Category: Love and Logic®

“The Most Important Parenting Skill There Is”, Kerry Speaks at Aspen Academy’s PUMP’d Event

At last week’s PUMP’d, Aspen parent Kerry Stutzman talked about “The Most Important Parenting Skill There Is.”
Here are three of her key points:
Kerry Stutzman PUMPd Aspen Academy

  1. The most important parenting skill is to demonstrate EMPATHY before delivering a consequence for bad behavior.

    “Connecting before Correcting” helps kids stay calm and in a thinking state.  It might sound like this:  “Oh sweetie, what a bummer that you didn’t get your toys picked up because now they are in Toy Jail.”

  2. We help our kids if we look at their misbehavior and bad decisions as opportunities to learn rather than something for us to get mad about.

    We might stop and think, “What does my child need to learn and how can I use this as an opportunity to teach?”  For example, leaving toys laying around indicates to us that our kids need more opportunities to practice cleaning up.  Having them do extra cleaning up to earn their things out of “Toy Jail” can be a valuable lesson.  If we stay loving and empathetic as they go through the discomfort of their “lesson,” our children’s hearts and minds can stay open to learn.  Plus, our connection with them can stay strong.

  3. When our kids become teenagers, the only access we have to their inner world is what they share with us.

    If we spend their childhoods demonstrating that every time they make a mistake, we get mad, then they are not likely to share their struggles and mistakes with us when they are teens.  We WANT them to keep sharing with us because the decisions they regularly make as teens can be life-or-death or life-changing decisions.

Please mark your calendar for the next PUMP’d on >Friday, December 5th, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.</span>  Kristina Scala and Kerry Stutzman will present:  “How to Craft Consequences That Make Sense for Kids.”  Kristina will share her favorite strategies and then everyone will have a chance to create their own consequences that make sense.  Please mark your calendar now to “sharpen the saw” of your Love and Logic skills to build relationships that last a lifetime with your children.

Improve Your Kiddo’s Bad Sportsmanship in 5 Easy Steps

5 easy steps to help your child become a better team player.  Love and Logic Parenting Classes in Denver, COSeven year-old Elliott is becoming a bad sport at baseball. After his games, he complains about how unfair the ref was, how that throw WAS in, how he really did get that kid out. The ride home from games becomes an open arena for airing every grievance he has with his teammates and with himself. This is driving his parents nuts because they want him to be a good sport but aren’t sure what to do.

Here are a few ideas to redirect negativity about the game into something positive:

Ask Why Playing Perfectly is So Important.

When your child is feeling down about his performance in a game, ask him if he thinks he is more lovable when he plays perfectly. Remind him that in your family, imperfect people are the most lovable kind.  Go through and talk about some of the plays from the game: comment on the successful plays and discuss how every athlete in every sport has their shining moments and their disappointing moments.

Have Them Notice and Encourage the Other Players

At the next game, give your child the task of watching other players closely. Every time he notices that a teammate has a bad play, urge him to go give them a couple words of encouragement. What you want to focus on with this is building good sportsmanship rather than trying to squash bad sportsmanship.

Notice and Empathize Unfair Calls

There are always questionable and downright unfair calls in all kids’ sports. Empathize about how frustrating it is when there is an unfair call. Be specific! Name the kid’s feelings of anger, sadness, embarrassment.

Keep Score of the Good

Tell him you are going to watch him and count every time he handles a tough call with good sportsmanship (you can also use the terms “class” or “dignity”). After the game, celebrate all those good moments (ignore the bad) of good sportsmanship he demonstrated. Perhaps the higher the score, the higher the scoops on an ice cream cone? 🙂

Use Selective Vision

Make the focus on building what you want more of. Look for that with a magnifying glass and get blurry vision about the times he not quite so gracious.

 

Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSWa Marriage and
Family Therapist
 and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapyand parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps
parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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What to Do if Your Kid Leaves Dirty Dishes Laying Around

Teen girl washing dishes at kitchen sinkThere are times when a parent has no clue what to do. This especially happens when our innocent babies and precious toddlers become willful and defiant ‘tweens and teens. Kids capable of making choices out of laziness and disregard for their parents.
Poised, charming 23-year old Annie sat on the couch in my counseling office today and told me a brilliant parenting strategy that her dad pulled on her when she was a young teen.

As a middle-schooler, Annie used to leave her dirty dishes setting out on the kitchen counter.  A very typical problem with kids – but an issue that many parents find hard to put an end to. Her single dad got on her case.  He told her not to leave her dirty dishes sitting out in the kitchen.

Well, she thought she would test the limits and show him he couldn’t boss her around!  She stopped leaving her dirty dishes in the kitchen.  Instead, she started leaving them in her bedroom!  Once he discovered her pile of dirty dishes with crusted-on food, he came up with a plan to deal with his defiant daughter. He went out and purchased the largest package of cheap paper plates that he could find.

The Effective “Opportunity to Learn”

Annie wasn’t allowed to use real plates again until she went through the entire stack of paper plates.  For months, every meal she ate at home, she ate on a flimsy paper plate.  Just think of your experience with cheap paper plates: the sauce soaks through, a knife cuts through the bottom, leaving little bits of paper in your food, and you surely can’t carry the thing around the house for fear it will collapse in half.

Annie hated this consequence.

By the end of the 3 months it took to use all of the paper, she was willing to (begrudgingly) scrape her plate and place it into the dishwasher.

The best thing about her dad’s delivery of this “opportunity to learn?”  He never said a single word about it.  Not one.

Ten years later, Annie admitted that it’s still an effort to rinse her plates and put them in the dishwasher in her little apartment, but she does it.  With the consequence gift she got from her loving, patient, creative dad, she learned a lesson to last a lifetime.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

Ask Your Misbehaving Son: “What Kind of Man Do You Want to Grow Up to Be?”

Raising Boys, Raising a Teenage Boy, How to deal with a misbehaving teen

While on vacation recently at the beach, a family of five found themselves having a less than ideal time together.

Lying on the beach and doing absolutely NOTHING sounded perfect for the over-worked parents, but the two older boys, James and Liam, wanted ACTION and their little sister Mattie wanted to join in the fun.

The water-fight that started out as fun quickly turned into James and Liam ganging up against Mattie – taunting, teasing, and leaving her feeling hurt and unwanted. She just wanted to play with her brothers! Her protests were met with a “You can’t play with us!” blasted at her by James. Mattie burst into tears.  This got mom’s attention.

The family vacation that was supposed to be fun and relaxing had somehow devolved into an exhibition on the beach of wet, upset kids that really wanted to have fun but couldn’t quite figure out how to make that happen. Mom thought fast.

“James, what kind of guy do you want to grow up to be?”

James: “A nice guy!”
Mom: “That’s wonderful to hear. Now, what do you think a nice guy would do right now?”

James’ face fell. He knew the answer.

Fascinated, Mom watched him go through the mental gymnastics:

“I don’t want to let Mattie play and I don’t feel like it and I’m not going to. So there! But I want to grow up to be a nice guy and a nice guy would let her play. So I guess I have to shift out of my “mean-boy” mode and into my “nice-guy mode…”

Sometimes kids feel ornery or stubborn or righteous and it is our job to ask questions to help them shift into a more civilized state of mind.

One of my favorite series of questions which help accomplish this are:

  • 1. “Who do you respect and admire?”
  • 2. “Would you act this way if he was watching you?”
  • 3. “Would he treat others this way?”
  • Besides stopping kids in their tracks to think about their behavior, these questions open the door for a conversation about integrity which calls for them to treat people well, whether or not anyone else knows about it.

    Siblings provide countless opportunities for teaching children how to treat all of the people around them. The next time your children are bickering/ fighting/ becoming increasingly aggressive towards each other – thank the universe for giving you such a great real-time, perfectly chaotic moment on which to build important life lessons!



    Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
    ©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

    A Teenage Storm Today Makes Way for a Sunny Tomorrow

    A Teenage Storm Today Makes Way for a Sunny Tomorrow There are many versions of a “Teenage Storm” – surly, annoyed, resentful, hurtful – perhaps it includes silence or is filled with an angry outburst claiming that you don’t understand. It could be your teen manipulating your emotions in the storm – looking for an opportunity to take advantage of your weakness. Whatever your particular teen brings to the table, I hope you let this parenting story help you remember to consistently stand your ground.

    Just two days ago, 15-year old Parker was in a hurry to get out the door and head to school. When I took an extra minute to grab my coffee, he snapped at me in such a loud, angry voice that was so rude and harsh that it startled me. I kept my composure on the way to school. I needed to think about how I wanted to handle but I knew that we were both too heated to discuss it well in that moment. He got out of the car and slammed the door with a sarcastic remark of, “Good job mom, you finally made it.” Bear in mind that this kid could be riding the bus to school, but it’s a long walk and early morning and I generally like the chance to be with him, so I drive him to school.

    After school, I calmly told him that the way he had treated me felt bad. He got fired up again and accused me of “going psycho over every little thing.” Of course, this hurt my feelings also. I mean, I am a reformed yeller and rarely raise my voice in anger!

    In typical teenage fashion, that same afternoon, Parker wanted me to drive him to get a haircut and to a friend’s house. After putting on some mental armor and reinforcements to endure his inevitable protest, I calmly said to my son, “The way you treated me today doesn’t leave me feeling willing to do you any favors or drive you around.” Then I added a common phrase of mine, “I love you too much to let you learn it’s ok to treat me poorly.”

    He was furious. And really disappointed about having to stay home while his friends got together. Fortunately, he kept it to himself. Still, I felt gross, he was grumpy and let’s just say it didn’t feel like the Cleaver household that evening.

    The next day, everything changed. During breakfast, Parker was kind and helpful. He seemed calm and collected – the night of ruminating on his choices seemed to have had a positive effect. When he again asked me about taking him for a haircut, I had no problem rewarding his request and we had a nice evening.

    Following through with consequences and limits with a strong-willed teen can be daunting. Teens never thank their parents for being firm (can you believe??) and we often feel like we have to run for cover when those particularly surly teens protest our attempts at discipline. But I swear, every time I set a limit and have the nerve to follow through, every time I’m strict with my strong-willed teen, I have to endure the storm, but once it is over, my teen is sweeter and nicer than he was before.



    Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
    ©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

    Do You Think These Parents Should Feel Guilty?

    Do you think the following parents ought to feel guilty for their actions?

    Parent A:

    I said to my teenage daughter, “I wash clothes that are placed in the hamper.” They’ve been lying in a heap in her room…so she doesn’t have anything else to wear except her least favorite outfits.

    Parent B:

    My son was getting more irritable and defiant every day. It seemed related to how much time he was spending playing his video games. I took the video games and told him that I loved him too much to see him getting so addicted to them.

    Parent C:

    My ten-year-old asked for a cell phone. I let her know that she could have one when she could afford the entire cost…including the data plan.

    Parent D:

    Our 23-year-old son was sitting around all day watching television. We told him that we were fine with him living with us for a while if he was doing his best to finish school or get a job. He continued to be so disrespectful and lazy that we asked him to leave.

    What do you think? Should these parents feel guilty for what they’ve done? Do you have to feel guilty when you set and enforce reasonable limits with your kids?

    Of course not!

    The goal is to set these limits in ways that allow us to go to bed each night knowing the following:
    I did it out of love.
    I did it with as much empathy as I could muster.
    I did it because I care more about my child’s long-term well-being than my own short-term emotions.


    Dr. Charles Fay
    ©2010 Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.d.& Love and Logic® Institute

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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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    Rowdy at Dinner

    I frequently receive letters and emails from my readers sharing their successes and failures as parents. While I prefer reading the success stories, I also find value in parenting failures because it gives me an opportunity to reach out and offer advice on a topic that I’m passionate about, Love and Logic® parenting. I look for opportunities to encourage parents to reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. My advice seemed to pay off for this mother and in the following letter, she shares her success.
    Boy has mouth full of pasta in kitchen

    Dinnertime Dilemma

    Dear Kerri,
    I just had to share my recent success story and offer a big “Thank You”. I’m a fan of your work and a big believer in the reward system you teach so I decided to give it a try. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled with the results. I have a 5-year old son who is a non-stop little ball of energy. Although this energy is wonderful to watch, there are times that I wish he would sit still and mind his manners.
    That said; dinnertime has always been a challenge. This should be a time for our family to come together and share the events of our day, express our thanks for food and family and enjoy each other’s company. Lately, it’s turned into a time that my husband and I dread. The delight has been drained from our family time due to the poor manners and temper tantrums of our 5-year old. It’s a constant struggle to get him to eat, sit still, use his napkin and clear his plate. I was so tired of being frustrated that I decided to change my method of parenting and enlist your reward system.

    Instead of focusing on his bad behavior, I offered a tangible (and immediate) reward for his good behavior. Every time he responded to a request, he would receive a token. When he was asked to come to the table, sit still, eat his dinner and clear his plate, he was given a token. I also made sure to tell him how proud I was of his good manners. I saw an immediate change in his behavior.
    Every now and then I would allow a “bad manners night” to let him enjoy dinner without feeling like he’s constantly under a microscope. On these nights we would make dinnertime fun and not worry so much about table manners. Within a short amount of time he was responding to all my requests and using table manners that any mother would be proud of.

    Since starting your reward system I’ve noticed a positive change in my son’s attitude. He looks forward to acting like a well-mannered little gentleman and really likes the positive reinforcement (and tokens) that accompany his good manners. He’s anxious to please me and he knows that, when he exhibits good manners at the table, there’s an immediate reward for his good behavior.
    Thank you for your parenting advice; it’s worked wonders for our son!

    Sincerely,
    Lillian H.
    Boise, ID



    Kerry Stutzman, MSW
    ©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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    Happy Starts to Preschool

    Dear Kerry,
    I’m a stay at home mom of twin boys and I knew that starting preschool would be difficult for them to deal with. New places, new faces, a new routine and the absence of mom would be a lot for them to digest so; I decided that instead of dreading this wonderful event in the lives of my boys, I would embrace it with Love and Logic® parenting. Following are some of the ideas that were a success for me and my boys; I hope your readers find them useful.

    Loads of Love

    Before we head to class, I gave each of them plenty of hugs and kisses. Not just a few, I overloaded them with lots of love, snuggles, hugs and kisses while asking them if they had gotten enough to last until pick up time. I also asked if I could give one more kiss on their nose, forehead, cheek, chin, etc. just to make sure that they were covered from head to toe in love. When they decided that they had received enough loving to make it through the day, I would take them into class.

    Practice Makes Perfect

    In order to get my boys accustomed to a new experience, I decided to practice the preschool routine in an effort to turn their jitters to joy. I held preschool practice sessions on days when my boys didn’t have to go to school. From walking out the door with backpacks in hand, to walking into the classroom and saying goodbye, my boys became familiar with the process and what to expect. I made sure to document this process with lots of pictures in order to remember our practice routine and show my boys how to successfully arrive at preschool with zero anxiety and fuss.

    Preschool Platter

    Another great idea that worked well for my boys was a menu board. The board showed pictures ranging from a crying and screaming child that’s holding his mother’s leg to a happy and hopping child that’s glad to be going to school. There was enough variety on the board that my boys were able to plan out their week of going to school, which allowed them to decide how they wanted to arrive at school. If either boy started to fuss on day one, I would offer a reminder that we’re “happy and hopping into class today” and that “crying and fussing” isn’t on the menu until Wednesday. This was a perfect way to create a positive experience while having fun.

    Lastly, I found the following books to be helpful; “The Kissing Hand”, “The Invisible String” and “I Love You All Day Long”. They were great tools that prepared my boys for preschool while helping them to understand and enjoy the experience. I hope these ideas are helpful!
    Thanks,
    Jan
    Auburn, CA
    Kerry Stutzman, MSW
    ©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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    How To Turn Your Words from Garbage to Gold

    Little boy with shoes on

    TWIN TERRORS CAN CAUSE DOUBLE TROUBLE

    Every parent knows how exhausting it can be to raise a child, especially toddlers. For parents of twins, that exhaustion is enough to make you see double, literally. What do you do when faced with temper tantrum throwing twin terrors at dinnertime and how do you elicit a positive response from one or both when they seem to feed off each other? It’s not easy but, with a little Love and Logic®, this mom turned her misbehaving minions into terrific toddlers.

    DINNERTIME DISASTER DUO

    The day was winding down and, as the sun sank low in the sky, mom thought it would be a perfect fall evening for a dinner on the patio. The only problem was her defiant 3 year old that refused to put his shoes on before joining them. While mom sat patiently at the dinner table, this twin toddler put up quite a fight. Refusing to put his shoes on and causing quite a scene was enough to send this mom over the edge. Luckily, her toddler’s tantrum didn’t throw his twin into the same tizzy. As they both sat waiting for the storm to calm, mom had an idea. She decided to try an enforceable statement in hopes of turning his tantrum into a lesson of love and patience.

    With a calm voice and a steady gaze, mom simply said “anybody who has their shoes on gets dinner” and turned her defiant son’s seat away from the table. While mom and the rest of the family began to enjoy their supper, her surprised son decided that he wanted to join them for dinner and, if it meant he had to put his shoes on to do it that was OK. As mom watched, what had become a customary dinnertime meltdown, turned into an easy fix. Her son put on his shoes and joined his brother and mom at the table. Mom couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for the actions of her baby boy.

    ENFORCEABLE STATEMENTS THAT STICK

    When mom decided to use an enforceable statement, she sent a message to her son that his actions or inactions would warrant a response. This type of enforceable statement can reinforce to the child that what they’re doing is unacceptable and that there is a repercussion for their behavior. Additionally, using enforceable statements can also let the child feel that they are in control of the situation. By forcing the child to claim control of his actions mom allowed him to make the decision to put his shoes on and join in dinner, while letting him know that his actions would not be tolerated. Enforceable statements are a great way to elicit the response you want without all the fuss. This mom took care of business without losing her cool.



    Kerry Stutzman, MSW
    ©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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    Getting Kids to School On Time

    Young girl refusing to get ready for school

    DAD’S DILEMMA

    After a busy morning of diapering, feeding, bathing and dressing his 7 and 3-year olds and tending to the needs of the baby (with a few temper tantrums thrown in here and there), dad was hoping for a little help from his toddler and oldest son. Little did he know that they had other plans. After posing the request to “get in the car”, dad returned to find the 7 and 3 year old sitting in front of the TV. Not only were they in the same spot where he left them but, the 3 year old had removed his pants, ensuring that dad would have one more thing to do before leaving the house for school.

    If you’re a parent you know how hectic mornings can be, especially when you’re attempting to get somewhere on time. When this dad was dealt a healthy dose of groundhog parenting, he managed to keep his cool and teach his children a valuable lesson about personal accountability and getting them to listen.

    GROUNDHOG PARENTING AND HOW IT CAN MAKE YOUR ALREADY BUSY DAY SEEM ENDLESS

    Dad uses the term “groundhog parenting” to describe what seems like a never-ending cycle of asking for something specific (“clean up your mess”, “get in the car”, etc.) with zero results. This type of cycle makes simple tasks seem endless, repetitive, and…like Groundhog Day, over and over and over again.
    This type of parenting is not only ineffective; it’s the perfect recipe for a frustrated parent. Instead of continually repeating the same request with little to no response dad tried the new method of Love and Logic® parenting in hopes of eliciting a different response.

    DAD TO THE RESCUE

    Since Dad’s request to “get in the car” was ignored, he decided to employ a new technique. His new strategy will make cents…probably from his son’s piggy bank. After Dad asks his sons to get in the car, he’ll make his way to the car and charge the 7 year old .25 cents per minute that he has to wait. Hopefully, this strategy will encourage his son to listen to Dad’s request and respond the first time. However, dad also wants to make sure he’s rewarding positive behavior and not simply punishing bad behavior so, dad will also offer the 7 year old .25 cents per minute for every minute that they’re early arriving to school.

    With a positive reinforcement in place, dad is ready to tackle getting to school on time with minimal hassle. More importantly, the 7 year old will feel a sense of reward when he’s given positive reinforcement for his positive actions; it’s a win/win situation and Dad is the hero of the game!



    Kerry Stutzman, MSW
    ©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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