Monday, December 5, 2011

"Stop Hitting Me."

On occasions when I have gone into a family's home, I have seen a child hit his parent or family member. This is always very upsetting for the family. The parent usually responds by demanding that the child stops the behavior but this if often only a temporary patch for the aggressive behavior.

In these situations I teach the parent to hold the child's arm so that he can no longer hit, and then to say, "You have stopped hitting, that is the right thing to do." or "Now you're controlling yourself. Your hands are staying down." Usually if the parent is calm and continues to do this, the child calms down and stops.

In the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting approach, Descriptive Praise is the most effective motivator we know that helps children want to cooperate. Descriptive Praise means noticing and mentioning everything your child does that is right, heading in the right direction or not wrong, and saying this all day long like a running commentary.

We teach parents to descriptively praise their child when he is misbehaving for two reasons. Firstly, telling off does not work, it just gives the misbehavior more attention and does not teach the child what he should be doing. Secondly, we need to understand that learning to behave properly is a long process, so if we descriptively praise little steps in the right direction - for example shouting not hitting - more little steps will follow.

Suzanne Ferera (see profile below)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Want to smack? Don't Smack!

If you have not seen the sickening YouTube video of Judge William Adams beating his 16 year old daughter - don't! It is a classic example of abuse in the guise of discipline. In preparing for this post, I decided to watch the original video that drew several million views and made national headlines.

Within sixty seconds of beginning the clip my 17 year old called from the other room, "What are you watching?" I paused the video and shut the door. This was not something I wanted my kids to see or hear.

In 2004 the Texas family law judge punished his daughter, Hillari, for illegally downloading software on the computer. Hillari is disabled with cerebral palsy. In the video he begins the attack by turning out the lights in the room so as not to be seen through the windows. He then begins swearing and lashing his daughter with a belt. He threatens her, tells her "you caused this" and "this is what it has come to."

This abhorrent episode is an extreme example of how "smacking" does not teach a lesson, rather it teaches fear, distrust, and self-protective strategies. Most people seem to agree that Judge Adams' actions were indefensible, and way beyond the bounds of effective parenting. However, this incident has triggered a national discussion: "Is corporal punishment ever OK?"

Noël Janis-Norton wrote a book, Can't Smack, Won't Smack, to offer parents alternatives to physical punishment. In the book, she rebuts many of the common arguments in favor of "smacking."  Some of these have been aired recently on talk shows and in opinion pages. One favorite is the idea that a child who might ignore a talking parent cannot ignore physical punishment. Or, that a child may not understand reasoning - but they do understand avoiding pain, and a physical "lesson" can be administered far more quickly than a time-out or other non-spanking punishment. We often hear that cultures across the world use various forms of corporal punishment, so who are we to judge? Or, that children can certainly be exasperating and many parents will occasionally lose their temper and resort to a "smack."

Noël responds to these arguments by acknowledging that it is understandable that an overly stressed parent might resort to spanking, but that most parents would rather not spank their children if there were a better choice.

There are obvious negative outcomes when parents use corporal punishment. Spanking a child can create distrust of the parent. When we spank, we teach our children that force is an acceptable solution to problems. The consequences of this "lesson" are often seen on the play ground or among siblings.  Some children are spanked repeatedly for the same behavior - clearly spanking is not working.  Importantly, Noel notes in her book that schools no longer use corporal punishment because it breeds resentment without improving behavior.

Judge Adams' beating of his daughter, Hillari, did not improve her obedience to her father. It seems it ended in a power struggle that is being played out on a national level. On the local level, in our own homes, spanking risks similar resentment and does not strengthen the parent-child bond, as more positive parenting strategies do.

There is an alternative to spanking, and parents who have chosen to use the Calmer, Easier, Happier parenting skills have quickly and effectively solved serious behavior problems - without physically punishing their children.

Amanda Deverich (see profile below)
Williamsburg, VA

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"What's The Magic Word?"

I was recently doing a presentation for parents at a preschool and was asked by several of the parents how to help their children learn to remember to say please and thank you. What does not work, in the long term, is to prompt your child when he forgets by saying, for example, "Say that nicely, please" or "What's the magic word?" These prompts don't help your child's long term memory to get the message that polite requests are important. In fact, the prompts just mean that your child has got you into the habit of reminding him. A more useful response is:

"You didn't say 'please' so the answer is no. You can ask me again after dinner (or in five minutes), and I'm sure you'll remember to say 'please'."

" That wasn't your friendly voice (or polite or respectful, or whatever term you use in your family) so the answer is no. In a few minutes you can try again. Probably you won't whinge the next time."

And if your child does not yet know how long it takes for a certain number of minutes to elapse, using a timer is really helpful.

As for "thank you", two strategies are effective. One is to hang on to whatever you are handing your child until he says "thank you", and then Descriptively Praise him for remembering to say it. The other strategy is to reply to a request with, "No, because the last time I said yes (or the last time I gave you a cookie, etc) you didn't say "thank you ". This response will definitely motivate him to take you seriously.

Suzanne Ferera (see profile below)
Vancouver, Canada

Monday, October 17, 2011

"I can't sleep without you, Daddy!"

As a programs coordinator for Noel Janis-Norton, one of my job benefits is to be able to attend her Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting seminars in Southern California.

At a talk for a Montessori school yesterday, a Dad raised his hand and said, "My 4 year old can't go to sleep if I'm not lying next to him. And then when he wakes up in the night, he can't get back to sleep unless I come back in his room and stay next to him. I feel stuck."

This is a scenario that is quite common, where parents feel helpless about this situation and are afraid of their child's reaction if they change the rules or routines. Here's how the conversation went:

Noel: It's not true that he "can't" fall asleep, he's just in the habit of you being there. Just think of it as a habit that can be changed. It's important to remember that kids are born knowing how to sleep. It is a natural human function. What we as parents do can often get in the way of them learning how to fall asleep on their own.

Dad: But he'll cry and tell us he's scared if I don't lie next to him.

Noel: He might be sad because he's used to you doing it, but here's what I recommend. Start by taking small steps. If you usually lie down with him, put a chair next to the bed and sit in it. You can do that for several days and then move the chair closer to the door. Then the next step is moving the chair outside the door.

Dad: But he'll still put up a huge fuss.

Noel: He might, but if you follow the advice I'm about to give you, it will be much less of a fuss than you may think. Start by talking with your wife about what you want the new bedtime rules to be. Then find a "neutral" time to talk with your son. By neutral, I mean not when anyone is annoyed with anyone and nobody is in a hurry. You can say to him, "Daniel, there's going to be a new rule about bedtime starting this Friday. The new rule is that after story time, I'm not going to lie next to you until you fall asleep. I'm going to sit in a chair near your bed, and you'll need to stay in your bed, lying down with your eyes closed. And you might feel sad because you like having me lie next to you. So what's the new rule?"

Now at this point he might get upset or he might not. Remember that you're not talking about this at bedtime, it's a neutral time, so he's less likely to be upset. If he does, just empathize, but don't reason or negotiate. When he's calm, have him tell you the new rule back in his own words. Once he does, ask him a number of questions, such as "What will you do if you want to get up?" and "What should you do if you wake up during the night?"

Dad: Will talking through this one time be all we'll need to do?

Noel: No, this isn't a magic wand that will solve the problem in one conversation. You'll need to do this little "talk-through" about the new rule several times before the day you plan to start the new rule. The more your son tells you what the new bedtime rules and routines are, the less likely he will resist them. The important thing is to make a rule that you can follow through with because it's a rule for you just as much as it's a rule for your son. The more consistent you are and follow through on what you say, the more your son will believe what you say and also respect you even more.

Learning how to fall asleep on their own is an important life skill that we want our children to have, and using these strategies, you will be helping him learn how to do that. This will help him develop confidence and in turn lead to more self-reliance. These are skills all parents want for their children.

Laura Fleming (see profile below)
Pasadena, CA

Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting Past the Candy with Your Kids

Halloween is fast approaching. Candy displays are crawling out of the woodwork like a swarm of spiders! If you find yourself out shopping with your children trying to deflect creeping candy temptation, take heart.

A mother who recently attended one of my presentations gave Reflective Listening a try to prevent a familiar scary “scene” at the grocery store. She was so pleased with the result she shared this inspirational story:

“My children and I were in the grocery store after a birthday party and my son (age 2) saw the M&M’s stand with hundreds of packets inside. He immediately started to ask for some and I thought 'He’s already had cake today… let’s try the new technique.'

I said, ‘I bet you wish you could eat a thousand of those. They would be so yummy!'

My daughter (age 5) said, ‘That wouldn’t be very healthy.’

He then said, ‘Yes, Yummy candy. Bye yummy candy.’

And that was that.

The lady observing us about fell out on the floor and walked up to me and said, ‘I am so impressed. Usually kids just throw a huge fit.’

That made my day."

This mother Reflectively Listened to her son's emotional desire for the M&Ms by giving him his wishes and fantasy, "I bet you wish you could eat a thousand of those." If she had used logic and said, “You’ve had cake already today,” that would have made very little difference to her son’s 2 year old mind. If she had tried to distract her son and said, “Let’s see what’s in the next aisle,” he most likely would not have been dissuaded. If she had said, “We are not buying candy today,” she would have ignored his emotion and a battle of the wills may have followed. Any of these types of responses often result in an escalation of emotion. Reflective Listening proved to be the most efficient, solution-focused technique to getting out of the store without the candy and without the fuss.

Using logic to resolve emotions teaches our children the emotion is wrong to have. Distracting teaches children emotions are to be avoided. Ignoring emotion leaves a child either to suppress or act out emotions in unhealthy ways. Children who do not learn how to appropriately release their feelings grow into husbands, wives, or partners who ignore, suppress or cannot control emotions.

Use Reflective Listening to strengthen parent/child bonds, to diffuse intense emotions, and to engage with emotions in a healthy way. Family life can be Calmer, Easier, and Happier.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Power Of Questions

One of the cooperation strategies in the Calmer, Easier, Happier parenting approach is to ask your child questions. Why is this?

Well, we all know that children, and adults for that matter, don't like being told what to do. But why are questions so helpful? There is actually brain science to explain this. When you ask a question and your child or teen answers, she then sees a vivid mental picture of herself doing the activity and is therefore much more likely to take responsibility to do the action.

It's so easy for our kids to tune us out when we're lecturing and telling them what to do. It's not surprising then that they don't follow our instructions and may make the excuse that they didn't hear what we said. This is another reason why asking questions is so powerful. When you ask questions and require her to respond, it means that she has definitely heard you and the expectations are clear. So the next time you are about to go and tell your child what to do, take a minute to phrase your instruction as a question and ask something like, "What do you need to do before coming down for breakfast?"

Suzanne Ferera (see profile below)
Vancouver, BC

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bridging the Troubled Waters

I was recently on a jet boat ride with Billy, a very bright 5 year old boy who also has an intense, sensitive and impulsive temperament. This boat ride required all passengers to remain seated with snug fitting life jackets for the entire two hour trip, as the boat did spins and twists, splashing the tourists on a hot summer day.

For good reason, Billy's mom was anxious about how he would behave on the trip and did a lot of Preparing for Success, talking through the rules of the boat and asking him lots of questions about the plan for the day, how long they would have to stand in line, where they might sit, whether the life jackets would be loose or tight. These kinds of "think-through" questions helped Billy prepare for the outing--he knew what to expect and how the trip would go. To her relief, the trip started out very smoothly.

After an hour or so of being on the boat, Billy got pretty tired of his tight life jacket and began whining and complaining about it and asking to take it off. His mom listened and nodded and then tried a technique from the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting (CEHP) skill called "Reflective Listening". Instead of reasoning about why he had to keep it on or pleading and reminding about how he only had to wear it for 20 more minutes, she stayed calm, acknowledged his feelings and gave him his wishes in fantasy.

Billy:    "Mom - take off my life jacket! When can I take it off? I don't like it!"

Mom:   Shaking her head empathetically - "You don't like wearing it. It probably feels too tight and uncomfortable. Smiling - Wouldn't it be great if there weren't any boat rules and you could take it off right now?!"

Billy:     Nods with a sad look but stops whining and complaining

Reflective Listening is far more effective than arguing and negotiating. It not only reassures our children that their feelings are understood, it enables us to grant their wishes in fantasy ("Wouldn't it be great if...") and defuse intense emotional moments.

Laura Runnels Fleming (see profile below)
Pasadena, CA

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How Much Should You Give to "Please?"

A mother I know posed the following to her fellow Facebooking mommies:

3 year old son: I wanna watch da monkey.

Dada: We’re eating lunch, Buba. We’ll watch it later.

3 year old son: I wanna watch it now, please.

Dada: After we eat breakfast.

3 year old son: I said “please”...

You: Should he get to watch it (NOW!) or not?

The replying mommies spotted the potential power play right away and offered great advice. These wise women advised against popping in the video lest mom and dad be held hostage by every please ever uttered – from “One more cookie, please!” to “Three more cups of water before bedtime, please!”

Still, if you’ve been working on saying "please" in your home, it is hard to pass up the opportunity to reward the deliberate use of the word. The supportive mommies were hot on that trail, too. They advised thanking the child for saying please, but to following through with what was said the first time. No monkey until after breakfast.

Thanking a child for using the word "please" is certainly an appropriate response and may encourage him to do it again. However, if parents are really interested in motivating their children, a response using Descriptive Praise is the most effective encouragement. Descriptive Praise explains why saying the word is delightful and necessary.

Some parents feel Descriptive Praise is over the top or unnecessary. Children should simply do what is right because they are told. However, those of us who make Descriptive Praise a practice know it is a powerful tool in encouraging good behavior and is significantly less draining than demanding, enforcing, and reminding our children to cooperate.

A Descriptive Praise response in this scenario from Dada to his three year old son might be: “I noticed you said "please". You remembered!” This would be affirming the child for remembering the family is working on saying "please". Or, Dada could say, “Saying 'please' is very polite when you ask for something. You did the right thing.” In this case, this Descriptive Praise encourages polite manners without making "please" the child's all powerful key to getting what they want. There is no need to repeat the fact that there will be no monkey before its time.

Amanda Deverich (see profile below)
Williamsburg, VA

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thoughts On Gordon Neufeld's book, "Hold On To Your Kids" Part One.

Gordon Neufeld is a revered parenting expert and clinical psychologist in Vancouver. His book, "Hold On To Your Kids" has been very influential.

One of Neufeld's main themes is that it is important for parents to work on their relationship with their children/teens in order for them to be more influential than their children's or teen's peers.

It is absolutely critical to work on your relationship with your children/teens, but what's the most effective way to go about it? In the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting approach, we have very specific strategies for parents to help them establish and maintain a positive relationship with their children/teens, and ways of helping parents restore a relationship that has perhaps become not as positive as they would like.

As parents, most of us are in the habit of taking good behavior for granted or even ignoring it most of the time. Many parents also think that pointing out what their children/teens do wrong will help them to stop doing what was wrong and do the right thing instead.

Unfortunately, this does not work as no one likes to have their mistakes regularly pointed out, and when children/teens (or adults for that matter) are criticized, it does not motivate them to want to do the right thing. In fact, it mostly backfires and we end up with an angry or resentful child, teen or adult.

In order to develop a positive relationship with a child/teen or adult, first we need to notice and show that we are pleased when they do the right thing. This technique is what we call Descriptive Praise. It teaches parents to stop and notice when their child/teen has done something that is right or even OK-ish and say this in words, such as, "I noticed you put your dirty plate in the sink--thanks--", or, "You did what I asked you to do the first time with no arguments--", or, "Thanks for speaking to me in a pleasant tone of voice."

Descriptive praise gives children and teens what they crave and need--appreciation and approval. Children and teens need to see that we like them as well as love them. Descriptive praise is also good for the parents because even when home life has become a bit grim, it forces parents to notice and mention the times when the child/teen has done something right (or at least not wrong), as even a very annoying child/teen does many okay things every day.

The technique of Descriptive Praise is easy to describe and makes sense, but some parents find it difficult to put into practice. This is because we are far more familiar and comfortable with pointing out the problems than descriptively praising the good or OK things.

Make this a 30 day challenge and descriptively praise each member of your household 10 times a day. What have you got to lose!

Suzanne Ferera (see profile below)
Vancouver, Canada

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I loved reading Laura's post about "talk-throughs", one of the ways to Prepare for Success using the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting methods.

There are so many positive, pro-active ways to Prepare for Success, to stop things from going wrong before they have a chance to go wrong.

These days Noël sometimes calls a "talk-through" a "think-through", in order to really make the point that the child is doing some thinking here, not just talking. Children can get quite good at talking without thinking!

In one of these - whatever you choose to call it - our questions, asked at a neutral time before the event, prompt the child to think about and visualize and verbalize themselves doing the correct behavior. It's an extremely useful tool that gets children thinking about the right thing to do, before they've done it, while they still actually have a chance to influence their own behavior for the best. This is in contrast to what often happens between parents and children: the kids get criticism and reprimands after they do the wrong thing.

Adding to the concept of a "think-through" is something my kids and I came to call a "think-after". The boys came up with that name years ago, after they had heard me say a number of times, after some challenging event (that we had prepared for): "I think that went really well, and I'll tell you why..."

A "think-after" is a mini "think-through" that happens AFTER the event. Think of it as a debrief that focuses on the positive. A "think-after" is the perfect opportunity for Descriptive Praise. In fact, your "think after" should consist primarily of Descriptive Praise sentences. For example, instead of saying, "You did such a great job getting ready for school", instead try, "You remembered to put everything you need for school in your backpack--your homework, your supplies and your lunchbox." Just describe exactly what they did right.

If it was worth doing a "think-through" about in the first place, then it is worth doing a "think-after" about afterwards. This is yet another positive way to instill in our children the values we want them to have.

Jill Janis (see profile below)
Tucson, AZ

Friday, July 29, 2011

Got eye-contact? "Greet Expectations"

One of my favorite pearls of wisdom from Noël Janis-Norton's CEHP seminars is this: "If there is something your child is regularly doing that is bothering you, you probably don't have a rule for it."

So it's been bothering me for awhile that my pre-teen needs a "manners upgrade" when it comes to greeting people. The usual scenario is that as soon as he shakes anyone's hand, his body makes an abrupt turn away to the left and his eyes quickly dart away. Now I grew up in Kansas, which I think might be the friendly capital of the world. Whether I was introduced to strangers or greeted guests or was an invited guest, we were expected to smile, look people in the eye and answer politely while continuing eye-contact.

We've certainly talked about "greeting expectations" with our son before, but what we weren't doing was "Preparing for Success", which is one of the core skills of CEHP. In this case, Preparing for Success is about being proactive and talking through the expectations before any greeting situations. It's so easy to wait until things go wrong and then to react with criticism, but unfortunately it's not effective at changing behavior.

So today I had to take my son with me to meet a client. Before we left, we prepared for success and did the CEHP "talk-through" strategy, where I asked him questions about what he should do when he met my client. He said "Look him in the eye and shake hands." I praised him and said, "That's right, and how many seconds should you hold eye-contact?" He said, "Five seconds". We both agreed that might be too long, but that it was definitely more polite than half a second. We decided that three seconds was about right. I also asked him what he would do if he was asked another question about his age or interests, and he said, "look at him". I agreed, "Yeah, and you might want to look at me when you answer because it's more comfortable, but who will you need to look at?" He replied, "At your client."

Here's what happened. My son shook my client's hand, smiled and maintained eye-contact for three seconds, and he even answered questions politely while looking at him. When we got home, I descriptively praised him and said, "Even though you might have felt uncomfortable, you looked my client in the eye and were very polite. I was proud of your manners." He smiled.

Now the key thing for us to do is to keep preparing for success with"talk-throughs" about greeting expectations and rehearsing these situations. Pretty soon he'll be ready for Kansas.

Laura Runnels Fleming (see profile below)
Pasadena, CA

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to get teens to cooperate

In Anthony E. Wolf's article in the Globe and Mail: "How do I get my grumbling, lazy teen to help around the house?", he introduces the article with the statement: "Austin would you please take your dirty dishes out of the TV room and into the kitchen." There then ensues a back and forth debate between parent and teen, which I am sure is common in a lot of households. His suggestion is that, "If you simply stand there, what happens in the vast majority of times is that they will comply."

In the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting (CEHP) approach we have a few extra skills to add that will help a teen want to cooperate. The first is called Descriptive Praise. Parents are often in the habit of taking cooperation for granted or ignoring it. In order to help a teen want to cooperate we must show him that we are pleased with everything he is doing that is right, or heading in the right direction or nor wrong. For example, "Thanks for washing up your dirty dishes without me having to remind you."

The problem with teens, as with all of us, is that no one likes being told what to do. In the CEHP approach we also teach a skill called Preparing For Success. Preparing For Success is a group of strategies that helps parents teach and train their teens to cooperate. One of the strategies is to introduce rules, routines and consequences. In order to introduce a rule, you simply say, "The new rule is that from now on when you have finished eating, you wash up your dishes." You need to introduce this rule at a time when you are not stressed, angry or in a rush. You can then revisit this rule at various times and ask questions about the rule for example, "When you have finished eating what do you need to do with the dishes?" The fact that your teen replies makes it clear that you know he has heard you and the expectations are clear. You will also have to think about consequences, because a rule without a consequence is nothing more than a nag. One of the essential principles of the CEHP approach is that everything has to be earned apart from love, food and shelter - this includes rides, allowance and even screen time. So if your teen does not do the rule, instead of criticizing, nagging, getting angry and upset just wait until he comes to you and wants something. Then calmly say, "I am happy to drive you to your friends house - what do you need to do first?"

Suzanne Ferera
Vancouver, BC

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Calming the Storm

The first word in Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting (CEHP) is calmer. Calmness is something most harried parents can't even imagine, let alone bring to bear in everyday life. How is it possible to stay calm in the storm of a temper tantrum, tirade or turmoil of a tumultuous schedule? Parents are pressured by daily chores, expectations, adult concerns and the ongoing needs of their children. Yet, calm is the foundation and gift of CEHP.

Calmness comes from vision and having strategies that you know are effective. For example, I was having difficulty with yelling and talking back in my home. My teenage daughter and I were both under a lot of stress having just lost my husband, her father, to cancer. She and I would find ourselves in screaming matches. It was emotionally and physically draining and not productive at all. I was not in control of myself or my child. The cycle of yelling had to stop.

First I stopped yelling and remained calm--at least externally in the beginning. I followed the CEHP strategies. I established a new rule: no more yelling. Second, I took advantage of the eye of the storm and used descriptive praise with my daughter the minute she paused in screaming. "You've stopped yelling. Now we can talk.", I said. It took a few times for my daughter to believe that I wasn't going to yell back at her, but perseverance paid off. Yelling is a rarity in our home now. Once I had a successful experience with the CEHP skills, it was easier to remain calm and generate many more positive outcomes. Now I had strategies that work.

Having a parenting vision and the tools to achieve it makes all the difference in the world. The calm and ease result in a happier home life. I ran into a mother in a store the other day. She had attended one of my CEHP presentations a week or so prior. "Amanda,", she said, "You changed my life. I have been practicing those skills and things have been going so much smoother in the mornings. No more power struggles. No more fighting and screaming to get out the door."

"That's great!", I said.

"My children started saying "I love you, Mommy", she said.

I smiled at her happiness.

"But no!" She interrupted my response. With a touch to my arm, she leaned in a little closer and softly said, "Then they started saying, "We like you, Mommy."

She had calmed her storm.

Amanda Deverich (see profile below)
Williamsburg, VA

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ahhh, summer. Oh, no--summer!

During the school year, we've got our routines down, but when summer comes, routines can quickly go to pot. On one hand, it's nice to get up a little later and to have more unscheduled time. On the other hand, the things that are usually done by 8 am can now easily drag out until noon.

Take music practice, for instance. Our 12 and 10 year old boys both play instruments, and we've found that the best time of day for them to practice is in the morning before school. And no, I'm not a "Tiger Mom", but that's another important topic for a blog post, so we'll get there. Trying to fit in practicing the violin and cello after school when there's homework and other after school activities has never appealed to us, as I know it would likely create a lot of negotiating and reminding and nagging and result in our boys hating practicing their instruments. Whereas in the morning, they get up, get dressed, make their beds and do their practice. They are in the routine of it, so there's no resistance and practice is done and out of the way early.

So summer. Because we didn't want to negotiate and nag our boys about music practice, we took a tip straight from one of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting's core skills, "Preparing for Success" and rejiggered the rule about when it happens. So our new summer rule is that we moved practices back 45 minutes so everyone feels like they're benefiting from summer vacation by sleeping in a bit, but we stick with our morning routine and practice early, whenever possible. Though they moaned when we first told them the new summer rule, the next morning after they practiced, both boys mentioned how much they liked practicing early and knowing they had more free time later. When the rules are clear, our kids don't resist and everyone is calmer and happier knowing the plan.

Laura Runnels Fleming (see profile below)
Pasadena, CA