Parenting A Child With An Eye Towards Adulthood



My dar­ling daugh­ter sent me an arti­cle about par­ent­ing. She encour­aged me to write a sim­i­lar one. I read it and loved it. The author is a writer by pro­fes­sion and clearly has a gift. I wish I could write so well. The author admits that she is not a par­ent­ing expert but I was struck with how she zeroed in on some gems of wis­dom, most impor­tantly, the idea of par­ent­ing now for the adult you want in the future. She hinted at some strate­gies to accom­plish that goal. For instance, lov­ing our chil­dren but not to the point that you make excuses for bad behav­ior elud­ing to the ben­e­fit of let­ting chil­dren fail so they become more respon­si­ble. Another vari­able in par­ent­ing is the nat­ural instinct to see our chil­dren as exten­sions of our­selves. This is a deep, deep issue and rec­og­niz­ing that ten­dency in our­selves is huge.

In my book, “Strengthen Your Parenting Muscle,” I go into much more detail and pro­vide many strate­gies to sup­port fam­i­lies. It is avail­able on Amazon and is both worth­while as well as a quick read.


Please Stop Whining!


Whining (verb)

To give or make a long, high-pitched com­plain­ing cry or sound.

Complain in a fee­ble or petu­lant way.

Please Stop Whining!

If you are a par­ent there is no need to read the def­i­n­i­tion of whin­ing. It is some­thing chil­dren do nat­u­rally and par­ents seem to just get used to…. and yes, we often get annoyed or VERY annoyed. Some par­ents learn to deal with this and almost tune out the sound. Others find that it intol­er­a­ble and can lose their tem­per and see things spi­ral down­ward.  

Learning to con­trol our reac­tion is not the only way to go. If your chil­dren learn to wine it can become an issue for them as teach­ers and friends may also find it an irri­tant. Whining becomes an impor­tant issue if it causes us, as par­ents, to behave in a less than accept­able way.


Recognizing the need to decrease whin­ing is the first step and it is a giant step. This arti­cle will help you to under­stand how whin­ing orig­i­nates and will pro­vide spe­cific steps to dimin­ish it. It will make a huge dif­fer­ence in your lives.


1.       Evaluate.  Is there any­thing spe­cific that brings out the whiner in your child? Take notes about the time of the day, their phys­i­cal and emo­tional state and the kinds of things they whine about. Don’t just take men­tal notes, write it down. You may gain a great deal of insight.

2.       Understand.  What does whin­ing accom­plish?  It is usu­ally a learned behav­ior from a child that is used to hav­ing to beg r make repeated requests for what they want. They are feel­ing pow­er­less and defeated and there­fore resort to whin­ing. Pretty soon it can become their main way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing or request­ing.

3.       Model and prac­tice.  Your child is prob­a­bly unaware of their whin­ing and will require time to replace this behav­ior. Ask your child to prac­tice ask­ing for things in a reg­u­lar voice and then when whin­ing does occur, ask them to use that reg­u­lar voice.

4.       Praise. Catch them speak­ing in a non-whin­ing voice and praise them by say­ing how nice and sweet their voice sounds. Be care­ful not to give a “back handed com­pli­ment,” by com­par­ing it to the neg­a­tive.

5.       Awareness of YOUR behav­ior. Are you part of the prob­lem or solu­tion?

Child: They get frus­trated and then they start to whine.

 Adult: Be respon­sive to their frus­tra­tion level and inter­vene before they start to whine. If they are ask­ing you for some­thing be aware of a ten­dency to ignore and only respond when they whine. Respond ear­lier, even if it is to say I heard you and you need to wait.

Child: Whines when they talk to you.

Adult: You ignore the whin­ing and respond to them. If they whine ask them to please repeat their mes­sage in their reg­u­lar voice.


Child: Whines when they talk to you.

Adult: Gets angry.  A child that can make a grown up lose con­trol has learned a pow­er­ful tool. React calmly and your child will respond in kind.


Congratulations for read­ing this. It shows that you want to ele­vate your par­ent­ing skills. Stick with it and you will see the results you want. Remember, revers­ing bad habits may be a lot of work in the begin­ning but care­ful atten­tion to these areas has big pay­offs in the end. Teachers and other adults will have a more pos­i­tive view of your child if they com­mu­ni­cate well. Confidence is boosted and so is per­for­mance. It’s HUGE and there­fore well worth your time.






Nutrition NOW


Nutrition con­tin­ues to be a hot topic. The recent expose in The New York Times Magazine points out the addic­tive and harm­ful prop­er­ties of con­ve­nience food in a way that demands our atten­tion.
The food we give our chil­dren can pro­vide needed energy, and nutri­tion. This is indeed the core of a child’s phys­i­cal, and to a degree emo­tional, infra­struc­ture. At this point in time, it seems almost indis­putable that con­ve­nience foods con­tribute to obe­sity, ADD/ADHD, Celiac dis­ease and more. To know­ingly con­tinue to reg­u­larly feed our chil­dren processed food is sim­ply crazy. Gogurt is not healthy yogurt.  Fruit rollups are not fruit. Frozen and pack­aged foods that are not care­fully selected could have an immense amount of sodium and sugar. Not only are these prod­ucts harm­ful but are man­u­fac­tured specif­i­cally to lead a per­son to eat more than they ordi­nar­ily would. A child’s metab­o­lism becomes com­pro­mised. Studies show that par­ents are aware of the issues but are unable to change their behav­ior due to time restraints and habits.

I have included links to two arti­cles that are a must read. The New York Times Magazine arti­cle is not an easy read. It is the scari­est piece on nutri­tion I have ever read and demon­strates how the food indus­try preys on our youngest and most eas­ily manip­u­lated to line their pock­ets with no con­cern for the con­se­quences.  

I implore par­ents to focus on their child’s nutri­tion in a way that demon­strates its’ impor­tance and stop fool­ing them­selves as to the dan­gers of poor nutri­tion. I know it will take a lot of work but there is no doubt that it is an essen­tial part of good par­ent­ing.

It is truly the infra­struc­ture of your child’s entire devel­op­ment.





Show Faith and Increase Independence

Another gem from Jane Nelson.…my hero 🙂 

One of the biggest mis­takes some par­ents and teach­ers make, when they decide to do Positive Discipline, is becom­ing too per­mis­sive because they don’t want to be puni­tive. Some mis­tak­enly believe they are being kind when they res­cue their chil­dren, and pro­tect them from all dis­ap­point­ment. This is not being kind; it is being per­mis­sive. Being kind means to be respect­ful of the child and of your­self. It is not respect­ful to pam­per chil­dren. It is not respect­ful to res­cue them from every dis­ap­point­ment so they don’t have the oppor­tu­nity to develop their dis­ap­point­ment mus­cles. It is respect­ful to val­i­date their feel­ings, “I can see that you are dis­ap­pointed (or angry, or upset, etc.).” Then it is respect­ful to have faith in chil­dren that they can sur­vive dis­ap­point­ment and develop a sense of capa­bil­ity in the process.

Have faith in chil­dren to han­dle their own prob­lems. (Offer sup­port through val­i­dat­ing feel­ings or giv­ing a hug, but not by res­cu­ing or fix­ing.)


It is also impor­tant to take time for train­ing. Adults often expect chil­dren to accom­plish tasks for which there has not been ade­quate train­ing. This is more typ­i­cal in homes than in schools. Parents may expect chil­dren to clean their rooms, but never teach them how. Children go into their messy rooms and feel over­whelmed. It may be help­ful to clean the room with your chil­dren until they have more train­ing. This is also a great way to cre­ate con­nec­tion.


Be sure and use “Curiosity Questions.” (We will be cov­er­ing curios­ity ques­tions in a later blog post.) Instead of telling chil­dren what to do, ask curios­ity ques­tions. “Where do your dirty clothes go?” “What do we need to do before we can vac­uum the floor?” Children are great prob­lem solvers when we give them a chance.


Patience is prob­a­bly the most dif­fi­cult part of show­ing faith in our chil­dren. It is almost always more expe­di­ent to solve prob­lems for our chil­dren. This is par­tic­u­larly true when we are under time pres­sures.   In these cases we can take time later to explore solu­tions for the future. Ask your chil­dren exploratory ques­tions. “What hap­pened?” “What caused it to hap­pen?” “What did you learn?” “What can you do in the future?”

When time pres­sures are not an issue, prac­tice hav­ing patience with your chil­dren. Allow them to prob­lem solve on their own. Allow them to feel a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ment. Allow them to work through their feel­ings. They will need these skills in the future.

It may help to remem­ber that who your chil­dren are today, is not who they will be for­ever. Someday they will be nag­ging their own chil­dren to put their dishes in the sink and to clean their rooms.  Remember that exam­ple is the best teacher. Model what you want for your chil­dren, take time for train­ing so they learn skills, have reg­u­lar fam­ily meet­ings, and then have lots of faith in them to become the best they can be.


Short Term Goals

Short term over long term goals has no place in fam­i­lies or copo­ra­tions. 

I was recently struck by a let­ter to the New York Times edi­tor in the paper on September 2, 2012.

The sim­i­lar­ity exists in the focus on short term gains.

Too often in schools and homes chil­dren are dri­ven by strate­gies that impact the here and now but lose sight of the big­ger pic­ture.

If you want your stu­dent to do well aca­d­e­m­i­cally they have to be encour­aged to be curi­ous, moti­vated by sub­jects that inter­est them, be ade­quately rested and fed and feel con­fi­dent in the  learn­ing process.

If your sons and daugh­ters are to grow up to be inde­pen­dent, respon­si­ble, happy and suc­cess­ful, par­ents must remem­ber to do less when a child can do more and demon­strate that sat­is­fac­tion and hap­pi­ness are truly derived from things money can­not buy.

To the Editor:

There was a time in the not so dis­tant past when many, if not most, pub­licly held cor­po­ra­tions, includ­ing the one for which I worked, embraced in their mis­sion state­ments, codes of con­duct and sim­i­lar pro­nounce­ments a respon­si­bil­ity to serve mul­ti­ple stake­hold­ers: their stock­hold­ers, of course, but also their employ­ees as well as cus­tomers, sup­pli­ers and the com­mu­nity in which they oper­ated. Today, all too many com­pa­nies, in deed and often in word, artic­u­late a sin­gle-minded oblig­a­tion to serve only their investors by focus­ing exclu­sively on prof­itabil­ity.

As a result, we have wit­nessed cor­po­rate down­siz­ings and out­sourc­ing of jobs; restruc­tur­ing of pen­sion plans or their com­plete ter­mi­na­tion; reduc­tions in health care ben­e­fits; and wage stag­na­tion in spite of increased pro­duc­tiv­ity. Domestic sup­pli­ers have been squeezed or, more often, replaced by cheap for­eign sources. Customers seek­ing ser­vice are con­fronted with auto­mated answer­ing machines and for­eign call cen­ters. Environmental con­cerns are viewed as obsta­cles to prof­itabil­ity.

At the same time, the senior man­agers of these enter­prises have seen their com­pen­sa­tion grow expo­nen­tially as a reward for their per­ceived con­tri­bu­tions to the bot­tom line.

Sadly, what these cor­po­ra­tions fail to appre­ci­ate is how their obses­sion with the bot­tom line is shrink­ing their mar­kets, both domes­tic and for­eign. The large num­ber of peo­ple unem­ployed, under­em­ployed, afraid of los­ing their jobs or with­out the means to pay all their bills per­pet­u­ates the present world­wide eco­nomic cri­sis.

Add to this the unwill­ing­ness of busi­nesses to pay their fair share of taxes to sup­port edu­ca­tion, health care and the infra­struc­ture that is crit­i­cal to their suc­cess. In the end, these self-serv­ing prac­tices endan­ger the very prof­itabil­ity their prac­ti­tion­ers seek to enhance.

We need to return to the ear­lier model of the cor­po­ra­tion as a good cit­i­zen. Doing so can help ensure the long-term via­bil­ity of our free enter­prise sys­tem.

Port Washington, N.Y., Aug. 27, 2012


How We Encourage Arguing


How We Encourage Arguing

Ever see par­ents going back and forth with their chil­dren about the impor­tance of some­thing?

The par­ent comes up with all sorts of log­i­cal rea­sons why the child should do some­thing and the child responds with their own rea­sons why they don’t want to. Very often and clearly depend­ing on the age, the child’s ONLY rea­son is:

 I     DON’T     WANT TO

which is usu­ally accom­pa­nied by a well refined whine and those hard to resist sad eyes.

The other day a par­ent was telling me how their child wasn’t so into being tutored any­more, yet her tutor­ing was super impor­tant as she almost had to repeat a grade and was just reach­ing grade level per­for­mance. Giving up the tutor­ing was not an option.  The mom, try­ing to change her daughter’s mind, kept on point­ing out the impor­tance of read­ing and how much she will love get­ting lost in books. The daugh­ter had her own set of argu­ments which included……I don’t want to. The dance con­tin­ued. The mom, when asked if she were will­ing to stop the ses­sions, said no. I explained that by respond­ing to her daughter’s protests she was indi­cat­ing a will­ing­ness to change her mind.  I advised her to stop engag­ing in the argu­ment and repeat clearly and firmly, I love you but the answer is no.

I, as an adult had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence when I was forced to stop my own argu­ing and coop­er­ate. We were stand­ing in line for a play at Delacourte Theater in Central Park. The tick­ets are free and the rules are clear. Get in line, friends may not join you, do not leave the park. It is not unusual for peo­ple to begin lin­ing up for these won­der­ful free per­for­mances as early as 5 AM.

My friend and I got in line at 6:35 AM and were fairly close to the front. At 9:30 AM we took a walk in the park, leav­ing our chairs and bags to be watched by the peo­ple in front of us. Upon our return we were told that the employ­ees guard­ing the line were ask­ing where we were. About an hour later they returned and ques­tioned us about our dis­ap­pear­ance. When I finally asked what they were get­ting at, I was told that we would have to move to the end of what was now a very long line. As ridicu­lous as this was, they made it clear that this ver­dict was not chang­ing. Once I real­ized that my fate was sealed I did what they asked. Was I angry? Sure. But I stopped argu­ing. The deliv­ery of their deci­sion, the tone of their voice and their body lan­guage, sent the mes­sage that noth­ing I could say would change their mind. By the way, we sucked up our indig­na­tion, were relieved that we still got tick­ets and saw an incred­i­ble show later that evening.

Discussing pros and cons with your chil­dren are part of the daily con­ver­sa­tions that teach val­ues and encour­age inde­pen­dence. They are valu­able. But when a par­ent makes a deci­sion the child will ben­e­fit from the clar­ity that no amount of argu­ing is going to change the sit­u­a­tion. The child can move on with respect for their parent’s author­ity. Once the pout­ing if over a more pleas­ant con­ver­sa­tion can be enjoyed.



Increase Responsibility Using A Checklist

There’s A Checklist For That

Everyday rou­tines can be exhaust­ing.

You know the kids are going to:
Ignore you
Put up a fuss
Do it slowly or poorly

You are tired of get­ting aggra­vated so you:
Give up and do it your­self
Or learn to let them do it it their own way

Many sit­u­a­tions fall into this dance of par­ent and child:
Getting ready for school
Coming home from school
Helping with chores
Cleaning room

Though there are many things that we try to ana­lyze and per­fect, for many rea­sons par­ents often resign to the stan­dard
prac­tices that come nat­u­rally but may not be effec­tive. When we take the time to eval­u­ate we can make big changes. A check­list, com­bined with bet­ter under­stand­ing can pro­vide har­mony in the home and more respon­si­ble chil­dren.

Sarah was a mom of 3 dar­ling girls ages 2, 4 and 6.
She fre­quently com­plained that the girls ganged up on her and it was espe­cially ter­ri­ble at bed­time.
Gymnastics in the bed­room includ­ing jump­ing on bed and using the win­dow sill as a bal­ance beam was their rou­tine. Once in bed the party con­tin­ued, start­ing with soft whis­pers and soon esca­lat­ing into wild laugher. Often the girls would sneak out of bed and get mas­sive amounts of food with­out the par­ents hav­ing a clue, only to find the remains under the bed the fol­low­ing day.

1- Examine and trou­ble shoot
What might be inter­fer­ing with your intended goal?
      When we exam­ined the sit­u­a­tion we saw that the girls had got­ten into a rou­tine that needed to be stopped in order to see change. The 6 year old, deprived of night time rest had resorted to tak­ing a long nap in school which made it harder for her to be tired at night.

The plan was to cre­ate a new look to bed­time. The fam­ily, includ­ing the girls and I made a check­list of what needed to hap­pen once the bed­time rou­tine was ini­ti­ated. Since one of the prob­lems was the amount of time mom spent talk­ing and read­ing at
bed­time we added a time com­po­nent so cud­dling and read­ing was rea­son­able. Talking would be saved for day­light hours, at least till things fell into place. I took pic­tures of them to fur­ther invite buy in. The neces­sity of sleep was explained. They knew that most flu­ids would stop after 6:00 and the restroom would be used prior to bed­time so access to the bath­room was not going to be granted. They also knew.…..and this was super impor­tant.…. that mom would be sta­tioned out­side their door and would know if there was any talk­ing or whis­per­ing.
2- Create a check­list
Think about what it would look like if your child inde­pen­dently, or close toin­de­pen­dently, began and fin­ished the cho­sen rou­tine. A bare bones approach is just as effec­tive as one that gives lots of details. Logic and the par­tic­u­lars of your sit­u­a­tion will guide your deci­sion. Do a run through to check for accu­racy.
• Let your child be involved with the sequence of events
• Have your child pose for pic­tures for each step. iPads make insert­ing pics very easy
exam­ple for Going to Sleep:
Take a bath
Put on paja­mas
Eat a snack
Brush teeth
Story time:15 min­utes
Cuddle time: 5 min­utes each
Close eyes, think of some­thing nice

The reward for a suc­cess­ful bed­time would be a prize that they had already picked out.
After many suc­cess­ful bed­times the girls tran­si­tioned to a star chart which trans­lated to a fun fam­ily trip. Now it’s just their rou­tine and rewards are unnec­es­sary.

The day we began mom and dad made sure the girls were tired out from the day. The check­list was brought out and the girls coop­er­ated. Once they got into bed the lights in the entire apart­ment were turned off.
Mom made sure they could clearly see her right out­side the room tak­ing away the temp­ta­tion of get­ting out of bed to assess the sit­u­a­tion.
They had rel­a­tively few issues and after only one bath­room request (which was ignored) and one warn­ing about whis­pers, they fell asleep
within min­utes.
Mom kept expect­ing the drama to start but the evening was unevent­ful, with the excep­tion of the silent cheers of a relieved mom and dad.

As the days unfolded the girls con­tin­ued to embrace this new rou­tine. The effect of har­mony at bed­time had pos­i­tive effects in the day­time as well includ­ing increased respect and coop­er­a­tion. School time naps ended and the teacher reported bet­ter focus.
I know that this sit­u­a­tion was extreme but the same process can be applied to more mild issues.
A mom I worked with was mis­er­able about how her child kept com­ing home from school and dropped their stuff all over.
She said she’s tried every­thing but a con­ver­sa­tion with her child which resulted in a jointly cre­ated check­list solved the prob­lem.


The Vaccine Debate


I feel com­pelled to write this.

My hus­band and I have great respect for our nat­u­ra­p­ath. His name is David Getoff and he has a very extreme atti­tude about health. He often appears a bit extreme, but most of the time his opin­ions become well accepted.

The first time I met him was 28 years ago when he was on his way to Colorado. He was of the opin­ion that the mer­cury in his fill­ings were dam­ag­ing to his health and there was a den­tist who would remove them. This was a painful and expen­sive process but he was deter­mined to get it done. Of course now we all know to avoid ingest­ing mer­cury.

He is also against chemo ther­apy, mam­mo­grams, soy by-prod­ucts, genet­i­cally man­u­fac­tured food, flour, sugar and vac­cines.

Recently I crossed paths with a mom who refused to give her 4 year old most of the vac­cines that are rou­tinely given. She is con­cerned about the bom­bard­ment of chem­i­cals on a young child’s brain and men­tioned that it has been linked to SIDS.

Since I will be a grandma soon I paid atten­tion and did some research. My con­clu­sion was to talk to my son and daugh­ter-in-law and sug­gest they look into it. My hus­band and I would be happy to bring our grand­child to the doc­tor more fre­quently in order to spread out the shots and there­fore les­son the neg­a­tive impact.

A week later we received sad news. My daughter-in-law’s niece had died from SIDS. She was 4 months old. I looked up the sched­ule for vac­ci­na­tions and saw that the sec­ond round was at 4 months. Last night  I had a chance to talk with my son about my con­cern. He looked at me with dis­be­lief. He told me that the lit­tle girl had been vac­ci­nated the day before she died.

please, please, do your research.


Plan For Misbehaving


Children will mis­be­have and par­ents will give warn­ing, after warn­ing , after warn­ing. If this sounds too famil­iar, you are not alone. Parenting is non­stop but if we put effort into prepar­ing for mis­be­hav­ior and imple­ment the plan con­sis­tently we can relax more and put aside the headache rem­edy.

When we make a plan that includes our children’s input we gain way more than peace of mind. Our chil­dren become more respon­si­ble, respect­ful and resilient.

The fol­low­ing gem from the beloved Jane Nelson illus­trates how mak­ing a plan can gain the coop­er­a­tion of our chil­dren.

1. make a plan

2. imple­ment the plan con­sis­tently

3. ignore atten­tion get­ting behav­ior that devi­ates from the plan



The Jones fam­ily is very excited. They have just fin­ished plan­ning a day at the beach. Seven-year-old Jason and five-year-old Jenny have promised that they won’t fight. Mr. Jones, has warned, “If you do, we’ll turn around and come back.” “We won’t, we won’t,” promise Jason and Jenny again.

The Jones fam­ily haven’t gone two miles when a loud wail is heard from the back seat, “Jason hit me.”

Mrs. Jones says, “What did we tell you kids about fight­ing?”

Jason defends him­self, “Well, she touched me.”

Mr. Jones threat­ens, “You two had bet­ter cut it out, or we are going home.”

The chil­dren cry out it uni­son, “Nooooooo! We’ll be good.”

And they are — for about ten min­utes. Then, another wail is heard, “He took my red crayon.”

Jason replies, “Well she was hog­ging it. It’s my turn.”

Mr. Jones says, “Do you want me to turn around and go home?”

Nooooooo. We’ll be good.”


All this mis­be­hav­ing should be no sur­prise. It hap­pens rou­tinely but always met with an “I don’t know what to do with them” response. 

And so the story goes. Throughout the day Jason and Jenny fight, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones make threats. At the end of the day, Mr. and Mrs. Jones are angry and threaten never to take the kids any­where again. Jason and Jenny feel bad that they have made their par­ents so mis­er­able.  They are begin­ning to believe they really are bad kids—and they keep liv­ing up to their rep­u­ta­tion.

Now let’s visit the Smith fam­ily. They have just planned their trip to the zoo dur­ing their weekly fam­ily meet­ing. Part of the plan­ning included a dis­cus­sion about lim­its and solu­tions.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith have told Susan and Sam how mis­er­able they feel when they fight. The kids promise they won’t. Mr. Smith said, “I appre­ci­ate that, and I think we should come up with a plan for what will hap­pen if you for­get.” The kids keep insist­ing they won’t fight. Mr. and Mrs. Smith know their chil­dren have good inten­tions, and they are also very famil­iar with the pat­tern of good inten­tions gone awry. So, they have decided what they will do and they will fol­low through.

Mrs. Smith says, “Well then, is it okay with you if we stop the car if you do for­get? We don’t think it is safe to drive when you are fight­ing, so we’ll just pull over to the side of the road and wait for you to stop. You can let us know when you are ready for us to drive again. How do you feel about that solu­tion?” Both kids agree with inno­cent enthu­si­asm.

Typically, it doesn’t take them long to for­get their promise, and a fight begins. Mrs. Smith quickly and qui­etly pulls off to the side of the road. She and Mr. Smith take out mag­a­zines and start read­ing. Each child starts blam­ing the other while protest­ing his or her own inno­cence. Mr. and Mrs. Jones ignore them and just keep read­ing. It doesn’t take long for Susan to catch on that Mom and Dad must mean what they said. Susan says, “Okay, we are ready to keep dri­ving.” Mr. Smith says, “We’ll wait until we hear it from both of you.” Sam says, “But, she hit me.”

Mom and Dad just keep read­ing.  Susan hits Sam, “Tell them you are ready.” Sam cries, “She hit me again.” Mom and Dad just keep read­ing. Susan real­izes that hit­ting Sam won’t help, so she tries to rea­son with him. “We’ll have to sit here for­ever if you don’t say you are ready.” Susan fol­lows her parent’s lead and starts to color. Sam holds out for about three more min­utes before say­ing, “I’m ready for you to start dri­ving.” Mom says, “Thank you very much. I appre­ci­ate your coop­er­a­tion.”

About 30 min­utes later another fight starts. Mom starts to pull over to the side of the road. Both kids cry out in uni­son, “We’ll stop. We’re ready to keep dri­ving.” There was no more fight­ing for the rest of the day, and the Smiths enjoyed a won­der­ful day at the zoo.

What is the dif­fer­ence between the Jones fam­ily and the Smith fam­ily? Are Jason and Jenny really “bad” kids?” No, the dif­fer­ence is that the Smith fam­ily is help­ing their chil­dren learn coop­er­a­tion and prob­lem solv­ing skills while the Jones fam­ily is help­ing their chil­dren learn manip­u­la­tion skills. Mr. and Mrs. Smith demon­strate that they say what they mean and mean what they say by using kind and fol­low through. Mr. and Mrs. Jones don’t. They used angry threats. This had a tem­po­rary effect, but the kids would soon be fight­ing again.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith stopped using words and instead fol­lowed through with kind and firm action. It took a lit­tle longer for the kids to catch on, but once they did it had a longer last­ing effect. Because they are kids, they just had to test the waters one more time. When their par­ents started to fol­low through again the kids knew they meant what they said. They were left with the feel­ing, not that they were bad kids, but that they were clever enough to fig­ure out a solu­tion to the prob­lem and that coop­er­a­tion was the most effec­tive alter­na­tive.


Misbehaving will hap­pen. Plan for it. 


Go To Sleep


Bedtime Wars

The life of a par­ent is not often easy, but get­ting your child off to bed may be the most dif­fi­cult rou­tine and at a time when your strength and patience are worn thin. 
When we talk about address­ing a child’s needs, pro­fes­sion­als often quote the beloved psy­chol­o­gist Abraham Maslow’s  hier­ar­chy of needs which sim­ply put, points out that a per­son can not learn and grow to their full poten­tial if  their basic needs are not met. The most fun­da­men­tal needs are: esteem, love, secu­rity, and phys­i­cal needs. This is a widely accepted the­ory and there­fore, as par­ents, we should be quite insis­tent about giv­ing our chil­dren the oppor­tu­nity for a good night’s sleep.

So what do you do if your child refuses to go to sleep, whines and manip­u­lates you for more time, more water, or com­plains about mon­sters as a last ditch effort to keep from going to bed by them­selves?

First,address this issue as if it is the most impor­tant thing you do all day. If you do this well.… and con­sis­tently, it will be smooth sail­ing for years to come. Does that sound worth it? Of course it does! It will take time so plan on mak­ing this sac­ri­fice for a big­ger pay­out.

1. Think about your bed­time rou­tine. Make a chart (I have included a sam­ple one here. Add your own pic­tures) and include tim­ing for steps that your child tend to daw­dle on. 

2. Discuss with your child the plan and show them the chart. The chart is visual and con­crete which helps a child under­stand what to expect. Since chil­dren are crea­tures of habit, once they fall into your new rou­tine they will con­tinue it nat­u­rally.

3. Start bed­time early.

4. Make sure drinks and toi­let­ing are taken care of prior to bed. If going to the bath­room is used as an excuse then limit flu­ids after a cer­tain time. A child should be able to sleep through the night with­out need­ing to uri­nate, unless there is a phys­i­cal or psy­cho­log­i­cal issue. 

5. Follow your rou­tine and take note of the time. Your chil­dren should be aware that you are tim­ing every­thing such as read­ing, cud­dling etc. It is impor­tant to be strict because you want your child to know that manip­u­lat­ing is not an option. Children love to play beat the clock so if you make it fun, they will enjoy the ele­ment of being timed. 

6. Let them know that after they go to bed they should close their eyes and think of some­thing pleas­ant. Music is fine if that helps. Do not engage in con­ver­sa­tion.

7. Reiterate the impor­tance of a good night’s sleep and that to insure this you will be out­side their room mak­ing sure they stay in bed.

8. Keep the noise to an absolute min­i­mum (a sound machine may be help­ful if the noise is too loud and can­not be con­trolled).

9. Turn off all the lights in their room and any other room where light seeps in. A night­light is fine.

10. If they try to get out of bed for any rea­son be clear and firm and redi­rect with­out any emo­tion or con­ver­sa­tion.

11. I like to keep a suc­cess chart so they can feel moti­vated. Rewards in the morn­ing for a suc­cess­ful bed­time can be used and then weaned.

12. Make sure your child is tired and going to sleep at a time when they can eas­ily fall asleep. Children need 9–12 hours of sleep depend­ing on their indi­vid­ual needs. Sugar can influ­ence their sleep cycle so if your child needs less sleep you may want to look at how much sugar they eat each day.

13. If night­mares and mon­sters come into the pic­ture be nur­tur­ing but aware that the more you empathize the more this will be used to manip­u­late sleep. Be clear that there are no mon­sters and that night­mares are just like a scary movie that is not real. Your child will feel more secure if you act non­cha­lant. The more you engage on this sub­ject the longer they will embrace it. Consider read­ing a sto­ry­book on these sub­jects in the day­time. There are many good ones to choose from.

Every house­hold is dif­fer­ent and your child may need a slightly dif­fer­ent strat­egy. The most impor­tant point to know and remem­ber is that if your are firm and con­fi­dent they will com­ply. There is much to gain if you con­vey this mes­sage. There is much to lose if you let your child call the shots and deny their body the sleep it needs. 

Sample Chart:

Going to Sleep Image 

Take a bath 

 Put on paja­mas 

 Eat a snack

 Brush teeth


 Story time: 15 min­utes

 Cuddle time: 5 min­utes

 Close eyes, think of some­thing nice