Concrete DIY Data on how to be a great Dad, how Moms can be empowering and how together they can have a fabulous family.
As a father, husband and marriage & family therapist I have done a lot research on how to be empowered dad. So much of the parenting information is for mothers. This podcast and www.FullFrontalFatherhood.com is directed towards the challenging & amazing life of fatherhood.
There is also lots of information for Moms, because to be the best Dads we can be, we need your help. And I will talk a lot about how together you can make your relationship and family thrive.
Sexism & Parenting. Protect Your Girls & Boys.
We all have powerful ideas about how men and women should be, how boys should be and how girls should be. Unfortunately, these ideas cause us to raise our kids in limited ways that affect their whole lives.
While girls are often told...
How to Parent a Teenager or Tween
Raising a teenager is inherently crazy-making. If you look at a teenager on some psychological tests, they will actually score as psychotic! A healthy teenager's emotional intensity and fluctuations actually mirror a crazy person's. The complete r...
Top 5 Most Important Things Parents Should Do
Today I want to cut to the chase and give you the five most important things that you should do as a parent.
#5 Our Attention (at least for a few minutes!)
Number five is to give your kids some regular, undivided attention. I know this can be di...
Top 5 Keys to a Well Behaved Kid
Having a well behaved child obviously makes parenthood a lot easier. Today I want to give you the top five things that you can do and not do to have a well behaved child.
Let me start by exploring what I mean by “well behaved.” A healthy child needs to rebel against us, protest our boundaries, insult our character, and even say things that make us question ourselves as a parent. This is what learning to be an individual should look like. Ideally we can hold a large enough space for them to travel through this crucial stage of development as they become a capable, self-confident, conscious and happy adult.
This is the really hard part of parenting. At times, we might be able to use domination and fear to manipulate a child into doing what we want more consistently, but it rarely works for very long and it significantly prevents a child from becoming an actualized individual.
We can try to raise the equivalent of well behaved dogs, but it is more important that we raise self-aware, empowered citizens. These five areas will help you on that path.
#5 Connect to Redirect
The quality of the relationship with your kid directly affects how well they behave. If you have a good relationship, the child will generally behave. If you have a bad relationship and there is bad attachment between you and your child, then they are likely to misbehave. It sounds simple, but most of us fail to hold this in mind and instead blame our kids as the problem.
One of the simple ways in which you can take advantage of this in the moment is to connect before you redirect. You connect, you get a good relationship with your kid and then you redirect them into what you want. If your kid is doing something you do not want, sit down next to them, join them in that experience and then direct them to what you want.
If on the other hand you do not have that good connection and you just come in and try to get them to do something different, they are very likely to resist. If you focus on the attachment between you and your child, then they will want to do good. Not for you, but because they feel a part of a team where they feel good.
Try to notice when your child is out of attachment with you, maybe when they come home from school or some other disconnected situation, and do something simple to connect with them. Just a couple of minutes of playing around with them or hearing what is going on for them, will allow them to feel you and they'll be more inclined to behave in a well mannered way.
Along these same lines, when you are talking to them, try not to use a harsh voice. Of course, this is really hard for all of us, but if you come with a harsh voice, they're going to rebel. Nobody likes being spoken to in a harsh way. Nobody likes feeling disrespected. None of us like it as adults so why would a child like it? Why would a child like being told what to do any more than we do?
The unfortunate reality is anytime we try to control our kids, they are going to rebel in subtle or dramatic ways. See if you can stay in loving connection where you focus on the attachment between you, then it is fairly easy to work together as a team.
We experience the same thing as adults. If we feel like our boss cares about us and we feel connected to them, then we are inclined to work harder and ‘behave’ in the minds of our employers. If we feel disconnected, then we are likely to act out in all sorts of big and little ways.
#4 Don’t Just Blame the Kid
The number four best thing that you can do to have a well behaved child is to figure out why they are misbehaving. Look at what is happening for them that might be causing them to act out. Are they having trouble at school? Perhaps there is something happening in the family. Perhaps there is some way in which you and your partner are stressed or not dealing with your own issues. It is quite normal for children t
Screens & Kids – A Radical Vision of Balance
Obviously, it is really tempting to want to give our phones and tablets to our kids because it gives them the perfect babysitter. They are completely taken care of and we can go on and have our adult conversations and do what we need to do. Parenting is so hard that we need breaks and so sometimes we have to do it, but in my cost benefit analysis, devices actually lead to more work on the parent’s part in the long term.
One of the best things that my wife and I decided to do when our child was quite young was to not allow her to use to any of our devices. We saw how many parents were struggling with their kids around access to their phones or tablets, and we didn’t want a child who sat at the restaurant on our phone, separate from us and the world around her. It wasn’t an easy path, but the results have been well worth it and in the end I think a lot less work for us.
A number of very famous people have chosen the same decision. Steve Jobs restricted his children's access to devices, as did Chris Anderson, the founder of Wired magazine. They read the research about how detrimental it is for children, but I’ve also heard them say they have a hard time hiring people who can think creatively. There are plenty of people who can use computers, but that engaging them at too early an age stops a child from learning how to think creatively for themselves. (Read more here.)
Another such professional was the founder of Broderbund Educational Software. Even though he’d spent his life developing products to help educate kids on computers, he saw that it was better for his kids not to use those computers and, instead, they supported their kids to find other ways to inhabit themselves and self-soothe.
So here are four things that you can do to support your child to have a device free life. Advice varies greatly depending upon your children’s age. Although these guidelines are designed for kids under about ten, they can easily be adapted and loosened if yours are older.
Step 1: Just Say No
The first one is obvious, but can seem impossible. Just say no. If you start young enough, it can be really easy. If on the other hand you are already several years in and they are used to having access to your device, it is difficult, but simply set the boundary. Tell them, "We have one more week and then we are going to stop using devices when we are together." They will protest and be upset, but once it is initiated, it will only be a few days of protest before they accept the limit and start to find a new way to be in the family. This adjustment period is full of discomfort, but I can't tell you how enjoyable the result is.
Step 2: Say Yes to Connection
The downside and really the upside is that we do have to be more available for our children if we are not going to pawn them off to devices. But that does not actually mean that we have to spend a lot more energy. Like I said, in my experience it actually leads to a child that needs less and struggles less with us.
They don’t need a lot of attention, but they do need focussed attention. This can be so hard in our current busy world. My favorite way to do this is to simply set a timer and completely give my attention to my child during those 10 minutes. I play with her however she wants to be played with. Following her lead and not bringing in my own agenda. Since it’s for only 10 minutes, I am able to keep the to-do lists at bay and just do the silly game over and over.
When you feed your child with good attention, then they learn to self-soothed and take care of themselves for longer periods of time. Yes, when they ask for attention it requires you to have to turn away from what you are doing. It is hard for me in that moment to turn away, but I am constantly reminding myself that my daughter will not be wanting my attention for very long.
Top 5 Worst Things Parents Do
Today I want to cut to the chase and give you the top 5 worst things that we as parents do all the time.
#5: Saying “Good Job”
We say “good job” to our kids all the time and research has actually shown that this is quite detrimental. What we should be doing is telling them that we see what they are doing. If they make a beautiful picture just say, "Wow, you really worked on that. You put a lot of green in there." You show them that you see them and their efforts. They feel you with them and the validation will cause them to go on in life and make more effort in their life’s endeavours.
If you praise their result, if you praise when they get an A, then they will do things to try to get more A’s and that unfortunately includes not taking risks. One really interesting study showed that when kids were given a challenging test and then graded, they would subsequently avoid taking hard tests on which they might get a lower grade and would try to take easier tests. They ended up avoiding things that actually challenged them and required effort.
In the same study, another group of kids were acknowledged for their efforts in the first test and subsequently were more likely to go on to take other challenging tests. When we say “good job” we're not praising their efforts, we are praising the result, which teaches them to focus on getting good results in order to get other’s praise.
Their motivation in life ends up being about getting others approval rather than being driven by their interest in the world around them and their enjoyment of challenge. We subtly teach them to be like lab rats performing the rewarded task rather than empowered humans driven by their inner passion and enjoyment of life.
#4: Stick Them in Boxes
We all do this. It’s so hard not to. We stick our kids with labels. We label them as being a bad sleeper or a good eater or bad at math or good at reading. All these labels really cement their identities in a way that does not enable them to move on in life and experience different sides of themselves.
I myself had the label as a bad writer when I was a kid and it wasn't until I finally had a teacher that said something different that I realized I love writing and I am actually at least decent at it.
If you see your kid doing something, just acknowledge what they are doing in that moment without acknowledging who they are as a person. “You finished all your food.” Or "you had a hard time sleeping last night." Not, “you are a such a good eater.” Or "you really have a hard time sleeping." It has long-term effects on our kids as they come to think of themselves in these ways. They will think they are bad at math and avoid it. Or think they are great at math and cling to that as a safe area for them to focus on. Kids change so fast and we have to constantly remember that they are a new being, capable of new feats, everyday.
#3: Telling Them What to Do
The third worst thing that we do is that we pressure our kids over and over to do all types of things: to eat more, to do their homework, to clean their room, to brush their teeth. Unfortunately, every time we push on our children or any human being, there is a defensive reaction to back away and not do that thing.
If, on the other hand, we just ask, "have you done your homework?", then they are inclined to think about it for themselves and take responsibility for the act. They do still need our help remembering the various tasks, but if we can leave it at that, we are far more likely to raise a self-motivated and personally responsible child.
Quite young with my daughter, we stopped pushing her to brush her teeth and simply said, "hey, do you want to brush your teeth? Now is the time." She actually did not like it at first. She liked it when we were taking responsibility for it so she didn’t have to think about it. But that was disempower