag for the exact change to purchase a plastic toy that will not last the car ride home.

Nothing is as important as ensuring our children are moving toward independence, self reliance and are engaged in all that life has to offer. It’s not that a bribe to get through the checkout quicker (and keep everyone else happy) is the end of the world- it’s just that the child has missed another opportunity to practice moving toward independence. When parents make this the “norm” they are (often totally unknowingly) thinking of themselves as “good” parents, and not parenting in the interest of the child.

We’ve all been here. Next time you find yourself here, remember to let go of the drive to be a perfect parent and trust that you are indeed the perfect parent for YOUR child. Do this, and you’ll free up space to move forward in other areas.

8. Slow Down because this Won’t Matter in 3 Days, 3 Weeks or 3 Years

Do you even remember what you were rushing around for three days ago? I don’t. We get so caught up in the GOGOGO that we don’t realize we’re trading valuable training time for nonsense that will be forgotten in a matter of hours. Nobody will remember if his socks matched or if her hair was in ponytails or braids.  Just remember that “This too shall pass” and I encourage you to find some mantra that allows you to take a breath, slow your heart and your mind, and leverage your own experience so that you can stay present in the moment ensuring that you are parenting from a place of intention and love.

9. Slow Down to Support the Learning

As nice as it would be to think that teaching our child to get dressed once, would end all further getting dressed scuffles, but the truth is, every moment of the 18, 19 or 20 years we are living in the same home as our children, is a time of learning for them. If you can surrender to this fact, if you can embrace that you will have to teach a skill many times over the course of many years, you can begin to focus on the progress and the improvement you are all making and not on putting a bit red CHECK next to a particular task. As I like to remind myself, Life is Practice.

10. Slow Down to Connect with Your Child

All any of us want, is to feel a deep connection with those we love. We yearn for connections that make us feel loved, whole, accepted. We dream of quiet moments, and shared secrets, and private jokes that lead to giggles and memories that keep us warm and safe during scary moments. It isn’t the “doing” that makes our children feel a deep connection with their parents – its the moments in between, when no one is looking that build the kind of connection between parent and child that last a lifetime. So find time to connect to yourself, your spouse, your children and your life. [hr]


Tips: Train Kids / Fix Relationship

In the last post, I told you the solution to any “problem” you’ll encounter in parenting: train the kids or fix the relationship.

Today is a little boost of information about how to identify which type of problem you are facing (training or relationship) and how to filter the information so you can clearly steer out.

Identify Any Problem as a Pattern of Facts (Not Stories and Emotions!)

First, you have to identify a recurring “problem” and notice any triggers and patterns (including responses!). Then you can isolate the behavior and decide if it’s training or relationship related.

Helpful Hints:

GENERALLY, if it’s something the kids are physically doing or not doing, it’s likely training. (Example, every morning the kids mess around when they are supposed to be getting dressed. I yell. Repeat.).

If it’s something the kids are emotionally doing or not doing, it’s likely the relationship. (Example: Big brother is being mean to the little brothers by saying I hate you to everyone. I get upset, talk calmly only to get frustrated and exhausted and then, I lecture him. Repeat.).

Remember, if it’s nonsense, just ignore it- it will go away on its own! However, if it’s something bigger that is becoming problematic, take the time to look at the facts.

Here are some more example facts – they could be anything:

Fact:  Every morning my child does or does not do ______.
Fact: He can do it.
Fact: He doesn’t know how to do it.
Fact: He gets frustrated at the same point, etc.
Fact: He is getting angry around lunch everyday.
Fact: She says I hate you when the sisters interrupt her.
Fact: Nobody gets along whenever they are bored in the living room.

Limiting Beliefs: Letting Go of the Stories I Believe…

Second, you must REMOVE emotion and toss beliefs about “kids who _________” before you can continue. You must also toss beliefs about “parents who ___________.”

For example, if you believe kids who do not put their things away are lazy and ungrateful, you must tell yourself that is NOT true. Kids who do not put their things away have not been trained to put their things away.

Example: I believe a child who talks back is rude and disrespectful. It’s ok to say to yourself, Untrue. A child who talks back is in a fractured relationship. Once this thinking sets in, you can move things along and begin to see change.

Similarly, if you believe that parents who do not “do something to teach a lesson” when a child talks back is a slacker, then you must toss the idea that “doing something for the sake of not letting her get away with it” is reasonable. If a parent’s reaction does not train the child to behave or act appropriately, or put the relationship first, it will do no good anyway!

Create the habit of tossing beliefs that will interfere with you moving toward your goal.

Make the Switch: Reactive to Proactive

Stop being reactive and begin to be proactive about how you will respond. Just like any other change, you’ve got to make a plan. Here is a helpful chart to walk you through the process and get your mind heading in a good direction:

Strategies for Change

And finally, once you know what you’re in for: more training or fixing the relationship, or both, you can begin to put all the pieces together to create new patterns and facts within your house. This chart (below) is simple- if it’s a training problem, you’ll want to factor in plenty of demonstration, time and patience. If it’s a relationship problem, you’ll want to factor in plenty of empathy, time and patience. Questions? Ask away! Want to learn more? Pre-order Duct Tape Parenting for an in-depth look at training and relationship strategies (August 21st!).


Same Drama, Different Day?

dramaThe Solution is…Train the kids or fix the relationship. That’s it.

Raise your hand if you’ve had at least one of these thoughts run through your mind (hand raised): this isn’t working or this is exhausting or why won’t he just listen? If your hand is up, you’ve probably been through the ringer at least once (or perhaps a gentle slide into in a rabbit hole) with some pesky behavior, attitude or habit that left you scratching your head and thinking, what can I do? I’ve tried everything.

Ok, so, maybe you’ve tried “everything”  to “cover up” the problem with yelling, bribing, threatening, etc. or you’ve yielded to to attitudes, demands and “fast getaways” because you felt you didn’t know what to do. Maybe, like many parents, you found yourself disciplining (actually punishing), taking away or growing resentful and angry all while going round and round in a “cul de sac” cycle of behavior-reaction-behavior-reaction-behavior-reaction…and then ultimately, frustration. While it may feel like you’ve tried “everything” you probably haven’t.

The Point?

The point of this post is to deliver a simple message that will help lift ANY fog of parenting “problems”- a solution so clear it will change your brain and support your decision to QUIT Being the Maid (or Feed the Weed- coming next) or any other long term solution that you commit to.

Every pesky behavior– annoying, “bad” or ugly– is a symptom of one of two things:

  •  Lack of Training or
  • a Fractured Relationship

Both are worth fixing.


How To Quit as the Maid

I’ll just come right out and say it: this post is going to set your groove on fire! Why? Because your kids will be taking on family contributions, leaving you some space to put your feet up or dance around- it’s up to you how you celebrate your bliss. Here we go, ready? We’re going to walk through 4 steps.

  • Step 1. Mentally prepare yourself
  • Step 2. Physically prepare the environment.
  • Step 3. Emotionally prepare the family
  • Step 4. Logistically train the kids

Step 1: Mentally Prepare Yourself (Look in Mirror, KNOW it Starts with YOU)

You are going to set this in motion. You are making a decision that you can hold yourself, your spouse and your kids accountable to. YOU have to look in the mirror and say (feel free to print this out and tape it on your mirror):

YES. My kids are going to help out, no matter what.

YES, I will have to put consistency and patience on my schedule.

YES, it might get messy because they have no idea what to do.

YES, I will have to let go, stay out and trust them to “get things done”

YES, my kids deserve to learn on their own vs. ME DOING EVERYTHING

YES, it’s going to take time and work BUT it WILL be worth it.


Step 2: Prepare the Environment (Move Stuff to Ensure Success / Work flow)

You are going to take a weekend, an afternoon- whatever it takes to assess your house, get ideas and make small changes to: SIMPLIFY, ORGANIZE SUPPLIES, REMOVE CLUTTER, PUT THINGS IN REACH. The goal with this is to quietly, before you ask them to work, design the spaces in your house for success. If the kids can’t reach the knobs, cleaners, paper towels, dishes, then you can expect frustration when they are cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry, unloading dishes, managing backpacks, papers, uniforms and organizing their things. Think in terms of their flow, reach and view- remove obstacles- lower hooks, items and tools, if need be! Let’s use the kitchen and laundry as example of where/how to start.

Tips on Designing “Work” areas of the HOUSE for SUCCESS

Kitchen: Think outside the cabinet. Move dishes to a lower shelf, put pans up high. Put ONE cleaning caddy under the sink with green / nontoxic cleaners. Use the nearby drawers for cups, containers and other “usual” dishwasher items. Adjust the shelves in the fridge to put the kid drinks, milk, snacks, fruits on the lower shelf. Put a stool in the pantry, in case they need a boost to reach the microwave or cereal cabinet. Walk through and think about what they ask you for help with- it’s usually, can you get the milk, the cup, the cereal, etc. Move the items so that you can easily say, “it’s right there, you can reach it.”

Laundry: Everyone has a different system. The GOAL is to have your eleven year old look at you one day and say something musical to your ears like, “look, I just do my own because it’s annoying to wait for you to do it, plus my socks always get lost.” If you can trust that YOUR child can get to this point, you’ll look forward to fewer arguments about “where is my shirt??” or “where it my uniform!” – you have to trust they do learn to become independent. And the bonus? With each kid you train, the laundry pile gets lighter! (Hello javvvaaaa).


  • Make one SIMPLE reminder chart of your family’s system and post it. Example: Remember! separate darks, lights, towels.
  • Write with dry erase marker ON the washer and dryer (or post nearby): How to Use Washing Machine: Step 1, 2, 3 / How to Use Dryer 1, 2, 3. Keep it SIMPLE. The basics here. (If kids are young, just do step 1 together, then you can eventually train them to do step on- tossing laundry IN on their own, work from there).
  •  PUT the laundry soap, dryer sheets and lint trash can right there so they can reach it.
  • Hit Pinterest for ideas- we have a board, “Quit your job as the Maid” with links to other blogs and tips- don’t try to be perfect, just try to make it clear, simple and SELF-regulating (no charts with stickers or external fluff- remember the goal is independence, not dependence on you having to manage handing out goodies).

3. Emotionally Prepare the Family (Make a Chart & Get on Same Page)

This is when you sit down and say, something isn’t working and we’re going to fix it. Until this point, they’ve had no problem with YOU doing everything. What they don’t realize is that when you are stressed about finishing laundry or they can’t find their socks, it affects your mood/emotional availability and adversely, the family. This is when you admit – in your own way, Hey, I haven’t really shown you all this stuff yet, so don’t worry, I’ll help you get a system. I’m not blaming you for not doing it! Silly ME, I haven’t trained you.

Get a piece of paper. You’re going to make a chart, aka a mini roadmap.

  • Where are you (problem)? Example: mom does all the kitchen work everyday.
  • Why is it a problem for EVERYONE? Momgets grouchy, kids aren’t learning to take care of self
  • Where do you want to go (solutions)?  FILL IN TOGETHER 1-3 ideas – not meant to overload, just get them thinking!

Don’t stop there!

  •  ASK AND IDENTIFY, TOGETHER: what is going to trip us up? WRITE THEM DOWN. (again, 1-3 things).
  • USE THIS LIST OF SOLUTIONS to START– work them into the schedule. Assign days / tasks. Make a daily schedule- this will vary GREATLY – just be sure to consider realistic execution. The more manageable you start, the more success they’ll find and you can add tasks- you have 18 years together, right?
  • GET OUT YOUR DUCT TAPE because they’re likely expecting you to zoom in, correct, nag, comment, make judgements, yell, be sarcastic, hover, remind, and all that (see helicopter list).

Click to see a sample Roadmap!Sample Problem / Solution Roadmap

 Step 4: Methodically Train the Kids (Stick to IT!)

This part is where people generally fall off. Parents say, GET TO WORK and when the kids don’t or they complain or noodle or wiggle out, parents run out of time and patience. You have to literally walk through it with them- could be a dozen times- chatting calmly, patiently and encouragingly. You may discover that an 8 minute task takes 3 hours and a nap in the middle of the kitchen floor for a child (and yourself, if need be) who’s determined to rock you off this course. GO WITH IT.

It’s ok to simply sit in the kitchen- just be present and do not get rattled. Eventually, the doorbell will ring and your child will go from flounder mode to lightning speed to get it done so he can go play in the yard. Wait for it…those are the natural lessons that will come with time. After 5 exhausting afternoons while everyone else is playing in the street, your child will realize, you know what, this is NOT worth it. Then you’ll hear magic like, “Hey, it’s so much easier if I just get it done earlier so I don’t have to miss the fun.” YES.

Cheers to you, celebrate together.

Spoiled Child? Quit as the Maid

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

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

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

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


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

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

I Get the Problem, What is the Solution?

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

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

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


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

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

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

As you get started, remember:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sold, So What Will IT Look Like?

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

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

Remind Me Why I Should Do This Again

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

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

Articles: Simplify for Summer

There’s all kinds of chatter out there as moms and dads get ready for the reality that summer is just around the corner! Going into summer with the right mindset can make all the difference between starting off smoothly or feeling a bit overwhelmed out of the gate. One big idea we think is great: “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Also, we really feel it’s okay to take the pressure off- if you can’t afford a vacation, there are plenty of local and “staycation” ideas out there. Start thinking creatively about how you can use your resources (friends, connections, local hot spots) to make it a memorable, affordable and manageable summer.

Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking:

    Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
    This is a very important place to start your thinking, especially as summer vacation arrives. You can give yourself permission RIGHT now to let go of all the power struggles that don’t benefit you or your children. Begin to let go of the habits like feeling bad if the kids miss a camp or an activity. You can get excited to just relax a little and enjoy the family! Find out more via @todaymoms @KristineCarlson @DontSweatMoms or visit these links below.

    These Moms Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

    Author Kristine Carlson talks about the latest book in her “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” franchise, which is all about mom. Or watch this video trailer.

    Staycation / Nearcation
    There’s a lot to do right in your own backyard! These links will get you thinking about what you can do nearby and keep it simple but fun.

    Ideas for Camping


    Budget a Stay At Home Vacation

    Packing Light for Any Getaway (A Week or weekend away with kids = STUFF!)

    Get out and GO!
    Leave your child at the park day! Go Freerange kids, thanks for the link. I encourage you to try to promote independence and practice making a safe plan, giving your children ample opportunity to prove they can do this and then, once they can, let the kids play! Check it out. @brochman

    The National Gardening Association says that the act of gardening benefits kids’ health, well-being, and attitude towards learning. This stress reducing activity also builds self-esteem and creativity while fostering bonds with nature and family. Good blog post via Stress Free Kids (Cool factoids in there as well!) @StressFreeKids

    Nature Deficite Disorder – “clever” but makes you think!

    Parenting / BIG Buzz
    Shameful “Creative Parenting” Trend = Public Shaming and Cyber Humiliation
    Parents are turning to public shaming and humiliation and “cyberdiscipline” as a form of punishment and “creative discipline” for their children. Although parents may feel they are at a loss of options, it is NOT a healthy form of parenting because it degrades the child’s integrity, dignity and self worth. It jeopardizes the relationship. It makes the child’s mistake the definition of her identity (vs. just something she did) and it influences a child’s confidence to take risks in the future. There is no natural consequence (it’s fabricated by the parent) and most importantly, it feeds the beast that we call bullying. The biggest issue is not that these parents don’t love their children- the issue is that we, as a society accept it as a reasonable trend–and see very little connection to the bigger issues we’re tackling together (ie bullying, cyber bullying, victim submission, etc). The evidence is in the comments — there is overwhelming support for parental “creativity” in their SHAMING tactics. It’s essentially the scarlet letter or the public stocks and I URGE you to rally a stance against this trend! More on this topic VERY SOON and actionable steps on how we can help change the public’s thinking behind this degrading trend.


      Madeline Kunin, Vermont’s first female Governor has a NEW book out, THE NEW FEMINIST AGENDA Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family By Madeleine M. Kunin, 288 pp. Chelsea Green Publishing. $26.95.
      From the NYT OPED: “Kunin, a former Clinton administration ambassador to Switzerland who served as the first woman governor of Vermont, exhaustively catalogs where we are in terms of work-family balance (deeply out of whack) and where we need to go if we want to make the idea of merging motherhood with all the other necessary aspects of a woman’s life a reality.” Read the full New York Times review here Or pick up a copy here.

    Just for Fun!
    Don’t take all this parenting so seriously! Here’s a few article to make you smile!

    Quotes to Inspire

      FANTASTIC quote by @KathieLGifford’s dad- “I love you too much to deny you the privilege of making mistakes.

      Pins for your HAPPY PARENTING PLACE

Articles: Good Parenting Posts

Kids and Money:

Okay, I love, love, love this story. 14 Year old Girl, Saves Money and Buys a House. Anyone who knows me, knows that I believe in giving kids money as soon as they are old enough to keep it out of their mouths and that in doing so, we help this next generation of adults develop a healthier relationship with money. If you have any doubts as to the industrious nature of children or their ability to think ahead, to save, and to plan, enjoy this article and rethink your own beliefs around finances and your kids.

And here is another, The Best Think I have Done for My Son, which explains, in no uncertain terms, why it’s a good thing to give your kids money, in this case, a debit card, and then turn them lose and see what they can do.

Kids and Freedom:
I liked this article, Child’s Play Isn’t Really for it’s timeliness (summer is upon us) and for the point of view shared by an older, wiser individuals who can draw on their own experience as a point of reference. Written by a retired psychologist and with the wisdom of having been raised with a more hands off approach (hmmmm) I think the writer asks a powerful question at the end of this post that encourages the reader to think about the issue and it’s many ramifications.

    “ Let’s imagine — I don’t think it’s a wild notion — that child’s play is an apprenticeship for what adulthood will require. My generation, for good or ill, is now pretty much on the far side of that process. How will today’s kids fare … and with what rough beast of a future now slouching to be born?” David E. Faris ( of Aurora is a retired psychologist.

Work Is Worth!

Lenore from Free Range Kids has a great little post highlighting the recently released book ”Mean moms Rule – Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later.”

Not much we don’t already know about the value of work, but for those parents who still struggle to accept that inviting our kids to participate more fully in the daily activities that keep families, communities and the world at large moving, here is a bit more encouragement. I’ll be purchasing this book for my parenting library.

Trending Topics:

Sibling Rivalry – Although this article Parental Quandry: Do Siblings Need to Fight Physically? doesn’t provide any answers to sibling rivalry, it does indicate the concern parents have as they witness their children hitting, slapping and throwing punches at each other. This article serves to remind us all that any parent with more than two kids struggles with this issue. I sometimes think that parents truly believe that there is a family out there with multiple kids who have never resorted to “thwacking” each other when they reach the boiling point with their sibling. The truth is, it happens to almost every family, and although there are many proposed solutions to the sibling rivalry issue, there are a few that go a long way in both eliminating the physical and verbal fighting and repairing and strengthening the relationship between siblings. Among them of course, are regular and sincere appreciations given at both the Family Meeting and through out the day. As I like to say “It’s hard to be mean to people who keep saying nice things about you.”

The Proper Way of Training Children

proper-heart-2It’s so simple isn’t it? This one quote, sums up for all of us, how to go about raising our children. And yet, any of us who are raising kids knows just how illusive this approach is.

Take a minute now, and think about one or two small shifts you could make today, that would be more in line with what Dr. Dreikurs is suggesting.

I remember posting this quote on my fridge when my oldest daughter was three. I used it as my “true north”, to guide my parenting decisions. I remember questioning myself on a daily basis for the first year or two. Was I treating her too much like an adult? Could she understand why I was making some of the decisions I was making? Didn’t she need constant direction from me?

Over time though, I found the deeper meaning of Dreikurs words and realized, at least for me, that he was talking more about adopting an attitude of respect, cooperation, and genuine interest than in applying techniques for raising compliant, well mannered kids. It was about remaining flexible, open-minded and responsive vs. reactive as a parent. It pointed the way towards a dynamic, lively way of being in relationship with the kids, not a static one that demanded only one “right” way of handling a situation or behavior.

His quote also helped me recognize that it was about becoming more aware. More aware of myself in situations that triggered strong emotions – positive or negative and how those emotions influenced the way I handled the situation. More aware of whether I was speaking and behaving in ways that suggested I was talking to a respected peer versus a small child, and more aware of how my actions and words influenced my child and the relationship we were building together. It was easy to see that when I tried to exert force over my daughter, she responded in exactly the same way an adult would. She revolted, through a temper tantrum, tried to push me away. Exactly the kind of reaction I could expect if I tried to overpower my best friend.

When I began to understand the real significance of this quote, it shaped my parenting approach and allowed me to focus more intentionally on the relationship I was building with the kids and not get distracted by pesky behaviors that cropped up from time to time. His words gave me the courage to take responsibility for my thoughts and behaviors, attitudes and beliefs and while I was busy tending to my over-active brain, I found that I interfered less with my kids and that seemed to bring out the best in them.

As I spent more time tending to my own misguided thinking I developed a deep sense of faith in myself and in my kids and the more I internalized his words, the more deeply I felt that faith grow. Faith turned into confidence and confidence allowed me to take risks, think outside the box, turn away from the “tsk-tsks” and hairy eyeballs I received from on-lookers and focus on what was most important to me. And what was most important, was raising children who would one day, make the world a better place as the result of participating in it from the time they could barely reach the counter.

I invite you to take a minute – right now, and think about one or two small shifts you could make today, that would be more in line with what Dr. Dreikurs is suggesting.

5 Reasons: Quit Your Job as The Maid

quit your job as the maidI remind parents in nearly every workshop I teach, that in order for them to get their family on track and in a direction that will benefit them (and the world), mom and dad, MUST QUIT THEIR JOBS AS THE MAID. This means taking the time to unlearn the tendency to hit the auto-pilot button and do everything for everyone all the time.

Here are FIVE solid reasons you could, you can, and you will enjoy this experience:

1. Hamper Heaven: They Can and Will Do their Own Laundry

Nothing says easier mornings than a kid who washed his own clothes and brought them up to his room last night. No looking for his socks. No yelling, “Mom! did you remember to run the dryer!?” and no meltdowns over a missing supply of jeans. Once they do their own, they won’t ever want you meddling in their way again.

2. Drink Your Coffee While THEY Make Lunch in the Morning

Yes, it’s a task to train them, but it only takes a few days. Then, they’re up and taking care of their own nutritional needs while you relax a bit and chat as they decide whether to make another PBJ sandwich or a bagel with cream cheese. This is a chance for you to kick your feet up and watch as the mornings become a symphony of smooth systems and confidence builds (for everyone in the family) with each successful lunch session.

3. Family Time Matters, A Spotless House Does Not

Once you have permission (I’m granting you permission right NOW) to say, “screw it, who cares if the house is a a tad-bit messier or if the dishes have to wait on the counter for an extra 10 minutes”, you can let out the head pressure of trying to keep an eternally clean house (the neat freaks are gasping, I’m sorry) and put your focus back on what really matters, connecting with your kids. This intentional and thoughtful decision to stop the cleaning and auto-straightening and check-listing, frees up time and energy to emotionally be there for your children and stay tuned into the relationship.

4. To-Dos: Delegate and Appreciate

Once the family has worked chores, or as we call them “contributions” into the daily schedule, you can begin to let go of tasks that you’d normally be whizzing around trying to fit into the daily grind. And you don’t have to go in and re-do the second rate vacuum job your 7 year old attempted before school. Instead, you can support the kids and encourage them as they practice until they master this easy task and it becomes a part of their repertoire. It’ll take time but baby steps will guide you into a communal contribution system. This is something I guarantee you WILL appreciate!

5. Grow Confident, Together

When you decide to quit your job as the maid, you allow your kids to participate more fully in family life. That means making more decisions and taking on more responsibility. You also accept more mess, which to a child can mean wearing backwards clothing he picked out himself or cleaning the bathrooms when it’s convenient for her (not you). This naturally opens up a new energy, a sense of ownership and accountability that children carry with them into the “real world” and into future relationships. As a parent, by learning to let go, you discover the house doesn’t fall apart but instead, little people show up and keep their part of the system in check. Is everything perfect every time? No. Will you end up helping them with laundry or have to pack a lunch sometimes? Yes, but if you make the effort to consciously reduce the amount of “tasks” and to-dos on your list, you’ll find that the entire family benefits, PLUS it sure feels nice to quit that thankless job!