All For Your Family

new book

All For Your Family

The fol­low­ing arti­cle in Huffington Post high­lights 26 things good par­ents should not do to avoid screw­ing up their kids. Today’s par­ents tend to dote, con­trol and live through their chil­dren. I just hap­pen to have a new book, hot off the press, which explains how par­ents can make these changes and why it is so impor­tant. It makes a per­fect present for new and not so new par­ents. I think you will all love the cover 🙂 

All For Your Family, by Sharon Youngman

Available on Amazon


Learning from Mistakes



Learning from Mistakes

There is a fine line between pro­tec­tion and con­trol. As a new mom, I had this over­whelm­ing desire to shield my baby from pain, sad­ness and any­thing else that was less than won­der­ful. Babies require 100% pro­tec­tion, how­ever babies grow and our expec­ta­tions need to grow accord­ingly. As new par­ents, my hus­band and I catered to our child’s whims and wishes a lit­tle too much because we didn’t like to see him sad. Before we knew it, we were entrenched in bad habits that led to giv­ing in to their demands, help­ing too much and mak­ing excuses for bad behav­ior. We par­ented too much from our hearts.

A nat­ural con­se­quence occurs nat­u­rally. Touching a hot stove will pro­vide an imme­di­ate con­se­quence. That is guar­an­teed. Of course we don’t want to let our chil­dren get hurt phys­i­cally.  However, there are many sit­u­a­tions or choices chil­dren make that result in sad feel­ings rather than phys­i­cal injury. In those sit­u­a­tions, it may be wise to allow nat­ural con­se­quences to unfold

I can’t imag­ine a par­ent not show­er­ing their child with love and praise. There are many times that par­ents will con­sciously choose to pro­tect their child the con­se­quences of their mis­takes. When you are faced with a choice between pro­tect­ing your child and let­ting them expe­ri­ence the nat­ural con­se­quence, it is help­ful to think about what is in your child’s best inter­est in the long run. What would be gained from step­ping back as com­pared to shield­ing them? You want your child to feel loved uncon­di­tion­ally, but you have to be care­ful to clearly com­mu­ni­cate your expec­ta­tions for respon­si­ble behav­ior. A child that feels they are free to make mis­takes and get away with­out con­se­quence may not work hard for good grades, may not learn to be finan­cial respon­si­ble, and may also engage in activ­i­ties that are dan­ger­ous.

Allowing nat­ural con­se­quences to occur in every­day life can be far from auto­matic. It may actu­ally be more nat­ural for a par­ent to pro­tect their child rather than see them suf­fer. It is my phi­los­o­phy that there are many times par­ents should allow mis­takes in life to teach impor­tant lessons.  As a par­ent, you get to make those deci­sions as the sit­u­a­tions arise. While eval­u­at­ing your options, I encour­age you to con­sider long term rather than short term goals.


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.


Enabling Our Children.….Why?


Good Parents Great Kids


Why do we enable our chil­dren?

Are you a par­ent who thinks they are doing too much for their child?

Is your child lack­ing in moti­va­tion or respon­si­bil­ity?

Ask your­self these impor­tant ques­tions:

1- Is my help truly nec­es­sary?

2- What is my moti­va­tion for help­ing?


Many times par­ents help or enable their child because they want their child to suc­ceed. This will usu­ally help in the short term as the child com­pletes tasks, gets to appoint­ments on time, is well pre­pared and turns in ele­vated assign­ments. Does the par­ent feel pride as their child excells? Would the child have excelled with­out their help? What mes­sage is the child get­tinng from this help? 

The prac­tice of enabling becomes more appar­ent as the par­ent feels obliged to inter­vene for the child’s con­tin­ued suc­cess. The suceess of their child becomes a goal for the par­ent when it should be a goal for the child. The con­tin­ued assis­tance by the par­ent cre­ates a sys­tem whreeby the child depends on the parent’s help and there­fore becomes a pas­sive par­tic­i­pant. There is dimin­ished moti­va­tion and often the child resents the par­ents for their input. In the long term the par­ent must decide whether to con­tinue this sup­port or demen­strate trust in their child.


Think about that for a moment or two. Would you ever con­sciously want to con­vey to your child that you don’t trust them? Demonstrating trust in your child is huge. If you are faced with the option of demon­strat­ing to your child that you have faith in them and you choose to involve your­self to insure bet­ter results then you must look in the mir­ror and ask your­self if your motive is ulti­mately self­ish. Yes, self­ish. That may sound harsh but it is imper­a­tive that you sep­a­rate your own ego from your child’s suc­cess. Parents nat­u­rally feel proud of their child. It is unhealthy for both the par­ent and child when the need to see a child suc­ceed trumps the abil­ity to do what is nec­es­sary to raise a respon­si­ble child.

Give your child the gift of inde­pen­dence, con­fi­dence and respon­si­bil­ity by show­ing them that you have faith in them.…and walk away. 


Am I Hurting My Child By Doing Too Much


Am I Hurting My Child By Doing Too Much

My son used to leave his juice glass in his bed­room each night so that by the end of the week there was lit­er­ally at least seven glasses or mugs in his bed­room. I would ask and ask and ask……………. but even­tu­ally I gave up and just brought them down­stairs.

There were so many times I helped him when I should have let him han­dle the sit­u­a­tion or accept the con­se­quences.

When I look back and ask myself why, I find that, besides want­ing to avoid con­fronta­tion, I also had a strong desire to pro­tect him and see him suc­ceed, even when the suc­cess was par­tially unearned. I was look­ing at the sit­u­a­tion self­ishly as well as short term.

A con­trol­ling par­ent can inter­fere with the goal of rais­ing a respon­si­ble child.  Our chil­dren will be more respon­si­ble if we, as par­ents, choose to some­times take a more pas­sive role. Of course we need to be pro­tec­tive but often we take the idea of pro­tec­tion too far and then com­plain when our chil­dren are irre­spon­si­ble.

Our chil­dren begin life help­less and par­ents must do every­thing for their tiny infant, baby and then tod­dler. But we often grow accus­tomed to this role and fail to see when we can do less. The real­iza­tion that we are doing too much may go unde­tected for a period of time. That may be long enough for your child to get the mes­sage that they can do less and mom and dad will take care of it.  In my opin­ion, it is best to keep the con­cept of teach­ing respon­si­bil­ity as a pri­or­i­tized goal. Test the water often and see just how much your child can do for him­self. Think about how we teach a child to walk or ride a bike or swim. We give sup­port in grad­u­ated stages until voila. They do it them­selves.

The same is true for other activ­i­ties that have mul­ti­ple steps such as get­ting ready for school, clean­ing the room and prepar­ing for bed­time.

We all learn through prac­tice as well as from mis­takes. When my son attempted to pour milk in his cereal bowl and spilled all over him­self, the floor as well as under the fridge, I did not stop him from try­ing again. I less­ened the poten­tial mess by giv­ing him a small amount to pour. I guided his tiny hand so his aim was bet­ter. I assisted him while encour­ag­ing more and more inde­pen­dence. That was easy to do. Many par­ents have dif­fi­culty allow­ing their chil­dren to make mis­takes and would rather do more for them until they can do it well them­selves. I work with many par­ents who still wipe their child’s bot­tom and pick up their toys even though they are clearly old enough to do it them­selves. When I ask why, the answer is always, because I like it to be done right.  These par­ents are deliv­er­ing a mes­sage that is destruc­tive. Give your child the gift of inde­pen­dence, con­fi­dence and respon­si­bil­ity by allow­ing them to be as inde­pen­dent as pos­si­ble.

Natural Consequences

A nat­ural con­se­quence occurs nat­u­rally. Touching a hot stove will pro­vide an imme­di­ate con­se­quence. That is guar­an­teed. Of course we don’t want to let our chil­dren get hurt phys­i­cally.  However, there are many sit­u­a­tions or choices chil­dren make that result in sad feel­ings rather than phys­i­cal injury. In those sit­u­a­tions, it may be wise to allow nat­ural con­se­quences to unfold.

Allowing nat­ural con­se­quences to occur in every­day life is far from auto­matic. It is actu­ally more nat­ural for a par­ent to pro­tect their child rather than see them suf­fer. There are many times we should allow life to teach our child impor­tant lessons.

For more infor­ma­tion about nat­ural con­se­quences please read my book:
Strengthen Your Parenting Muscle avail­able on Amazon and Kindle

Danger Signs

How do you know when you are doing too much for your child?

  1. You become anx­ious when your child has a dead­line or becomes frus­trated.
  2. Your first response to your child’s prob­lem or com­plaint is to give advice or take over.
  3. You find it unbear­able to see your child strug­gle.
  4. You fre­quently do some­thing your­self instead of wait­ing for your child to do it.
  5. You feel the need to micro­man­age their eat­ing, appear­ance, or social life.
  6. You tend to over­step your bound­aries as a par­ent and dis­re­spect their pri­vacy.

Pulling Back

If enabling your child has become a pat­tern it will be more dif­fi­cult to make a change but it is well worth the effort.

Begin with a dis­cus­sion about what you have learned and why it is impor­tant to change how you engage in your child’s life. Adding points such as respect for their abil­ity and con­fi­dence that they can han­dle any sit­u­a­tions with­out your help will be appre­ci­ated and help to focus on what is gained rather than what they might inter­pret as a loss of assis­tance. Reassure them that you are not desert­ing them but teach­ing them to be more self reliant so that as they grow up they will be able to be more inde­pen­dent. There are many oppor­tu­ni­ties and priv­i­leges that respon­si­ble and inde­pen­dent chil­dren have that their coun­ter­parts do not.

When they come to you for help, lis­ten rather than advise and ask them what THEY think they could do. Give them time to prob­lem solve and don’t expect an answer in five sec­onds or even five min­utes. They are used to you fix­ing things and there will be an adjust­ment time. Bite your tongue and do less. Tell them: “I know you can do this. I have faith that you’ll fig­ure it out.”

Sharon Youngman is a par­ent edu­ca­tor liv­ing and work­ing in Manhattan. She is the author of Strengthen Your Parenting Muscle and the founder of Good Parents, GREAT Kids.

Contact Sharon for a free con­sul­ta­tion:



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


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.


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