Winning Parenting

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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

2 Words + 3 Words = 1 Word

     ~ the secret to happiness ~ 

Last week I chatted with two girls – best friends.

I asked them: “What’s the next big thing coming up that you’re excited about?” This is one of my favourite questions. It always unlocks a world of stories and potential mentoring topics.

One girl started, “Camping! We always go camping at Easter.”

“Cool,” I said, “Who is going with you?”

“Everyone! My family. My cousins. My grandparents.” Then she turned to look at the other girl. “And my best friend!”

“Wow!” I said to the other girl, “You get to go camping with her family! That’s cool.”

“Not just me!” She said, “My family comes, too. We do it every year.”

“That sounds like fun!” I laughed. “Do you go camping often?”

They both nodded their heads. 

Then the first girl’s eyes teared up. “But you know what?”

I saw something big coming. I leaned forward and focused on her eyes. “What?”

“Sometimes, my parents leave me with my grandparents,” her voice was a shaky whisper as she confessed, “and they go on holiday without me.”

“By themselves?” I said quietly.

She nodded.

“That’s AWESOME!” I nearly shouted, throwing my hands up in the air. “Do you know what that means?”

Scowling at my joy, she said, “What?”

“They love each other!” I clasped my hands together. “Am I right?”

“Yes,” she said, smiling sheepishly. “They always say that.”

“And they are proving it, by spending time together.” I said, “They are keeping their love alive and keeping your family strong by going away together. You are one lucky girl!”

“I am?” She looked happier, hopeful even.

“Yes, you are!” I leaned back in my chair. “You both are.”

“Your parents know the secret to happiness!” I cupped my hands together like they held a surprise. “Do you want to know the secret?” I peeked in my hands. “I have it here in my hands.”

“Yes,” they both said, excited.

“Repeat after me,” I said as I lifted my cupped hands up to my ear and paused to listen.

“I’m sorry!” I said.

“I’m sorry!” They both repeated.

My hands shook like there was something trying to get out. “Oh, there’s more to the secret!” I held it up to my ear.

I smiled. “I forgive you!”

“I forgive you!” They laughed, repeating me.

“Those five little words are the secret to happiness.” I said, “Your parents obviously know them well. I’m guessing they taught those words to you, already.”

Both girls nodded.

“You are the luckiest girls in the whole school.”

“We are?”


Monday, March 12, 2018

Time for Self-Care

Self-care is choosing to actively spend time maintaining your overall health and happiness. Taking care of yourself leads to holistic healthiness – body, mind, social and spiritual wellbeing.

Daily Time: Find daily time for yourself. Start small. One nurturing activity each day will lead to beneficial long-term results.

Weekly Time: Switch off the technology and spend time with your family for an entire day each weekend. A day disconnected from work each week greatly benefits the health and well-being of both you and your family.

Group Time: Join a club that meets regularly. Spending time with peers doing something you love will increase your friendships which is proven to add years to your life!

Annual Time: A yearly holiday away from home, work, school and all the other responsibilities of everyday life is important for both you and your family. It doesn’t need to be expensive or distant, just get away and spend time having fun with those you love.

A happier healthier you improves relationships with family, friends and workmates.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Self-Calming Techniques

We all get overwhelmed. We could be angry, frustrated, anxious, tired or even hungry. Here are some simple strategies to help regain your calm. Learn them and teach them to your children.

1. Breathe. Fill your lungs as deeply as you can. Breathe out slowly.
2. Listen. Think/talk about three things you can hear in your environment. 
3. Look. Name five things you see around you. 
4. Draw. Doodle on a piece of paper for a few minutes.
5. Release. Make a tight fist, then release it.
6. Count. Slowly count to ten. 
7. Imagine. Take a mental holiday. Imagine every detail.

Some self-calming techniques will work better than others. Try each with your child. Talk about how each one affects you. Not only will you learn some better self-awareness and self-calming skills, you’ll get to know each other better.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

One Secret of Success

This morning before taking my boys to the train for their first day of University for 2018, I learned a valuable lesson about success.

I said to the oldest, “Thanks for not telling me the torch was all the heat I needed to make it through the mountains!”

He laughed. “Well, I didn’t know that. I did a quest for the old man and got some warm clothes. That’s how I survived the cold.”

“Well,” I said, “Now I’m stuck. How do I get across the river?”

“There’s a bridge!” he laughed.

“Yes,” I said, “but there is a gap. I can’t get on the bridge.”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “You’ve got to use your magnet and put the metal door across the gap.”

“Ah…” I said, “of course.”

“Actually,” he continued, “there’s a boat a little further up the river, too.”

“What?” I said.

“Yeah, there’s often more than one way to solve the puzzles. That’s why Zelda is so easy.”

“I see,” I said. “Thanks for that, I feel much better now!”

We can all benefit from the lesson my son taught me. Success isn’t about perfection, it’s about progress. How your child accomplished a task may be different than how you did it, in your day. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s more than OK. It’s AWESOME!

Setting goals, overcoming roadblocks, achieving small victories are all part of being successful. Success isn’t about being perfect, it’s about moving one step further on your quest. It is achieved one step at a time. Success is about progress not perfection.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Laws, Limits and Lessons

Without boundaries life is less fun and often dangerous. Laws provide boundaries in society. We’ve all driven through an intersection when the traffic lights weren’t working. Everyone is on high alert and proceeds with extreme caution. But what if there were no traffic lights, no speed limits and we could drive on whichever side of the road we chose? Sounds like fun to some of us. But in reality, none of us would use the roads for fear of death. The boundaries provided by everyone respecting and obeying road rules allow each of us to regularly get to our destinations safely.  

Healthy families have boundaries, too. Families benefit from clear laws and limits in how we treat each other, respect our property, perform our daily routines and cooperate to get things done. Expecting others to be or do things without establishing laws and limits will lead to frustration and disappointment.

Just as drivers study the road rules, we must learn the laws and limits of our family. And to respect our boundaries, we first need to decide what a safe home looks like and then write laws and limits to create that home. Post them somewhere everyone is likely to see them. The fridge is a good place.

Just like riding in the car with a learner – we parents need to be in teaching mode and expect mistakes from our children. These broken laws and exceeded limits provide opportunities for lessons that can be told again later. We learn through trial and error. When a learner breaks a road rule the adult in the car is responsible – we get the ticket, the fine and the points. Parents who take this approach to raising children create safe environments for learning.

Every story we tell teaches a lesson to those around us. Our words reveal our focus, our purpose and what is important to us. You don’t tell stories about things that bore you. Whether it bothered you or bettered you, the stories you tell teach lessons to those around you.

So, write your family laws, set your family limits and teach your family lessons through the stories you tell about those laws and limits – when they were helpful and when they were difficult. The boundaries we set create the people we become!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

‘right back on’

True or False:

__ The girl who broke her arm falling off the bars goes climbing again before her plaster is even off.

__ The boy who fell off his bike and ended up in hospital is riding again the next day.

If you answered true, you know someone who has confidence. If you ask that boy or girl why they are not scared to go back to the thing that hurt them, they will tell you: “Because that’s my favourite thing to do! I fell and I’m OK. I’m not going to fall again but if I do I’ll be OK next time, too.”

Confidence comes from failure not success. The adage that you must get ‘right back on’ the horse when you fall off is not teaching you to conquer the horse. It’s teaching you to conquer your own fear of falling and build a ‘right back on’ attitude which shapes your self-esteem.

If all you’ve had is success, you’ve never got ‘right back on’. Your skill level and confidence level grow the fastest when you’re in a pattern of falling off and climbing back on.

Does this mean you should let your children fail?

More than that! You should congratulate them when they do. “Mate, you just took your skateboarding to the next level!” “Look at all those red marks, your writing skills are growing by leaps and bounds. Keep writing!” “Honey, of course we want to have her over for another play, you forgave each other!”

Failure combined with getting ‘right back on’ – that’s how we build confidence and resilience in ourselves and in our kids. Our example is the greatest parenting tool we have. We have failed many times to get where we are in life. Tell your ‘right back on’ stories to your kids. Let them know, failure and getting ‘right back on’ is what makes us great!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Secret to a Happy Family

Does your family seem to explode at the seams every time you sit together for a few minutes? Have you seen other families having fun together and wondered how they do it?

Or, perhaps you are one of those families who laugh together and wonder why other families have so much trouble getting along. Did you know you have a secret you can share?

Here’s the secret to having a happy family: Planned time together. Sit around the table every night for dinner and talk about your day. Play the ‘story of your day’ game. See how many details you can each remember.

One consistent difference between families that don’t get along and families that do is a schedule with rules. This schedule and rules will be different in every home. But the primary thing that must be scheduled is regular repeated time together with a purpose. Food and fun is a great purpose!

Planning a weekly game night at home and a monthly family night out is a great next step.

At home: Play board games or other interactive activities like puzzles, craft, building something or reading a book aloud.

On your night out: Go for a walk in the park, or play a sport outside, go 10 pin bowling, laser tag or to a trampoline centre. Be creative – it’s all about learning to laugh together!

Change is not easy. If your family has difficulty spending time together, start slow. Try one meal a week with a planned time and purpose (talking). Make a rule: Everybody listens quietly while others speak and can expect to be treated the same when it is there turn. Once this weekly night is working, step it up to every school night. Then every night.

We all learn by repetition. So, get started and keep going.

Soon you’ll be laughing and loving your time together.