SoSooper is a finalist in Harvard Business School New Venture Competition for 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.

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Harvard Business School 2017 New Venture Competition Finalists Europe
Harvard Business School 2017 New Venture Competition Finalists 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.

Have great parenting tips?  Share them here.

Positive Time Out and Chore Charts in Flooded Grey Paris

Rain, rain, go away.  It’s been raining in France for weeks.  The Seine river is overflowing, and muddy water oozes into homes.  Trendy houseboat dwellers now row home!

There is a parallel for our families:  How can we parents protect our children from flooding emotions and dark moods?

Read below about:

  • Paris greyness and photos of the flooding Seine River
  • The Louvre museum closing.
    How about if family members took a Positive Time Out too?  Find out what it is and how it worked for parents, teens, & kids.
  • Protecting art treasures in the Louvre from the flood.
    How could we parents protect our emotional treasures such as one-on-one time?  Our family did it through chores with the help of Chore Charts.  We are sharing keys to great chore charts and lessons learned from our mistakes.

Enjoy!

Overflowing Seine with debris
Recuperating debris floating down the Seine. Yes, that is the Eiffel Tower hidden in the mist.
Pont de l'Alma during Paris flood
Hit your head under those bridges!
Frigate in Paris during flood
Switch of boats. The ancient frigate is now out on the water while the tourist boats sit at dock.
Quai d'Orsay during Paris flood
No more road. Take a boat to get to your boat!

50 000 Shades of Paris Grey

It’s a grey day in Paris.  We’ve had rain for weeks and the flooding Seine river leaked into the basements of river-side homes.  On June 3 folk still don padded jackets and woolen scarves.  At this time of year Parisian ladies usually strut in bright colors, reserving black for their sunglasses.  Today, the fall garde-robe is back on the street:  chic black from head to toe.

Parisians and tourists alike feel cheated.  This is not the weather it is supposed to be.  Spring, where art thou?  When did Paris become the City of Indirect Light?

The Louvre museum closed its doors today to move their art treasures stored in the basement to a safer spot.   

Only the security guards stood in the queues.  Slow business day for the trinket salesmen chasing the few tourists mulling about the Glass Pyramid and wandering the grand palatial esplanade.

Could parents learn from the Louvre during our times of flooding emotions, debris floating through our communication, streams, and cold fronts settling into homes?

What would our homes be like if we “closed down for the day” and “moved our treasures to a secure place”?

Take a Break…with a Positive Time Out

Pause.

I just did … and was surprised by sounds.  The bird chirping.  A boy bouncing a basketball.  A frustrated driver honking his horn.  Again. Water flowing through the pipes…

Try it.

Our Parisian life is SPEED and BUSY.  It’s a strain on relationships.  It’s tough on adults.  You can bet it’s a challenge to children.

And we wonder why our kids misbehave.

“Children do better when they feel better,” reminds us Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Discipline.

In our home it means this:  my kids will benefit more from learning to unwind than from (yet another)

  • lecture (even a very intelligent one)
  • moment to “think about what they did wrong” (they are pondering on how not to get caught next time)

Brain science reveals that our human brains physically change shape when we are angry.  Our reasoning functions get “disconnected” which leaves us with raw emotion. Hardly helpful to resolve delicate differences.

Dr. Daniel Siegel explains the phenomena clearly with his short video.

Child psychotherapist Jeanette Yoffe enchantingly describes the kid version of Daniel Siegel’s hand model of the brain.  Show it to your children and you’ll gain a common understanding and LOTS LESS STRESS!

Jane Nelsen goes a step further and shows us PRACTICALLY how to create a physical and emotional space for our kids to reconnect and, once again, be at their best.  She calls this a Positive Time Out.  (Check out her sneak peak video and you’ll hear this insightful parenting expert explain it in her own words.)

It works for kids of all ages, from parents to teens to tykes.

Louvre is closed
Parisians dressed for fall weather on June 3, 2016.
Louvre with closed sign.
Fermee means C.L.O.S.E.D. Exceptional closing of The Louvre museum to move art treasures out of flood danger.
Vendors at Louvre
Golden Eiffel Tower sales plummet when the Louvre is closed.
Glass Pyramid of Louvre
No queues! …only on Closed for Flood Day.

Positive Time Out for Parents

Our family enjoys a Family Feedback where the kids give me feedback.  One year, our youngest told me “Mom, when you’re angry, go to your room.”

LOL!

I no longer have to be a “perfect mom” and think of calming down myself.  My kids tell me…kindly.

“Remember what to do when you’re angry….!”  “Mom, is this a good time for you to go to your room?!!!!”  and sometimes even, “I don’t know where you’re going, but, Mom, I am going to MY room. We’ll talk when you calmed down.”

My kids “parent” me.  What a freedom.  I can be human.  And still loved.  And avoid having the s____ hit the f____ and all that emotional clean up that comes along with the ugly scene.

This moment to regain perspective is so vital that Care for the Family even calls their parenting classes “Time Out for Parents” with special focus for Early Years, Teenage Years, and Children with Special Needs.

Positive Time Out for Teens

In France, school is not out yet for the summer.  It’s exam period.  My teens manage their stress and reconnect their brains with basketball, even shooting hoops on their own.

It’s rhythmic.  The ball goes bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, shoot and bounces again.

It engages body and mind.

It is respite.  On the court, Mom and Dad don’t badger them about their study plan!

Positive Time Out for Young Children

In my Positive Discipline parenting classes, one mother shared how Cuddly Corner helped her food-throwing daughter calm down.

They had previously created a space whose purpose was “to help Alice feel better.”  When the peas started flying through the air, Maman asked her screaming princess if she would be happier after a time in Cuddly Corner.  Alice stopped her pitching of peas in mid swing, thrust out her bottom lip, and whimpered, “Yyyyyyeeeeeeesssss.”

(Five minutes later Alice felt better and came to help mom sweep the floor.)

Positive Time Out works just as well in Paris as in California as in Sydney.  I love how fun, Australian mum Nae, blogger on Adventures at Home with Mum.  She writes about her son’s Chill Out Corner.  Nae (mother) and Dimples (son) gave the place a name that means something to them both.  It’s called marketing for your kids and Nae has done an awesome job engaging multiple senses like perfuming the space with Lavender Rice and providing Squeeze Balls to relax tense fingers.  It’s clearly a space where Dimples knows he has value and is loved.

The teachers at Queen Anne Elementary School in Seattle, WA developed a Positive Time Out space for their students.  Under a blue cloud that evokes sunny skies (!) children are invited to take a break, reset their brain, calm down, and find some peace.  There is a “je ne sais quoi” about Cloud City chez Queen Anne which we miss today in Grey Skies chez Louis XIV!

Preserve Treasures…such as Our Relationships

The Louvre museum time out has a purpose:  to save treasures.

empty Louvre Museum
‘Twas the Day of the Flood, and all through the Louvre, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
Of course they don’t move. They are made of marble!
Empty halls of the Louvre Museum.
“Hellooooooooo?”

What are our family treasures and how are you and I preserving them?

My most precious resources are relationships and time.  Time flies.  Love lasts.

As the mother of four boys within seven years, I longed to have quality time, even one-on-one moments, with each child.  How?  Let’s be practical.

Quality Time Doing Chores

The solutions came unexpectedly and to my utmost amazement.  These precious exchanges happened doing chores!

Our family (that is, Me, Myself, and I) instituted a system of chores so that Mom would not be the maid.  As the only woman in the house, I conscientiously invest in teaching my future men to respect women.   Allowing them to expect the woman-of-the-house to clean up after their mess modeled the opposite beliefs.

I changed in order for them to change.

Soon my boys and I were doing similar housework.  If I was the maid, they were too.  Amazingly, they no longer thought of me as cleaner-upper!

Make a Chore Chart that Works for YOU

We tried multiple ways of organizing chores, always using a chore chart to facilitate communication and accountability.

Chore charts are like teeth.  Ignore them and they will go away.  To make a chore chart work with kids, parents need to follow through.  Inspection is a gift:  a job well done can receive recognition.

(Have you noticed the number of times we parents request something of a child and then ignore him when he’s done it?!  Would you rush to obey again too?! )

Our first attempt at organizing housework resembles the chart Ashley Langston posted on Frugal Coupon Living.  Like hers, we used images (only hers are much prettier).  🙂    Cute visuals make work more fun for everyone.

Nonetheless, we soon had to change.  “Clean up your room” (one of the jobs listed on Ashley’s chore chart and on mine too) requires verification.

We checked our chore charts before dinner.  Five minutes before mealtime I would go up to the children’s rooms and check for cleanliness.  My eyes hurt from the mess.

“Darlings, cleaning up happens before dinner.”

“It’s clean, Mom.” (!!!!)

“Clean means nothing on the floor and the bed is made.  I SHALL RETURN!”  And off I scurried to complete the finishing touches on the meal.

Five minutes later, I popped my head into their room.   The bed would be made with the toys under the covers…or half the floor was cleared up…or…

Inevitably, dinner was burnt.

If It’s Broke, Change the Chore Chart

So we tried something else.

Helping at home would include tasks that could be verified from the kitchen while I was preparing dinner. 

Opportunities abound:  setting & clearing the table, taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, helping the cook, and helping for 5 minutes for whatever.

(To secure clean-ish rooms, we insisted on putting toys away before playing computer games.  Whoever was playing with a messy room was asked to stop playing for the day and was kindly and firmly oriented to his neatening up task.)

Every evening, one child and I would be work side by side for a few moments in the kitchen.  We learned to make them precious.   As Table-Setter-of-the-Week (we rotated chores on a weekly basis) laid out the forks and knives, I would learn about the boxing match during recess…from his perspective.  Between spinning salad and slicing carrots we explored ways to make up with his friend or to avoid bullies.

Another pair of hands might venture into Kitchen Territory during these discussions to be greeted with, “We’re having a Rendez Vous.  Could you come back later, please?”

They did, knowing that as they honored the parent-child-one-on-one-time of a sibling, he would benefit from the same respect during his turn.

A Chore Chart where Children Welcome Responsibility

Tsh Oxenreider’s Chore Chart for Preschoolers includes an added plus:  the kids make it.  She provides the children with the framework and the images (key success factor) of various tasks.

THE CHILDREN DEFINE WHICH TASK GOES TO WHOM.  Half, oops, two thirds of the job of getting chores done is convincing the kids to do them.  This chart enables tykes to choose their chore.

Since they decided on their job, they are more inclined to fulfill it.

This worked for us when my brother and his triplet boys came to visit.

How does ONE woman manage with NINE hungry men?  DELEGATION.

We settled the boys down with a list of chores and they worked out who did what.  Read here how they exclaimed, “I WANT vacuuming!”

Different Special Times for Different Folks

Samantha Kurtzman-Counter, President of  The Mother Company shares another feasible example of a simple way to change the way we spend our time to protect and cherish relationships.  In her video on Special Time she share how the first 15 minutes after coming in from work get dedicated to her son.

I used this example in a training for nannies who are mothers themselves.  They come home exhausted with their own children to bathe, feed, and check on homework.  And that’s before attacking the housework.

“How would your life be different if your children ate dinner fifteen minutes later?” I inquired.

After some debate they did conclude it wouldn’t make that a life-shattering change.

“How would your life be different if you had fifteen non-work minutes a day with your children?  You might just sit with them, listen, cuddle, look them in the eye, or play a game?”  Their eyes popped.

One nanny confessed, “I want to tell my kids ‘I love you,’ but most of the time I say, ‘I’m busy.’  These fifteen minutes would be transformative.”  Vive la (Home) Revolution!

 

Signing off….to snuggle next to my sons watching the Roland Garros women’s final on TV.  For this Parisian tennis tournament on June 4, Serena Williams dons leggings and a long-sleeved shirt.

The sun will come out tomorrow…?

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, imagining the trail of accidents I would leave behind due to being in the wrong lane at the wrong time.

To add further spice to our adventure, we rented a manual shift car…and stalled while exiting the car-rental parking lot.   “Mom, are you SURE you can handle this?” my sons inquired.

Driving in England on the left.
Building confidence by driving out of my comfort zone…in England where cars ride on the left!

23 hours later, I glided into our allotted car-return spot and breathed freely once again.  Family and car were safe and sound.  Our memories and confidence shine with robust.

It was hard.

WE MADE IT!!!!

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.

[bctt tweet=”My weakness contributed to our combined strength.  Asking for help boosts others’ 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!
Beautiful sky with fluffy clouds
“Yes, Mom, the clouds are beautiful…but could you keep your eyes on the road, PLEASE?!”

Both guides proved vital.

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

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.

Stonehenge English heritage site
Stonehenge: one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.
Teen at Stonehenge
“Yes, it is worth the visit. :-)”
Teen having fun at Stonehenge
Looking pretty confident now! Fly high, darling. You can do it.
Countryside and cow by Stonehenge
“What’s the big deal about old stones? Meuhr of the same old, same old.”
Propeller plane
The REAL travel adventure: our flight back to Paris on a propeller plane!

Encourage Appropriate Behavior in Kids: Parenting Tips inspired by Snow!

It has been snowing all week.  Every day.  All day.  Every night.

We go to the mountains to have snow, but deeeeep down, here is my real wish:  I awake every morning to optimal ski conditions.  Abracadabra.

Snow fall, ski slope grooming, and snow plowing would have all happened during my sleep 🙂

Do parents have a similar wish for their children’s good behavior?

Mom or Dad ask for a clean room.  Like magic children’s toys are put away, the floor in spotless, the books are neatly stacked on the bookshelves, the bed is made, and the desk is cleared and ready-for-work.  “Aussitôt dit.  Aussitôt fait.”  Say the word, and it’s done.  Just to our liking, no less!

No need for any teaching, training, or follow through!

We moms and dads must have received our parenting tips straight Mary Poppins and Nanny MacFee.  Or maybe our children were born with an innate understanding of what parents consider appropriate behavior…

Ski cabin "Shelter" in snow
“Abri” means shelter

Children skiing and falling in snow

Cars covered in snow

Appropriate Behavior – Down to Earth Parenting Reality

Just as we adults benefit from training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to be able to behave well.

[bctt tweet=”Like adults who get training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to  perform well. “]

Think about it.  Did our sons and daughters clean their room in the womb?  Did our babes learn proper table manners at the breast?

We parents often teach through discipline.  We tell our kids what is wrong.  “Your room is messy.”  “Elbows off the table, please.”    

How do they find out what is desirable behavior?  Is there a more appropriate and encouraging way than through trial and error?

Would you like your boss to keep on telling you, “NO,” until you get it right?  How motivating is that?!

Snow Inspired Parenting Tips for Teaching Kids

1. Enjoy the magic of NOW

Earth stills when snow falls. 

Sounds are muted.  Senses are chilled.  Worries from the office seem faaaaaarrrrrr away.

These extraordinary apprenticeship years of our kids are precious and last such a short while.   Sooner than later our kids graduate and move out.

What life skills and talents do our children take with them as they go out on their own?  THIS is our parenting vocation.

My mother is celebrating a BIG birthday and we are writing her letters of thanks.  I realized that I have many more memories with her AFTER having left home than while I was a child.

The birthday parties I recall through photos.

Here is what I remember through experience and which lives in my soul:  the ambiance of love, the assurance that she had time for me, and her belief in my potential (especially when I acted out of line).

These qualities are communicated by savoring the present.  The magic of small successes.  Noticing appropriate behavior.  Appreciating hard work.  Encouraging me to persevere.

Aren’t those life skills you wish to pass onto your darlings?

Happy grandma cuddling children

Loving grandmother keeps grandkids coming home

 

Admiring grandmother taking photos

2. Slow down before crashing

I love skiing FAST.

Except when there is no visibility and I wonder if I am about to speedily crash and plant my face into fresh powder.

When it snows, it is time to slow down.  Just a tad.

When your child misbehaves, might it be an invitation to shift into a lower gear? 

  • What is the cause of the inappropriate behavior?
  • Do the children even know exactly what is expected of them?
  • Do they have the capability of carrying out those tasks?
  • What could help them succeed even better?

In manufacturing circles, we refer to a bottleneck: THE operation that slows the entire process down.

No matter how much we improve other aspects of the manufacturing cycle, the process will only improve when we address THAT critical juncture.

Where is the weak point in your child’s ability to carry out your request?  Slowing down helps you observe your sweethearts and identify their appropriate behavior “bottleneck.”

Are they not listening to instructions?

That’s a sure guarantee of misbehavior!  So, the parenting issue to address is getting their attention before giving instructions.

Bend down to their level, make eye contact, smile, and THEN stipulate, “Honey, it is time to clean your room.”

Do the toys not have a home?

Playthings are tumbled into a box.  To reach that one desired game, your child rummages through the entire stack (a.k.a. dumps them all over the floor).  The issue is too many toys or finding a better way to store games.

“Sweetheart, you like a comfy home.  Your toys want to be more comfortable too.  Here are two boxes: toys-at-home and toys-on-vacation.  Do you want to choose which toys go on vacation this week or should I?  YOU can change every weekend!”

Slowing down helps identify your child’s unique bottleneck.

3. Break down the big job into smaller steps.

When it snows, visibility is reduced which renders many skiers less comfortable on the slopes.  That’s when we CONSCIOUSLY rely on ski technique:  bending down further to propel us through the turns in heavy snow, maintaining supple knees to  absorb obstacles we no longer see, keeping our body weight correctly balanced over the skis…

Many of these gestures we do without thinking…until it snows and we once again recall and apply our technique.

In a similar way, when training the kids, why not break down a large task into its many smaller bits.

If our initial instructions (ex. clean your room) seems foggy to the kids, let us help them return to their comfort zone by reviewing the individual steps required for success of the total “project” (and securing appropriate behavior can seem like a PROJECT).

A clean room means

  • Nothing on the floor
  • The bed is made…and nothing is hiding under it
  • Clothes are put in the appropriate drawers
  • Toys and books are placed their assigned home
  • The desk has space to be able to work correctly

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: make bed

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: stack books

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: clear desk

Think of our children’s tasks like a gourmet dish.  There is a recipe to follow.  Step by step.

If it’s good enough for the best chefs in the world, I’ll give it a go in our home too 🙂

4. Specify the criteria for “acceptable behavior” and “very well done.”

After snowfall, some slopes get plowed and others are left virgin.  Different strokes for different folks.

A good skier can master the smooth surfaces even with minimal visibility.  An excellent skier dances through the powder.

“Sweetheart, a cleanish room is when the bed is made and the clothes are off the floor.  A super-dooper-totally-awesomely-amazingly-clean room is when you also put your socks in the sock drawer, your shirts in the shirt drawer….”

5. Celebrate performance

A steaming hot chocolate and warm (greasy) fries taste especially delicious when coming in from difficult ski conditions.

“Darling.  Well done.”

Teen boys and kids warming up from skiing

Upon leaving our mountain chalet, we clean up.  Kids help with the chores.  During one vacation with my sister and her family, our Make-A-Loud-Fuss son resisted doing his job:  to clean the bathroom sink & mirror.

She taught him the secret to super-shiny-bathroom-cleaning (Spray the chrome with window cleaner.  It sparkles!) and off he went.

He made the chrome sparkle.

My sister rounded up the crew of siblings and cousins and they ALL marched to the bathroom to recognize a job well done.

Since that day, Mr.Fuss REQUESTS bathroom cleaning.  He is the recognized family expert on appropriate bathroom cleanliness.  We have delegated to him the responsibility of coaching his brothers on quality control.

That’s a win-win situation!

Children parade to congratulate appropriate behavior
Ready? Set. Go! checking out the spotless bathroom.

Children parade to check out clean bathroom

Proud teen and admiring brother
Our cool dude still takes pride in “clean.”

Helping our Kids Learn Appropriate Behavior

How would you and your family’s life be different if you took a fresh look at a “bad news” situation?

  • What one special thing can you appreciate about this time of life right NOW?
  • What is REALLY happening? Slowing down enables fresh observation.
  • What behavior do you, the parent, desire? What are intermediate steps?
  • How can you help your children differentiate between good and great?
  • How will you encourage REPEATED excellent behavior?

Help Teens Dream…and Make their Goals Come True

Everything I needed to know about parenting teens, I learned at the Harvard Business School.

I’m only kind of kidding. Let’s start with strategy & action plan…

…and market segmentation.  To sign up or go directly to the download , click below.

Continue reading “Help Teens Dream…and Make their Goals Come True”

Cease Fire over School Grades – Parent Prep & Follow Up

 

Pop Quiz for Parents:  What does “Report Card Time” mean in your home ?

  1. When I discover a new facet of my child and how (s)he acts in school
  2. When I am overwhelmed with STRESS. Yes, SOSOOOOOOOPER-STRESSED!
  3. Report Card? What’s that?  When I am interrupted in my TV program to sign a useless piece of paper
  4. When I praise my child
  5. When I criticize my child
  6. When I compare the siblings. Sometimes I do it to movtivate one kid to start working.  Other times I compare and feel so guilty about it but just can’t help myself.
  7. When I despair because my kid does not give his best and does not seem to care about it
  8. When I feel like a good parent because my child gets good grades
  9. When I feel like a good-enough parent because my child gets better grades than his/her buddy
  10. All of the above
  11. None of the above
  12. It changes every day and with every kid and I am confused/frustrated/discouraged.

Mom_Teen_Grades_2a

What if Report Card Time could be a moment of deep sharing and mutual learning?

“Euuuuh.  Hello?”

What if your child could admit his concerns, maybe even fears, and open the door to confidence-building opportunities in your family.

What if your kid would experience your unconditional love for him as a person AND that because you love him you have expectations for his efforts.

Cease Fire Over School Grades

Cease Fire Over School Grades does just that.  This online seminar helps parents and children together

  • recognize achievements
  • clarify goals
  • make a plan to reach them effectively

Mom_Teen_Grades_2b

Sample grade self-evaluation

 

What is it?

It’s ½ hour of time well spent.  Transform weeks of nagging about school work into succinct responsibility-building reminders to help kids be motivated to do their best.

We address three issues:

  • Clarify parental expectations
    We initiate a discussion using cooking analogies to help kids understand how parents define quality work. Is eating raw eggs and flour the same as savoring a freshly baked cake?    In the same way, what’s the difference between presence in class and being an engaged student?
  • Listen to students and have them to explain their position
    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Many students feel they are doing “fine.”  We encourage the kids to define “fine” through a self-evaluation process.  Parents and kids get to explore these predictions together at a time when both are calm.
  • Motivate students to progress
    The child’s self-evaluation provides a benchmark. We prepare the youth and parents to interpret the Report Card in light of this guide.  Where should Mom & Dad give their child more breathing room?  Where is the child’s system (“I’ve got it under control.  Let me do it my way.”) objectively underperforming?

With whom? How?  When? How much?

Our online seminars are for parents AND their children.  These facilitated family discussions are led by Denise Dampierre, founder and CEO of SoSooper Families.

  • Join a group online seminar. See our Calendar for upcoming dates.  Participation is $20 per family.
  • Schedule an online seminar just for your family. Send your request and date preferences.  We’ll work it out.  Personalized seminars run $40 per ½ hour.

Sign up for our Cease Fire over School Grades online seminar to get kids motivated to do their best.

“Help! I’m Losing It!” Article from Message Magazine

It’s a delight to share the excerpt of my article from the fall 2015 edition of the Message Magazine.  Enjoy!

Help!  I’m “Losing It!”

“It was automagic, Mom…”

According to my four sons, spilled milk is automagic, so are the bite marks on a sibling’s arm, and so is my teen’s phone battery that runs out just as I call him.

How to respond to kids’ “béttises” (misbehaviors)?  To laugh?  To cry?  To scream!

The 80/20 rule I learned in business school–which says that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of inputs—also applied to my parenting:  the vast majority of challenges were addressed with the same tool: my voice.  I spoke instructions, then raised my voice to unresponsive children, and ultimately just “lost it.”

In the business world, this management practice is called re-investing in a losing strategy.

At home, this behavior was considered “normal.”

Something had to change.  What?  And how?

I first tried to change other people:  to shrink the kids and to tweak my husband.  It eventually dawned on me to try and influence the one person over whom I had a semblance of control:  moi.

It’s like I finally started walking the yellow brick road in the direction of Home Sweet Home, a path I could travel with other “sooper” (phenomenal and perfectly imperfect) parents, where I could gain a fresh perspective on life and success, and we could empower each other to be our best.

When Kids Take Your Life by Storm…Hold onto the Buoy of Positive Discipline!

Has the arrival of kids taken your life by storm (and dropped you in the middle of Paris)?  Join the club.  Maybe the clouds will simply blow away…  Until then, try stepping out of the fury.

That’s the relief I received from Positive Discipline, an approach to building respectful and collaborative relationships.  I took a class, got hooked, and now lead workshops to help parents apply these principles for healthy relationships. Based on the work of Austrian psychiatrists Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, Positive Discipline is a model for teaching young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful contributors to society. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott adapted these principles into an interactive curriculum, and their books have sold millions …because the approach does wonders to transform home life.  It’s, like, automagic!

With Positive Discipline we first focus on…well, our own focus.  Are we looking for blame or for solutions?  How can we transform recurring challenges into opportunities to nurture respect, resilience, gratitude, love of excellence, and intimacy?

A wide array of Positive Discipline tools empower us to smoothly manage the daily issues:  power struggles, undue demands for attention, sibling rivalry, repetition-repetition-repetition, and more.  Additionally, these parenting “ruby slippers” hit the target with the needs of moms and dads in the Internet-age where our 2.0 youth expect to contribute to and impact their environment.

Positive Discipline works with teens as well as tots of 2.0 years.  Here’s how we applied the Adlerian principle of Firm and Kind to the family job, Get-Out-the-Door-on-Time-for-School-and-Work-With-a-Smile.  Firmness points to respecting the parental structure, such as the non-negotiability of timely departure.  Kindness refers to respect of the child’s perspective, like considering their input in the process.  Part of the Positive Discipline wonder lies in simultaneously respecting kids, mom & pop.

Positive Routine Tool for Parents & Kids Together

Positive RoutinesWe created Positive Routines, a photo-reportage of the priority tasks for leaving on time.  At work this would be called a job description communicated via Power Point.  At home, we call it fun, practical, and empowering.  It’s the process that renders the tool so effective.  First, we sat down to enumerate the multiple tasks needed to get done before walking out the door.  Deep discussion ranged from, “We gotta wake up!” to “Make our beds ?!?!” and “Brush our teeth…No, I already do that at night.” This is brainstorming time; let the ideas flow…especially from the children.  They know what needs doing; they have heard you say it over and over again.

Next we decided together which tasks NEED doing in the morning, when we feel groggy and possibly move slowly, and which ones can be completed the night before.  We classified “Getting parent’s signature,” “Getting school stuff ready,” and “Choosing clothes” among the evening jobs.

Finally, we put it into practice.  What liberty for me!  When the tykes came complaining that their bathing suits were still wet (and now smelling) from last week’s swimming class, I could truly sympathize AND remind them that we wash swimwear the night before.  Discomfort is a bummer, but not the end of their world.  Repeating myself again and again is the end of my sanity.  You bet they remembered the following week :).

These Positive Routine Picto’s also helped my husband and I coordinate our messages.  At first he questioned this process…until the week we had several morning signature requests.  The kids turned to their Dad for these because they knew I merely pointed to the Positive Routine Picto and gladly accepted to sign their paper that evening.  Finally he burst out, “No more signing in the morning for me either!”  The kids accepted it.  After all, these were their rules too.

These Positive Routine Picto’s were such a success that I developed a workshop specifically to bring parents and children together to create their own.  In these photos I love how one child revels in the full attention from all of the family members and how the boys and girls proudly display THEIR routines.  Parents shared delightful feedback.  One girl was showing hers off to a friend, who then told her mom, and the friend’s mom requested to take it home.  Another shared how, after the good-night routine, she noticed the light switch back on in her 3 year old’s room.  “Mommy, I forgot to choose my clothes for tomorrow.”

Our boys are now growing up and leaving home.  It’s a thrill and a solace to see them go forward with the life skills they need to make a life and a living.   And they tell it to me straight:  “Mom, when you stopped trying to be perfect, that’s when you were a great mom.”

May you and yours keep growing and growing together.

 

Denise Dampierre is the author of www.home-is-fun.com blog, a Harvard MBA, the mother of 4 boys, a trainer in Positive Discipline, and an American still married to a Frenchman after 20+ years!  She would be delighted to answer your questions on Positive Discipline (denise@home-is-fun.com).  You can also find out more on the associations’ sites:  www.positivediscipline.com in English and  www.disciplinepositive.fr in French.  This fall, Denise will be leading parenting classes in both English and in French.  You can also find her training professionals on building healthy relationships using these same positive principles.  After all, “People make the world go round” both at home and at work.