Tag: empathy

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.

Five Ways to Stop Preschool Drop Off Separation Anxiety (Yes, They Really Work!)

CryingThe hardest part of my day used to be prying my preschooler and kindergartners arms off my legs when I had to drop them off at school. My sons’ howls of protest hurt my heart at the same time it made me wonder what I was doing wrong or what was wrong with them. All three of my boys did it at some stage or another. I can reassure you that this does pass…. my oldest son did absolutely no leg-holding or crying when he left for college last week.

After surviving three kids’ separation anxiety, or “drop off dramas” and talking with many parents about what has helped them, here are a few ideas to experiment with. Please let me know how they work!

Drop off drama usually follows hot on the tail of “Getting Ready in the Mornings Drama” which for many families is the worst time of day. Drop off drama is about a young person experiencing a painful transition from their beloved parent to a room full of new kids and adults. This is very stressful for some little people, especially those who prefer to be at home.

1. Fill the Bucket!

If mornings are stressful, drop offs are bound to be stressful as well. I love the idea of taking a few minutes right before drop off… either in the car or while still at home… to “fill the bucket” of your little one. Imagine if you said something like this, “I know that saying goodbye is hard some days, so how about if we take some time to snuggle and get you all filled up with mommy/daddy-time?”

2. Acknowledge the Sadness and Encourage Communication

Acknowledge your child’s sadness. Invite her to “get her sad out” while you are there to hold her. This can be a good time to read one of the children’s books that address the pain of goodbye The Kissing Hand, The Invisible String, Love You Forever, Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You). It can be fascinating to ask your little one to get out all of his/her sadness while you are together. She might cry, he might protest. You can just be there and say things like, “I know, it’s hard to say goodbye, isn’t it?’ “I love it when you can say how you feel.” You can even invite some fit-throwing. It sounds counter-productive but I promise, it has helped many parents tone down drama and end tantrums in some children. Encouraging your child to feel all his feelings and share them ahead of time lets them feel strongly but do so in the safety of your presence and the privacy of home.

3. Teach Self-Soothing

When it’s NOT the critical drop off moment, have a conversation with your child about what he can say to himself that will help drop offs go better. Hint: He won’t have a clue. That’s when you get to teach positive self-talk by saying something like: “Some kids find it helps to say, ‘I can have fun at school even when I miss my daddy.” Or, “It’s ok to feel sad and mad about saying goodbye. I can handle it.” Or “My mommy/daddy’s love is with me wherever I go.”

4. Give Choices from a “Go To School Menu”

Give them three choices for the three days they go to preschool and each week they can pick which day they use each style. Write them on a simple chart.  No repeats are allowed in a week.

The choices are:
1) Scream and cry and hold onto Mommy’s legs all the way into the classroom.
2) Scream and cry in the car and then walk in holding mommy’s hands, give a big hug and say “goodbye.” 
3) Snuggle with a book before getting in the car and play follow the leader into school, blow kisses and smile.

On the days they chose the scream and cry model, really encourage them do it as intensely as they can. If they start to cry on a non-cry day, warmly remind them that they already had their crying day for that week. After all the build-up and permission to do some good fit-throwing, some kids simply no longer feel the need to do “Drop-off-Drama” and the situation can resolve itself fairly quickly.

5. Make a Fun “Going To School” Book Starring Your Little One

Take them to preschool on a day that they don’t actually attend. Take pictures of them every step of the way. Since there is no impending good-bye, there won’t be any drama. Photograph them smiling in their carseats, smiling in front of the school, walking down the hall holding your hand and standing in the classroom waving a pretend goodbye. Then leave the school, go for a treat and talk about how it felt to go to school so happy. Next, print up the pictures and make a super simple little little book with your child’s name in it: For example: “William Goes to School” book.

Each morning after that, ask your child if they want to go to school happy or sad and let them look at the book. This reinforces that they were able to go to school happy and by looking at the pictures, they will remember the experience of going in peacefully. This technique worked so well with one mom that her child never fussed after that.

Important Things to Remember:

Show compassion for your children who fuss at drop off — saying goodbye to their “home-base” is painful for them. It’s a life skill they must learn, but acknowledge that it’s a hard one.

Have no expectation that this should be easy for them or you. If it’s not, it’s not. It can be a great opportunity for you to teach them different ways to master this important skill.

Put some time and effort into switching up the pattern and you could save yourself and your child a lot of drama and heartache in the long run.



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.

And Then My Daughter Said.. “You’re Not a Rock Star!”

I started using my new Love and Logic® skills of empathy and going brain dead.  My 4 year old daughter wasn’t too happy when I set a limit about eating snacks before dinner.  She started arguing back and I calmly said “I know.” 

I could tell she was trying to figure out a way to get me to engage with her.

You had told me in class that kids would escalate their comebacks to new levels, but when she said “You’re not a rock star!” I burst out laughing as I agreed with her saying,  “I know.”  

It was great, it broke the tension and she laughed too.  The argument was over and we hugged and went on with our day.

In addition, I now know that when she tells me “I’m not a rock star” after a couple of “I knows” that she will soon give up and we will move on to other things.

–Katie K

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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I’m Running Away!

IWasGoingtoRunAwayThe other night my 7 year old son kept trying to argue about something.  I used my new Love and Logic skill of not engaging and calmly replied “I know.”

He ended with “What is wrong with you!!”

I replied again, “I know.”

He yelled “Ugh!” and ran off.

The next morning he comes down to breakfast with a fully loaded backpack, suitcase, and pillow in hand.

“Mom, last night I was going to run away.”

“Oh, I replied, “Thanks for telling me.  Let’s talk about it.”

I realized that this was the time to discuss what was bothering him since she was calm and I was calm.  We had a great talk and he felt understood, loved and secure and I felt peaceful and logical. It was clear that talking it out in the heat of the argument wasn’t as effective as waiting.

— Stephanie
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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When is it Okay to Rescue?

Young girl with life ringThose who know Love and Logic™ know the damage done by C.H.P.S.
“Chronic Helicopter Parent Syndrome.”

Parents who chronically rescue their kids from the consequences of their poor decisions create kids who are chronically irresponsible and chronically unhappy.

“You are so weak that you can’t survive without me” is the unintentional yet very real message sent by this parenting style.

While this is true, are there any circumstances when it’s okay, or essential, to rescue our kids?

Absolutely! Foster W. Cline, M.D. provides some “rules for rescue.”
• Don`t hesitate to rescue when life and limb are in danger.
• It’s fine to occasionally rescue really responsible kids.
• It’s typically a big mistake to rescue irresponsible ones.
• It’s often okay to rescue when your child doesn’t expect it.
• It’s almost always unwise to rescue when your child demands it.

Good parents rescue their kids from time to time. Why? Because they realize that some day they may need to be rescued by their kids!

The great challenge for all of us is to determine whether doing so fosters love and mutual respect, or dependency, resentment, and irresponsibility.

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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Getting Kids to Pick Up – With No Nagging!

A dad I work with just announced to his 3 little boys that he has a new plan for a “Sunday Shelf.”

Getting Kids to Pick Up Their ToysHere’s how it works:

• When the kids don’t pick up their stuff as asked, dad picks up for them and puts everything on the “Sunday Shelf.”
• On Sunday, he pulls it all out and charges them x cents for each thing he picked up.
• If the kids protest, he says with empathy, “This is how it is in the real world… you can either pick up after yourself or hire someone to do it.  Looks like you chose to hire someone.  There’s always next week and you can do it differently if you’d like.”

After Dad explained the new deal, 7 year old Ethan complained, “That doesn’t sound like such a good deal for us, Dad.”

Words like that are a great indicator that you are giving your kids opportunities to be responsible and well-prepared for the real world as an adult.

And one more thing….

Dad does the “Sunday Shelf” fee collection just moments after giving them their weekly allowance to make sure they are able to pay their fines.



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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Things I Wish I Would Have Known

I recently received an email from a dad who has taken one of my early childhood parenting classes.

He asked if I had a list of things that parents of younger children should know “not to get hung up on.” I surveyed a number of my friends with older kids and got so much great advice! Here is part one of what they had to say:

Ann, mother of 3 kids, ages 14, 12 and 9 wrote:
Don’t get hung up on making special meals for your kids; serve them only what you eat; don’t get stuck in the “my kid only eats mac and cheese” disaster.

Don’t feel guilty about not signing up for all the activities there are for young kids these days; my only caveat is that it’s good to start early with music because it’s hard to fit it into your schedule later on if it’s not already there.

Don’t get hung up on buying new toys all the time to keep your kid occupied; it’s better to keep fewer toys out so it’s not so overwhelming, and to recycle.

Do read to your child and don’t get hung up on having your child read before kindergarten; kids learn how to read at all different times and earlier is not necessarily better; enjoying reading is more important than learning how to read early.

Do insist on respect and kindness.

Stress less: parents often teach best by modelling good behavior rather than directly teaching it.

 

Beth, mother of 3 kids, ages 20, 16 and 10 wrote:
I think its important to be informed as a parent and balance all the literature and advice with a sense of what works for you as a mother. Don’t try to make your children happy, be happy first. Share your interests with your children. If they take to one of them, you’ll have something to share together for the rest of your life. Remember that children age, mature and become adults and that you are doing a good job to help them become contributing members of society. They’ll spend 60 years as adults….20 as children… even though a temper tantrum can feel like it’s lasting 60 years in a grocery store. 🙂

 

Freddie, father of 4 wrote:
Don’t get hung up on insisting that a kid wear a coat because you think you’d be cold without one.

Bed time flexes with the events of the day. The chance to be out doing something interesting trumps a rigid bedtime. You might pay a price the next day, but eventually they’ll catch up on sleep.

Remember that kids tend to balance their diets over the course of a week – not a day. But… if you want your kid to like fruits and vegetables, they have to live on them for the first couple of years.

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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Dad and Shopping

Marge’s kids had a history of keeping her upset during shopping trips.

They ran all over the store and were frequently lost. They had trained her to keep her eye on them to the expense of her doing her shopping.

Contrast that to my own dad, who trained his kids to keep their eyes on him instead.

We’d enter the store and as he went through the front door of Republic Drug he’d be saying, “Well guys, try to keep up. I’ll be moving kind of fast. Hope you don’t get lost, but if you do, find one of the security guys over at that desk. He’ll probably help you find a way to get home. I’ve never seen a kid lost for more than a few months.”

As he said this, he never looked back. Needless to say, we stayed close. Not only did we believe that his word was good on these shopping trips, but any other time he opened his mouth, as well.

It wasn’t until years later that he admitted to us that he had talked to the security people before he took us shopping, and these trips were nothing but training sessions.

He was a strong believer in the idea that advance training could save him a lot of time and frustration later.


Jim Fay
©2009 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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“Mom, I Lost My Jacket”

“Mom, I lost my jacket,” my almost 12 year old son told me.

“What? Grandma just gave that to you last week,” I accusingly replied.  “Where did you last wear it?  Have you looked in your room?” “How could you have lost it?”  I ranted on.

Then I caught myself.  Whose problem is this?  What happened to my empathy?  I tried to recover my Love and Logic senses and said,  “So that’s pretty sad – losing your jacket so soon.  What are you going to do about it?”  But it was too late, my son had switched off his thinking mode since I had clearly taken over. He simply replied, “Nothing.”

I reflected on my missed opportunity.  I could have used empathy and hugged my son with a big “This is so sad, you loved that jacket from Grandma. I could have helped him solve his own problem by asking, “What are you going to do about it?”  Then we could have grabbed a hot cup of cocoa and brainstormed together ideas for him to look for his jacket.  We could have had a special mother-son bonding time working together to solve his problem.

So instead of beating myself up, I decided that in parenting, if we take the time to reflect on our mistakes, we are more prepared for the next time – and in parenting, there are lots of next times! And, since he did find his jacket, he’ll probably misplace it again and this time I’ll be ready for it.

Shelly Moorman
©2009 Shelly Moorman, 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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