Our favorite activity about family for 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 THING that Mom or Dad do that they love (and want them to keep doing)
– ONE THING that would hugely improve family life for them.  Parents listen.  

You might be surprised by the suggestions!  It might be a no-brainer “YES.”  (My son asked, “No more lemon cake.”)  Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together. 

We tried The Family Feedback

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with teens

Boys grow up

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with kids

parents listening to child

Click here

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with tots

listen-mom-son

Click here

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Download Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Ask questions & Tell us how it went

We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too!

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’YOUR Questions & Feedback’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

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.

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”

Family Harmony – oh-so-doable with Purpose, Time, & Teachability

Sneak peek into this post:

  • Insights from 25 years of marriage
  • Our “perfect” anniversary day: basking in family harmony
  • Our ongoing road to family harmony

Continue reading “Family Harmony – oh-so-doable with Purpose, Time, & Teachability”

“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.

[bctt tweet=”K.I.S.S.  ‘Keep It Simple Sweetie’ works with every audience of any age. Valuable & respectful philosophy.”]

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.

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

Enjoy Kids NOW. Oh so speedily, they grow up.

Dear SoSooper (and previously Home Is Fun) readers,

For eight years I (Denise) blogged on Home Is Fun and shared photos and life in a diversity-filled couple with four energetic boys, all born within seven years.

Time has flown. As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, shares, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

[bctt tweet=”The days are long, but the years are short. @Gretchen Rubin”]

Boy-and-baby
“Fragile? What’s that mean?” Welcome home, tiny tot!
Terrible (and terribly funny) two's.
The terrible (and terribly funny) two’s.
Family-vacation-small-kids
Is this “vacation” or “extra work”?
Boy-guitar
When the guitar is bigger than they are…and nonetheless, the sound still rings out loud and strong! “Do you like my song, Mommy?” “I love you, darling. :-)”
Family-first-ties
First time wearing ties. Mixed responses…like to most novel experiences. Throughout Mom & Dad still put their best face forward.
Boy-electronics
When the generation gap stops being a concept but a daily reality.
"You can do it, darling."
“You can do it, darling.”
Kid_powder_skier
When finally all that practice pays off. After innumerable falls (and try-overs) they assert, “It was hard. And I did it!”
Family-pyramids
When the family encourages seeking adventure together…
Boy-extreme-sports
…and Mom & Dad worry when the children seek their next challenge to overcome.
Graduation
And in a few short years, they fly on their own. It’s what we hoped for them all along. Bye bye baby. HELLO NEW RELATIONSHIP!!!
Brothers hug
There was a time when I was in the energy-management business: expend theirs & conserve mine…
Boys grow up
…now the future’s so bright…they take the shades off for the photo 🙂

May YOU enjoy YOUR children NOW.  Before they grow up.

(And take pictures, no matter how bad a photographer you are. I did!)

Try spending 5 minutes this week simply observing one child without à priori. Just watch him/her.

Better yet.  Admire him/her.  

(Choose to do this for your “problem” child.  It’s transforming 🙂 )

This works for teens as well as for tots. They might engage you and ask you to join in a game. For these five minutes let them know that you are admiring them and will join them in a few moments. You can even invite them to put on the timer!
Parents who have done this exercise marvel at their children. They are indeed beautifully and wonderfully made!

For more family news, we celebrate 25 years of marriage! (Read about the glue that keeps us together.)

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!

Happy Birthday Wishes – Million $ Dollar Birthday Chair

One of our favorite Happy Birthday wish is to seat that special person in The Birthday Chair.

High Bang for Buck Happy Birthday Wishes

Boy blowing up balloons for birthday party
Wishing himself a Happy Birthday! “Can I help decorate the Birthday Chair?”
Happy birthday chair
Happy Birthday Wishes for ME!
Brother giving happy birthday wishes
Happy Birthday Wishes serenaded with the kazoo!

This balloon-decorated chair gets big bang out of little time, energy, and funds…and it does it every year. For less than $1, your precious child feels like $1 Million!

Decorate one chair BIG TIME: at least 6 balloons and as many streamers. The chair goes in the middle of the room where the kids (of all ages) gather for the presents.  At Birthday Cake time, he gets the star seat.  It’s the throne on which he reigns during the Birthday Story Telling.

Make it ultra special by kindly yet firmly reserving it for the birthday child; it’s part of letting him know he is one precious kid.

Happy Birthday Wishes – Telling the Birthday Story

Do you know what happened the day you were born? Loads of people—and surely your child—want to know about theirs.

Regale your precious one with nuggets of news.

“Dad admired you first. Mom could not see past her tummy!”

“When I took you in my arms, I discovered an additional love. It wasn’t sharing the love I had for others; it was MORE.”

“You were almost born in the taxi!”

Easy Peezy Happy Birthday Wishes

– Tie up balloons into bunches of three.

We use extra-long strands of ribbon and curl the edges…à la gift wrap.

Why 3’s? One three-balloon group has LOADS more impact than three singles. Try it; you’ll be convinced too.

By the way, florists recommend displaying flowers in odd numbers (think 13 red roses, but not next to the balloons).

– Use multiple colors, sizes, and shapes of balloons.

(If you’re using long balloons, include two long ones in your bundle of three, and choose your colors intelligently. Word from the embarrassed wizened!)

– Tie the bundles to the chair so that balloons are visible from all angles…think photo opportunity.

– Throw curly-cue party streamers on top of the concoction…even better, get the siblings or your child’s friends to do so. The Birthday Chair will gain in precious-ness.

The kids revel in the Birthday Chair every year. Grandma does too.

Birthday_Wishes_Grandma_3
Grandma, in her Birthday Chair, sharing her happy wishes…at the liberation of Paris after WWII!
Birthday_Wishes_Grandma
Oh, the Happy Birthday fun for kids of all ages in the Birthday Chair.

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?