What You Focus On Grows

February 15th, 2019

If what you focus on grows, then it makes sense to focus on the positive. Our kids, and actually all of us, seek attention. The thing about attention is that it has an absolute quality. That is, negative attention fills the bill just as much as positive attention. The problem is that it is lots easier to get negative attention. So, the the extent possible, focus on the positive. Also, if there are good and bad parts to us, they balance out to 100 parts. That means, if your child has 63 good parts about him, he then has 37 bad parts. The proportion always adds up to 100. So, if you focus on the good parts, remember that what you pay attention to grows, the good parts go up and the bad parts go down. Even when correcting your child, help him think about how he could have done things better, rather than blaming or shaming for what he did wrong. What you focus on grows into a teachable moment.

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How Much Trouble Do You Want to Buy?

February 13th, 2019

If you are looking for a trouble-free home, forget about it. All kinds of trouble, big and small, kid and parent, will visit your family at some time or another. You have no control over whether trouble comes. You have every control over what you do with it. The longer you wait, stall, rationalize, or stew over the trouble, the more of it you are going to eventually buy. The best option is to address troubles as soon as you are aware of them. Confront the situation with the offender, and then use your active listening to understand the feelings and context. Set the boundary, in terms of your expectations, and then talk together about how the offense can be avoided in the future. Set rules through family meetings and post them for all to see. Act as soon as trouble occurs and you will be buying very little of it.

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Hormones Will Wreak Havoc

February 11th, 2019

When your daughter is getting ready to start her menstrual period, it can set a whole house spinning. Most teen girls see their period as a bother, not as a blessing. How you prepare her for her first period, and help her adjust to her monthly schedule can make all the difference in the world. Use your active listening to help her get all of her feelings out. When you see the emotional fever go down, let her know, "You know, sweetheart, I have some thoughts about how you can make do here. Can I share them with you?" Asking permission always helps open the door. It also invests your daughter in your ideas working. For a few months, help her get a rhythm that works for her, and involve her in activity and dietary options that can minimize her discomfort during her periods. Cut her some slack in mood and attitude, as long as she remains respectful. Hormones can wreak havoc in a home, but with planning and patience, you can weather this storm as well.

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Restrictions That Work

February 9th, 2019

All parents use restricting your child's privileges, access, or time as a consequence for unacceptable words or actions. But there are two kinds of restriction models. The correctional model is like our country's prison system. While it may work as punishment, it is clearly power-based. I've introduced a relational model of restriction. In this model, your child is actively involved in just how long his restriction lasts. As he "gets it." you can lower the number of days he is on restriction. In this way, he is motivated to change his negative behavior. As you monitor his process, you can reward him along the way for making effort to change. The whole process brings the two of you closer together and creates teachable moments.

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Angst & Attitude —Welcome to the Teen Years

February 7th, 2019

Angst is the sum of every bad feeling you can imagine. Attitude is, well, we parents all know attitude when we see it. Kids in general and teens in particular really don't want to share their feelings. When have you heard your teen say, "Hey, Dad. Can I share my feelings with you?" If you have, good for you. It's rare. Usually we see the attitude first. Actually, attitude is your teen reaching out to you. If you come back with power, attitude yourself, judgment, or even good solutions, you missed the mark. These responses may leave your teen feeling they are a burden to you. Use your active listening, as attitude is a hallmark of an emotional fever. Draw him out with a comment and question like, "Gosh, Son. This isn't  like you. What else is going on?" If you get a shut-down response, turn this essay question into a multiple choice question. You know your teen well enough that you will probably hit the mark. Best option for parents of teens?  Hang in there.

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When Parenting, Choose Quality Time

February 5th, 2019

Most of us want to parent either just like mom and dad, or just opposite mom and dad. However, conventional wisdom shows us that we are drawn to the familiar, even if that familiar is unhealthy. We need to make a conscious choice to practice what is healthy but unfamiliar to us long enough for it to become familiar. When quality time with your child comes around, choose to be there for and with your child. Your quality time together is a great source for teachable moments.

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Transitions Can Be Tough

February 3rd, 2019

If your child is going to have difficulty during the day, chances are it will happen during a transition time. Even with expected transitions, like changing classes, things are different. We have to adapt on the fly. Mostly it's easy, but sometimes not. To curtail potential difficulty engage in pre-planning with your child. Help him expect possible negative outcomes. Streamline the transition process so he has less to think about. Transitions can be tough, but with active listening and joint problem-solving, you can help ease transitions.

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When You Really Want to Help, Less is More

February 1st, 2019

When your child is melting down, are you quick to go into damage control? Or are helping her settle down and re-group? Active listening is the go-to response to your child's upset. Try to avoid solving her problem, lecturing, or criticizing, as they only increase your emotional distance from her. When you are trying to active listen, most parents use 5 words or less to convey what you think she might be feeling in the moment. The more words you use, the more confusion and distance you might create, despite your best intentions.  Remember, when you really want to help, less is more.

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You will Always Be the Parent

January 31st, 2019

As our children grow, our parenting needs to change. There are four stages of parenting, depending on your child's age. They will be most receptive and you will be more effective as you parent accordingly. Youngsters require hands-on parenting, as they can't do for themselves. Children require directive parenting, as they test the limits of their abilities. Teens respond best to advice-based parenting, as they find their individual identity. Young adults and our grown children benefit from consultative parenting. As your child struggles, use active listening to settle her down. When you see that emotional fever go down, ask permission before offering help. "I have some thoughts about what's going on, sweetheart. Do you want to hear them?" You will always be their parent.

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Let the Christmas Giving Spirit be all Year

January 29th, 2019

Parents who know, understand and respond to their child's needs and feelings are practicing servanthood parenting. That does not mean giving in all the time. Always giving in just promotes your child's sense of entitlement with no accountability. Yet, if you are truly practicing servanthood in your parenting your children, you help them manage stress better, develop emotional intimacy, and speak up for themselves. You are still the boss, and there are still boundaries and accountability, but there are also more teachable moments and a stronger family bond.

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