Archive for the ‘communication’ category

Allow transition time to summer vacation

June 25, 2012
college students are like lame ducks. They've experienced the freedom of college and now have to spend summer with mom and dad. Parents need to communicate with college students about expectations.

Close the door if you can’t stand the mess and let kids of all ages keep their rooms how they choose. You have bigger concerns on which to pour parental energy.

Most kids despise transitions. They like routines, the safety of knowing what’s coming next.

Give them at least two weeks to settle down into the new summer schedule, whether it’s more time at home, with relatives or at camp or summer school. Until they settle down, cut them extra slack when they are quick to anger, resist doing chores and squabble with you and siblings more often.

Expect less and show more patience during the two weeks of transition. You’ll be calmer by adjusting  expectations and having a plan.

If you have the revolving door of college students, have a family meeting or at least a chat about how you expect them to contribute, keep track of their belongings and communicate about their whereabouts.

The start of summer is a good reason to have a family meeting with kids of all ages to set up summer plans for fun, chores, routines and agreements on screen time. Figure out a way that they will self-monitor screen time so you’re not the cop.

Family meetings pay off in the long run because they engender every positive characteristic you want kids to develop. They especially promote the priceless gift of connection that eventually keeps tweens and teens making good independent decisions.

Whatever you do with your toddlers, school age, tweens and teens this summer, make sure it involves some outdoor time reveling in the woods.  Allow them to feel boredom without plugging into a screen. They will discover resource and creativity through boredom. It is a problem they can solve without plugging in. Remember the four most powerful words in the English language: You can do it.

How do you handle the big transitions around the school calendar? Do your kids act out?

One more thing on a parent’s TO DO list

May 29, 2012
Children, tweens, teens, teenagers and preschoolers can learn about manners at home from parents. it takes repetition. It takes family dinners. Parenting is about repetition. good parenting is about doing things over and over. "manners and kids" is important. Do not underestimate it. Teach manners at home during family dinner.

Teaching your kids manners takes repetition, modeling and reinforcement. Nothing about good parenting comes easy, free or cheap.

Yesterday a young visitor shook hands when we were introduced. “Wow, a firm grip and you’re looking me square in the eye,” I said, returning the courtesy to the 15-year-old.

I turned to his parents and said, “Nice job. He knows how to greet people. My brother Jim taught me a long time ago, Firm grip and square in the eye.” This simple gesture says, “I care about how you feel.” That’s the essence of manners.

My seventh grade science teacher Mrs. Lewis used to bemoan about misbehaving students, “Lack of home training.”

I agree. Don’t go overboard, either like a manners cops, demanding a please-and-thank-you every other minute. All I ask is for kids to make eye contact and pleasant conversation; to unobtrusively say, “No thank you” if they don’t something; and to chew with their mouths closed.

Like most good parenting habits, teaching manners requires role models, repetition and reinforcement. Family dinner is an ideal place to model, repeat and reinforce consideration for each other and the cook. It’s not a chore to teach manners, it’s a practice.

When the snacks were gone and the gathering nearly over at 4 pm, I set out a wedge of gourmet cheese. An 11-year-old asked nicely, “Is there any real food?”

I offered my standard option to those who don’t want what is served. “Would you like a peanut and butter and jelly sandwich?”

Hungry from swimming, she accepted. I put some frozen bread in the toaster and got out the peanut butter and jelly. She assembled it, said, “Mmm. Good jam!” and ate it unobtrusively.

That’s my kind of kid. Appreciative, asked nicely for what she wanted, and accepted what was offered. She showed good home training.

Manners are like exercise — do regularly for the best results. And keep at it.

Model a positive attitude when you’re powerless

October 31, 2011
halloween storms remind us how important it is to set a positive attitude as part of positive parenting. What you DO is more important that what you SAY. There are plenty of chores when the power is out. Work together as a team. Encourage their efforts. Use the extra time to have a family meeting. You can discipline children without getting angry. Children, tweens, teens, and teenagers respond to positive parenting.

Power outages call for creativity. That a measuring cup of milk heating on the wood stove insert for a mochachino.

Settling in for three to seven days without power in Ayer, Mass. with 640,000 people, reminds me of the importance of parents setting a positive family attitude.

My friend “Jill” grew up as the oldest of eight children in a family that struggled to make ends meet. On days when there was no food to eat in the house in the 1950s, when milk and bread were still delivered door-to-door, her father would steal food to feed his hungry brood.

Jill’s mother then toasted the bread, heated the milk, poured it over the bread and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar to make an old-fashioned treat called milk toast.
Here’s where attitude came in. As she served the milk toast to her children, Jill’s mom said, “Mmm. Isn’t this good?” and passed on the priceless gifts of attitude and gratitude. They had something to fill their bellies and it tasted good. Any food on an empty stomach tastes delicious.

Parents convey attitude towards our children non-verbally more than with words. Children pay more attention to what we do over what we say. Attitude can be conveyed in body language, what we don’t say, and how we say it.

I copied my mother’s attitude towards sarcasm. My mother made it clear to her nine children what she thought of sarcasm, calling it “the weakest form of communication.” Avoid sarcasm if you can, and If your family uses it to communicate, put “sarcasm” on the family meeting agenda and talk about the pros and cons of sarcasm. There aren’t many “pros.”

It’s easy to be happy and patient when things are going our way. When raising children and keeping long-term relationships going, it’s the challenges, disappointments and hardships that test our character.

My biggest challenge in raising four kids was to learn to manage my anger, develop patience and learn positive parenting skills like encouragement and family meetings. Parenting is THE most difficult and most important task most of us will do in our lifetimes, with the longest lasting legacy.

I remember one winter when my children, then ages 8, 6, 4, and 1,  had back-to-back cases of chicken pox and strep throat. I was home all day and night for nearly a month. In those days, the phone was my connection to other adults to keep my sanity.

My mother provided a friendly ear, and encouraged me by saying with a laugh, “You’re developing character, Susan.” She instilled in me the priceless gift of, “You can do it” which carries over to every aspect of my life. Surprise Halloween storms and unexpected bumps of parenting provide many opportunities to develop a positive attitude and character.

Have some fun with your kids this week. Use the extra time to have a family meeting, one of THE most powerful parenting tools to develop your child’s critical thinking, self-esteem and confidence, make a strong family connection, set a positive family atmosphere, enhance communication and practice teamwork and mutual respect.

Family meetings are worth the investment of time and energy. See my free tip sheet and other postings on how to hold them. You’ll be glad you get into the habit.

What is Your Child Really Saying? Translating ‘attitude’

October 26, 2011

Guest Blog by Judy Arnall

Attitude is sarcastic anger. Sometimes, it‟s a snarky I-statement or You statement If you look underneath, often, it‟s a sign that your child is ready for more independence and feels thwarted in some way. Does she have reasonable choices? Can you give her more ability to make decisions? Or does she feel that she never has control over anything?

Children want their needs and wants taken care of, just like adults do.

When looking at sass from your child, try to identify what they are really trying to communicate based on their need or feeling (NOF), stripped of the sarcasm, and then feed it back to them. “You are upset because I’m interrupting your game?”

Share your feelings. “When I hear your tone, I fee disrespected. I would like to talk about this. Can we try this again? Here is how you can say what you are feeling. Instead of saying, “Whatevah!” say, I’m feeling nagged. Please leave me alone.” Then I will really hear you. Can you try that please?”

Sometimes, you really have to give them the exact words to use, or they don‟t know the respectful way to assert their needs. It’s a critical life skill to speak up respectfully so people can know what‟s bothering you but still not feel attacked.

Or you could gently say, “Do you want a moment to rephrase that?” You could use humor in your response. You could also just walk away and your body language will reveal you don’t want to be spoken to that way. Responding with anger or sarcasm doesn‟t teach them anything other than its okay for them to continue that way.

Be sure to model assertive politeness instead of “attitude” yourself. It’s a hard trap to not fall into especially when family sarcasm is portrayed all over the media as cool and desirable. It’s a false representation.

If you said, “whatever” to your boss when she asked you why your project was late, I would bet that she wouldn’t laugh. You are the perfect person to teach your children the assertiveness skills they need in life. Start at home!

Attitude Statements Your Child Might Use

  • You’re not my boss
  • I hate you
  • I’m not your slave
  • I’ll do what I want
  • You don’t love me
  • You don’t understand
  • It’s not fair
  • This is dumb
  • I can’t do it
  • I have rights!
  • Fine!
  • Whatever!
  • I don’t care

Persuasive Statements that Adults Listen To

  • I’d like a choice
  • I didn’t like what you said
  • That doesn’t seem fair
  • I need to try
  • I need attention
  • Please listen to my opinion
  • I feel capable and responsible
  • I feel scared, worried, about failing
  • I don’t know how
  • Please help me
  • Please let me have a choice
  • I’m feeling pushed
  • I’m scared

This blog is from another parenting educator, Judy Arnall from Canada. We both come from the same positive parenting approach based on the works of Dr. Alfred Adler. Judy Arnall is an award-winning parenting and teacher conference speaker, mom of five children and author.
Reach her at,