Winning Parenting

Three amazing teenagers. How did that happen?!? Parenting tips from the pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Having regular chores is great for developing responsibility. Sometimes getting kids to actually do their chores can be more of a chore than the chores themselves. So, what can we do to inspire chore success?

Competition. Create some playful competitions that result in a variety of rewards. Base the games around accomplishing the tasks needing to be done.

Scavenger Hunt. For the littles, give them a prize for collecting a certain number of toys. For the bigs, hide a few toys in hard to find places and reward them when the specially hidden toys are added to the rest of collection.

Crank up the music. While everyone does their list of chores, turn up the family’s favourite playlist and enjoy some bop-bop-bopping along with your cleaning.

Shopping list. Let one of the kids control the shopping list. They can give the others (you included) items to gather. Tell the list manager to tick off the items when they are delivered to the trolley.

Make it fun! We’ve all heard it – I’m bored! Keeping the boredom to a minimum is the key to accomplishing tasks, chores and routines.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Love Them Hard

As I scrolled through Facebook, I saw a picture of a past workmate who went through a messy divorce which, necessarily, sent the father of their children away. All revealed, he’d left years before. As she stared into the distance, a slogan shouted from her shirt: “Find your tribe. Love them hard.”

I could feel her pain.

Finding our tribe isn’t always easy. But one thing is sure: our children are fellow tribe members. They are ours and we are theirs. Love them hard.

As we age, we mature. Maturity shapes how we build relationships. Good ones. Bad ones. They work because we work on them. Each relationship formed and nurtured grows our tribe. But love isn’t always enough. There are people who do horribly selfish things and fracture their family, leaving a great rift through the landscape of our tribe as they storm out. Unfortunately, maturity doesn’t always come with age. Sometimes age comes alone.

As these damaged destructive people torpedo their way out of our tribe, our children need us. Time is the great healer. Give them time and give them your time. Love them hard.

Some of us – knock on wood – have happy marriages. We have found our tribe and are building strength upon strength. Mistakes will be made. Forgiveness between spouses shows our children that healing is possible. Spouses are people too. Love them hard.

Our children learn how to face life by watching us. Life is all about relationships.

Find your tribe.
Love them hard.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Respectful Kids

We all love to hear other people say wonderful things about our children. 

“Your son is such a gentleman! He helped my boy on the playground today.”

“Your daughter is so thoughtful. She said the nicest thing to my girl today!”

“Your children play together so nicely! How do you do it?”

Children who act in these ways are products of choice not chance. Compassion, respect and honesty are produced in a home of integrity. Just as the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, a child resembles the people with whom they live.

The life of integrity starts at home with a firm foundation of values and expectations. A home of integrity is a place of love and trust. This means we parents treat others (partner, children, neighbours, extended family, the driver in the car that just cut us off, etc.) with kindness. Our words and actions become the words and actions of our children.

Children that treat siblings and classmates with compassion have seen their parents be kind to others.

Students who are trustworthy have been trusted by their parents with age appropriate responsibilities. They have also witnessed their parents trust others and be trusted by others. 

Home is where we learn our values. If we want compassionate, honest, respectful kids we must provide a home where these values are demonstrated daily. 

People of integrity are the product of a lifetime.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


The personal ability to set and enforce boundaries is one of the most important life skills. Learn it in childhood and we are set for success!

Protecting a child from consequences arising from their own actions sets them up for immaturity in adulthood. Actions lead to consequences. This is a reality that will never fail. Therefore, the earlier we internalise it, the better off we are.

To teach our children boundary setting skills we need to setup learning experiences for them. One of the most strategic ways to set the stage for learning personal boundaries is to declare and demonstrate that actions have consequences. Be clear and consistent.

So, how do we teach our children to set boundaries? By demonstrating that actions have consequences in their daily lives. If you child learns that leaving their lunch at home means they will not be eating until they return home, they learn to remember their lunch. This is an obvious consequence. Tomorrow’s lunch will be dutifully packed in tomorrow’s school bag!

Positive reinforcement is also very effective. Setting up an “Action/Consequence” sheet on the fridge with tasks/treasures listed in the two columns will help your child gain an understanding of self-directed behaviour. Actions result in consequences. Clean room/TV Time … Dishes away/dinner choice … homework done/friend invite … Set the Action/Consequences and then watch your child take to self-directed behaviour like a fish to water.

Each tomorrow that follows a consequence from my own action is a new day of self-determined behaviour. This is where personal boundaries and self-control come from.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Family Time

The best memories of childhood come from the family time spent together doing meaningful and enjoyable things. Many families today are so busy they have little time to relax and have fun together. 

Time together is something you make not something you find! Decide today to make time for family togetherness. This time can be carved out by making household chores into an interactive activity – a game or competition with points – to spend time together while doing things that need doing. 

Another thing we can all benefit from is making a conscious decision to slow down and cut back – and to expect the same from your kids. We are all too busy. ‘Busy’ is the worst four letter word I know. Believe it or not, current research is showing that procrastination is good for your brain! So, “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” 

Eat together at least three meals a week. Some families can do mornings, some evenings. Choose the meals that are most possible for the entire family and set them apart as table time. Only people come to the table. No technology. Just faces and hands. Then talk!

To really step things up, set a night aside for games at the table. Remember, only faces and hands at the table – no phones, iPads, etc. Playing card games or board games for an hour a week as an entire family can help reveal and refine character strengths and weaknesses. A weekly character check-up is a good thing!

As a family reward, after a month of successful table time. watch a movie together on the TV. Allow all the tech and toys. Make some popcorn. And just relax – as a family!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Christmas Story

Christmas has been around for a long time. There are a thousand ways of telling the Christmas story, each slightly different because it came from a slightly different time, place and culture.

The oldest stories we can find go back thousands of years, to celebrations of early Europeans who celebrated light and birth during the darkest and coldest times of the year—winter solstice, hoping to bring about the next season when light, growth and warmth would return.

This celebration changed into a time of feasting in Scandinavia when the Norse celebrated Yule starting on December 21. They would light huge logs and feast until the logs burnt out. The best logs could last up to 12 days!

Sometime later, as Christianity was spreading through the world, it brought with it new reasons to celebrate. The celebration of the birth of Jesus didn’t have a fixed day until Christian leaders decided to match dates with the ancient holiday happening during winter and call it Christmas. As this new holiday, a time of gift giving and family togetherness, spread around the world, Santa Clause was born. This jolly man, with his bag of toys, quickly became the story many people told their children about Christmas.

Today, the story and meaning of Christmas is a little different in each part of the world. Here in Australia, our story is quite unique. Christmas is during the middle of summer. We can hardly build snowmen and we try to avoid lighting fires. Families meet together for outdoor cricket, BBQ’s, beach trips, Carols by Candlelight and late night drives to look at houses covered in lights.

No matter where you are in the world, one thing remains the same on Christmas. It is a time of giving. Gifts are given by parents to children. Families pass plates of delicious food. People participate in donating gifts to their community. Churches provide free meals for struggling families and individuals. At Christmas, everyone should feel joy and love.

May you have a wonderful Christmas
   as you share your gifts with others.
May your family be blessed and joyful
   as you share conversation and food.
May you experience peace and love
   as you consider the Christmas story.
And may the Christmas story you tell
   bring new life, meaning and purpose to all.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Naughty List

I was chatting with a grade one boy in the last week before the Christmas holiday.

"How are you today?" I asked.

"Not good," he said.

"Why not?"

"I'm on the naughty list!" He crossed his arms and dropped his eyes to the floor.

"The naughty list? What does that mean?" I asked.

His little head jerked up and he looked at me like I was the most ill-informed person on the planet. "It means I don't get any presents!"

I threw my hands up in the air, “What? That’s not good!” Leaning forward I asked, "Can you change it?"

His eyes came to life, "YES! I'm being really good, NOW!"

I nodded, wisely. "What are you doing different?"

"Not hitting my brother and not yelling at Mum."

I nodded again. "That sounds like a good start. Are you doing good stuff, too?"

Now he nodded. "Yup. I help Mum with stuff and clean up my mess."

I put my hand over my heart and leaned back in my chair. "I can tell you something really exciting!"

"What?" he asked, his eyes fixed on mine.

"You're getting off the naughty list!" I smiled.

"I know." He said, resolved. “But it’s hard.”

“Doing the right thing often is,” I said, “but it’s worth it, right?”

“Yeah,” he smiled. “I can’t wait to get my presents!”