Tag Archives: responsibility

Jan. ’19 Q&A – Fantasy Play, Honor Who Your Child is, and Understanding the Draw of Xbox

Fantasy Play

Q. My 4 year old loves pretend play. She often starts out the day by saying, ” pretend I’m Peter Pan and you’re ….” It almost seems like a deep-seated need to play this way. I find that if I don’t play with her like this then she is harder to deal with. I guess another way I think about it, is that when I play with her and follow her direction, it fills her up. I haven’t studied child psychology, but I was wondering if you could provide more insight into this type of play.

A. You are exactly right. It fills her up. Imagine life for a young child. She is pretty much told what to do, when and how to do it all day every day. School only adds to that. Even after school activities are always adult directed. Our children have lost the opportunity to direct their own play. So when she directs you, she is getting that opportunity to lead, to decide, to direct, to imagine, to create. Let her direct you as

Read more…
When Do I Draw the Line?
Holding a boundary

Parents who want to leave the reward and punishment methods behind often have a hard time letting go fully and embracing a truly connective relationship with their children.

When my child won’t do what has to be done, I have to draw the line, don’t I?
I try to be empathic and listen, but where do I draw the line?

What does “Drawing the line” mean? Making your child stop? Not being empathic anymore? Maintaining your authority as a parent? I think it’s worth figuring out what this phrase means as it runs endlessly in the minds of well-intentioned parents trying their best to change old ways.

“Drawing the line” is one of the last bastions of the reward and punishment mindset. It comes out of the frustrated parent dealing with a defiant or resistant child. But what do you do when you draw the line? Is this line similar to a “line in the sand” beyond which one cannot cross? Does that mean you and your child are separated by a line preventing both of you from getting to

Read more…
Getting Your Kids to Listen to You. Could There Be Anything Better?

When your kids don’t listen, how long does your patience last?

You think you’ve tried everything. You ask nicely, you keep asking nicely until you explode, you lecture about all you do for them, you give them consequences for not listening, you give them extra privileges if they do — but your kids still won’t listen.

You can’t seem to get them do what they should: brush their teeth, go to bed, get off the computer, quiet down in the car, eat a healthy meal, pick up their dirty clothes, etc. What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with you?

What if: They do listen, but they don’t like what they hear? (That’s not okay, is it?)

Now ask yourself: Are you asking them for cooperation or obedience?

You must be clear about what you’re expecting. If you expect obedience (I know, you don’t think you are), your kids hear it in your tone. There’s a “if you don’t do what I say, you’re in trouble” attitude that determines your tone and expectation.

The key to understanding why your children

Read more…
“Wait, aren’t I the parent here?” Using Your Parent Authority

The human child remains with a parent until the child is capable of making his own decisions about his health, safety, and well-being. The parent holds authority over this child until that time — usually through the teen years.

That’s the reason for parent authority. It is not to control the child to be who the parent wants or to demand obedience to make life easier for the parent. This leads to power struggles and rebellion or looking to others for authority and approval.

Your job as parent is to insure that your child does what she shouldn’t be expected to do on her own – simply because she’s too young.

Rick Trinkner of the University of New Hampshire has researched the types of families who raise self-confident, self-controlled, respectful children. Trinkner says,

When children consider their parents to be legitimate authority figures, they trust the parent and feel they have an obligation to do what their parents tell them to do. This is an important attribute for any authority figure to possess, as the parent does not have to

Read more…
How Parents Can Encourage Gratitude and Gift-Giving
Giving Grandma a Gift

Q. How do you encourage gratitude in your children when they receive gifts? Mine just tear into them and could care less where they came from. I feel the cold stares from my family members when they are not acknowledged, or I have to tell my kids to say thank you. They’re old enough to know better.

A. Expression of gratitude is not to be expected in the early years of naturally egocentric development—generally before six or seven. The egocentric stage means they are not cognitively able to step out of their own spere to see and comprehend how someone else experiences life. Consideration for someone’s else’s feelings is often expected way too early. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to tell them how you feel and validate their feelings when expressed. But to say, How do you think your friend would feel if you grabbed a toy from him? in an effort to teach kindness, will only feel like blame to your under six child and could set her back even further in self-protective mode.

read more
Read more…
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.

Break it down. If you do any of the above, you are necessarily causing hurt (understanding behavior). The misguided thinking is that if our children are miserable enough, they will decide not to do the deed again and voila—learning takes place.

Well, yes, learning takes place, but not the kind you are counting on. What they feel is anger, frustration, resentment, misunderstood, unheard. What they learn is:

read more
Read more…
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
Read more…
12 Ways to Encourage School Motivation
child raising her hand at school
As this school year it’s entering it final months, parents are thinking about how to help their kids finish up with a flourish. Here’s 12 ways to encourage school motivation.
Parents typically and unintentionally teach their children that their school performance is for the parent and the teacher—not for themselves.

Parents place so much value on grades and performance that the message to the child is, I care more about how you do than what you do. For too many children, school is a prison sentence to endure, and if they don’t do well, they are a huge disappointment to the most important people in their lives. We need to hand over education to our children and let them know they have our support in doing the best they can but not our disapproval if they don’t.

Jacquelynne Eccles, professor of psychology and research scientist at the University of Michigan, has said, “… motivation and engagement in school on average drops as they move from the elementary school into the secondary school system. You see it in attendance, in

Read more…
The Reasons I am a Connective Parent

I choose to be a connective parent because flexibility and self-direction are the two top competencies needed to succeed in the 21st Century.

I choose to empathize with my child because understanding another’s point of view is paramount in establishing good relationships.

I don’t engage in power struggles with my child because a win/lose model never wins.

I don’t use time out because I don’t think it’s right to isolate a child who is having a problem.

I don’t spank or hit because I don’t want to teach my child that using physical force is a way to get what you want.

I don’t take away privileges because I don’t think that intentionally provoking my child’s anger or resentment is the way to gain cooperation.

I don’t ground my child or take away access to what is important to him because it won’t seem fair or logical, and he will assume that I don’t understand him.

I choose to problem solve with my children instead of punish or dole out consequences because it is important for them to express

Read more…
Who Can We Blame?

As a follow-up to my recent blog about the amazing personal journey of Gayle Kirschenbaum and her mother that will be available to all of us in her upcoming movie, “Look at Us Now, Mother”, I wanted to post this personal question I got from a parent a long time ago.

Q. I am currently reading your book, “When Your Kids Push Your Buttons” and have a question on something I read. The section called Parent-Blame didn’t sink in with me and I’m hoping you can clarify. It says, “Your parents did the best they could given the knowledge and circumstances they had at the time.” It sounds like we should hold blameless those parents who just don’t do right by their children. On a more personal level, what if my mother had thought to herself as she was parenting that there must be a better way to do this, but, dammit, I have 7 children and it’s just too hard, or, this is the way my mother raised me, so therefore, this is how I am going to raise

Read more…