Category Archives: Communication

What Your Teen Wants to Hear From You

Parents of teens tear their hair out wondering what happened to that child who cooperated at least some of the time, listened once in a while, and adjusted to the limits set some of the time. Now an attitude seems to replace that child and an alien has taken over.

The thing is, your child is the same child, but she is growing up and pushing out. She must separate from her dependency on you. She must make decisions on her own, take responsibility for herself, and navigate among her world of peers.

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January ’18 Q&A – Sharing & Hogging, School Resistance and The Dark Side

Sharing and Hogging

Q. My three-year-old has a very big issue with sharing and hogging. She has an 18 mo. old sister who is not allowed to touch anything. I understand that my daughter still is having a hard time with her arrival, she has to share me, she doesn’t get to have me all to herself, she doesn’t even get to read books alone with me and on top of it all I am three times as tired, have to do a lot more chores, can’t play with her at the drop of the hat, and she doesn’t get to have all of my adoration just for her. I still feel really guilty about that. At first I thought, fair enough the toys were hers, so I opted to buy my youngest toys for herself. I told my eldest and explained before we bought anything that I was buying for her sister so she doesn’t have to touch hers. She agreed but once the toy is bought she wants to have it and play with it. She gets so angry and hits me when I try to give the toy back to her sister.

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Raising Gratitude

So many parents complain, especially at holiday and birthday time, how ungrateful their children are. It’s hard to put in all the time, effort, and money into our children’s upbringing and wants and desires only to have them take and take and show no appreciation. So how do we turn this around? How do we raise grateful children?

The irony is that when you expect your children to show appreciation—in other words when your button gets pushed because they don’t, and you react anywhere from subtly guilt-tripping to blowing up—they will only get defensive and you will never see it. Yet when you least expect it and never demand it, that’s when you get it.

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November ’17 Q&A – New-found Independence, Conflicting Agendas and Making Friends

New-found Independence

Q. My 3 ½ yr. old son has on ongoing heart condition that he was born with that is being controlled by daily medication (morning, afternoon & evening). He is very bright and articulate and has always been amazing at taking his drugs but over the last few weeks his independence (and determination) has increased tenfold, and he is asserting his authority by refusing to take his drugs.

I have tried everything – asking politely and explaining why he must take them, bribery, and then out of sheer panic (these are life saving drugs), yelling and forcing the drugs into him and preventing him spitting them out by restraining him! I know this is totally wrong but it gets to the point where there is no other option. After trying for an hour without success and by the time we have forced him we are all very upset and very late for nursery school and very late for work… and this is every day. How can I manage this better and just get him to agree to take them?

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If I Don’t Punish or Give Consequences, What DO I Do? How to Use Problem Solving

Even after I outline problem solving to a frustrated parent of a child who just keeps pushing the limits, I get the same reply. “Yeah, okay, but what do I DO?”
It’s hard to understand at first that logical words, emotional understanding and empathy, and asking the child to think is actually DOING anything. We are so accustomed to grounding, time outs, taking away privileges, threatening, and withholding. It’s hard to think a respectful process of working it out is doing something.

What’s hard is dropping the notion that we have to make our children miserable in order to teach lessons.

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5 Things Never to Ask Your Child Right After School

You want to interact and make connection when your kids get home from school. Your kids do too but not in the way you might think.

You’ve missed them, you want to know what they did all day, how they got along, if they had any problems. But questions can feel like an interrogation.

  1. How was school today?
  2. What do you have for homework?
  3. When are you going to do your homework?
  4. What did you get on the test?
  5. What did you learn today?

They have just spent a long hard day meeting (or not) expectations, doing things they might not want to do, following orders, coping for hours, and hopefully working hard and learning. Probably the last they want to do is go over their day with you. They need a break. They need to know here is the place where I can be myself. They need to chill.

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10 Ways to Get Respect from Your Child
Parent/child respect
We want our children to grow to be happy and successful, yes — but more specifically, to be responsible, respectful, grateful, honest, kind, empathic, helpful and giving to others. The irony is that traditional methods of parenting — varying degrees of reward and punishment, threats and criticizing — teaches exactly the opposite.

In my 30 years of working with parents on how to better connect with their children (ultimately resulting in better behavior), I have learned one thing over and over and over. It’s all about relationship. In order to get respect from our children, we need to be respectful of them. Nothing else needs to be taught about how to be a good person that consistent work on a gratifying and mutually respectful relationship doesn’t teach. But it’s not simple.

Developing a Respectful Relationship with Your Child Involves:

  1. Understanding the power of connection. Empathizing with and understanding your child’s agenda, instead of telling them what to do and expecting it to be done according to your agenda.
  2. This may be the hardest — stepping back and trusting your child to do the right thing and allowing many mistakes to get there. Trusting means letting go of nagging and hyper-vigilance.
  3. No blaming and criticizing. The message you intend isn’t the message that is received. A child who feels bad about himself, behaves badly.
  4. The ability to remain objective and observe what is happening right now rather than getting triggered by the past or fears of the future.
  5. Understanding and allowing all of your children’s desires and wishes — not fulfilling all of them, just acknowledging them.
  6. Finding balance through understanding that no family member’s rights and needs are any more or less important than another’s.
  7. Holding appropriate expectations for each child to insure they feel accepted. Accept the child you have, not the child you wish you had. If your expectations are too high for this moment, your child will think he can never be who you want.
  8. Maintaining respectful interaction with your children even when setting a limit or correcting behavior. There is never a need to be disrespectful. Firmness and clarity is all part of establishing mutual respect.
  9. Maintaining a respectful relationship with your spouse or partner to model the relationships you hope your children to have.
  10. Being the type of person you want your child to become.

A good relationship is like a mobile dancing in the breeze. It requires sacrifice, compromise, give and take, and respect for one another — balance. A good relationship is mutually satisfying and leaves you feeling better and stronger. Balance in the relationship comes through understanding and consideration of each other’s needs and agendas — very different for adults and children.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Power Struggles

When my daughter Molly was five, I was exhausted and drained everyday. I couldn’t see a way out of our daily power struggles. She was pushing all my buttons, and I was reacting with hostility. But it was the mental notes playing in my head that got me the most. I was worried we would fight always. Fortunately I was wrong.

One morning, the same whiny, grumpy face approached with that ever-present protruding lower lip—but something was different. Every other morning when I saw this face, I thought to myself, “She’s out to get me. She’s doing this on purpose to make me mad.”

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The Bossy Child

Do you have a bossy child? One who tells others what to do, how to play the game, what to say? A child who throws a fit if things don’t go her way?

“Bossy” is a word that gets our dander up. “Bossy” typically translates for a frustrated parent as mean, rude, know-it-all, bully, show-off, controller—basically a child who will wind up with no friends. With labels and images like this swirling inside, the parent of a “bossy” child typically becomes controlling in reaction in order to stop the bossy behavior and turn it into socially acceptable behavior.

The problem with that: You are reacting to assumed ideas and predictions. Whether it’s from past experience or from witnessing other children not wanting to play with your child, you react to those fears—what you think is the truth. And fears interfere with the connection your child desperately needs from you.

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10 Ways to Keep Up with Your Teen

Sometimes it’s all you can do to keep up with life. To keep up with your teen can seem daunting.

Your relationship with your teen can make or break your teen’s experience and relationships with peers, friends, school, and family. Research shows that connection with family is the #1 preventive factor in substance abuse, addiction, pregnancy, and school failure throughout the teen years.

Connection means that when faced with a dilemma or decision, your teen will first think what would my parents say? instead of what would my friends say? Connection does not guarantee smart decision-making—your teen is in the developmental risk taking years—but it puts you first and foremost in your teen’s mind. If your teen fears punishment, thinks you will not understand, knows she can’t talk to you, she will turn to her friends for the support and understanding she needs.

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