Tag: effective consequences

No More Hassles Over Picking Up Dirty Socks

No-More-Hassles-Over-Picking-Up-Dirty-Socks

Dirty Sock Dilemma

After a long and tedious day I finally started to wind down, hours after I had hoped to.  I started to head to bed only to find a heaping pile of filthy clothes, shoes and socks, right in the middle of the family room. I wanted to scream. I wanted to pull my sleeping barbarians from their beds and give them the scolding of a lifetime. I wanted to know why my children hadn’t cleaned up after themselves…they weren’t being raised by wolves. They are very capable of cleaning up after themselves, they just choose not to.

Instead of nose-diving into complete frustration, I decided to try a little trick I learned in a recent Love & Logic® class I attended. I picked up all of the shoes, socks and dirty clothes, hid them in my closet and went straight to bed.  There was no need to get mad or create drama at the end of my long, tiring day. Tomorrow would be a new day and I was ready to try out this technique on my children. They had no clue they were about to be my personal guinea pigs and I was hopeful the experiment would work.

A Penny for Your Socks

As morning broke, the house was full of its customary commotion and, as the kids were almost ready to leave for school, I mentioned that I had picked up their dirty clothes and shoes the night before. Normally they wouldn’t care that I had cleaned up after them, however; when I mentioned I would be willing to sell their items for $.50 each, a look of curious disbelief came over their faces. After all, they needed their shoes for school which put me in complete control. With a wonderful sense of calm and a renewed appreciation for my general awesomeness, I calmly traded shoes, socks and jackets for money. They protested slightly before relenting and pulling out the money I was owed. With little to no fighting or arguing, I was able to teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget and save my sanity in the process.

Underpaid and Overworked: Welcome to Parenthood

Let’s face it, parenting is a thankless job. You’re constantly pulled in multiple directions and expected to take care of everyone else’s needs without considering your own. You cook, clean, bathe, clean, shuttle, console, clean, did I say clean? It’s a never-ending battle of maneuvering the same mess from one location to another. It’s the constant struggle of picking up the same toy 37 times a day, only to step on it 5 minutes later. When you consider all the annoyances of daily life as a parent, it’s no wonder we lose our cool from time to time.

With a little practice, though, it’s possible to stay cool and teach our kids a lesson at the same time.
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.

Standing Up to Teen Defiance

How to deal with teen defiance, love and logic, parenting classes, denver, co

Big Problems with Teen Defiance

Siblings and rivalry go hand-in-hand so it’s no surprise that 14 year-old Preston taunts and pesters his younger brother, Kyle. Recently, Preston refused to stop pestering his brother and was provoking him by throwing things, hassling him and doing anything he could to elicit a response from his brother just for entertainment. This was much more interesting to him than sitting down and doing homework.  As mom listened to the bickering, name-calling and yelling, she wondered how she would diffuse the situation without aggravating her defiant, strong-willed adolescent even further.

Parenting was so much simpler when the boys were little but now as a single mother of 3 boys, parenting was often aggravating and left mom wondering what to do. After all, two of her three sons were teenagers and had outgrown the parenting strategies that had worked long ago. She wondered how it was possible to reprimand her sons when they became defiant without putting herself in harm’s way.

Taking a Stand Against a Big Kid

When Preston refused to leave the room even when mom demanded it, it was apparent that he had his own agenda. Finally, he left the room but only to return minutes later exhibiting the same behavior that got him in trouble the first time. At that point Preston was worked up and mom was frustrated at her son’s unwillingness to cooperate. Nothing was resolved and mom felt miserable with the state of her family, but it was time for bed. There was no way that this mom was going to try and reprimand her strong-willed teen when he was clearly fired up. She knew better.

Get Out of the Red Zone

Stepping away and allowing her son a chance to cool down elicited a much different response the next morning. After a good night’s sleep, mom decided to tackle her son’s growing defiance when the situation was no longer in the red zone. That morning, she took her son’s phone away for the defiance he had exhibited the night before. Although he was unhappy with his mom’s decision, he was no longer fired up and he begrudgingly handed over his phone.

Be Persistent

After surviving a day without his cell phone and then getting it back, Preston was back to his old tricks. He was taunting his little brother and pestering him for no reason.  This time, however, mom set boundaries immediately for his unwanted behavior and stuck to them. A quick glance from mom along with a calmly executed, “This looks like defiance” was all it took for him to stop. Preston had figured out that his mom was not willing to let his poor behavior be left unchecked..

This was a big wake-up call for her son and a feeling of accomplishment for mom.

She had busted through the fear of angering her teen and was able to take control of the situation with minimal struggle.

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.

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

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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.

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.

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.

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

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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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This Little Song Stops My Toddler in Her Tracks!

Ice Cream coneDear Kerry,

We used to have 5 tantrums a day with my 2 1/2 year old little girl.  After switching from time-outs to  the Love and Logic’s “Uh Oh Song” we maybe have one a day.

The best part is that now that I can redirect her behavior with just the words “Uh Oh.”  It was really a life saver when we were at a wedding and she was starting to misbehave I just said “Uh Oh,” and she stopped and said “I promise, I promise, I will listen.”  

My husband is wanting to learn more Love and Logic skills because he sees that this is working so well.   I now feel like we can have more joyful days again!!

Thank you for all the amazing parenting tips! We hit a really rough patch for a while and I feel like we finally have the tools to take on the issues when they come up!

 —Jodie

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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Close the Refrigerator Door!

Getting Your Child to Remember the Little Things

After tucking in his three young boys, a single dad walked into the kitchen to find the fridge and freezer doors both wide open with a chair in front of the shelves.

It had been his 3 year old in search of an apple an hour earlier. In our parent coaching session the next day, the dad asked me whether or not it was too late to address the issue a day later. I said that kids can remember consequences for about as long as they can remember a promise.

The dad went home and politely explained to his son the importance of closing the refrigerator door. To make sure the lesson stuck, he had his son “practice” closing the refrigerator door. To keep it fun, the 3 year old had to do it differently each time, so he did it backwards and on his tippy toes and like a ballerina and like a bulldozer. He did it with his eyes closed and he did after spinning in circles.

Think about what this dad did… the next time that boy opens the fridge door, he’ll remember to close it AND he’ll remember the fun and playfulness he had with his dad. That refrigerator will probably be closed with love and happiness for the rest of this boy’s life.


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 Do I Get My Kid To Do The Dishes?

Getting Kids to Help With ChoresFirst, it is important that children contribute to the household. Not only does it send an important message to our children –

“You are a valuable member of this family and we count on you to make our family function”

– but it gives them a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.  Studies also show that kids who contribute at home do better at school and are more responsible with their homework.

How do you get started?

Call a family meeting. Announce that you are going to talk about each family member’s contributions.  Start with Mom and Dad’s roles.  Ask, “Who is going to pay the mortgage?”  Write it down in Mom & Dad’s column.  Then move on to who will pay the electric, gas, phone, cell phone, internet, and food bills. Continue by asking who will shop for food, prepare food, etc.  Then, when the parents’ list is nice and long, ask, “Who could set the table?”  “Who will clear the table?” “Unload the dishwasher?” “Vacuum?” “Dust?” You will be surprised with how willing the kids are to discuss what “contributions” they will volunteer for and how they decide to split them up among the siblings.

One dad reported that his 6- & 9-year-old boys argued about who got to take out the trash.  “I should, I’m older.”  “No, I should because you have more chores than I do,” said the younger. Another mom found out that her 7-year-old daughter was upset that mom got a housekeeper because she liked cleaning the bathrooms!

How do you implement?

Give kids a deadline.  Ask them to have a chore done by Friday dinner, tonight before bed, or before soccer practice.  Don’t demand.  We adults don’t like it when our bosses treat us like that!  Then, go on with your business.  Don’t harp, don’t remind, don’t nag.  If the contribution is not done, then you say, “This is so sad. I’m going to have to do something about this, but not now.  Try not to worry.”  Then the kids worry while you have time to come up with a plan for a logical consequence. If you want more information on how to come up with good consequences, I teach classes and offer parent coaching on this skill.

Should you pay them?

Don’t pay for their contributions.  You want the little voice in their sweet heads to say, “I’m doing this because I’m a valuable member of the family,” not “I’m doing this because I’m getting 5 bucks!”

Should they get allowance?

Yes. Just like you give them books to practice reading, give them money to practice spending and saving. Just don’t tie the allowance to their contributions. The general guideline out there is $1 per year of age, so a 10-year-old would get $10 a week. However, you should do what makes sense for you, the child, and the family budget.  Let them spend it and pray they make bad decisions and buy things that break easily.  Better they learn the lesson when the cost is low than in the real world when the cost is expensive.  Some parents like to have the kids set aside a certain percentage of their allowance for savings and a certain percentage to give to charity.

At what age can you begin?

You can start as early as 3-4 years old.  That’s the age when you start the association between the job, fun, and you!  Get the little guy to walk with dad as he takes out the trash. He gets a high five and a “good job” from dad.  Now he associates trash with love!  And at age 6-7, you step out of the picture and the child still has the job and the fun!

Parents who try the family meeting, contributions, deadlines and allowances report amazing stories of participation and cooperation.

Isn’t it at least worth an experiment to see if these steps will get your kids to do the dishes?


Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 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 Many Ways I Can Be Naughty at Bedtime?

Putting Toddler to Bed

Three year old Wes used to play his favorite game at bedtime. It was called, “See how many ways I can be naughty.”

He was the only one enjoying the game. His single, working dad certainly did not. Wes was very creative in how he played the game: he ran away when it was time to put on his pj’s. He clenched his jaw when it was time to brush his teeth. He screamed and threatened to wake up his baby brother. He jumped on the bed when it was time for tuck in. Sound familiar? It’s a very popular game amongst the little people. It’s a game though, that doesn’t usually end well for either the child or the parent.

Wes’s game ruled until Daddy came up with a better game called “Earn a Minute.” This game starts at the beginning of bedtime when Daddy whispers to Wes, “For every step of bedtime that you do cooperatively, you earn a minute of You-n-Me time. If you get enough, we might be able to read a whole extra book!” “Game on” for little Wes. He might as well wear a sign that says, “Will Cooperate For You-N-Me Time.”

Here’s how the scoring works
Brush teeth: earn a minute.
Go potty: earn a minute.
Wash hands: earn a minute.
Get undressed: earn a minute.
Get in the bath: earn a minute.
Cooperate with being washed: earn a minute.
Get out of the bath first time you’re told: earn a minute.
Hold still while being dried: earn a minute.
Put on PJs: earn a minute.
Climb into bed: earn a minute.

Wes has mastered this “game” and he savors his ten minutes of special Daddy-time before going to sleep. Dad is happy because the extra story time takes less time than all the hassling did, and father and son both get happy snuggle time instead of exasperation and negative attention.

Every now and then, Daddy mixes things up and says, “We’re not playing tonight, so you might as well be a rascal.” Well now, when Daddy invites Wes to misbehave, it’s not as much fun for Wes and the power struggle is over.


Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 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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