Category Archives: Everyday Parenting

The Difference Between Limits and Boundaries and Why It’s so Important

parent and childIf you want your children to become respectful, responsible people, you must model that behavior. With poor boundaries, this is hard to do.

Contrary to popular opinion, boundaries and limits are very different from one another, although many use the words interchangeably. The word boundary is often used to refer to setting limits. Kids “push boundaries” or they won’t “listen to the boundaries”. It is the rare parent who understands the true meaning of boundaries. And it’s no wonder. Many of us were not brought up with them.

When we say someone doesn’t have good boundaries, we are talking about a dividing line between two people and their personal space and responsibilities. 

When people blame others or situations for how they feel or for their life circumstances, they have crossed that line, taking no responsibility for themselves. They have poor boundaries. 

Good boundaries are essential for a family to work cooperatively as a team.

Limits

Limits are what you impose to keep your children safe and behaving appropriately. Limits are parameters you set around your children’s behavior using your parental Read more…

Unlock Positive Change in Your Child When You Adjust Your Expectations

Grumpy SonQ. My son is 11 and an only child. His first reaction to everything is negative, a sigh, makes a face and moans. This is the reaction to every meal (even stuff he likes), an outing he likes or even just being asked to watch tv with us. When we try to do fun family stuff he moans. Nearly every time he enjoys the activity and tells us afterwards, when we ask, that he loved it. He just wants to be playing on his iPad or watching TV on his own in his room. He says these activities take time from his gaming. I get frustrated because I plan these family activities around what he likes to do and yet he moans about going. Then it causes a row because no matter what we do he never gets excited or happy.

A. Constant negativity is very wearing. Especially if you take it personally. What I mean by that is: Does your frustration stem from thinking you have failed to raise a happy kid? Do you think his negativity is your Read more…

Teaching Your Children Self-Control

tired momYou come home at the end of the day. Maybe you’ve picked up one child from daycare and another from a playdate. Your tired, you don’t have anything prepared for dinner, and you long for some space.

And your kids go at it. Even if its loud fun screaming, it’s draining. But if it’s fighting or demanding, you just don’t have any dealing power. You end up shouting for them to be quiet, to just get along and stop bothering you. Of course you know that won’t work. They will come at you harder. But you can’t even think straight. You need quiet and time.

You know that, but your kids don’t. This is why parenting is the hardest job on the planet. You must continually twist your perspective to understand what your kids understand. Not many parents do that. You tell them what to do—or else….

The expectations on your kids, the messages they hear is they should know better, they should be more considerate of your needs, they listen and do what you say.

What you are Read more…

Why Building Connection Early Can Save Battles with Teens

 

Mom and Son

I often read Meghan Leahy’s advice in her column On Parenting for The Washington Post. I saw this headline, How do I connect with my teen son while respecting his independence, and had to read what she would say to this mom. After all, this is totally my wheelhouse. She said it so well that I wanted to share it with you. I hope that parents of little children read it as well. Focus on connection shouldn’t wait for the teen years. 

I work with so many parents of teens who were able to get them to do what they were told as younger children. These parents thought they were doing the right thing, but controlling, coercive methods of parenting—like time outs, threats, removing favorite things, grounding—tend to backfire when the child reaches the age of realization that they don’t have to do what they’re told anymore. They can even switch their allegiance from annoying parents to peer groups.

To be the parent your kids still look to for support and guidance, connection and problem solving rather than threats, blame Read more…

How to Stop Reacting in the Heat of the Moment

Mom's On The Phone!

We all know what it’s like to get our buttons pushed. It feels like an attack and a flooding of emotion. We tend to retaliate automatically—it’s that fight, flight or freeze reaction. Typically, we lay blame on our children for doing the pushing or ourselves for being inadequate. But seldom do we do anything to change this often damaging dynamic because it feels beyond control.

You’ve tried everything, right? Everything to get your children to change. But those buttons are our responsibility, not our children’s. They wouldn’t be pushing them if there were no button to push. Some parents, for instance, have an immediate reaction to being called “stupid”. Others do not. Why? Because it has to do with your individual past. Yes, your child needs to be accountable for her behavior, but if your button is pushed, you will react, teaching her the power of what did the pushing—calling you “stupid”, talking back, resisting, not listening, whatever triggers you. And so it continues.

Getting a button pushed is painful. Your child’s behavior triggers an old wound and you “go Read more…

What do you do when your child “talks back”?

Kid Feeling MisunderstoodQ. My 8 year old son is constantly talking back to me and using vulgar language. I tell him that is not acceptable, and he keeps doing it. He argues and doesn’t listen to authority—my authority anyway. He’s fine at school. Teachers love him. When I was young, I would have been smacked if I said half of what he does. I’m at a loss. What do I do to stop this constant talking back and throwing crude words at me?

A. I, like you, was brought up to respect my elders—at any cost. I wasn’t allowed to say what I wanted, what I thought about anything, or express my opinion. Only adults had opinions. Having an opinion was never encouraged, never asked for, never listened to. If one came out, it was ignored or highly criticized as talking back. Life was about doing what grown-ups told you to do. Children were second-class citizens. Fortunately (I guess) my temperament kept me from ever expressing anger at my parents for keeping me quiet. I just simply stayed quiet. But my brother Read more…

Helping Children Confront A Bully

Bullied ChildQ. Ines, 8, is a very sweet playing, sporty, capable but gentle friend. On the playground one of her better friends at school is starting to bully her. Tonight she was crying as the girl was telling her to go into a dark shed in the playground. Ines said she didn’t want to as she was afraid of the dark. The friend teased her for being a cry baby and insisted etc. My question is what do I do? I encouraged her to say STOP! and that you don’t like the way she is treating you, but she says that is not kind and she doesn’t want to be like her friend. I said to her that she needs to say stop for her friend’s sake too. She ‘practiced’ saying it but sounded like a mouse… that’s not going to transmit a message of strength. She’s going to a party tomorrow and this friend will be there. Ines is afraid that this girl will insist that the room be dark. I know the parents well and could talk to them Read more…

Why Rules Feed Resistance and Agreements Build Respect

Mom and SonQ. I’ve been a long time subscriber and benefitted on how to handle parenting issues mostly when my kids were very young. Now my son has turned 18 and feels entitled to stay out as long as he wants. For me and my husband, we still think that house rules apply but I’m finding it very difficult to give logical reasons why my son should abide by some rules when my husband does the exact same thing. Is there any better way to handle this or what reasons will be valid in this situation?

A. The reason you are having a hard time coming up with logical reasons is because there are none when it comes to holding authority over your 18 year old. He should be in a place by now where he has authority over himself. That comes from slowly and gradually pulling back your authority from your child as he becomes able to handle things on his own.

Children live with parents for as long as they do because of all the things they must do that Read more…

How to Help Kids Stop Hoarding Screentime

Kids on ScreensScreentime? How About Freetime Instead

As a concerned parent worried about how much time your kids are spending on screens, is it possible you might be adding to the problem in a number of ways. There is no question your job as a parent is dramatically more difficult since video games, YouTube and social media have infiltrated your homes. This is not an easy time to be a parent. You have so little control over how these programs hook your children, but I want to address some of the areas where you do have control and give a few ideas of what you can do.

Understand your child’s attraction

The draw of gaming is self-mastery. Video games are devised so that your child grows in competency to master a level on his own. It cannot be overstated how attractive this is to your child. No adult is peering over his shoulder telling him what he is doing right or wrong. This should inform you about how much children love to be masters of their experience.

When you criticize and judge Read more…

Self-confident Kids are Best Prepared for Success

 

Teen With Father

Q. I have enjoyed reading many things on your website. My husband and I are the owners of 1 integrity child and 1 harmony child. The first makes me nearly lose my mind as I am an integrity person as well. My question is how do you help them understand that the world doesn’t revolve around their perceived needs? My own experiences were tough, and it took counseling to finally work through my own self esteem challenges. It is and has always been exhausting. He is 18 and a good boy. He is polite, smart, well-adjusted, and has tremendous integrity BUT argues with us over nearly anything not being done his way. We try to get in his head and help him, but life will not always accommodate that, and he fears failure. I would love any insight you could provide.

A. The fact that your son is polite, well-adjusted with tremendous integrity says that you have raised him respectfully. But your fears of the outside world not accommodating his temperament are misplaced. He will learn from experience what tracks Read more…