Posted tagged ‘parenting classes’

A first family meeting success story

March 14, 2011

The two most useful habits for positive parenting are family meetings and encouragement (instead of praise, reward & punishment). Family meetings are a powerful way to stay connected to your children and teens, which protects them from bullying by connecting them to your family, nurtures their self-esteem, practices mutual respect, builds their confidence and teaches them teamwork. Family meetings reinforce every positive parenting strategy and everything you want your child to become.

The first week’s assignment in my online parenting class was to hold a family meeting. The mother who posted the report below has four children between ages 4 and 8. She took the assignment seriously, involved the children in picking out a special treat and had a very successful meeting. If your family could have a meeting that was half as good as hers, it would be a success.

One tweak is that I would have invited the children to set up the ground rules. The “three strikes” will hopefully prove unnecessary. Be happy they show up for the meetings, especially as they get older. Another suggestion is to have one of the children prepare a blank agenda template on the computer. The more the children are involved, the more they are empowered.

I hope her family meeting will inspire you to have a family meeting. See my book or tip sheet for more information. The first step is to post an empty agenda on your fridge and announce the time of the meeting to your family. Good luck and tell me what happens.

We held our first family meeting tonight, 3/4/11, and happy to report my kids were so excited to do it! I made a big deal out of it by taking them to the grocery store after school, and letting them each pick out a pint of their favorite ice-cream, which would be their special treat after the meeting (they didn’t eat the whole pint each, just a serving ;o-).

I used the Family Meeting agenda document. For this first meeting, I led the discussion and opened with discussing the Ground Rules of our meeting:

1. Discussing one topic at a time
2. Not moving to another topic until everyone agrees to do so
3. Taking turns while speaking
4. No putting other people down
5. No fighting or arguing

We agreed that if anyone should break a rule during the meeting they would get 1 strike. If a person got to 3 strikes then they would not get to have the treat that followed.

After we had the ground rules established, we moved on to Compliments. My children and I really enjoyed this part of the meeting and said some really sweet things to their siblings, none of which I think I’ve EVER heard them say before and nearly brought tears to my eyes. They also had some sweet things to say about my husband and myself.

When it was my turn to compliment, I was sure to mention how much I appreciated their help over this past week, and how it makes it easier for me when everyone pitches in to help. ***I honestly can report I was AMAZED at how willing my children are to help, especially when it comes to cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Each and every one of them were on board with a job I asked them to do, right down to my 4-year-old washing a pan!

 In addition to complimenting my kids, it felt really good to compliment my husband. We are guilty of not taking the time to do this. I mentioned to him how much I appreciate that he makes it possible for me to exercise, and I meant it 100%!

From compliments, we moved into discussing what Respect means (my 8-year-old did a fantastic job explaining to his siblings ). I brought up that I feel like we as a family could do better at showing each other respect, and brainstormed about ways we could change. They had some great ideas, and felt like it definitely clicked =)

We then had everyone go around the table to answer the following questions:

1. What made you feel good this week?
2. What made you feel bad this week?
3. What do you want to accomplish next week?

Asking these questions lead into some great family discussion, i.e. My daughter expressed that she felt great cheering on her friends in her gym class when they were struggling with an exercise. My husband said, “The Family Meeting was the highlight of his week” which, of course, THRILLED me!

Finally we discussed our upcoming events\schedule. One of the items on this list was my daughter’s Powderpuff Derby race (the equivalent to the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby) The opportunity to build another car out of wood was met with much enthusiasm by all of my kids, and lead to brainstorming what we will do differently to make my daughter’s car faster, etc. We also discussed we will be getting a visit from Grammy & Grandpa next weekend, and I would need some extra help around the house to get it in tip-top shape for their visit.

Finally we closed with activities that each of us would like to do as a family, i.e. Go Bowling, Play Lazer Tag, once spring arrives we are going to make it our goal to walk on every trail in our town.

We closed the evening by making ice cream sundaes and watching a family movie together =) It was a great night, and so pleased with the outcome. My kids said they can’t wait until next week, and our next family meeting. In the meantime, I’ll be sure to print off a blank agenda and write down topics to discuss as they come up.

A way to belong through El Sistema

April 16, 2010
belonging, children want to belong, gangs provide a place to belong, the importance of belonging to a group, alfred adler + belonging, we all want to belong. Belonging is one of our fundamental human needs. To belong is to be. Without belonging, we're log. Gustavo Dudamel found a place to belong as a poor kid in VEnezuela

Gustavo Dudamel is one of the most charasmatic conductors of the 21st century. He learned to play violin through El Sistema to reach poor children on the streets and train them in classical music.

“Exclusion is the problem of our society. When you give a child an instrument, you are including them immediately,” said superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel,  in the Boston Globe of April 16, 2010.

Dudamel discovered the violin and classical music through a 30-year old program, El Sistema, which provides an alternative to poor children in Venezuela. Some 70 percent of the 400,000 young musicians come from families with below-poverty incomes.

For a few hours a week, they leave poverty behind and belong to something bigger and more beautiful than the environment from which they came.

The young musicians in the Venezuelan youth symphonies start playing in groups immediately so when they play in groups of 300 or more, the music has an ensemble feel to it, according to the Globe. These children know how to belong and be a part of something bigger and more beautiful than they could ever achieve alone.

The need to belong is crucial to our human nature according to psychologist Alfred Adler, M.D. We want to belong so badly that we make great sacrifices and sometimes bad decisions to ensure membership in a group. Our whole society is set up on the “in group” mentality, reinforced by status symbols.

We demonstrate status by the groups we belong to, by buying certain cars, houses and  clothes. We talk a certain way to demonstrate allegiance to our social class and group.

Our children yearn to belong somewhere in life. The family is the first and most fundamental place for them to belong. When parents count on children to do chores, it says, “you’re important. We need you. You belong.” Insist on their presence at family dinner, especially for teens, because it reinforces YOU BELONG HERE.

Think about how you feel as a newcomer to a group versus when you have been accepted. You have a place. You’re appreciated by others who care if you show up or not. Other people witness and greet you.

Children want to feel that sense of belonging in a family. Family dinners-chores-&-meetings, encouragement, witnessing them and setting boundaries all reinforce the sense of belonging.

Gustavo Dudamel conducts with charisma and enthusiasm that is beyond compare.

Routines provide a backbone to family life

January 11, 2010

CHildren and routines, children help cook, children like jobs, chores and children

Children enjoy routines around mealtime, school and bedtime.

One of my new year’s resolutions is to follow a daily work routine. Distractions often tempt me in my home office. A routine provides a structure that gives me focused work and play time. Routines help me feel better and accomplish more.

Children and teens thrive upon a routine. They like to know what is happening next. It helps them make sense of the chaotic world we live in. Even if the routine isn’t followed 100 percent of the time, it is a backbone that can bend, twist and support daily tasks.

My friend Ned is newly separated from his wife. The family is establishing a new routine in which the teenagers are learning how to manage living at Dad’s house part-time. “My son has adjusted, but my daughter doesn’t always want to come and visit me. She finds it hard to come to my house for the weekend,” Ned said.

Ned has established a place for his daughter at his place. Adhering to regular visitation and creating a system to track belongings can help his daughter feel more secure. A milk crate or basket kept near the door can hold her belongings that must be transported to both homes. It’s all about developing new routines.

Children are constantly evolving and their routines evolve with them. A toddler’s morning routine to get them ready for the day is different from a teen’s morning habits. The younger the child, the more the parents are involved in setting and maintaining the routine. Children like structure at home and at school/day care because it gives them a sense of control.

What are the routines in your family? How can they be tweaked? What situation at your home could benefit from a routine?

Start with a family meeting to discuss the situation and ask the children for ideas on how to solve it and implement the solution. I like the idea of a “30-day free money back guarantee” for new ideas to make the family run more smoothly. When the children suggest a strategy at a family meeting, give it a try. It may work and implementing it will develop your child’s self-esteem.

Don’t kow-tow to little emperors and empresses

December 21, 2009

Little Emporers and Little Empresses in China can become quite self-centered. Only children. Good parenting book. Good Parenting Advice, Good parenting advise, parenting, how to parent.

“Look Daddy,” said the “little emperor” at the Beijing Zoo at left. One-child family are still the norm, according to our guide, Owen, of a 9-day tour of China I just took.

The Chinese still prefer boys over girls. I saw groups of adoptive parents getting ready to export their baby girls to new homes overseas.

Whether a little emperor or empress, parenting one child is different from raising two or more children, as the Chinese have discovered.

Only children have the necessity and tendency to learn to navigate an adult world and get used to having life catered to their whims and desires.

Saying “no” is one of the best gifts a parent can bestow to their little emperors and empresses. If not, the desire for power will only escalate and could explode when the child enter adolescence.

Little emporers and empresses are not used to being told “no,” thinking about others or doing chores for the common good. Implementing a family chore system will combat the “little emperors/empress” syndrome, common in China and the USA.


  1. Teach children discipline when they have to do something they don’t feel like;
  2. Fuel children’s self-esteem when people depend on them to contribute to the household; and
  3. Empower children to make good decisions because chores teach children how to manage time, and projects, and life skills.

My book, “Raising Able: how chores empower children to make good decisions” will be published in 2010. I describe the advantages of childhood chores, including taking mom and dad out of the servant role and de-thrones little emperors and empresses.

Children can start doing chores as young as soon as they’re interested — as early as 18 months old. Parents can expect children and young adults who live at home to contribute to the running of the household on a regular basis.

It’s up to parents to create a family chore system and follow through. It’s worth the investment of time and trouble, even if the children don’t do the chore up to your standards. Doing chores teaches children and teens valuable life-lessons and combats the entitlement of little emperors and empresses.