A New Year’s Resolution Worth Keeping

If you could resolve to do something in 2009 that has the potential of greatly improving your relationship with your children what would it be? After giving it some thought, I decided I’m going to work on becoming a better listener.

Now that both my children are teenagers, it’s more important than ever that I take time to really listen to them. I’ve read plenty of research reporting teenagers often feel their parents don’t listen to them but those same parents feel they are listening to their teens. Why is there such a discrepancy between what the teens and parents think?

Maybe it’s because there are a lot of ways for parents to unintentionally stop conversations with their kids. For example, if your child is telling you about being nervous for an upcoming test, these types of responses will probably leave your child feeling unheard:
  • Analyzing: “I think you just like to focus on being worried about the test because that’s easier than actually studying for it.”
  • Reassuring: “You’ve studied enough. I’m sure you’ll do great on the test.”
  • Giving advice: “If you study an hour right before going to bed, you’ll probably remember more for the test tomorrow.”
Even though I know about various roadblocks to conversation and even covered this topic in the Priceless Parenting class, I still find myself using these types of responses. Knowing something is certainly not the same as being able to consistently do it. This year I’m going to work on avoiding conversation roadblocks and really listen to my children!

Mom was right again

There were many words of wisdom I heard from my parents growing up. I’ve recently managed to forget my Mom’s wise advice a couple times and unfortunately suffered the consequences. She always told me not to drop sharp knives into the soapy dishwater but instead hold them by the handle while washing them. Well the other day I reached into the dishwater to retrieve a sharp knife I was letting soak and promptly cut my finger. Ouch!

She also warned me never to leave the kitchen if I had something on the stove. That’s a tough one for me since I love doing more than one thing at a time. I was cooking jelly and decided to jump on the computer for just a minute while it came to a boil. You guessed it … I totally forgot about the jelly until I smelled it burning on the stove after it boiled over! What a mess!

Although I live 1,700 miles from my parents, my Mom may have heard me proclaim “Mom, you were right!” I now have a strongly renewed desire to heed her advice! The influence parents have on their children lasts a lifetime.

If you hit, you sit.

This is a simple rule which lets young children know the consequence of hitting. Parents can explain to children that they are welcome to stay if they choose to play cooperatively, “We want to feel safe when we are together and so if you choose to hit, you must leave.”

If children hit:
  • Guide them to sitting down nearby (this will probably motivate them to quickly change their behavior in order to rejoin the fun) or have them go to their room.
  • Let children decide when they are ready to return. Tell them they are welcome to come back as soon as they decide to play without hitting.
  • Stay calm and avoid showing anger or disappointment. By keeping your emotions under control, children can focus on their behavior and the related consequences.
  • Welcome children back, “I’m happy you’ve decided to come back. It’s more fun when you’re with us.”
Eventually your children will develop self-control and be able to manage their urge to hit. Until that time, parents need to intervene when their children are hitting.

Hard work of parenting pays off

Being a parent certainly presents plenty of difficult challenges (who can ever forget trying to stay cool, calm and collected while your child has a meltdown!). However, the time and energy you put into becoming the best possible parent you can be starts paying off when your children become teenagers. Now that my youngest recently turned 13 and my oldest is 16 we are starting to enjoy the benefits.

They’re teens who are generally responsible, helpful and a lot of fun to have around. Did we just get lucky? No, we spent a lot of time learning from parenting experts and then invested significant time and energy into changing our own behavior. We spent years practicing things like responding with empathy instead of anger to misbehavior, guiding our children to solving their own problems instead of solving it for them and avoiding lecturing, yelling or nagging.

They are not rebellious teenagers because they don’t have a reason to be rebellious. At this point they are in control of most of the important decisions in their lives like: when/where/how to do homework, who to hang out with, what to do with their free time, how to handle time commitment conflicts, when to go to bed and when to get up. We’ve slowly built up their level of freedom and responsibility over the years so that they now have the skills to make wise decisions.

Could they make a major mistake like trying drugs or getting pregnant? This certainly could happen but is less likely because they know they are responsible for dealing with the consequences of their decisions. We’ve often told them that the quality of their lives will depend on the decisions they make.

Where are these parenting skills taught? You can discover the universal parenting skills that have worked well for countless parents by taking the online Priceless Parenting class. The investment you make in improving your parenting is the best investment you’ll ever make!

How many times do I have to ask you?

Do you ever find yourself saying to your children “How many times do I have to ask you?” If so, you’re probably feeling frustrated and angry with the lack of results.

Sometimes we unintentionally teach our children not to respond the first time we make a request. If children have learned that they really don’t need to pay attention to us until we’re screaming, then they often will wait until this point to respond. However, if we instead ask only once and expect it be done, children are more likely to act on our initial request.

What if your child doesn’t do what you’ve asked the first time? Then there needs to be some consequence. For example, if you’ve asked your child to put away his shoes and he hasn’t done it but now wants to eat dinner you could say “Please join us for dinner just as soon as your shoes are put away.”

Crying means stop

Simple, easy-to-remember rules work well with young children. One mom’s rule for her 3-year-old and 18-month-old is “Crying means stop”. Her kids have learned that if someone is crying then it’s time to stop whatever they are doing.

Both children know the rule and are often able to stop themselves from whatever they are doing when someone starts crying. However, mom does step in if the children are unable to stop themselves or the situation is escalating. By allowing her children to work out most of their problems on their own, she is giving them the opportunity to learn the important skill of self-control.

Dryer fire story

It is so easy to panic when there is an unexpected fire in your home. This mom's story of what happened when her dryer caught on fire is worth reading. Spending a little time thinking through how you would handle a fire may help keep your children safe some day.

Teaching Children to Express Gratitude

We are responsible for teaching our children to say "please" and "thank you". This basic social skill is critical in showing respect for others. However, many older children have not fully developed this skill and it causes problems.

For example, one aunt explained how hard she worked to find neat gifts for her three nephews. When opening the gifts they would often say things like "I don't really like this." or "This isn't what I wanted." The aunt's feelings were definitely hurt by these remarks. The parents did not step in to help their sons learn that these types of responses were completely inappropriate.

At another holiday gathering children were wildly opening gifts without paying much attention to who the gift was from never mind actually thanking the person for the gift. The children threw aside each gift and anxiously started tearing the wrapping from the next gift. Again the parents failed to set up appropriate rules or expectations for the gift opening.

It's critical to teach our children how to politely handle situations involving gifts. It can be helpful for parents to sit down with their kids ahead of time and discuss the importance of showing their thankfulness. Discussing and practicing what to say under various situations can help prepare children to act graciously even when receiving a gift they really aren't excited about. It can also be helpful to agree on a gentle reminder signal, like a light touch on the ear, if children forget to say thanks.

Sometimes parents express appreciation for something their children have received instead of guiding their children to saying thank you. When parents do this, children do not learn that it is their responsibility to say thank you for things they've received. Children who do not learn to show these basic courtesies are often disrespectful in a number of other ways.

The holidays provide many opportunities for children to practice expressing their appreciation. This holiday season give your children the gift of learning to express their gratitude!

Children getting lost

Yesterday evening I was walking towards a grocery store as a 3 or 4-year-old boy came out the door. He shouted “Mom!” and when nobody answered tried to go back in the store. However, he wasn’t heavy enough to activate the automatic door and was about to cry when I offered to help him find his mom. We went back into the grocery store and asked a cashier to have his mom paged. Soon his mom appeared with her cart and called out for him. He ran to be joyfully reunited with her. 

Although this story has a happy ending, it’s easy to imagine how it could turn out poorly. Although as parents we try to keep track of our children, children do get lost. What can you do to reduce the chance that your children will get lost and help them make wise choices if they do become lost?

  • Give your children responsibility for keeping track of you. They are less likely to get lost when they have this responsibility.
  • Let them know you will never leave a store without them so they should always stay in the store if they are lost.
  • Explain how to locate an adult who can help them.
  • Teach your children your first name, not just Mom or Dad
  • If you have young children, consider using a harness where you can hold onto a strap.
  • If your child is lost, there are some important steps to take in the first 24 hours
One mom created tags with important information for her children to wear in their shoes. Each tag had a picture of the family, along with names and phone numbers. She was reassured that her children had this important information with them should they need it. If you have other tips to help children handle being lost, please add your comments.

Practicing builds confidence

My son’s TaeKwonDo instructor, Master Shin, often tells the kids that if they want to be confident when it comes time to test for the next belt level, they must practice regularly. The testing involves both physical activities like kicking and punching plus mental activities like being able to recite Korean words. He reminds them that the only way they will have confidence on testing day is if they have been steadily practicing.

He’s right. As an observer on testing day it’s easy to see who has been practicing and who tried to cram for the test … especially when it comes to the Korean vocabulary!

What does this have to do with parenting? I’ve spoken to a number of parents who are upset when their teenagers start making more decisions and are struggling to make good decisions. All teens need to gain their independence and part of this is making their own decisions. If we want our teens to be wise decision makers, they need to be practicing ahead of time.

This is why it is so important to allow younger children to make decisions and experience consequences. For example, it may be easier simply to tell your 9-year-old when it’s time to go to bed, however, if you leave him in charge of when to go to bed, he will learn a lot more. Allowing children to make many decisions when they are young builds their confidence so when “teenage testing day” arrives they can handle it with confidence!

Obama’s parenting

Let’s set aside how Obama will perform as President and instead look at how Barack and Michelle handle parenting. Many noticed that in his presidential acceptance speech he included his promise to his daughters to get a puppy after the campaign was over. What did his girls think when their dad mentioned his promise to them of a puppy in his speech? Perhaps they stood a little taller knowing their dad valued his promise to them enough to mention it in his speech.

Yesterday Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha spent time handing out food at a Chicago church’s food bank. According to an article in the Seattle Times, Barack said he brought the girls to the church because “I want them to learn the importance of how fortunate they are and to make sure they're giving back.”

This week I read that the girls will have to do chores at the White House. Another excellent parenting move on the part of Michelle and Barack! Doing chores teaches children many valuable lessons and luckily Malia and Sasha won’t be missing out on these important lessons.

Barack has also “called on fathers to do more to support their children growing up, invoking his own absent dad.” He values family and especially emphasizes the responsibilities fathers have in raising their children.

Given the few glimpses of their parenting, it looks like the Obamas will serve as wonderful parenting role models. Having their family in the White House brings hope of a greater focus on the importance of parenting.

Reducing holiday stress

In December I often find myself feeling stressed out with everything I’m trying to get done. Now it happens that besides Christmas, my son, husband and a number of other family members also have birthdays in December. One year I wrote down all the extra tasks I do in December. My list included 20 additional tasks! Just looking at the list helped me realize why I sometimes feel overwhelmed at this time of year.

Writing down the list also helped me think through my choices. I certainly did not have to do every item on the list but almost all the items were things I wanted to do. I reduced my stress by eliminating any items that I didn’t really want to do and starting earlier on certain tasks.

I want the holidays to be fun, happy times for my family. By controlling my stress level, I’m able to be the kind of parent I want to be and the holidays are more fun for everyone!

The science of raising children

Temple University psychologist, Laurence Steinberg, has written a book titled The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting. The principles are based on research in child development. He explains “One of the most encouraging findings from research on children’s development is that the fundamentals of good parenting are the same regardless of whether your child is male or female, six or sixteen, an only child, a twin, or a child with multiple siblings. They are the same regardless of whether the primary parent is a mother, father, or some other caregiver. The basic principles of good parenting have been corroborated in studies done in different parts of the world, with different ethnic and racial groups, in poor as well as in rich families, and in families with divorced, separated, and married parents.”

He goes on to say “In my view, good parenting is parenting that fosters psychological adjustment – elements like honesty, empathy, self-reliance, kindness, cooperation, self-control and cheerfulness.” He provides a scientific background for his criteria in what constitutes good parenting. You can read a brief overview of the ten principles and read the book for more details.

He points out “… no doubt there will be readers who see the ten principles as little more than common sense. But although the principles certainly make sense, their use is anything but common.” There definitely is a big gap between parenting practices that make sense and being able to follow these practices day in and day out!

Never mind, I’ll do it!

As parents we can find ourselves frustrated by the lack of speed our children have in getting tasks done. When we are tired of waiting or really need something done right now, we may find ourselves saying “Never mind, I’ll do it!” It often takes less time and energy to simply do it ourselves. However, when we jump in and do something our children should be doing, we are stealing the opportunity for them to increase their self discipline and sense of responsibility.

What do our children think when they hear us say “Never mind, I’ll do it”? Perhaps thoughts like:
  • I can get out of doing work if I simply delay long enough.
  • Dad is mad at me but at least I don’t have to do it.
  • I’m kind of lazy.

Since there are no positive messages being sent in this situation, it’s something to avoid doing.

One dad described being so frustrated with his 5-year-old’s slowness in getting dressed that he finally took over and dressed his son. In his anger he scolded his son saying he was acting like a baby and shouldn’t need help getting dressed. What thoughts was this boy probably having about himself in this situation? What thoughts was he having about his dad?

Another approach this dad could have taken was to give his son the choice of getting dressed at home or taking his clothes in a bag and getting dressed at school. Allowing our children to accomplish their own tasks in their own way is a gift which will help them grow.

Parents who are hard on themselves

This was the last week of a seven week Priceless Parenting discussion group. One mom came up to me at the end and stated “This is the first parenting class I’ve taken where I haven’t left feeling like I’m a bad mom.” I was glad to hear that she felt supported as a parent instead of criticized.

Parenting is really difficult. Our children challenge us and cause us to grow in ways we never imagined before having kids. I give any parent taking a parenting class a lot of credit for working hard to be the best parent possible. These parents tend to set high expectations for themselves and are sometimes too hard on themselves when they don’t handle every parenting situation as they would ideally like to.

Another mom said she was so happy to hear in one of the lessons that it took me a couple years of practice before I was able to primarily respond with empathy rather than anger to my children’s misbehavior. She was pleased to know she didn’t have to accomplish this in just seven weeks! Changing your own behavior takes time, dedication and plenty of practice.

Taking a parenting class should increase your skills while leaving you feeling better about your parenting, not worse. While there isn’t one parenting technique that will magically work with all children, there are many approaches that work extremely well. I’ve tried to capture this information in the Priceless Parenting class so that parents can have easy access to this knowledge and enjoy parenting more.

Too tired to set limits

One mom told the story of how not setting a limit led to a painful experience. She was very tired and had just put her youngest down for a nap. However, her 4-year-old son said he wasn’t tired. Instead of resting, he wanted to work on his racing skills. His plan was to run up and down the hallway to improve his speed.

Mom decided to lay on the coach for a little rest. Her son eventually started ending his hallway run by jumping onto the coach. At first he was jumping on near her feet but with each successive run, he got a little closer to her head. She had her hands near her face for protection in case he got too close … which is exactly what happened. His knee hit her squarely on the bridge of her nose. Immediately there was blood and tremendous pain. Luckily a trip to the doctor confirmed her nose had not been broken. Yikes!

I know how it feels to be really tired and want just a few minutes of rest. It can take all the energy we have plus some to deal with our kids at these times. Sometimes it’s only in hindsight that we realize had we taken the time to set a limit earlier, the ultimate cost would have been much less.

Choosing your response

Yesterday morning my son forgot to take his trumpet along to catch the bus. He ran back to the house to get it and when he ran back to the bus stop he sadly saw the bus just pulling away. He dashed back home and asked me for a ride to school.

I knew what I was going to do … give him a ride to school. Now my choice was how I was going to be during that drive … crabby and irritated or calm and pleasant. I choose to be pleasant. I didn’t lecture or even mention any payback for my time driving him (and later in the day he gladly helped me with a couple things I needed to get done).

Thankfully this is the first time this year he’s missed the bus. However, there have been similar situations in the past where I’ve chosen to be crabby and irritated while providing a ride. Even I don’t like being in the car with myself when I’m acting that way! Although driving him to school wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time, choosing to be calm and pleasant made the situation much better for both of us.

Ranting and raving with poor results

I was visiting a company last week and overheard a woman loudly complain “I’m changing the copier paper again! Nobody else must use the copier because I’m the one always changing the paper. Everyone else here is just lazy!” A minute later she proclaimed “This is the third time I’ve said this out loud. I can’t believe how lazy everyone else is!”

She was clearly irritated. However, the way she chose to express herself was both ineffective and insulting to her co-workers. Ranting loudly and calling people lazy is not a successful formula for motivating people to change their behavior!

This reminds me of similar situations I’ve witnessed between parents and their children. Parents will sometimes complain loudly about their children’s behavior hoping that hearing this will somehow motivate their children to positively change. They are disappointed when the ranting motivates their children to leave the situation but not change the desired behavior.

In this office example, a better approach would have been for her to mention the problem during a staff meeting. She could explain that she feels frustrated because it always seems to be her responsibility to change the copier paper. She could then either ask for suggestions for resolving the problem or offer her own solution. They could choose an option, try it out and discuss it further if needed. This approach would allow her to treat her co-workers with respect while working together towards a solution.

Successfully establishing a co-parenting plan

Going through a divorce is certainly difficult and when kids are involved it is even more challenging. One key to regaining structure under the new circumstances is to document which parent has responsibility for the children on a daily basis including holidays. After going through a divorce herself and realizing the importance of a documented parenting plan, Beth Fischer, CEO of Kidlink, created a comprehensive Parenting Plan document plus a one page Parenting Time document. According to Fischer, "To establish a parenting time schedule is to regain structure for a broken family. It is the most important thing that can happen in any court case involving children."

She has kindly provided both the Parenting Plan and the Parenting Time documents in a Word format that can be downloaded and completed. The Parenting Plan includes the parenting time schedule plus a broad range of other information: judge’s name, court address, children’s names, social security numbers, schools, who has decision making authority over things like medical care, how expenses like school meals will be divided, locations/times for exchanging the children, health insurance information, income tax deduction, photographs and thumbprints of the children. These documents can help establish important boundaries for co-parents.

Teens thinking through important decisions

My daughter went to her high school’s homecoming dance a week ago. It’s a big event filled with much anticipation including how someone will be asked to the dance, who will go to dinner together, where they will eat dinner and what they will do after the dance.

I wanted my daughter to have a wonderful time and of course I also wanted her to come home safely. That’s why I was especially pleased to hear that the girls in her group got together to decide which boys they trusted to drive! Driving safely is a critical issue and I’m thankful they took it seriously.

Problems with bed-wetting

A mom recently wrote asking for suggestions regarding her 4-year-old daughter’s problem with wetting the bed. She has tried a number of things like limiting drinks after 7:00 but nothing seems to be helping.

According to Pediatrician Dr. Scott Cohen, bed wetting is very common in children up to six-years-old. He explains some of the causes and possible interventions in this video on bed wetting.

Realizing this is a common problem which most children outgrow will hopefully help ease your anxiety if your child wets the bed.

Gaining cooperation by using choices

One mom taking the Priceless Parenting class commented that she didn’t think her two-year-old son would really understand the concept of choices. However, she tried anyway with choices like “Do you want to wear your tennis shoes or your sandals?” and “Do you want to gallop or walk to the bathroom?” She was surprised that he not only understood the choices, he delighted in making the decisions!

She also reported that if she had been giving him choices, he was far more likely to be cooperative later on when he really didn’t have a choice about doing something. If she hadn’t given him enough choices, he was more likely to have a meltdown. Although it felt a little odd at first giving him so many choices, she figured that the pay off was well worth it!

What was my teenager thinking?

Teenagers can act in ways that leave parents exasperated! Teens are often impulsive or take risks without fully understanding the consequences of their behavior.

Recent research has shown that it takes about 25 years for a person’s brain to fully develop. If you’re interested in how the brain develops and the impact of this on teenage behavior, watch this video by Dr. Ken Winters:


Parents can help prepare kids for being teenagers by allowing them to have plenty of responsibility and make mistakes when they are younger. Learning to think through choices and possible consequences is an important skill for pre-teens to develop.

Helping children handle their emotions

Children will often feel more understood if we identify with their feelings. One mom explained that her 4-year-old daughter would often get upset when challenged by something like trying to tie her shoes. However, she responded really well if her mom said “You look really frustrated”. Her daughter would launch into an explanation of how she was feeling very frustrated.

Helping our children process their feelings is an important part of parenting. If you are interested in learning more you may want to read Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child written by psychology professor John Gottman. Gottman describes a coaching process that teaches children how to recognize and address their feelings.

Go back to your old way of parenting!

I’m in the middle of facilitating a seven week Priceless Parenting discussion group. Parents with older children are reporting that their children are noticing the difference and asking their parents to stop taking the parenting class! When parents change their behavior, it’s a common reaction for the children to work hard to get them to return to their old behaviors. Even if the old parenting behaviors involved lots of yelling or nagging, at least the kids knew what to expect.

For example, one mom said she had taken on a lot of responsibility that she realized her children really should have. When she started turning over responsibility for things like remembering homework assignments and bringing the correct sports equipment to school, her kids complained. Her son was especially frustrated when he had to play soccer after school without his cleats and shin guards. However, the next time there was soccer practice after school, he remembered to bring his cleats and shin guards!

Although this mom is working on guiding her son to ultimately becoming a responsible adult, he isn’t thanking her for this. Anticipating the resistance to your new parenting skills can help you stay the course even when the sailing isn't always smooth.

How many demands do preschoolers make per hour?

According to Alyson Shapiro, Ph.D., of the Gottman Institute, "Research shows that this age group places up to 50 demands on their parents' attention per hour". Parents of preschoolers need to develop new parenting skills to deal with these increased challenges. As preschoolers are busily trying out their independence and testing limits, parents need to be able to set limits in loving yet firm ways.

One mom described her frustration when her son would start splashing water out of the bathtub. She finally solved the problem by gently taking him out of the tub and drying him off whenever he started splashing water. She was amazed at how well this worked. She didn’t get angry but instead calmly told him that bath time was over. She reported that he quickly learned to not splash in the tub so he could enjoy more time playing in the water.

Whose Responsibility Is It?

Children are often capable of more responsibility than we give them. When parents take on responsibilities which their children really should be handling, they are likely to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated.

One mom complained about all the extra work she was doing now that her 3rd and 6th graders were back in school. Read about all the extra tasks she did in just one day.

What tasks are you doing for your children that they could be doing?

Parenting discussion group

Last night I had the privilege of meeting with a group of enthusiastic parents to lead a parenting discussion. We’re meeting for seven weeks and each week discussing one of the Priceless Parenting lessons. Parents are going through the lesson prior to attending the discussion so we can jump right into questions/comments and sharing parenting stories and struggles.

I was definitely inspired by the level of positive energy generated by these parents and their commitment to being excellent parents. If you are interested in forming a Priceless Parenting discussion group in your community and would like information, please email me.

What’s better a threat or a promise?

One mom was exasperated with her preschool daughter after she pitched fit for 45 minutes upon learning that her little brother was going swimming while she was at preschool. When mom was completely fed up with the whining and crying, she threatened to let her daughter sit in her room all day missing both preschool and a dance class. Her daughter stopped crying and got ready for school.

In this case, the threat got the girl to stop her tantrum. But what if she would have continued the tantrum? Does mom really want her daughter to have the choice of skipping school? Probably not.

The problem with threats is that we often make them when we are angry and therefore threaten things that we really don’t want carry through on. Instead of using a threat, mom could have used a promise when her daughter started protesting like “I’ll be happy to take you swimming next week if I don’t use up that energy listening to you whining and crying.”

The benefits of this promise over the previous threat:

  • The daughter goes to preschool regardless of whether or not she continues to whine and cry.
  • Mom can take son swimming as originally planned.
  • If the daughter stops her whining and crying, she receives the positive benefit of going swimming at a later date.

We want our children to be able to trust that we will follow through on what we say. Therefore, we want to avoid threats made in anger since those threats tend to be extreme and not well thought out. It is far better to choose promises we’d be happy to fulfill rather than angry threats that will deteriorate our relationship with our children.

Intervening when children are hitting

Many young children will try hitting their parents. One mom wrote about how her daughter started hitting her when she was 9 months old. Mom was very surprised and responded by calmly saying “no hitting, nice” and rubbing the girl’s hand gently on her face. However, she continued hitting her mom and mom resorted to sternly grabbing her hands and saying “No hit”. This also didn’t change her behavior.

She is now 18 months old and hits, scratches and pulls hair too! She does this with mom, dad and other kids. When she hits mom now, she immediately says “nice” and rubs her hand on her mom’s face. She’s learned something but not what mom had intended!

When parents respond to misbehavior in a way that doesn’t effectively set a limit, children’s misbehavior usually not only continues but escalates in an attempt to find the limit. In this case, the consequence of hearing “no hitting” and rubbing her mom’s face did not discourage the girl from hitting. Instead, it actually encouraged her to try pushing the limits even further.

It’s important for parents to respond in a kind yet firm way to discourage hitting. Read this article on stopping toddler hitting for other ideas on how to deal with this situation.

Whiny, arrogant, rude, violent – not my child!

In their article titled "Why Our Kids Are Out of Control", Child Psychologists Jacob Azerrad and Paul Chance explain why they believe American children have become increasingly whiny, arrogant, rude and violent. They site one research study that found “On playgrounds, French youngsters were aggressive toward their playmates only 1 percent of the time; American preschoolers, by contrast, were aggressive 29 percent of the time.” They suggest that child rearing practices that encourage parents to pay special attention to children when they misbehave contribute to more misbehavior.

They point out that many popular child-rearing books “repeatedly urge parents to hold, soothe, comfort and talk to a child who bites, hits, screams, throws or breaks things, ignores or refuses parental requests or otherwise behaves in obnoxious, infantile ways. Common sense and a truckload of research argue solidly against this practice.”

Feel free to share your comments on this article. If you’re interested in learning parenting skills that will actually reduce misbehavior, take the Priceless Parenting online parenting class!

Please, please, please can I have it?

The shopping center near our house has carefully placed several large glass containers filled with a variety of colorful candy right near the doors. This display is especially good at catching the eyes of young children. It’s the perfect situation for practicing parenting skills!

Yesterday as I was walking out, I noticed a grandpa with two grandchildren, a boy about 4-years-old and a girl about 2-years-old. The boy ran up to the bright candy containers and excitedly told his grandpa “Look, look!” Grandpa replied “Oh”. The boy then pleaded “Please, please, please can I have one?” Grandpa told him “No, we have treats at home.” The little boy then angrily hit the top of one of the candy containers with his fist. Grandpa made an empathetic “Ooow” sound implying “Boy, I bet that hurt and I can see you’re really mad.” Grandpa continued walking to the door holding the girl’s hand and the boy eventually stamped along behind.

What I thought but didn’t say was “Way to go Grandpa!” Grandpa set a firm limit in a loving way. His grandson is learning that begging doesn’t work very well with grandpa.

Dad of Divas reviews Priceless Parenting class

I was honored to be approached by Chris Lewis, creator of the Dad of Divas blog, to review Priceless Parenting, an online parenting class. Chris has two young daughters and works as Assistant Dean for Student Services at the University of Wisconsin – Manitowoc. He and his wife went through the lessons and tried out the new techniques.

Here are a few quotes from the review:

"The lessons are narrated by Kathy and use down to earth, real life examples which truly makes the training that much more pertinent.”

“I already find myself using the knowledge from this course with my eldest (Diva-J). One of the biggest things that I have been trying lately from the training is the idea of choices and providing choices for Diva-J to allow her the freedom to make mistakes and offer learning moments.”

"I whole-heartily encourage all of you to check out Priceless Parenting to become an even better parent!"

You can read his complete Priceless Parenting review on the Dad of Divas blog.

Missing the bus to school

There’s nothing that messes up an otherwise smooth morning like a child missing the school bus! However, it’s much less stressful if you’ve already discussed how to solve the problem with your child before it happens. The more responsibility children have in resolving the problem, the less likely the problem is to occur.

Here are some ways children could resolve the problem:
  • Walk to school. This is an ideal option if the school is close enough and the walk isn’t too dangerous.
  • Pay someone to drive to school. It’s important to establish ahead of time who may provide a ride to school and what rate will be charged.
  • Ask a parent for a ride to school and then do extra chores to reimburse the parent for the time spent driving to school and back.

Knowing how the situation will be handled reduces the stress for everyone.

Getting Dressed All by Myself, All in Due Time!

Young children take pride in doing things for themselves like getting dressed. However, sometimes their sense of urgency in completing a task doesn’t always match their parents’ sense of urgency. Parents quickly learn that encouraging their children to “hurry up” doesn’t work well.

One mom complained that she would often find her four-year-old son playing with toys or jumping on the bed instead of getting dressed in the morning. She nagged him repeatedly and sometimes even helped him get dressed just to get out the door on time. This constant battle was causing mornings to be stressful and she wanted a new approach.

In order for her son to be self-motivated to get dressed quickly in the morning, he needed to see a benefit in doing so. The benefit could be eating breakfast, being able to dress at home instead of at preschool or having time for a story. Whatever the benefit, mom should let him know ahead of time and then follow through on it.

Read the complete article for details on how mom could present each option.

Watching children shine

Last night we were at a friend’s house for dinner. I asked her 11 year old son about his favorite part of a recent trip he took with his dad to California. He told me the best part was learning to drive a boat on a small lake where they stayed. I asked him what it was like to drive a boat. He explained all the details of how to handle the boat including when to put it into neutral, forward and reverse, how close to get to rocks and how to avoid tipping the boat over!

I told him I had never driven a boat but would like to learn (true) and since I couldn’t drive a boat, I always had to ask my husband or brothers if I wanted to go out fishing (pathetic but true!). He reassured me that he thought I could learn to drive a boat and explained what I needed to do. What I really loved was how he was just shining telling me about this. He was so enthused and delighted in sharing his knowledge with me.

This week see if you can get a child to shine. Ask them about something they are interested in then listen carefully with your full attention and watch them shine!

Smoothing out the morning routine

Many children are starting back to school next week and will be adjusting to a faster morning routine in order get out of the house on time. It’s far less stressful for both parents and children when parents do not feel the need to nag their kids in the morning around things like getting dressed and brushing their teeth.

As parents, it’s important to let our children be responsible for their own morning routines. For young children, it may be helpful to have a morning routine chart they can refer to or check off as they get each thing done. You can print this morning routine chart which has both pictures and text. Some families find it helpful to have a rule about no TV or games until the morning routine tasks are done.

May your family enjoy many pleasant mornings together!

Saying what you do want

It's easy to get into the habit of telling our children what we don't want them to do instead of what we want them to do. If you read “Don’t think of a red fire truck” most people will automatically think of a red fire truck. When you want your children to change their behavior, try telling them what to do instead of what not to do.

Saying what we do not want:
  • Don’t run!
  • Stop yelling.
  • Don’t give me that look!
  • No throwing cars!

It's better to say what we do want:
  • Please walk.
  • Please speak more quietly.
  • I’ll be happy to talk to you when you are looking at me in a respectful way.
  • You can push the cars on the track.

Save money - give your child an allowance

It may seem counterintuitive to give your child an allowance in order to save money but it works! Anything extra your children would like at the store can now be their responsibility to purchase. When they ask to buy something, you can say "Sure, as long as you have enough money."

By the time children are 3 or 4 years old, most are ready for an allowance. Having their own money helps children learn about the value of money. They learn important skills like delaying purchases until they’ve saved enough money. Another benefit of an allowance is that it can end begging at the store since you can always agree to let them purchase an item if they have the money for it!

Is my child developmentally delayed?

Recently I’ve seen a number of parents posting questions about whether their child is developmentally delayed or potentially autistic. This is certainly an upsetting prospect for any parent.

It can be very helpful to know the developmental milestones a child should be reaching at different ages. Although children develop at various rates, they all should reach certain milestones in how they play, learn, speak and act. There is great information about developmental milestones on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

This site has separate pages listing developmental milestones for 3 months, 7 months, and 1 – 5 years old (click links along the righthand side). Each age lists appropriate behaviors for social, emotional, cognitive, language and movement along with behaviors that may warn of a problem. If you suspect your child may have a problem, it's important to see a pediatrician to help rule out anything serious or to develop an appropriate intervention.

Watching you and learning

I just saw Rodney Atkin's "Watching You" video last night. It's a great song with a wonderful message for parents.

Being your child’s biggest fan

Watching the Olympics has reminded me of how challenging it can be to be the parent of an athlete. My daughter’s gymnastics center brought in a sports psychologist to work with the girls on the “head game” part of gymnastics. She also spoke to the parents about our role in supporting our daughters in gymnastics.

Her clear message was that we need to be our child’s biggest fan and avoid focusing on how well she performed that particular day. She explained that we would be the most helpful to our daughters by continually cheering them on and not analyzing what went wrong with their routines. Let the coaches do the corrections and work with the girls on their technical skills. Our job is to cheer our daughters on through the good times and the bad.

Parenting mistakes

Today I read Craig Playstead's article titled "10 Big Mistakes Parents Make". The first two mistakes listed are spoiling kids and inadequate discipline. I've certainly seen plenty of examples of those mistakes along with the disastrous consequences.

What parenting mistakes make your top 10 list? It can certainly be helpful to learn from others mistakes so we can avoid making those same mistakes!

Biting toddlers

Children biting can be one of the more stressful and embarrassing behaviors for parents. Since it is a fairly common behavior for toddlers, it is wise to have thought through how to handle the situation before it arises.

It’s natural to feel angry with the child for biting. However, showing anger will focus the children’s attention on your anger instead of on their poor choice in biting. One simple, effective response is to say to the biter “uh oh, how sad you decided to bite” and then carry the youngster off to their room for a short time out. When done consistently, even young children quickly figure out that every time they bite they end up in their rooms. It took our 10 month old son only a few times to learn this and he stopped biting his sister!

The Priceless Parenting course will give you the skills to deal with toddler biting plus whatever other challenges come your way!

Asking questions, ignoring answers

There was a parent discussion around a three-year-old girl who was giving her dad the cold shoulder. One parent suggested asking her if she would like to go to the store with him but if she said no then taking her anyway so that the two could spend time together.

The problem with that approach is that by asking her “Do you want to go to the store with me?” she’s being given a choice. If the child really doesn’t have a choice about going to the store, then that question should not be asked. The child could instead be given a choice like “Would you like to fly to the car like a bird or jump to the car like a bunny?”

Whenever parents give a child a choice they need to be ready to abide by the child’s decision. Choose choices carefully!

Suffering natural consequences

Since today is Beatrix Potter’s birthday, what can we learn about parenting from her story “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”?

  • Peter’s mom was wise. She warned Peter not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden and when he went anyway, he got into plenty of trouble. It’s always good when a parent’s warning turns out to be right!
  • Like many children, although Peter had been warned, he still needed to learn from his own mistakes. Mom went on with her own tasks and did not try to prevent Peter from making a mistake nor did she come to rescue Peter.
  • Peter suffered many natural consequences like losing his shoes and jacket, becoming lost and scared, getting sick and missing out on a good dinner. Peter’s mom avoided giving him a lecture and let the natural consequences do the teaching.

Mom allowed Peter to learn a lot that day!

Telling the truth to your children

Telling your children the truth may not always be easy but it is essential if you want to maintain integrity and trust in your relationship. One mom was taking her 9-year-old daughter on a cruise with various other relatives. Knowing her daughter was somewhat afraid of going on boats, she kept the cruise a secret. When the daughter asked point blank if they were going on a cruise, the mom denied it even as they were being driven to the cruise terminal.

Obviously the daughter found out that they were indeed going on a cruise. If I had been the daughter, I would have felt angry and betrayed. How would you have felt? What would this have done to your ability to trust your mom in the future? If you want to build strong relationship with your children, honesty is part of the foundation.

Hug your kids today!

Michelle Nichols has established July 21st as "Hug Your Kids Day" in honor of her son Mark who died in 1998, at age 8 1/2 years old, from brain cancer. This special day is a wonderful reminder of how precious life is. If you are lucky enough to be able to hug your child today, do it! In fact, make it daily habit; it's one habit you'll never regret.

You can learn more about Hug Your Kids Project on Michelle's website:
Hug Your Kids Today!

Burping at the table

One parent complained that her child, Chris, often interrupted dinner with many loud, intentional burps. Her attempts at getting Chris to stop had only been mildly successful. What else could she do?

When our children’s behavior is bothering us or someone else, it’s important for us to set an enforceable limit. In this situation mom might say “Chris, we are trying to enjoy being together and eating dinner. However, your burping is bothering me. You can choose to be polite or finish your dinner on the porch.” This gives Chris control of his decision. If he burps again then mom can respond “Chris, please take your plate to the porch to finish.”

What if Chris refuses to leave? Mom might state “That certainly is a choice. However, I don’t think it’s a wise choice because there will definitely be consequences.” Mom can then let Chris know the consequence at some later time once she’s had a chance to think it through.

Vacationing with family

We recently returned from a 16 day trip to visit our families in Minnesota. We’ve made this pilgrimage at least once a year since moving to Seattle over 20 years ago.

What draws us back year after year? We go back to reconnect with our parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces, nephew, other relatives and friends. It’s a summer tradition for our family. The time we spend in Minnesota visiting is sacred. Sacred because it is a rare opportunity to connect with those we deeply love.

While we could travel to various other summer destinations, our hearts always lead us back to Minnesota.

Demonstrating compassion during a baseball game

When you see your children demonstrating compassion for others, it’s a proud parent moment. The video below shows compassion in action during a baseball game.

Showing respect using please and thank you

The most basic form of showing respect is to use “please” and “thank you”. As parents it’s our job to teach our children to say “please” and “thank you”. I’ve seen a number of incidents where parents say thank you for their children but don’t actually teach their children to say it. For example, when parents pick their children up from a play date, they might thank the host while the child does not.

When parents say thank you for their children, it sends the wrong message to the kids. Children who do not learn to show these basic courtesies are often disrespectful in a number of other ways.

For example, one of my son’s friends was very disrespectful to his mom the first time he came over to our house. In front of her he announced she was stupid because she didn’t speak English very well. He was the same boy who neglected to thank me for driving him home after playing at our house. I explained to him that I would be happy to provide a ride as long as I was thanked. He chose not to say thank you more than once and so he no longer has a ride here to play.

Parents, please teach your children this basic courtesy. Thank you!

Grieving the death of a pet

A mom explained to me that her 11-year-old daughter’s cat died suddenly one evening after getting into some poison. Her daughter was devastated. The daughter asked her mom to call some of her friends and tell them what had happened. Her mom made the calls. Her dad went out and bought a huge bag of candy and some chips for her.

When our children are hurting, it’s extremely easy to use the Personal Assistant parenting style to try to rescue them from the pain. When mom called the friends for her daughter, although she was trying to help, she also sent an unspoken message that her daughter wasn’t strong enough to make the calls herself. However, telling others the story of how a pet died is part of the healing process.

We want our children to learn that they have the inner strength to deal with difficult times. Watching our children go through painful situations is one of the hardest things we deal with as parents. It may be easier to avoid trying to rescue them if we remember that learning how to process grief is an integral part of growing up.

Parenting children with health issues

I recently spoke to a mom whose teenage son has diabetes. Parenting children is difficult and when children have serious health issues, it’s even more difficult. What do you do if your child is diabetic but doesn’t want to do the things he needs to do to keep his blood sugar under control? How do you handle this as a parent when you know there are potentially dire consequences for your child’s failure to comply?

These questions and more are discussed in this book:

The Parenting Children with Health Issues web site is also a rich resource for information.


Appreciating who they are

Last week I met a mom whose daughter is now in her mid 20’s. Recently her daughter told her that growing up she always tried to hide her struggles and failures from her mom because she felt her mom wanted her to be perfect. Her mom had never intended to give her this message and was very surprised to learn that her daughter felt this way.

Children pay great attention to what their parents focus on. If they hear a lot of praise for their accomplishments but not a lot of appreciation for being themselves, they may conclude that it’s their achievements that matter most.

On the other hand, if they hear “I love you” every day along with comments about their character, they may realize it’s who they are not what they do that matters most.

     “You were really generous to share that with your sister.”
     “You are great at cheering your teammates on!”
     “Your smile always brightens up my day.”
     “I love your sense of humor!”

Take time today to think about characteristics you admire in your children and then tell your kids.

Teens trying to become pregnant

I was saddened to read that Gloucester High School in Massachusetts had a record number of 17 pregnant teens this year. Apparently this happened after a number of them, all 16 and younger, made a pact to get pregnant. According to the article some girls expressed that they felt their parents would be fine with it and would help them out.

My daughter’s Seattle high school newspaper’s recent cover story was on three teens who had their babies while at that school. Each story spoke about how wonderful it was to have a baby and how much the family pitched in to help. There was no mention of any downsides of having a baby while still being a teen.

It appears that many teens are not getting messages from their parents about the serious consequences of teenage pregnancy. The parents of pregnant teens also pay a heavy price. The U.S. Census 2000 figures show that 2.4 million grandparents had primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren.

This data motivates me to talk to my two teenagers about sexuality and the incredible responsibility involved in having a baby. Parents, if we want to enjoy our grandchildren some day but do not want to be responsible for raising them, we need to talk to our teens about this. There are many books which provide wonderful suggestions about talking to kids about sexuality and associated responsibilities. Let the conversations begin!

Avoiding Power Struggles

It's easy to get into power struggles or arguments with your children. However, once you learn what triggers power struggles, you can avoid them.

The article "Avoiding Power Struggles with Your Children" provides some concrete examples of what to say in order to stay out of arguments. Try it out this week and let me know how it works for you!

Making big internet mistakes

It’s important for our children to be able to make mistakes so they can learn from those mistakes. However, the internet enables children to easily make serious mistakes that can follow them around for many years. In this situation, we are wise to discuss the mistakes other people have made so hopefully our children will learn from those mistakes instead of their own.

One mistake we don’t want our kids to make is to post text, pictures or videos that they wouldn’t want everyone to see. The potential consequences were highlighted last week in an article published by The Seattle Times titled “Teens sending nude photos via cell phones”.

Often people electronically send messages or pictures that they think will only be seen by one or two people. However, anything digital is easy to forward or have fall in the wrong hands. It’s critical to teach our children to think hard before pressing send!

New book for expecting fathers

Expecting fathers now have their own guide written by advice columnist and dad, Harlan Cohen. He covers topics from how to make pregnancy a joyous time to tips for dealing with the new baby. This may be the perfect Father's Day gift for that dad-to-be!

Divorcing parents - advice from a divorced dad

I’ve heard people compare going through a divorce to the turbulence of white water rafting. Negotiating the rapids caused by divorce is made even more challenging when children are involved.

Len Stauffenger is a dad who has been through a divorce, remarried and successfully raised his children. He recently wrote a book, “Getting over It! Wisdom for Divorced Parents”, to help others in similar situations.

This book provides guidance to parents who are going through a divorce and are concerned about how their children will be affected.

Stressed over birthday parties?

A parent lead group has created a web site called Birthdays Without Pressure. The purpose of the site is to raise awareness of the problem of out-of-control birthday parties and to offer alternatives.

Birthdays Without Pressure

The way we celebrate our children’s birthdays teaches them a lot about our values. This web site is a great resource for considering less stressful birthday party options.

Parenting: The Most Important Job You’ll Ever Have

I really believe that parenting is the most important job we as parents will ever have. I was fortunate to be interviewed on this topic on the Giving Zone radio show. You can listen to the radio show by clicking the link below:

Giving Zone radio interview

Hear parenting stories and find out what inspired me to create an online parenting class to share these critical parenting skills.

“I’m bored.”

Summer vacation is almost here and parents are likely to hear their children sometime complaining “I’m bored.”

Whose problem is this? If you’re bored then it’s your problem. However, if your children are bored then it’s their problem. Figuring out how to spend free time is an important skill for children to learn. You can let your child own the problem by responding “What are you going to do about it?”

Another approach is to use empathy along with suggestions for chores that would help the family. You might say “How sad. Well, I sure could use your help pulling weeds or cleaning the bathrooms. Which would you like to do?”

It will be fun to see how they solve their problem of being bored!

A dying dad's message to his kids

Randy Pausch, a professor from Carnegie Mellon, is dying from pancreatic cancer. On September 18, 2007 he gave a last lecture titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" (watch it on YouTube). It's an incredibly moving and inspiring presentation filled with laughter. It's a gift he created for his three young children to cherish when they are older. As you watch this video, think about the legacy you want to leave for your own children.

He's also written a book titled The Last Lecture.

Keeping your children safe

May 25th is Missing Children's Day. It is a day set aside to raise awareness around child safety. According to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are over 2,000 children reported missing each day in the United States. To help prevent these tragedies, it's important for parents to teach their children how to be safe.

Rules for older children include:

1. Don’t go out alone.
2. Always tell an adult where you’re going.
3. It’s your body – reject unwanted and inappropriate attention.
4. Say no if you feel threatened and tell a trusted adult.

You can read more about these rules and real stories which emphasize the importance of the rules. There are many free resources available to help parents like the 16 page booklet, Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents.

Spend some time today teaching your children about safety!

Are you over-controlling your children?

It’s very easy for parents to try to control their children in order to ensure their children do what’s best: eat the right food, do all their homework, follow the rules, participate in sports every season and hang out with the right friends. In an attempt to protect their children, parents often try to prevent their children from making mistakes. However, this also prevents the children from becoming self-sufficient and confident.

What are some signs that you might be over-controlling your children?
  • Lots of power struggles with your children
  • Children acting rebellious
  • Children lacking self-confidence
  • Teens looking to you for help in making most of their decisions

One mom complained that her teens still turned to her for permission on nearly all their decisions. Looking back she said she realized she had made nearly all of the decisions for them but at the time didn’t realize the impact it was having on her kids.

A key goal for children is to learn the skills they need to be independent and self-sufficient. What are you doing to help your child learn to be self-confident, weigh consequences and make choices? If you want ideas, check out the Priceless Parenting course!

Talking about the birds and the bees

One more thing on your to-do list as a parent … talk to your kids about relationships, love and sex! Did you know that the conversation should be started by age five and that by age seven children should have a basic understanding about the facts of reproduction? Children with this information are less likely to be the victims of sexual abuse.

When you start the dialog when children are young, it’s easier to continue it as they grow older. If you’re not sure what to say or how to approach the subject, there are many excellent books on sexuality for all age groups.

This is the perfect time to talk to your kids since May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention month. Help your children get the information they need to make wise decisions.

Avoiding power struggles around eating

I overheard one 9 year old girl ask her dad “Why are you the boss of what I eat?” Her dad was carefully monitoring how much his daughter was eating and encouraging her to eat more in order to earn dessert.

This type of every day battle takes a toll on relationships plus makes meal time unpleasant. It is the parent’s job to provide healthy food and to teach children why their bodies need healthy food. However, it is the children’s job to decide what to eat and how much to eat. This is an essential skill for all children to develop.

If you want to set limits around food, tell the children what you are going to do instead of what they have to do. For example:

“I’ll be serving dinner until 6:30.”
“I’ll be giving dessert to everyone who has finished their vegetables.”
“We’ll be leaving the restaurant in 5 minutes. Eat enough to keep you going until breakfast.”

Dealing with teasing, bullying and putdowns

It can be really hard for parents when they learn their child is dealing with teasing, bullying or putdowns at school. Ideally parents will teach children how to handle themselves in a way that deals with the teasing and makes it less likely to happen in the future.

There are a number of ways to respond to teasing that work well, for example, using a short response like "interesting point". There are also a number of ways that typically increase the teasing like tattling to the teacher or getting upset.

I recently read the book "Words Will Never Hurt Me". The author does an excellent job describing practical approaches that work well in dealing with teasing.

Powerful 1-2 word reminders

Yesterday I saw two young boys goofing around in a grocery store parking lot, not paying attention to the traffic around them. Their dad said “parking lot”. That’s all he said. The boys quickly stopped messing around and paid attention to where they were.

One or two word reminders can be effective while saving you from accidentally launching into a mini-lecture (“How many times do I have to remind you to be careful in parking lots!? There are cars ...”).

Another mom told me that when her daughter forgot to put her dirty dishes in the dishwasher after dinner she would just say “plate” and walk away. She said using a one word reminder was effective and prevented her from ranting at her daughter.

Words to avoid: "I told you so"

Last week I saw a young boy walking home with his mother from school. He tripped on the bottom of his pants, fell, skinned his knee and burst into tears. His mother reminded him that she had told him this might happen if he wore those pants.

It would have been so much better had she just used empathy to comfort him. Had she instead said something like "Oh how sad. That really hurt.", she would have been on the same side of the problem as her son with his bad decision on the other side.

Nobody likes hearing "I told you so". It can be sometimes feel good to say it but it is far better for your relationship with that other person if you avoid saying it.

Mother's Day inspiration

Please join me on Sunday May 11th, 2008 as I am the featured Inspirational Luminary on InspireMeToday.com. Inspire Me Today™ is a website that provides the Best of the Best Inspiration Daily™- each day from a different person. Enjoy a 10-minute podcast, a 30-minute audio feature, a personal story or just my quote of the day. It's easy. Just click on the image below and be inspired! Thanks for joining me!


What makes time-outs work or fail?

If you are finding that time-outs are not working well, see if you have these items covered:

1. Provide a rich, nurturing "time-in" environment (so that the child wants to be there)

2. When you ask your child to take a time-out, make the request unemotionally, using few words.

3. Do not give children attention while they are in time-out.

4. Allow children to leave time-out once they have quieted themselves and feel they are ready to rejoin the family.

5. Be consistent in how time-outs are given.

For more detailed information, please read the article "What Makes Time-Out Work (and Fail)?".

Tracking children’s grades online

Many schools are now providing the ability to track student’s grades online through programs like ParentCONNECT or Parent Assistant. Although our school does provide the ability to track our kid's grades online, I have never used it.

I've always given my children the expectation that they are responsible for their school work. If I need to see something, then it is up to them to show me. This sends them the message that I trust them and I’m not worrying about their homework so they’d better be the ones concerned about it! Ultimately, I want my children to choose to try their hardest in school because it is in their own best interest.

What are your thoughts on this?

Meet me on May 4th - Seattle Center

I'm participating in the Northwest Enterprising Mom's Spring Event at the Seattle Center on Sunday May 4th 11:00 - 3:00. The event takes place in the Exhibition Hall and I'd love to meet you if you are in the area. I'll have a table at the event and I'll also be giving a talk from 2:00 - 2:30 on "Taking the Stress Out of Parenting".

Better options than spanking

April 30th is SpankOut Day USA. "SpankOut Day USA" was initiated in 1998 to give widespread attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior.

While it is very important for parents to set limits with their children, it should be done in a way that helps children learn from their mistakes without hitting or spanking. Parents who want to learn effective ways to set limits with their kids and respond to misbehavior without resorting spanking can now take an online parenting class for ages 5 and under .

It is time for all children to be treated with respect and dignity, even when they’ve made a mistake.

Just say yes!

Toddlers often learn "no" as one of their first words as this video demonstrates: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_utET7TCMQ

You will get a more positive response from your children if you can turn a "no" into a "yes". You can do this by stating the circumstances under which the request will be granted. Below are some examples of saying both no and yes to a request.

"Can I have a cookie?"

  • "No, it’s almost dinner time."

  • "Yes, after dinner you can have a cookie."

"Can we get a dog?"

  • "No, we’re not getting a dog."

  • "Yes, when you move out and have your own house, you can have a dog."

"Can I go over to Sam’s house?"

  • "No, you need to get your homework done."

  • "Yes, feel free to go to Sam’s house just as soon as your homework is done."

Look for opportunities to say yes rather than no to your child this week!

Pitching a fit in the store

This European commercial does a great job showing the type of behavior all parents dread. When dad doesn't jump in to set limits with his son, things quickly escalate. What would you have done differently in this situation?


Welcome to the Priceless Parenting blog! I’ll be sharing real-life parenting challenges along with ideas for dealing with those challenges. I hope you will participate by offering your ideas/comments or sending me parenting challenges that you would like me to address (Kathy.Slattengren @ PricelessParenting.com).

If you are interested in learning to set limits with your children and effectively deal with misbehavior without hitting or yelling, you can take the Priceless Parenting course ( http://www.PricelessParenting.com ). This online parenting class takes 7-8 hours to complete plus a couple hours of homework/practice. It can be done completely in the comfort of your home.

Fostering Growth using the Mentoring Parenting Style

What is your normal parenting style?  Do you give your kids orders?  Do you do a lot of things for them that they are capable of doing thems...