The Art of Actively Listening


Communicating with our children can be a difficult task at times.  We feel like they’re not listening to us; they feel like we’re not listening to them – it is a crazy cycle.

Good listening and communications skills are essential to successful parenting.  Your child’s feelings, views and opinions have worth, and you should make sure you take the time to sit down and listen openly and discuss them honestly.

I shared a bit about the importance of open communication and finding the times during our busy days to connect with our kids in my Back 2 School Survival Guide.  We often miss opportunities which are right in front of our eyes just because we think we don’t have the time to stop or that it doesn’t matter.  Be intentional when it comes to grabbing those moments when your child wants to share with you.  This is even more critical as your children enter the tween/teen years!

You can learn a lot about our kids when we take the time to just ‘be’ with them and truly hear them, we just need to keep a few things in mind.

Respond – Not React

It seems to be a natural tendency to react rather than to respond.  This seems to be automatically how we are wired – especially for those of us who struggle with being inpatient and with the inability to pause in the midst of conflict. We pass judgment based on our own feelings and experiences.  However, responding means being receptive to our child’s feelings and emotions and allowing them to express themselves openly and honestly without fear of repercussion from us.  [Read more…]

Dangers of Moms Multitasking


Moms love to multitask!  Yes, we sure do!!

It can be the only way we get through our big ‘to-do’ list everyday, but who is really paying for all this hurrying and scurrying around? Our family often can feel less than important if we tend to to do much, and you have to ask yourself – what is really more important?

There are dangers associated with trying to do all and be all as moms.  Take a listen to this short audio blog I did about a year ago that shares my perspective and hidden dangers of doing too much when we should be slowing down with just ‘being’ with our family.

Two big ones:

1.  Multitasking inhibits your ability to be 100% present

2.  Following through and being consistent declines

After listening to the audio, what else pops out in your mind?  We need to be really careful with this one and I even share how I struggle with it during a new season in my life!



Passing the Test


“Your child is testing you to see that you are stable and consistent.  He wants you to pass” – Hal Runkel, ScreamFree Parenting

I was working with a mom recently who was struggling with finding solutions to the perpetual behavior with her son who was recently diagnosed with ADHD persistently displayed.  As our conversation developed she had one of those ‘AHA’ moments.  I love when these happen!

She was sharing with me situations that happened over and over again, each day that never seemed to change.  The constant badgering when she would give an answer that her son did not like – you know that relentless conversation that they  continue in order to try to get you to break and change your mind.  She didn’t understand why it continued, why her son felt the need to be disrespectful and argue or try to blame her for his choices.

As we dug a little deeper into these situations, I asked a very poignant question……

“How does your husband respond to these same situations?”

She stopped, thought for a moment and said, “Well, when he says no to something, my son stops.  He knows that he means it.”

So I asked her why she felt her son would continue to badger her and not accept her answer as the final answer.  She determined that she was the biggest part of the problem, she had made a habit of continuing to defend her position, rationalize her decision to him and also felt she could reason with him.  All which ended up continuing an engagement with him that created very negative patterns of behavior.

Her ‘Aha’ moment is one that many of us can take ownership of as well.  Even me!  I admit, I have become quite clever in my responses and ways to navigate myself out of engagements with my children when the continued conversation will amount to nothing but a negative outcome. [Read more…]

The Benefits of Nagging


This post originally ran over at Families with Purpose last November.  Nagging is always a hot topic and a pattern that moms can easily fall into.  Perhaps you are at a point to finally break the habit – I hope the article helps you come up with some ideas on how you can do that.

We all do it….. or at least started out our mothering journey nagging and reminding our kids, we figured it was something we had to do.  I know, I did the same thing.  Asking my kids if they brushed their teeth for the third time, reminding them for the fifth time to take out the trash or telling them to buckle their seatbelt.  It all seems to go in one ear and out the other.

So why do we do it?

We know that it doesn’t really solve the issue we are trying to address, but we do it anyway.  We get into patterns of behavior, negative patterns  that seem to be endless.    We have no other idea how to help the situation, so we just continue – even though it is not working.  Why do we continue to do things the same way over and over again hoping that we will get a different result?  I ask this question of the moms I work with a lot, and it stops them dead in their tracks!

I thought I would take a look at what we are enforcing when we nag and remind our kids like we do everyday.  There are benefits of nagging, but I am not sure you will like these benefits.

You teach you child to NOT listen the first time.

Just think about this for a minute……if every morning you remind little Johnny to brush his teeth five times before he actually does it, why on earth should he listen to you the first time?  As Hal Runkel states in his book, “ScreamFree Parenting” – “Think  about what your relationship would be like with your child if they knew for an absolute ironclad fact that you never gave two warnings?  Ever.”  I love this quote, and yes, it is referring here to giving warnings, but you can consider it the same question with regard to nagging and reminding.  Imagine what it would look like if your child knew that you only made a request of them ONE time.  How would that change what happens in your home every morning?

Does she mean it this time?

This goes in conjunction with the previous point, if you will be telling your child multiple times to do something, then how will they know when you really mean it?  If you have conditioned your child to not act until a third or fourth request, what happens when you ask them to do something that is critical for them to act on when you request, like – “Get out of the way,” or “Get out of the street,” or even “Don’t touch the burner.”  All of these are ways you try to protect your child and if they are conditioned to NOT listen to you the first time, you could have a fairly serious situation on your hands.

Perfectly said by Dr. Kevin Lehman

If you want your child to take you seriously, say your words once.  Only  once.  If you say it more than once, you’re implying, “I think you’re so stupid that you’re not going to get it the first time, so let me tell you again.”

How true.

When we choose to repeat ourselves we are reinforcing just the complete opposite of what we are trying to develop.  We all want self-directed children, but if we continually repeat and nag our children they never have the opportunity to develop habits that will take them into adulthood.  When you empower your children by allowing them to complete a task with only one request you will see tremendous pride.  This is where true motivation comes from – I honestly feel we undervalue what our kids can actually accomplish.  We end up holding them back and keeping them from success in many areas because we don’t think they can do it.

No one likes to repeat themselves over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.   You get the picture.  It is a waste of your time but it certainly could be doing a lot more damage than you really had given thought to.

I challenge you to pick one area this week and choose to not engage in the nagging with your child.  You could even perhaps sit him/them down and give them Dr. Lehman’s quote (As I did one afternoon) and let them know you haven’t been doing them much good always reminding and from now on you would be trying really hard to only say things once.  You will need to be prepared to be consistent and really be in touch with your own emotions.

 Photo Credit

New Action Brings Change


Isn’t it strange as parents we often find ourselves reacting the same way to behavior over and over again, yet we are hopeful that ‘THIS TIME” it will magically bring about a different result?

Why is it that we continue to think if we do the very same thing….that maybe on the 101st time it will produce a different outcome?


Is it realistic to think that when you are battling the same situation with one of your children that suddenly the light will come on in their head and they will see your point and comply?


Or do you need to change your approach?


I talk a lot about controlling what you CAN control versus trying to control what you cannot: AKA your child!

As moms, we tend to get into patterns of behavior that produces and often even encourages behavior that most drives us nuts.  We expect our children to somehow decide one day that they will automatically remember their backpack while headed out the door in the morning rush because we have reminded them 200 times for the past 6 months.

Let me just pop your bubble – it doesn’t work that way! [Read more…]