Yep, I was invited on the Thursday noon talk show with David Hailwood, the director of Expat Radio, and Lisa Ranking, founder of Flavors of Paris.
On the air with 64K listeners from 86 countries I shared about parenting… yet the most dauting audience was:
- Lisa, the mother of two cats, who interviewed me about SoSooper and Positive Discipline. We connected on topics like empowerment, different cultures, AND getting kids to eat.
- David, the son of a Manchester police officer, who introduced lively discussion through unnerving anecdotes: the mother who threw china out the window and kids trying to bribe their way out of punishment.
Here are a few highlights:
Expats + SoSooper => Family Culture
SoSooper helps parents build a culture of thriving for their families.
Parents often take family culture for granted. Have you defined yours?
There is a moment, however, when families confront culture head on…when they move abroad and become expats. Simple things become complicated.
The Dampierre’s (my family) are quite Frenchified and savor our daily fresh baguettes. When we go to the US, “fresh” bread comes wrapped in plastic bags(!)…so that it can last for days!!!
Corporate culture, however, is a priority for most professional organizations. Managers in companies invest money, time, and talent to create an environment that promotes success. Isn’t thriving what we want for our loved ones too?
So, I spoke of SoSooper bringing leadership tools to the family arena, training and coaching parents in empowering their children and developing habits which promote cooperation and inclusivity.
Foodie Examples of Family Culture
In talking with Lisa, of course, we embarked on a conversation on food and children’s eating habits. How might a family culture relate to the food on one’s table?
Lisa enquired this way: “Should parents insist that their children try every food on their plate?”
My answer: “It depends upon the family culture.”
Take the Discovery Family. Mom and Dad take to heart the importance of diversity and want their children to embrace it. To be consistent, parents could train the kids to welcome differences by having them try a variety of foods. They could pursue further than merely requesting to try foreign fare. Why not entertain a weekly discovery meal? Have YOU tasted strawberry risotto, watercress soup, or curry pizza!
Consistency is key.
And it’s sooper easier to say than to do. (That’s why we offer coaching.)
It’s harder to be convincing as a parent when you say, “Be tolerant and open-minded,” and daily serve up noodles and butter (or another standard staple).
Let your actions and your words speak the same language.
When Plates Fly – Anger Management
That’s when David contributes the story of his boyhood friend with the open ground floor window. No matter what the weather. He found out why the hard way.
One afternoon, in heading over to his buddy’s house to play, he was nearly hit by a plate whizzing out from the house. A woman’s raging voice accompanied the flying saucer.
Buddy and he hurredly scurried away to play in safety until the mother’s fury abated.
As a positive parenting coach, how does one respond to such a tale on live radio?!
I can empathize.
Like this mum, I (and surely you too) have moments of “Loosing it.”
And the kids know which levers to pull to reach that tipping point.
Yet another muddy footprint on the light carpet. A look of defiance. Lack of response…especially when I’m in a hurry. They expect me to react immediately to their request…when they previously gave the silent treatment…
“So, is anger bad? What if we can’t help it?” inquired Lisa.
Emotions as Gifts
Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are signs that something good or bad is happening.
I like to view feelings as gifts. Emotions occur in response to events or behaviors. Something happened BEFORE the plates flew.
We often think of anger management in terms of “solving it in the moment.” It’s when we feel anger than we need to deal with it.
But what if we could include the children in positive ways of organizing the home so that the anger triggers don’t even happen?
Consider this family. The mom flipped her lid when the children regularly complained about the food she lovingly cooked. She created Weekly Menu’s and invited the Biggest Complainer to make the menu for the entire family. “You get to choose what to eat…AND when the others don’t like it, they tell you.”
He felt honored to be trusted with the responsibility…for several weeks until he realized it was really work. This solution transformed his mealtime vocabulary; he replaced whining with gratitude. Instead of, “Peas?! You know I hate them,” he exclaimed, “Great! Today is corn day!”
And the plates stay in the cupboard.
David graced us with another parenting story.
As the son of a policeman, he was privy to delinquent youth’s request to negotiate favored treatment with the police.
Dave’s stories sure kept me on my toes… and I was glad to share a Positive Discipline anecdote from Californian police. They used the tool of Limited Choices to engage the cooperation of people they were arresting.
“Would you like your handcuffs in front or in back?” “Do you want your mug-shot on the right side or the front view first?”
These questions enabled the police to remain firm in their requests WHILE treating the detainees with respect.
It works at home too. “Would you like to put your blue shoe or your red one on first?” “Will you turn the video game off or shall I?”
Lisa exclaimed, “Denise, what you do is help parents empower their kids!” Exactly.
How to Prepare for Parenting?
And David came up with his third story.
So, clearly parenting benefits from practice. He’s heard of mums carrying around the industrial size bags of flour to get ready to be a parent.
Here, Lisa interjects. “David, if you ever choose a career reconversion, avoid parent coaching!”
Could you hear my smile on the radio?!
When Parents Wish Kids had “Pause” Buttons?!
(Maybe unknowingly) David uncovered another soft spot… Might there be moments when parents do treat their children like an object?
“NEVER!” Is the first thought to come to mind.
And yet…. there were moments I craved to find my sons’ “Pause” button. In the grocery store when walking by the candy aisle. When it’s bedtime and he wants to keep playing. When he refuses to listen…
Machines and robots have “Pause” buttons. People don’t. And children are people.
It’s one of the principles I love about Positive Discipline. This science-based approach to building respect-filled relationships is founded on the principles of Dr. Alfred Adler, a forward-thinking psychiatrist from the 1930’s. Austrian by birth, he worked with prisoners of war as well as with children. At that time, both groups of people were considered second-class citizens. Children were to be seen but not heard. Victims of wartime imprisonment, staggering to find their bearings after freedom, felt locked in trauma and stigma. Alfred Adler believed in the equal value of every person: whatever their age, race, gender, career, past, or potential.
That means they (and we) each have choice.
You and I cannot forcefully push the “Pause” button on someone else.
We can, however, put OURSELF on “Pause” and create a family culture where calming down becomes the welcome norm.
“When You’re Angry, Go to Your Room.”
For close to a decade, our family has practiced an Annual Review. The children give me feedback on
- What I do well. I commit to continuing.
- What behavior they would like me to change. They make the request and we talk about this.
Our youngest piped up, “Mom, when you are angry, go to your room!”
What wisdom! From whom did he hear that? Clearly from One. Smart. Parent.
This child created our Family Pause Button.
Now, when I am blind with fury (which happens more rarely ????), my children help me find clarity. “Mom, remember your job (from the Annual Review)…”
And in the same way, I share it with them: “Sweetheart, it sounds like you’re angry. Shall we both go to our rooms?”
Thanks Lisa and Dave for an inspiring discussion. The contrast in styles and perspectives is what made it so rich.
David, you CHALLENGED me. Thank you. Your comments stimulated me to put into practice my principles of empathy and value of differences.
Lisa, thank you for your encouragement. You expressed, “Aha!’s” throughout our exchange. That’s what SoSooper is about: learning, growing, becoming Sooper (super with room for more growth).
Hope to catch you again on the air. www.ex-patradio.com