Special father and daughter shared moment

Kids change when parents listen

“Dad, listen…”

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in France.  A friend (a mom of teens) shared about her reunion with her parents. “I left utterly discouraged.”  What happened?!

They enjoyed a day full of fun outings:  restaurants, shopping, and culture.  What was discouraging about that?!

Then she spoke her heart. “I shared a video of my work with my dad.  Not even 10 seconds into the video my father began telling me what I did wrong.  Hey, I know the video was not perfect, but critique before listening is not the feedback I need.  I just won’t talk to him about work anymore.”  She’s an entrepreneur; work is her passion.

I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did.

I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did. Click To Tweet

Could you and I do that with our children too?  You bet.

(In)Active listening impacts behavior

And when the children act out of discouragement, we think their behavior is their problem.

  • They are too blasé. “Whatever.”
  • They don’t listen to us
  • They criticize their brother or sister
  • Why can’t they just be motivated?!

Irony.

Children misbehave out of discouragement...and parents get more annoyed at the kids! Click To Tweet

My friend is an adult.  “She should know better,” and in a responsible, loving gesture she should go to her father and share her feelings.  But, in her discouragement, she’s opting for “why bother?”

If adults (she’s MY friend.  So, if intelligent, dynamic, and caring adults ????) decide against reconciliation, then what will our discouraged kids choose to do?

Yep.  Our children keep up with that annoying behavior!  And they seek counsel elsewhere.  Aagh!

Father and daughter in conversation. Listening dad.
Father intently listening to his daughter. Body, mind, and heart are all engaged.

What does active listening sound like?

I shared with my friend tips I learned from Positive Discipline about listening styles.

In our classes, we have an activity like the movie “Groundhog Day.”  We get to replay a scene, beginning again as if we were given a fresh start every time.  It’s a roleplay of a child (an adult playing the role of a child) who comes to tell Mom or Dad about his BFB (Best Friend Breakup).

  • Scene 1 – parent is on the phone, distracted
  • Scene 2 – parent criticizes
  • Scene 3 – parent tells child how he should act next time
  • Scene 4 – silence
  • Scene 5 – active listening. “What happened?  What had you hoped would happen?…”

We ask the person playing the role of the child how they feel, what they think, and what they decide to do after each of these scenes.

The first four scenarios generate disengagement in various degrees of intensity.   “I’ll go to my room…I just won’t tell them next time…I’m not good enough so why bother try.”

The Curiosity Questions*, however, built trust between parent and child, helped the kid discover his responsibility in the friendship dilemma, and inspired the child to handle the relationship differently.

(*Curiosity Questions are a tool from Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.)

SoSooper “Aha”:  when bloopers help parents become super

These role plays are an Aha! moment.  Oooops.  You mean my kids act the way they do in part because I (the parent) acts the way I do!

John Newton’s Third Law of Motion also applies to e-motions:  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Father and son having fun in the pool.
For every action, there is a reaction. Play (action) leads to togetherness.

It’s stories like that of my friend that motivate me to keep on developing SoSooper, the mobile app that helps parents equip their children to thrive.

Guess how many tips you’ll find to reconnect with kids WHEN you feel like a recording machine because they’re not listening? 

Check it out on the SoSooper app 🙂

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Harvard Business School New Venture Competition

SoSooper is a finalist in Harvard Business School NVC Europe

Sooper Exciting News

Our mobile app for parents has been selected as a finalist in the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition Europe!  There were 26 contestants for 5 places.  We made the cut!

We will be pitching to 100+ business folk about being the best parent we can be.

We are honored to be present, knowing that the discussion will cover both business issues (how will we generate income) as well a matters touching our ingrained beliefs:

  • Are “good parents” born or can leadership in our homes be learned?
  • How to accompany parents AND allow freedom to create their own, unique family culture?

As my sister says, “Exciting, invigorating, intimidating, energizing, challenging, exhilarating.”

Many thanks to all who support me so well.

SoSooper is finalist for HBS NVC
European finalists for 2017 HBS NVC Europe

The Story behind SoSooper

A Mom in Need

As a young mom seeking help to manage four boys under seven years old I wondered:

“Folk can go to a bank or a financial counselor and expose very private information regarding money and request advice and this is conisdered intelligent.

Those same people seek advice regarding relationships…and they have a problem.

Humm. I hope someone will do something to remedy this discrepancy.”

And, today, maybe that someone is…me.

Insights from Cosmetics

When I worked in cosmetics, one brand introduced beauty advice on an iPad.  Customers appreciated the anonimity of these tools.

They found it more pleasant to admit skin problems to a machine than to a  made-up beauty who agrees you have blackheads on your nose!

Might the same be true with personal issues?

A New Child

SoSooper, my fifth child, is born. This mobile app helps parents navigate – positively and quickly – challenges with kids.

  • Provides parents with solutions for their Need. NOW.
  • Connects parents with parenting experts and other moms and dads like them
  • Is available on their phone.  Anytime & anywhere.

Read more.

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home

The Family Feedback with little children

How much can your young child tell you about YOUR job as a parent?

Quite a lot.

By listening you share encouraging words for your kids.

The Family Feedback with tots

The Family Feedback is ONE GREAT FAMILY TIME where kids give feedback to parents. They start with the good stuff 🙂 and move onto deeper discussion.  Read more here.

For very young kids, we stick to sharing family highlights.  

You want your kids to associate “family” with “fun”?  Then ask them to tell you about a fun time with Mom or Dad.  This strengthens the neural messaging in their brains so that they can more easily access memories of great times as a family.

Our brain is amazing…and malleable.

Ask, “Tell me about a time you felt really happy with us.”

“When we played ball together.”

Help your child fully recall with the experience through specific and factual questions.

“What color was our ball?” “Was it before or after lunch?” “Who else was playing with us?”

Then gently probe for what generated the positive emotions.

“What was soooooo great?” “Which part made you feel the most special?”  “What did you do to show you were happy?”

Thank your child.  

“Your telling me when you were happy makes me very happy too.  Thanks, Darling.”

We tried it & loved it

Here’s what one mother shared after a SoSooper workshop where she and her three year old daughter enjoyed such a conversation:

“My daughter was probably a little bit young (only 3) and I think was struggling to really engage with the activities. However, even though she dealt with it on her level, I think she still got a lot out of the experience – and found it nice that it was a time where mummy was ready to listen to her and find out what she found fun and loving about being in our family.

This workshop reminded me that we do all right as a family (eating together, playing together, respecting each other). As I’m sure you know only too well – it’s a tricky job, mummying, and can seem very unrewarding sometimes. If I were a business, (actually I’m a secondary school teacher) I wouldn’t put up with clients who were so demanding and so seemingly ungrateful for all my efforts. I think what you’re doing is so important – just like in any job, you have training for that ‘shot in the arm’ of enthusiasm and clarity to do your job better every day. Parents need that more than anyone!”

Download Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

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Boy building blocks

12 + 1 Gifts to build respect and collaboration at home

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  Home sure is more fun when kids (of all ages) act their best.

Speaking respectfully.

Seeking solutions (vs. blame).

Giving a helping hand… Continue reading “12 + 1 Gifts to build respect and collaboration at home”

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“I love you, Mom & Mom loves me. Here is how I know.”

Dear Readers,

Thanks to those of you who answered our Mother’s Day survey.  It was a first and we learned

  • from our mistakes
  • about your challenges
  • how you, mothers, are deeply loved (play with the interactive image below)

As a reminder, we are developing tools to help parents’ life be easier and more fun.  I’ll share how your insights help us move forward.

From bloopers to blooming: learning from mistakes

More than 175 of you began the survey and only 50 of you finished it!  We tried to make the survey cute and pretty…it ended up being complicated!

K.I.S.S.  Keep It Simple Sweetie works at home as well as with surveys.  Good to remember.

K.I.S.S. 'Keep It Simple Sweetie' works with every audience of any age. Valuable & respectful philosophy. Click To Tweet

Home Organization & Chores is ONE BIG PAIN

Even with our small response group, you CLEARLY indicated the challenges of getting life done.  You also indicated that children are not often part of the solution…yet 🙂

We are working on how to help alleviate your challenges in the couple (2nd most stressful) and those with the kids through ways to encourage children to help at home.

“I Love You Mom & I know you love me.”

Enjoy playing with the image below which depicts the ways kids know they are loved and the ways they share their love for you.  These answers are weighted.  Some highlights:

  1. Your son and daughter LOVE going out on outings with you and spending special time with you.
  2. They feel loved (and love Mom back) when they receive your attention.  Being listened to and being seen ranked high in importance.
  3. Love is recognized though smiles and joy-filled expressions.
  4. Kindness ranked higher than hugs!
  5. Wild cards
    • As the mom of 4 boys who spent inummmmmmerable hoooooouuuurs in the kitchen, I loved the tykes who appreciated mom’s cooking 🙂
    • This answer generated a reaction deep in my soul:  when kids knew they were loved because mom trusts them.  Only a sprinkling of families mentioned this.  May our SoSooper tools build mutual trust chez vous and chez moi too.

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Discover the kids’
loving thoughts


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Download these loving thoughts

…and post them on your fridge.   Click here.

They’re a great discipline and encouragement tool.

For Discipline

Try it with humor when your child misbehaves.

“Remind me, darling, which way are you tell me that you love me?”

For Encouragement

Let the image be your reminder to share how you feel.

“When you smile and dance, I know you feel loved and THAT make ME feel absolutely marhvelooos dahrling!!!”

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With many thanks and deep appreciation for your time on the survey.

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Get the Mother’s Day Gift Money Cannot Buy

YOU are a Gift

We’ve prepared a gift of encouragement for you to remind you that YOU are the best mother your kids have.

You are special.  Probably not perfect.  But absolutely precious.

Our Gift to YOU

Discover this gift below… (or click here if you have difficulty viewing it).

As a 24/7 on-call mother, it is hard to stay in touch with that magnificent purpose we felt when we first cradled our babe in loving arms.  We promised to give that child our best.

And we did.

Then came

“No”

 

“GIMME”

 

“MORE”

 

“NOW”

And somehow it feels like those children know how to bring out the worst in us.  They push our buttons and we mothers “loose it.”

What happened to Home Sweet Home?

There IS sweetness in your home.  (So what if there is other stuff too…  Challenges might hide the treasures but they don’t erase them.)

This short quiz helps bring that mother-wonder back into focus.

Enjoy.  Because you’re worth it.  Just do it.  You’ve come a long way, Baby.*
* From some of my favorite “philosophers”:  l’Oréal, Nike, and Virginia Slims.

Enjoy the survey below or click here for a full screen version.

Online survey powered by Typeform

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Love, love, and love. Enlightening ways to spell L.O.V.E.

My husband and I celebrate 25 years of marriage this year!

What has enabled our union and our boys to thrive?  The glue is called love, in its many spellings 🙂
love love love and laughLove as L.A.U.G.H.

My husband has an amazing sense of humor.  When tension rises, he brings humor into the situation which enables us to communicate respectfully and productively once again.

Laughter gives us just those nanoseconds needed to let steam diffuse before we explode.  Phew.  It’s nice to be nice.  I hate myself when I act and look like a raven pecking at my kids (or something worse)

Learn to laugh at yourself:

What situation gets you M.A.D.?  Imagine you just landed from Mars and saw someone in that exact situation, what would they see, hear, and smell?  Could there be something funny about that?love love love and listen

Love, love as L.I.S.T.E.N.

Soooo much easier said than done.  Through my parent coaching I have become more aware of my own TOTALLY FLAWED behavior.

My most common blooper is to “listen” with my mouth open.  The children call it “giving lectures.”  Yet as tots become teens, connecting with our kids means giving them space to grow.  When I speak less, they share more.

When I (parent) speak less, the children share more. Love is spelled L.I.S.T.E.N. Click To Tweet

Learn to listen:

Write down some of the words you tell your partner and children.  Hand the list to them and ask them to read these words out loud to you.  Stand 2 meters (2 yards) away from them.  Step forward if those sayings motivate you to closeness.  Step back if those words aggravate you.  Compare your ending position to where you started out.

Invite your loved ones to add to the list and try this again.

ONCE you have shown your loved ones how you listen, invite them to “hear with their feet” too.
love love love and learn

Love, love, love as L.E.A.R.N.

Together time gets a boost during vacations.  Our family thrives on physical exercise and some kind of discovery.  It’s one of our values to embrace diversity, to move beyond our comfort zone, to choose being wonder-filled.

We ask our children all the time to stretch their knowledge (learn at school), to stretch their effort (one more bite of dinner, please), to stretch their patience (just one minute longer….)

Discovery as a family enables me to model the attitude we hope to grow in our kids.  As I struggle through my own learning, I also gain in empathy with my kids.

Learn to encourage:

It is also encouraging to cheer someone on while at their side.

Haven’t you done or been in the situation where well-meaning people act like this:  they advance faster than you and turn back to encourage.  With the distance between you, they have to scream at the top of their lungs, “KEEP IT UP.”  Their words shouted in the distance sound fumbled.  Their body language looks angry (we shout better with feet apart and a certain facial grimace!)

When we are learning we are vulnerable.  Encouragement through proximity truly passes on the message, “We’re together in this.”

Which L.O.V.E. will you apply today?

love love love many ways

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Anger Management – Transforming Moods like Winter into Spring

Business took me to the Swiss Alps for an early morning meeting, so I chose to travel the night before and mix work with pleasure, decision-making with mountain hiking.

A light snow fell upon my arrival in the evening dampening both my body and my mood.  Anger?  No.  Apprehension?  Yes.

In Paris attire (albeit with walking shoes), I trudged one half hour through the wintry wet to settle in for the night.  My plan:  early to bed and early to rise.  Hike three hours from my mountain village to the town in the valley in time for our 10:30 meeting.

Winter outside.  Without Anger Management, winter lurks inside the soul too.

Winter magic clothed the trees in the morning.  Gentle flakes transformed these grey giants into lace.  Grey lace.  The sun had yet to shine of these latent beauties…only to destroy their flaky glory.

Snow on trees
Grey lace of snow dusted trees in early morning light.
Smoke from the chimney
Still cuddling by the fire…at breakfast time! Someone got up EARLY.

Camera poised I set out to capture their beauty…and slid on the thin layer of black ice that paved the road.   Immediately my focus was brought low, literally to the ground.  From high and wondrous thoughts to fear and frustration…and annoyance multiplied over the loss of my moment of magic.

Isn’t that the same with our moods?

We can be flying high with soaring spirits and CRASH down to earth…or worse.  Anger management, where are thou?!

How Sweet is Home?!

My kids’ behavior can do that to me.  I think “Home Sweet Home” only to discover “Jungle Wild Jungle.”  Strewn shoes, coats, and backpacks block my way to the front hall closet so that I no longer feel welcomed home.  Next the sound of video games accost my ears…on a weekday when the children are supposed to be reading, writing, and “arithmetizing.”  You probably get the picture.

Great mood.  Yucky temper.  In one second.  Anger management, HELP!

Great mood. Yucky temper. In one second. Anger management, HELP! Click To Tweet

The Neuroscience of Anger Management

Neuroscience reveals that our brains are incapable of reasoning during moments of high stress.  We’re stuck in emotional responses, subservient to fight or flight.  It’s like the connections between our logic and our feelings has been interrupted.  In order to find solutions, be creative, and even understand the folk speaking to us, we need to reconnect the upper and lower spheres of our brain (the cortex and pre-fontal cortex).

Anger management is a physical phenomenon whereby broken communication pathways rejoin.  By calming down, a person allows this uniting process to reoccur in our brains.  (FYI, full upper and lower sphere connectivity in the brain is capable as of 25 years of age.  Kids and youth can nonetheless get close.)

Dr. Jane Nelsen, in her book on Positive Discipline, refers this reintegration moment as a “Positive Time Out.”  I cherish the name given by parents in one of my Positive Discipline classes: “I want my Cozy Corner.”

Anger Management in Action…
Literally Walking into It 🙂

My hike down the mountain led me to Cozy Corners of my soul.  Reconnecting my rational thinking with my disappointments of today (they’re not that huge, after all) and my hopes for tomorrow (they’re totally attainable still!!).  Bye-bye vexation.  Hello expectancy.

First I noticed the sun tinge the tips of the snow-frosted trees.  Light and warmth will soon melt the ice below my feet.  They will also melt the glaze on the trees.  Tough moments also hold their magic.  The glass is also half full.

Snow on trees
Tree tips reaching for the light. A ray of hope…
Snow on trees like lace
The sun did come out tomorrow. Bye-bye ice…and farewell lovely lacy trees.
Winter into Spring
The Dividing Line : Winter into Spring & Early morning into Daytime

Even anger holds its treasures.  Consider frustration as a sign that something should change.  Fury may even fill us with the energy to explore an alternative behavior.

Managed Anger Makes Room for Positive Emotions

My enthusiasm grew with the anticipation of a fear-less walk.  So did my patience.  Like Annie in the musical, I could bet my bottom dollar that the sun would come out…even sooner than tomorrow.

Hope heralds forbearance, a valuable resource for every parent and child.  Is “now” always the best time?   Think of when you last called the children to eat dinner.  NOW!  Remember when your precious one wanted admiration…while you were on the phone.  NOT NOW!

With every step down the mountain, Spring grew and grew.  Trees lost their white hue and adopted a green undertone until I reached places where plants paved the soil and petite bright green leaves fluttered above.  The ground burst with lilies of the valley about to bloom.  “Do they grow better in mountains?” I mused…

By now the sun poured through the branches and colorful flowers cheered my route.

Dents du Midi in Spring
Spring budding in the Alps
Carpet of lilies
Do lilies of the valley blossom earlier in the mountains?
Tulips in vegetable garden
Tulips and veggies. The good garden.
Dents du Midi in spring
Spring blooming in the Alps…and you & me bursting with anticipation & joy?! It’s my hope 🙂

Again, my thoughts soared to hopes and beauty and wonder.  This time with additional thankfulness that I had passed through the icy uncertainty so that I could fully embrace the benefits of Now.

Anger Management Tips for Today & Every Day

“Apply this to your life,” thought I.

You too?

Here is what my winter-to-spring walk showed me about anger management:

  • It is O.K. to be frustrated. Annoyance is a sign that something should change.
  • Glum spirits hardly enable change to happen smoothly or effectively.
  • Calm down before seeking resolution to a problem. The perspective will be TOTALLY DIFFERENT and opportunities will be found.
  • A great way to calm down is to think of or do something that brings joy.
  • Challenge may not be enjoyable. Having overcome one does feel awesome!

P.S. On the train ride home, I regaled in the fluorescent yellow fields of “colza” (rapeseed for high in omega 3 oils!)

Colza or Rapeseed
Cool Colza !

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Parenting Tips from Car Connectivity Coders

Last night I pitched my idea at the Car Connectivity Consortium Hackathon prep night.

– 1 minute for

– 1 great idea with

– 1 slide

The goal is to win people to your App development team, to code one awesome App, and to win the contest, get mentoring, enjoy limelight, and get some $$$.

Mirror Link, the CCC Hackathon partner, sponsored this launch evening to introduce its software. Marketers could try out their concept before the real pitch two weeks down the road (yes, pun intended).

You guessed it. The Apps to be developed relate to connected cars.

Yes, you also guessed it. The crowd assembled 200 male car geeks.  Oh, and 5 women…of which I was the eldest by twice the age.

Mirrorlink Hackathon Paris
Mirrorlink Hackathon presentation
Overwhelmed working mom

Up on the stage I trotted wearing my turquoise-polka-dotted dress and fashionable booties to present my car connectivity idea…

…on parenting! (What a marketer, Denise. Bull’s eye for the target group.)

Did you know that during a 16 minute car ride (like for picking up the kids) 21% of the time drivers’ eyes are off the road and on the kids! Mom, Pop, and Tykes, that’s a menace to fellow drivers.

During a 16 minute car ride 21% of the time drivers’ eyes are off the road and on the kids! Click To Tweet

My App idea helps create smoooooth driving conditions when chauffeuring rambunctious kids in the back seat.

Mom with fighting kids in car

angry_driver

What happened after the pitch? Part of me expected mobs to rush up for an autograph. The more realistic side hoped at least one person remembered what I had said.

The response from a group of coders BOOSTED my confidence. These guys attend a non-conventional school aimed to provide quality computer training to code-passionate folk that did not fit into the rigid, traditional French school system (a.k.a. school was not their friend).

Ecole_42_Serious

Coding students

“Interesting idea,” a youth ventured while snuggling his beer. (In Paris most people take the Metro instead of driving.)

“Thanks. (I GRIN) So…does it have potential?”

And these youth who were pushed aside by the traditional society went on to share ways to improve the concept. Not with reference to technical coding tips. They gave me parenting advice!

Considerate. Insightful. Helpful. Solutions.

These took-time-to-find-their-way-in-life outsiders reached out to me, a turquoise-clad-mature-woman-amidst-a-sea-of-testosterone, a definite oddball in the Car Connectivity Coding Crowd. They gave me gifts of feedback to be an even better me.

They gave me gifts of feedback to be an even better me. Click To Tweet

I felt so privileged to be with them.

And, we set a rendez-vous for the REAL Hackathon date. Until then, they gave me work to do!

Photos:  Second chance, Hackathon from BeMyApp and BeGeek, Ecole 42

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“Good” parents don’t need tips or tools. True or False?

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A friend asked a great question:  “Why should parents need help?  Aren’t we (moms and dads) supposed to know….and if we get help does that mean we messed up along the way?”

Let’s take a step back.

Fresh Parenting Perspective

Have you ever stood VERY CLOSE to a tree, like with your nose touching the bark, and SIMULTANEOUSLY admired the forest?  Probably not.

When we have our nose to the grindstone (le nez dans le guidon) it is like a camera with a high zoooom lens.  We see details of the specifics in front of us and lose sight of the big picture.

Step back from the tree bark…to get a glimpse of the forest and your destination.

And have you noticed how pain acts in a similar fashion?

Time is short.  We want relief NOW.  No waiting. 

I love how the 17th century gambler, Chevalier de Méré, puts it, “Il n’est pas bon d’être malheureux mais il est bon de l’avoir été.” (“It is not good to be sad, but it is good to have been.”)

tree bark close up

Happy sad finger faces

path through forest

In at least one way parenting and gambling are similar:  the HIGHs can be extraordinary and the LOWs can be extraordinarily discouraging.

And in those moments of doubt, a helping hand….helps.

Parents’ Helping Hand

That’s the SOSOOPER goal.  To enable parents to take a step back and to regain hope and courage to persist, even to thrive.

We designed online workshops to give parents and their children opportunities to over challenges together.

Many parenting experts encourage (instruct) moms and dads to take time off.  But how?  When?

An event with an outside person facilitates the process.  SoSooper workshops revisit sensitive issues from a fun and fresh perspective.  The focus is on solutions, not on blame…therefore not on the pain that family members suffer.  The online workshops help turn subjects of tension into opportunities of learning.

Of course parents can do this on their own too.  And yet, realizing the need to step back AND committing to doing so requires a change of posture.  That’s tough.  An outside catalyst, such as a person, an event, an activity, helps change happen more smoothly.

I believe parents are leaders.  It is a common professional practice to organize leadership seminars and team building events.  Consider the SoSooper workshops to be just that:  your family team brainstorming bonanza.

The goal of these guided discussions is to strengthen the relationship within YOUR super family. 

Family meeting. Parents with kids.

Family meeting having fun. Parents with children.

We present a fresh perspective SO THAT YOUR family can benefit by exploring it together.  

We pose questions you might not have thought to ask.

That’s normal; you have been managing the busy daily routine.  The answers to the questions you explored remain for you.  The process of mutual exploration is for you.  The thrill of discovery of each other is for you.  The memory of creating solutions together is for you.  The ease of life that comes from your personalized solutions is for YOU.

Hope this answers your questions.  We love hearing them so keep on asking.

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