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

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!