Category: Success Stories

Discipline that Makes Cents

Discipline that Makes Sense

Tax Unwanted Behavior

At a parent coaching session recently,  a single dad talked about a real world solution to his parenting dilemma. He charged a tax to his children when they displayed unwanted behavior and paid them a bonus when they displayed positive behavior. What appeared to be a simple solution proved to be a valuable lesson to his children and this reward system worked wonders on bad behavior.

Carpe DIME: Seizing the Opportunity to Change Bad Behavior

This dad shared a story about his 7 year old son and some unwanted behavior. These behaviors included eye rolling and every parent’s favorite phrase, “whatever.”

“It was simple,” he explained, “whenever my son would roll his eyes or say something I didn’t like, he was charged 25 cents.”

He went on to add that, on one occasion, he charged his son $1.00 for an exceptionally crummy thing he had done to his younger brother. After saving their allowances, the boys were given the opportunity to pick a toy at the local Target. The 7 year old had been diligent about saving his allowance and picked out a really cool Star Wars Lego set that he was especially proud of. His younger brother, not being as savvy a shopper, picked out a few cheap toys that were poorly made and not a great value. Although the 3 year old was thrilled with his purchase, his older brother quickly took the wind out of his sails by telling him how stupid his purchase was. The little guy wilted but Dad made sure to turn this into a lesson his 7 year old wouldn’t forget.

Later in the car, Dad told the 7 year old that he would be charged $1.00 for the unnecessary and hurtful actions towards his brother. He told him how much he loved him and, because of that love, he would teach him to be a better person by exhibiting kindness towards his brother. That said, the 7 year old now had his turn to wilt but promptly handed over the dollar to his Dad. The following night, the 7 year old was given the chance to earn back his dollar by treating his brother with love and kindness.

Lessons Learned and Money Earned

The lesson that this Dad was able to teach his 7 year old was invaluable and will serve as a reminder to his son that there are rewards with good behavior just as there are repercussions for bad behavior. With real world lessons such as this one, Dad was able to instill in his son the value of kindness while helping his son to be a better person.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

+++++
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.

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

+++++
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

    +++++
    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

    +++++
    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.

    Compassion is the Key to 5-year Old Bed Wetting

    sleepy boy in blue bedclothesWe all have expectations as parents. One thing we don’t usually expect is for our school age child to still be wetting the bed on a regular basis. So when it happens over and over again, we can forget that they are little people trying hard to learn and we can end up being negative and shaming – which can prolong the bed wetting episodes.

    I recently worked with a dad who was frustrated with his 5-year old’s constant bed-wetting.

    So we tried a new approach.

    “My 5-year old son, Will, still wets the bed at least half of the nights. Each time it happens, he’ll walk into my room in the morning in different pajamas than he wore to bed with his chin tucked and a sad look on his face.  I asked the pediatrician who politely brushed me off, saying that it’s not uncommon and that I shouldn’t worry about it. I try to get Will to use the bathroom every night before bed, I have him help me change the sheets and I don’t get upset about it but I’m just not sure what else I should be doing.”

    This is an issue with two levels of solutions: the physical and the mental.

    The Physical Aspects

    Ensure you are following these steps:

    1. No liquids after dinner.
    A belly full of water can equal a bed full of regret. Cut off all liquids after dinner, and if a bedtime drink is requested – make it small – 1 -2 swallows is plenty.

    2. Use the bathroom right before bed.
    Be certain that he goes to the bathroom before bed (make it into a game if it helps).

    3. Sleepwalk to the bathroom.
    Wake him up right before YOU go to bed.  Keep the lights low, speak quietly, and guide him into the bathroom, even if you have to carry him and help him sit.

    The Mental Aspects

    Kids are emotional little creatures. They pick up on meaning and subtext that we don’t even realize we’re giving off. With that said:
    1. Show no irritation or intensity when he doesn’t make it through; sounds like he’s already bummed about it.

    2. Have him set up an incentive to celebrate when he stays dry through the night. When he does stay dry, be happy with him.

    3. Be kind and matter-of-fact about him helping put the sheets and pajamas in the washer.

    4. Come up with something sweet and reassuring.

    Here’s the part that can make potty-training an exercise in developing important life-long skills: have him come up with something sweet and reassuring to say to himself on the days he’s not successful staying dry.  Ask him what a good coach would say to encourage a player.  Some possibilities:

    • “No worries, better luck next time.”
    • “It’s ok, I don’t have to be perfect.”
    • “My body might not be quite ready but it’ll get there soon.”
    • “Lucky for me, people in our family are lovable even when they wet the bed.”

    5. Envision the Positive
    Each night before he goes to bed, have him say out loud: 1) what his reward will be for staying dry and, 2) what sweet thing he’ll say to himself if he wakes up wet.  Even better?  Have him get in bed and pretend that he is waking up wet.  Have him go through each detail of opening his eyes, checking his pajamas, smiling and saying his kind statement.  Then do the same drill with him pretending that he is waking up dry and enjoying his incentive.

    If you do this, not only will you some day have a son who won’t need Pull-Ups but you’ll also have a son who can be compassionate and gentle with himself and others even when things aren’t perfect!



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

    +++++
    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.

    ++++++++

    One, Two, Boom! Connecting with Your Shared-Custody Child

    Do you share custody of your children with their other parent and feel excluded from the other half of their lives?

    OneTwoBoomA single dad told me how he didn’t like that he doesn’t know about a full half of his kids’ lives because they are at their mom’s house 50% of the time.  This innovative dad came up with a game to encourage more sharing.  He plays “rock, paper, scissors,” (renamed “one, two, boom” by him) and whoever loses tells the other something that he doesn’t know about the other.  Dad enjoys learning more about his son’s world and the son loves to hear his dad tell stories about himself as a boy or things that happened during his day.  The seven-year old boy now asks to play the game every time he gets in the car with his dad.

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

    +++++
    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.

    +++++

    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


    +++++
    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.

    +++++

    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

    +++++
    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.

    +++++

    What To Do If Your Teen is Taking 45 Minute Showers

    45MinuteTeenShowerMy teenage daughter was taking 45 minute showers.  I’d yell and scream at her that she was wasting water.  I’d lecture that her showers were too long but nothing deterred her.

    Finally, I decided to replace action with threats and said “Sweetie, you get 15 minutes to shower and then I’m turning off the hot water.” 

    It worked!  She started taking 15 minute showers.  All those months of lectures and warnings and all I needed to do was take action. Amazing!

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

    +++++
    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.

    +++++

    Uh-Oh Song Works for a Toddler

    girl cryingMy one year old would always get into the dog food.  He wasn’t responding to my “No’s.”  So I decided to take action using the Love and Logic “Uh Oh Song.”

    He would crawl to the dog food and I’d say “Uh oh, looks like a little quiet time”  and place him in his high-chair.    I repeated this process several times over the next 2 weeks.

    Now when my little guy crawls to the food, he looks at me, shakes his head and says “uh oh”  and crawls away.

    I was amazed to see how quickly he picked up on what he’s not supposed to do and removed himself from the situation instead of Mommy having to remove him.  

    It feels good knowing I can say something else besides “No” and not lecture or get frustrated with the situation.

    — Mire

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

    +++++
    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.

    +++++