DJ at radio studio

A parenting coach, a cop’s kid, and a foodie talk on radio

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.

Build a culture of thriving for your family. Click to Tweet

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.

Anger. Flying books. Scream
Aaaagh!
Confused, wondering child
Hummmmm…


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.


Punishment Avoidance

David graced us with another parenting story.

Ask questions sign

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…

Boy playiing in leaves in fall
Where is “Pause”?
Boy sleeping in pile of fall leaves
Found it!

 

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?”

Gratitude

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

Cover image by John Hult from Unsplash.

What kids hear when parents repeat 1000 times

A favorite moment in our Parent + Child Workshop is when children and parents switch roles.*

Children dress up as parents (yes, we do costumes).

The tykes also get to speak like Mom and Dad.  (Yay…or Oh, oh?)

 

Parents take on the role of the child.  Discovery time…

 

When Learning is Fun

Do you know people succeed better when they feel better?

Children do better when they feel better. Click to Tweet

That’s why we make learning fun.

The youngsters playing Dad donned ties (vintage 1970’s, no less) and the top hats.  We accessorized actresses in the mother role and wrapped them in scarves.

To help children get into their roles, we stood them up on a ledge so that they would, physically, be looking down at their “kids.”

Positive energy and excitement flowed.  Parents (acting as kids) grinned at the fun.

 

Scene 1 – Surprise

In line with our theme of the day, Stop Repeating Yourself – Create a Culture of Listening, the children performed phrases they often hear from their parents.

Without prompting each young actor interpreted his phrase with an “appropriate” tone of voice. It went like this:

“Put your coat on.”

“Stop whiiiiiiiining.”

“BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!!!!”

 

Parents (acting as kids) now wore these expressions on their faces…

…and exclaimed:

“W.O.W.  What an ‘Aha! Moment!'”

“They are barking at me!”

“I don’t want to do any of those things.  It’s so demotivating.”

 

Scene 2 – Engagement

We went for another round of phrases from the moms and dads (played by the children).  This time they asked questions instead of giving instructions.

“What should you wear so you won’t be cold?”

“What words could you use so that I hear you?”

“How will you keep your teeth from hurting?”

 

As the parent actors spoke their lines, we heard other children spontaneously answer the questions. “Coat” “Please”  “Brush teeth”

 

Stepping Back to Move Forward

Debrief time.  So, folks, what happened?

“We talked nicer the second time,” piped up a girl swirling her beads.

“I knew the answers,” proudly announced a youngest sibling.

 

The group of parents (acting as children) recuperated their smiles.

“They were expecting a response from me,” shared an engaged parent.

“It made me think,” admitted a dad enjoying a weekend off of work.

“I want to speak this way in our home, but what questions should I ask?!!!!” exclaimed a mother stepping back into her parenting role.

 

What generated the transformation in responses?

We replaced distancing commands with engaging questions that still “get the job done.”

This type of questioning is a tool from Positive Discipline, a science-based approach to building collaborative relationships.  It enables parents to be BOTH Firm AND Kind SIMULTANEOUSLY.  The expected results are crystal clear AND the exchange emanates warmth and connection.

Stop repeating 1000X : replace commands with engaging questions. Click to Tweet

Chez Vous – In YOUR Home

What are the phrases you repeat, repeat, and REPEAT?

What questions that “get the job done” could you ask instead?

 

Want some help?  Jot us a note.  We answer with a smile.

 

*This role-play is inspired by a Positive Discipline activity developed by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.

From “Brush your teeth” to “I love you”

This post is for moms and dads who feel like they repeat themselves 1000x/day.

How can we get children to listen IN OUR HOME?

Effective parenting tools are great…but help me apply them!

That’s why we developed SoSooper Parent + Child workshops like the one we held on Saturday: Stop Repeating Yourself – Listen with Curiosity Questions.

Sign up for this workshop.  We’re doing it again in central Paris on October 7.

Parents Want Tools & Kids Want Play

The parents’ objective centered on getting the kids to listen.
They wondered how it could be possible.  Of course some folk (even within the same couple) were more dubious than others.

The children wanted to have fun, go on an outing, and be with mom and dad.

We aim to please both.  The smiling faces tell us we did.

We’re doing So Sooper!

Surprise-filled Activities

Parents & Children switch roles

“Kids, would you like to play Mom & Dad for a while?”  Children’s eyes popped excitedly…and off we went to try on costumes.

Scene 1:

The parents’ eyes and ears grew wide as they heard their children give them instructions.  In a commanding voice, 6-year-old told his dad to “Put his coat on” and to “Stop playing on the computer.”

Father responded with “No, no, no” until he exclaimed, “Woah! Son.  You’re bossing me around!”

Hummm.

Scene 2:

The children (acting as parents) then replaced the instructions with questions. Here was a fun exchange:

Parent (played by a child): “What is our agreement on Computer Time?”

Child (played by a parent speaking defiantly): “I can play when I want!”

Parent (played by a child): “What is OUR AGREEMENT on Computer Time?”

Child (played by a parent):  Silence. “OK.  10 minutes.”

Everyone agreed that it felt better to be saying and hearing the questions.

But, parents enquired, how can we come up with the right questions when we need them?

Digging for Questions

For our next activity, parents and children gathered together in their own family units and explored for questions.

The kids knew by heart (!) the instructions repeated 1000 times.  They rarely really understood why.

Precious Sharing

Here is a precious exchange between a father and child:

Child: “I know, I know.  You always repeat that I need to brush my teeth.  Why is it important to brush my teeth?

Father: “So that you don’t have cavities.”

Child: What is important about a vacaty?”

Father: “A cavity is when your tooth gets sick and it hurts a lot.”

Child: Why is it important that my teeth don’t hurt?”

Father: “Because I love you.  I don’t want you to hurt.”

Child: Smile. “Because you love me.” Grin.

Finding Solutions

Together they came up with a question that Dad could ask at teeth brushing time,
“What do you need to do so that your teeth won’t hurt?”

 

This is what SoSooper is about.  Turning a challenging situation into a moment of connection between parent and child.

SoSooper helps parents turn a challenge into solutions while staying connecting with their… Click to Tweet

Join us next week.  We’re doing this same workshop in the center of Paris.  Click here to sign up.

Boys hiking in canyons

Challenge Builds Self-Confidence in Kids

Self-esteem.  Self-confidence.

THAT’s what I want for my children!

How do kids grow in self-confidence? 

One sure way is to

  • allow them to engage in difficult activities,
  • give them a role in the decision-making process, and
  • celebrate the achievement together.

When I change my behavior (less control, more appreciation of each person, and enjoyment of the moment), the kids grow more confident!

Free download

Read on or download your free Family Confidence-Building Calendar now.

Continue reading “Challenge Builds Self-Confidence in Kids”

Family Feedback ToolKit

Tip Top Family Activity

One of our most strategic family activities.  It helps everyone focus on growth and on becoming the best person we can be.

Read more about The Family Feedback.

The ToolKit includes

  • Tips for success
  • Worksheet (one for each participant)
  • Recap sheet – to remember your goals throughout the year

Click on the images below to download

Tips

Worksheet

Recap

Family Happy New Year

Favorite family activity to wish a SoSooper New Year!

The Family Feedback

One of our most precious family moments comes after Christmas. That’s when we share what each person does well and how we can be even stronger as an individual and as a family.

We” means the kids start with the feedback and Mom & Dad L.I.S.T.E.N.

[bctt tweet=”The Family Feedback:  kids share and parents LISTEN.”]

The structured process keeps discussion positive.  Each child gets to share:
One Great Thing that Mom or Dad do
(and the kids want them to keep doing)
– One Thing they would like to Change about Family Life
(it would hugely improve family life for them)

PARENTS LISTEN.

You may be surprised by the suggestions!

Some “To change” suggestions could be a no-brainer “YES.”  One child asked, “Please, no more lemon cake.”

Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together.

The Family Feedback works with kids of all ages

with teens

Teen boys

Click here

 

with kids

Family meeting with parents and kids

Click here

 

with tots

Click here

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

 

We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too in the comments below!

 

Cover photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Driving in England on the left

Boost Confidence Tips from Driving in England (on the left)

We just dropped off our rental car at The Southampton, UK airport.

In England, they drive on the left side of the road.  I live in France and in the US where we drive “normally” (!!!), that is on the right side.

I had been apprehending this automotive experience and nervously stalled car while exiting parking lot.   “Mom, are you SURE you can handle this?” my sons inquired.  We survived.

WE THRIVED!!!!

It was hard.

[bctt tweet=My weakness contributed to our combined strength.  Asking for help boosted everyone’s confidence.]

Enjoy these precious parenting tips gleaned from our exotic automotive adventure:

  1. Enlist Help. My weakness contributed to our combined strength.
  2. Our focus determines our action plan. Look to the problems leads to fear-full measures.   Aim for the goal stimulates a solution-finding approach.
  3. Overcoming challenges builds, rather BOOSTS, confidence.

Boost Confidence –
Be weak to let others be strong

I made NO pretense about confidence.  I had a teeny amount.

If we could each contribute our small portion of confidence to the common pool, we could have enough…

“Boys, we can include a special adventure in our trip which would require driving.  I’m scared and would need your help.  Are you up for it?”

Warmed by the children’s encouragement, I reserved the car.

We then created two driver-assistant roles:

  • The navigator who would help identify the route to follow so that I could focus on the road.
  • The left-side driver coach who would remind me to stay in the correct lane!

Both guides proved vital.

“Yes, Mom, the clouds are beautiful…but could you keep your eyes on the road, PLEASE?!”

Of course I still missed multiple turns and took us on detours.  Some scenic detours.  Some traffic-filled delays.  No big deal.

The Unexpected

An unexpected difficulty superseded what I had anticipated as the greatest challenge.  I had feared swerving into the wrong lane.

Instead ended up driving off the road, sometimes barely missing cars parked on the left hand side!  This dilemma, the problem that had not even occurred to me, ended up being our greatest challenge.

We sure benefited from those warnings:

“Mom, careful of the parked cars!  You almost ran into it!!!”  How embarrassing.

“Mom, you’ve passed the white line and are driving off the side of the road…That was the sidewalk you hit.”  Oops.

“When they drive on the left, aren’t the slower traffic lanes on the left too?  At your speed, are you where you should be…?”  Feeling like beginner driver.

None of these comments bespoke, “Shining Star.” or “Wonder Mom.”  They all communicated, “Mom, we love you AND we are with you.”

Boost Confidence –
Focus on the Goal, not the Barriers

Courage, willingness to take risks, and foresight are qualities I seek to encourage in my children.

This driving adventure created an opportunity for me to model these qualities for my children.

They hear about them all the time.  This time, I could speak of their importance through actions, not merely with words.

One of our sons gets discouraged by academic challenges.  When he encounters a difficult math problem, he stops.

“Did you ask your teacher?  Could you get help from a friend?”  I inquire with the most positive intent.  He senses my concern and it feels like pressure to him.

My attempt to encourage backfires.  Instead my child returns to his math homework, repeats his mistakes, and gives up anew.  It’s like he reinvests in his losing strategy.

I wonder if he believes “Smart people don’t ask for help.”    It’s an incorrect belief.  And it’s bringing him down.

[bctt tweet=”Does my child believe that “Smart people don’t ask for help.” It’s false.  And it’s debilitating.”]

He and I converse about this.  And there is a time to stop talking (Now!) or I too would be reinvesting in my losing strategy!

This driving challenge provided the opportunity to model the behavior I seek in him.  I could speak through actions instead of with words.  Through a fun adventure I showed how

  • To set a worthwhile goal that reaches beyond the comfort zone
  • To identify potential challenges
  • To secure help to overcome them
  • To celebrate victories!!!

Boost Confidence by Overcoming Challenges

While standing in line at the airport, I smilingly confessed, “I’m proud of myself.  I did something difficult”…

In unison, the boys interrupted me to complete the sentence: “AND YOU SUCCEEDED!”

In fact, we succeeded together and, thanks to the rented car and the additional flexibility it provided, we were able to visit Stonehenge, one of the great prehistoric sites…located deep in the English countryside.

Flying high with confidence now!
Teen bursting with confidence at Stonehenge.

…Surprise!  The REAL travel adventure ended up being our flight back to Paris on a propeller plane!