Pull this Bandaid off slowly – How to stop reward systems

photo by ngader via Flickr

photo by ngader via Flickr

Am I always going to have to do this?”

Some parents might worry if you start a certain prevention strategy (e.g., bringing books to a restaurant) or a reward strategy (e.g., “Am I always going to have to give her these stickers for cleaning up her room?”), you will always have to keep doing it.

The concern, I think, is these “BehaviorBandAids” (if you will) take too much effort or attention to maintain over long periods of time. Another concern is, “at some point he needs to be able to do this just because and not because he gets something from me.”

I get it…I really do. Continue reading

Always helping? What are you teaching?

photo by  woodleywonderworks via Flickr

photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

There are times when doing for the child takes away an opportunity to teach. 

A child stands in the middle of the room with socks in his outstretched hands.

His mom passes by his room and stops in her tracks as she sees him not even close to being ready. She says, “Put on your socks…seriously, you don’t need me to put on your socks.” She races around collecting bags and making sure the kids have everything ready for school.

Time is ticking, but the bags and big sister are ready. “Where is your brother?” She races back to her son’s room to find the socks on the floor and her son playing with his action figures, seemingly not worried that it is 7:50 and he needs to be at school by 8:00.

“Here…give them to me, why do I have to do this for you? You are too old to not know how to put on your socks.”

Sound familiar? Continue reading

The day I lost the “Parent of the Year” award


January 1, 2013 – The day I lose “Parent of the Year” award – and it will be OK.

I will tell my son from across the room to clean up a toy as he is walking away, not likely listening to me. Another request ignored…

I will be too tired to get up from the sofa and follow through on my earlier request for my son to “clean that up.” We’ll let that one slide.

I will tell my daughter “5 more minutes,” but will lose track of time and, next thing I know, an hour will pass and she will still be playing her new electronic gizmo in her bed and NOT sleeping. I’ll pay for that tomorrow. Continue reading

What to do when you have tried “everything”

(WTVD Photo/ Lisa Tyndall)

(WTVD Photo/ Lisa Tyndall)

I recently read a news story about a boy who was forced by his mother, as some form of intended punishment, to stand on the roadside with a sign around his neck that read:

“I don’t listen to my teachers. I’m suspended. This is my punishment.”

In the story, the mother commented she had “reached her limit:”

“My 12-year-old son is constantly acting up, getting trouble, and I’m tired of it. This is my last resort. I’ve tried spankings, taking his privileges away, and nothing has worked,” she said.

There are so many things about this story that turn my stomach, but I also understand the reality that many parents also find themselves in this position. Maybe not to the extent they resort to public humiliation as a form of parenting, but to the extent they lose sleep over the fact their child’s behavior is not changing despite their best efforts.

This is when a change of perspective has to take place Continue reading

Teaching rudeness!

Photo by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Photo by The U.S. Army via Flickr

How many times do we look at our children, sometimes in disgust or with red faces and say, “that was RUDE!” Or, better yet, we ask our kids, “why would you do something so rude?” We already know the answer to this question…and they do not.

A comedian I once heard recounted a story of being at a local pool with his 4 year old son. As the story was told, an overweight lady wearing a Guess jeans T-shirt with the word “GUESS?” written in bold across the front walked by. The child walked up to her, turned his head to the side and said, “200? 250?”


Things such as “rudeness,” “politeness,” and other social rules and boundaries are learned over time, experience after experience. Our role as parents is to show our kids where these lines are, but more importantly, to give them experiences that will result in positive outcomes so they will be more likely to engage in that socially acceptable behavior again. Continue reading

When your kid says “NO!”

Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov via Flickr

Are there times when you think your child’s favorite word is, “NO?”

Whether it is picking up socks, eating a few measly carrots at dinner, or going to bed, your kid is going to tell you “no.” So how should you handle that?

Here are a few things to remember: Continue reading

Lead your children in the right direction instead of away from the wrong

photo by vastateparksstaff via Flickr

When you were a kid, did you ever play the game, “HOT and COLD?” I am not sure what you called it, but you play by hiding a prize and your friend has to look for it based on your direction. As your friend gets closer, you say, “getting HOTTER!” and when walking away from it you say, “getting COLDER.” The final steps right before your friend gets to the prize usually results in, “HOT, HOT, HOT, FLAAAAMMMING HOT!” Or maybe your friend is way off and you say, “ICE COLD, FREEEEEZING COLD.” Fun game. I remember it well. Continue reading