Parent Coaching Blog


Is Discipline a Four Letter Word ?

Discipline doesn’t have to be a dirty word in your home.  In fact, when you think about it, there are several positive four-letter words associated with discipline.

1. NEED   Children don’t know they need discipline, and they may not act like they enjoy your boundaries especially when you are in the heat of a battle, but the right kind of discipline involving structure, routines and expectations gives a child a clear path to follow.  

How can a child begin to do what is expected in his home if the guidelines of his family life are fuzzy?  How can a child know his responsibilities around the home unless these jobs and roles have been thought through and explained to him?  How can a child know not to make bad choices if he doesn’t know the clear implications of the choices.  Children NEED discipline to understand their world and their place within it.

2. SAFE   When children know what their days will bring, they feel safe.  They know they can count on Mom or Dad to follow through on what they say (good or bad), and that makes them feel secure.  Sure, the negative consequences of making a bad choice can make a child feel like they are suffering, but this kind of suffering helps to instill a boundary on what they can and cannot do.  They feel safe in knowing that every time they make a specific choice an identified consequence will follow.  There will be no room for question, no room for worry, and only a clear understanding of expectations and boundaries.  Their little world will feel predictable and SAFE.

3. LOVE   Yes, you can love your child and at the same time and put boundaries on their behavior.  When you shape your parenting with structure, you are giving your child what they need to be safe.   Giving them these two gifts will make them feel loved.   It is not a love that is conditional on behavior but one that is rooted in understanding of what is best for them.  This kind of love does not change. It stays the same and so does the behavior expectation.  They can trust it and feeling safe in these expectations makes them feel loved.   You can help ensure that they know they are loved no matter what by letting them know that you love them even when you don’t love their choices.

So, now that we see that discipline is an essential part of any good parenting practice, think about where you can add structure and secure boundaries to your child’s life?

Do you have a plan for how your children should act at the dinner table? Does your child know the list of rules for behavior when friends come to visit?  Have you clearly stated the general guidelines for being polite, responsible and caring individuals?   When you go to a new place do you set up “on the spot” boundaries for behavior?

What routine in your day needs a little more discipline or structure?

 Go through each part of your day (from breakfast to bedtime), and think through your expectations on how these routines will run.   

Make a list of expected behaviors and go through them with your child over and over again until they become a part of their thought process for this routine.

Make your expectations crystal clear by actively role playing the postive behavior you expect, verbally expressing what you would like to see, and then visually drawing out the plan for behavior using charts and pictures. 

Soon you will see them make choices based on these plans you have set forth, and if you follow through with clear consequences then your child will stear clear of negative choices and head toward the positive ones. 

In the end, you will have created  “mini -disciples” that follow your family’s plan for behavior.   As disciples of your family’s plan, they will gain everything they need to feel safe and loved. 


Family Game Night

      Hurry !  Before the rush of back to school events begins to take over your calendar, plan a weekly game night.  Book it on your calendar. Then, turn off the tv and video games, put away your phone or IPAD, and leave the dirty dishes in the sink.  Meet your family at the kitchen table or some cozy spot around your house and play an old favorite. 

       Even your littlest ones can join in on a more advanced game if you choose a game where they can have a job to do or a modified version made just for them.   Allow yourself to bend the rules, and make the game fit your family’s style, time frame, and specific needs and interests.  Let the kids get creative and allow them to add new rules to the game.  This can mean simply tweaking the smallest procedure or objective so that you get to play it with a new spin, and the kids get to feel like they are in charge of the fun.

      If you meet weekly for your family game night, allow a different family member to pick the game for next week and book it on the calendar so it is “planned in stone”.  If you’re consistent your kids won’t worry that they haven’t had a chance to choose the game because they will know their turn is right around the corner. 

        While you play together, keep your eyes open so that you can see new skills you didn’t know your child had… (Maybe that third grader is an aspiring banker, or maybe your preschooler has fine motor skills that help him succeed at building great Mouse Traps).  Let them see you relax and focus on them while you smile and engage in the fun.

        While you play, observe their behavior.  Catch them when they are acting respectfully  or when they have followed directions.  Be specific and note exactly what you see that is positive.  For example:  “Kerry, I noticed you asked your brother if you could help him move his game piece when it was out of his reach,” or “Tim, when you found out that Mark was the winner of the game I noticed that you were upset but you didn’t yell or scream you just said, ‘good game’.”  Tell them you noticed their good sportsmanship and polite behavior, and then watch them try to repeat the positive behavior over and over again. 

      When it comes to winning or losing,  allow them to suffer through the losses naturally so that they learn it is a part of life.  Set boundaries from the beginning for sportsmanship and consequences for the inevitable fussing, hurting or quitting.  Write these boundaries/rules or consequences on paper or draw a picture to depict what will happen when kids don’t make good choices.  When and if the those negative behaviors come up simply point and state…”The rules say ‘no fussing or you will lose a point’.”

   And by the way, it doesn’t have to be a board game … What about a game of freeze tag or capture the flag in the backyard on these crisp end of summer nights?  What about making up a new game with the gigantic blow up ball your kindergartener got for his birthday?  The only rules are family and fun…   

     Soon enough your schedule will be booked with homework, parent teacher conferences, and holiday plans so make a date weekly to connect on a positive level with your children.  Use these moments with your children as “parent-able moments” where you show your child how to play nicely and let them see that your family knows how to relax and have fun together… Make it a Game Night tonight…


Cute doesn’t Cut it…

Believe me. I am the first to melt when I see a little girl with ruffles on her tush… or a handsome young preschooler with a Cincinnati Reds jersey to match his MLB hat.   I simply love to find a good deal on great clothes for kids, and my own children know when it comes to a photo opt… cute clothes matter to their mom.   With back to school around the corner, I don’t have to tell you how expensive it can be to ensure your kid is the cutest kid to walk in the door of his classroom.    The children’s clothing market is hot.   There are options all over the web for parents to find  great outfits for great prices,  and then shower their kids with designer labels.

The other day I was at a restaurant and saw the most darling curly haired child dressed in the sharpest duds.  His seer-sucker shorts and designer green polo shirt were so sweet.   His shoes may have cost more than my weekly grocery bill, and his monogrammed belt were one of a kind.  Mom and Dad had obviously spent time, money and energy addressing this little guy’s style.  There is no doubt about it… He was adorable, but his poor choices and out of control behavior were all I could see.  If only his demeanor were as enchanting as his appearance.  He was spitting his food out, yelling words like “YUCK”,  and “I Hate This” .  He was running around the dining area screaming with glee as Mom and Dad sipped wine and smiled at him, “Isn’t he sooo cute?”    

I say simply… CUTE doesn’t CUT it!

I would love to see a world where parents invest in resources that support positive behavior.  It’s time for parents to spend less time surfacing the web for great deals on ribbons and bows and more time finding ideas on how to get their child to pay attention to the rules of their home.  I would like to see more facebook  posts where parents recognize and share their child’s good choices instead of their adorable Easter Bunny photo shoot. 

I say… dig deep into your parenting approaches and decide what matters most to you and your spouse.  Then, set up house rules that mirror what you expect.     Instead of focusing on how great your child looks in the mirror, make sure their behavior mirrors your family expectations.  Are they a friend to the neighbor kids?   Are they accepting of people who are different from them?  Do they help around the house and wait patiently for their turn to talk or play? Can you take them to a restaurant without getting dirty looks from other customers?

 How cute everyone’s child would be if they could all: sit quietly and attend to a task, use kind words, share their things, and listen on the first time.

It is easy to be “caught up in cute”.  The world around us is telling parents that being cute is the most important thing, but Child in Bloom Parents know the difference.  Cute only goes so far, and when parents and their children bloom… The sky’s  the limit.

By the way… here are some quick tips for dining with your little ones…

  1.  Set up a visual storyline before going to the restaurant that tells your child what to expect, how we behave politely, and what the consequences will be if rules are not followed.
  2. Practice these same rules at your own dinner table and when playing pretend restaurant with your child at home.  Practice and remind your child of these expectations over and over again.
  3. Follow through on the first time if your child doesn’t follow the plan.
  4. Find ways to make dining developmentally appropriate… Your child’s attention matches directly to their age and so bring more than enough stuff to keep them entertained.
  5. Ask for a table that is remote and far away from diners who want to have a quiet evening away.
  6. Boothes are always a good choice for spreading out and giving your child the room they need to wiggle and giggle.
  7. Order your child’s food in advance and let your waiter know you might need to leave in a hurry when the child has lost their steam.
  8. Bring food and drinks to offer while you wait.
  9. Have an exit plan that involves getting up to peek at the restaurant’s fish tank, or walk to the parking lot to get a breather.  Never let your child roam a restaurant freely.
  10. Pay attention to your child and put your phones to the side as you focus on this special time with your family.