Happy Hour with Ollia

On the Air with Happy Hour with Ollia

Super excited to be a guest on Happy Hour with Ollia. on radio IDFM98 on Tuesday, March 6 from 7-8pm (10am in L.A, 1pm in New York, 6pm London).

Work + Life + Balance

Join us to hear a live discussion about succeeding in work and life simultaneously.  We’ll talk about finding our own personal balance by building healthy relationships (connection AND boundaries) through positive communication.

Knowing myself and Ollia, we’ll be launghing too.

Questions You Want Answered

Let us know what issues you want addressed.  Write them in the comments below.

Join Us

Tune to 98.0FM if you’re in the Ile de France region, or via the website www.idfm98.com and click on the top left hand button “Ecoutez IDFM”  (next to blue arrow)

Love Languages at Work

Have you ever tried to make someone feel appreciated at work and it backfired? You offered chocolates (because you like to receive gifts) and the recipient gave you a wierd look. You publicly complimented a colleague who then informed you they don’t need your help defending them.


This is a common misunderstanding asserts Gary Chapman, author the the 5 Love Languages series. Each person is internally wired to receive love in a preferred way AND expects the rest of the world to receive and express appreciation in the same way. Chapman applies these Love Languages to personal relationships and uses the term “love.”

Aren’t we also people at work?

Engaged Employees are People who Care and Feel Appreciated

According to a Deloitte study, employee engagement banks on trust in leadership, a humanistic entourage, an inclusive environment, and high learning (a.k.a. the opportunity to make mistakes and still be appreciated).

Factors of employee engagement

With a slight paradigm tweak, Love Language insights apply to any trusting relationship seeking open communication and mutual appreciation.

The MULTIPLE Love Languages

According to Chapman (who sold 11 million copies of his books translated in to 50 languages), love and appreciation are communicated in multiple and distinct ways. Everyone has a preferred Love Language.  Appreciation expressed in this favored language encourages connectivity and cooperation. Conversely, disproval communicated in this preferred language further distances the parties; greater effort is required to “retrieve” the one who received critique to regain their attention and to motivate them.

People often assume that every other person shares his same method of expressing appreciation. That mistaken belief creates a source of frustration. An Anglophone may not understand a colleague who converses in French, and the same disconnect can occur among people “speaking” different Love Languages.

According to Chapman, there are five ways communicate that they care

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

Implications of Love Languages at Work

How could these varying modes of connection impact your and my life at work?

1. Awareness and understanding

As an Anglophone living in Paris, I come across very young French children who hear me speak English.  They turn to their parents and ask, “Why does she speak so funny? Is something wrong with her?”

That’s when these tykes discover the notion of foreign languages.

Before we gain the ability to decipher these Love Languages, it helps to know that they exist.

2. Self-awareness and expressing preferences

Maybe you feel unappreciated at work. As you discover the various Love Languages, you also uncover your preferences. Your newfound awareness allows you to encourage team members to recognize your contributions in a way that is most meaningful to you.

When come in with a smile and a box of chocolates, I feel that you recognize my contribution to our team. It means a lot to me.” (Love Language = Receiving Gifts. Read below for more details)

3. Creativity in communication styles

In an ideal world we might identify the Love Language of our team members (and family members) and communicate accordingly.

We live in a real world…and a global one at that.

To ensure comprehension among internationals, it is helpful to communicate the same thought in multiple ways. “What’s your goal?” followed by “Describe your ideal solution.”  Who knows, they might not understand your accent!

In the same way, expand your Love Language vocabulary; try using Words of Affirmation AND Acts of Service with the same person.  It won’t hurt them AND you will grow.

4. Personalized engagement

One employee (or boss) particularly challenges you? Spend some time observing them to discover their Love Language.  In the process, you will grow in empathy and understanding AND communicate more effectively.

Impact of Love Languages at Work

Let’s take a peak at each of these communication styles and identify how to apply them appropriately in the workplace. Some ideas you will find familiar; you’re doing them already.  Do you do so with every colleague or selectively?

What new approach would you like to adapt today?

Words of Affirmation

Everyone makes mistakes AND everyone does at least one thing right.  This language focuses on identifying and naming those strengths.

With a spouse it can sound like, “Honey, great job organizing this family outing. It’s so much fun.”

With a child, one could say, “You are reliable with your schoolwork. I really appreciate not having to check up on your homework all the time. You should be proud of yourself.”

And at work:

“Thanks to your timeliness in preparing the presentation we practiced well. It helped us speak fluidly in front of the customer and present our ASK with confidence.”

“You bring good humor to our meetings which stimulates creativity for everyone. You’re an asset to the team.”

Affirmation helps identify the conditions which favor success…which we can then replicate for continued growth.

Affirmation can also reduce the risk of a new challenge by helping the individual recognize a transferable skill.

“You are rigorous in ____ (type of work), I’m confident you can apply that rigor to move us forward in this new domain.”

Affirmation is more than non-committal phrases like “Good job.” “Great team.”  These provide candy to the ego yet lack the consistency to generate a vibrant sense of belonging and feeling of contribution.

Acts of Service

These big and small gestures demonstrate an intentional kindness for the benefit of another person.

At home it might mean taking on an extra chore when your partner comes home exhausted.

How about these for the office:

To help someone with a software or a technology issue

To connect people and smooth the way with an introductory email

To help to set up the conference room

To bring the morning coffee just the way you like it (with the two dashes of cinnamon and the squirt of honey)

To ask, “How can I help?”

Receiving Gifts

It’s the thought that counts, like showing that you thought of them when they were out of sight. The size of the gift matters less than the having a present to offer.

It could be a photo of the professional event you worked so hard to organize together. A print of the two of you together or an image sent specifically to them, especially if they cannot be there with you.

Does the person enjoy a delicacy with her/his coffee?

Stick a post-it message of encouragement on their screen as you pass by.

Quality Time

The key concept is TOGETHER.

Going for a coffee break together. Inviting a colleague to grab lunch just the two of you. Playing of the company soccer team.

What about an after-work outing? Be considerate. If your colleague has a family or other personal commitment, your offer may be taking quality time away from his loved ones!

Physical Touch

According to Chapman, most men express and receiving caring (and rejection) through physical touch.

Think of the hearty handshake, even a double-handed one.  Notice those paternalistic pats on the shoulder.

In a workplace, one can create a sense of physical connection without touching.

Sit on the same side of the desk

Secure eye contact


So….what’s YOUR Love Language? 

P.S. And when you get home, remember those Love Languages too!


Child convincing argument

Why We Need to Teach our Children to Disagree Well

A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why We Should Be Disagreeing More at Work” by Amy Gallo received 3500 + likes on LinkedIn and generated 1400 comments.  The focus of the article and the remarks center around the value of diverse opinions to stimulate learning and innovation. 

Wouldn’t you like your child to become a professional who contributes to progress and creativity in his or her workplace?!

Reality Check – Disagreement in “Real Life”

Here is what happens in many homes when kids disagree.  (And even at work too.  Replace the word “parent” with “boss”)

Many parents fear chaos.  Mutiny.  To be avoided at all cost.

And many parents respond with control.

Control anger and emotions.  Control kids’ behaviors.  Control oneself.

Yet underneath we feel out of control…and under increased pressure, we lose our temper.  We lose control.

Benefits of Disagreement

Gallo acknowledges similar tendencies in many workplaces and challenges managers to allow open communication, even disagreements, as they benefit the workplace through

  • Better solutions
  • Improved relationships
  • More sense of belonging
  • Greater happiness

Parents, wouldn’t YOU like a home with smarter solutions, stronger relationships, sense of belonging, and happiness? Of course!

An Every Day Example

Instead of a morning rush out the door with stress for everyone, your family morning routine became smooth and joyful THANKS to the challenges your child had in getting ready.

Before parent and child disagreed over the morning routine.  Mom wanted to get out fast.  Child dragged his feet.  The previous “solution” had been a nagging parent…which is no fun for anyone.

To open up communication regarding this disagreement, the family brainstormed ways to organize mornings more effectively.  The children came up with a wacky solution that they love and you, the parent, would not have imagined: “We want a fun wake-up song.  Can you sing “Happy Day” to the tune of “Happy Birthday” to us every morning?!”

And it works! Now, it’s a delight to leave home for school on time AND with a smile.  

The children feel so proud to have devised this new plan; they know their ideas are heard and valued. Home is a happier place…thanks to disagreement!

How to Make Disagreement Positive?

1. Start with…YOU

What is YOUR attitude?

Many parents consider disagreement to be a failure.

Let’s re-examine that.

Do you REALLY want your children to think exactly like you?  How will they be able to grow into positive contributors to society in an ever-changing environment?


Try re-framing. CONGRATULATIONS!  Respectful disagreement means you have taught your child to think for himself!

Avoid Taking Disagreement Personally

Children are growing their roots and pushing boundaries.  It’s an essential part of their growing job.

Besides, there is something to learn from the children’s perspective.  Physically and literally they view the world from another angle.

What does your kitchen look like to a three-year-old who cannot reach the top of the counter?  She sees the loooong stretch of countertop and a glimpse of the sky when looking out the window.  You see the garden.

Looking out of window from below

Garden scene through window.

In the same way, you and your child will have differing views on sharing of toys, cleanliness of room, sex drugs and rock ‘n roll….

It is normal that different folk have a different perspective.  In the working world, this is the concept of collaboration with diversity.

YOU have been uniquely selected to teach your child how to thrive with diversity! 

Good news & bad news.  It’s a tremendous privilege AND you get to be the guinee pig as your children learn from their mistakes.

2. Connect (or re-connect) with THE OTHER

Seek the Beliefs behind the Disagreement

According to Psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Adler, every person has beliefs about himself, other people, and the world. Some of these beliefs may be beneficial while others may be harmful and/or erroneous.

Beliefs about Oneself

“I matter, no matter what.” ‘(Beneficial belief)

“I am only valuable when I do not make mistakes.  When I fail, I am worthless.”  (Belief of conditional value)

Beliefs about People

“________ (name any religion or political party) are fanatics.” (Belief of superiority)

“Parents want to control me.” (Non-collaborative belief)

“Mom/Dad says ‘No’ but does not mean it.” (Manipulative belief)

Beliefs about the World

“The world is a safe place.”

“There is no such thing as win-win. The strongest gets his way.”


A child who believes his parents want to control him will act differently from one who believes that home is a safe place.

For many of us, adults and children, these beliefs rest in our subconscious.  So how to identify them?

Want help identifying your child’s beliefs?  Give a quick coaching call.

Our emotions reveal our beliefs.  Our beliefs determine our actions.

One Family’s Story

“We had just given our son his first portable phone and had clearly reviewed the rules with him, the first of which was ‘When parents call, you answer.’

On several occasions our son would not return home directly after school and nor answer his phone.

On one evening I welcomed him back and asked to speak one-on-one.

Parent: “Hi sweetheart.  Did you know that your behavior talks?”

Child: “NO.  I speak with my words.  Deuh…” Instead of getting distracted by his disrespect, I pursued.

P: “Yes.  Your actions talk.  What do you think a tardy return with no response on your phone is saying?”

C: “Dunno.  You tell me.”

P: “Think, darling.  You’re smart.” Said kindly, yet seriously.  My son realized I expected an answer. 

Thoughtful silence.

I probed, “What does it say about the importance of your time with regard the to value of my time?”

C: “Well, I guess that my time is more important than yours.”

P: “Is that true?  How would you feel if someone treated your time as less valuable?”

C: “Well, I’d be annoyed, and I guess it’s not true that my time is more important,” my son admits with a sheepish grin.

We even enjoyed (!) the ensuing conversation about limits since we had connected and corrected some hurtful beliefs.”

Your child’s disagreement, in word and action, gives insight into his beliefs.

Seek to Understand the Others’ Perspectives

What if your child were making very intelligent decisions…from his perspective!

When above the kitchen counter one sees a ceiling which looks pretty safe, it is not surprising that children place their hands on the burning stove.

Create a Safe Space to Voice Disagreements

There is a time and a place to voice a differing opinion.  It’s not when rushing out the door and tension is high.

When there is no acceptable way to express differing viewpoints, disagreement can happen anywhere and anytime.  It sounds like argumentation, like picking a fight in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the grocery store while parents are trying to rush three munchkins through the crowded aisles.  “I WANT_______.  You NEVER let me choose!” During dinner with the grandparents.  “Did dad ever ______ when he was a kid because he doesn’t let me do it.”

That’s why we love Family Meetings.  It’s a scheduled time to

  1. check in,
  2. resolve issues if needed, and
  3. have fun

Family council get together resolve issues

Family council get together with fun

A Family Meeting is a safe space for children (and parents) to voice their issues.  Knowing that the Family Meeting is coming up, provides resolution to many every-day crises.

When the kids fight (disagree) with over TV use, they can write it on the agenda of the Family Meeting.

When they don’t like veggies, they can bring it up at the Family Meeting.

With some structure to this short meeting (15 minutes a week), parents and children resolve disagreements together.  They can express their feelings about the incident, share their perspective, actively listen, and work together to find better solutions which make everyone happy and feel belonging.

Want help setting up a Family Meeting chez vous?  Set up a quick coaching call.


Teen jumping horizon

Teens, Build Skills Employers Seek

For teens & pre-teens

Your Potential…the inspiration behind the workshop

Parents putting on pressure?

Are your parents are putting on the pressure?

As one teen put it, “Mom, Dad.  It’s like this.  Being a kid is fun.  Being an adult is work. I wanna have fun.”

What if there is more?!  That’s what we’ll discover.

Take Leadership of Your Life
Be the person employers want

Do something great sign
Start today.

Do you know? YOU can make YOUR life meaningful, exciting, and fun.  And the best way is to start now.

In this workshop, we help you identify the skills that help you have choices in life and to launch your plan to get those choices.

What you get:

  • Tools to get your parents off your back (to help them have confidence in you)
  • Hope for the future and for YOUR future
  • Steps to grow into the person you want to be

Starts with Pizza … Learning through Games

Our workshop begins with pizza and introductions.

We do some brainstorming together as we eat (with our fingers).

We’ll play poker…betting with skills. You choose one or two life skills you want to win this year.

We’ll create a Parent-Trust-Me-&-Give-Me-Space Plan.

Teen build skills employers seek

Your Take-Away

  1. A Positive Vision for YOUR Future
  2. YOUR Plan to develop one or two key life skills of your choice
  3. A plan to build parents’ trust and give you space
  4. A way to check throughout the year that you are one target with your goal

What will you tell my parents?

Our goal is for BOTH you AND your parents to grow.  YES.

Growth benefits from some key ingredients:


You can trust that what you share will be honored and respected.
Your parents can trust that their children are receiving wise and positive encouragement.

Some information does get shared with parents:

  • the agenda,
  • the topics of discussion

Some information remains privatewho says what.  (****Vitally IMPORTANT****)

Some information you may choose to share (we will discuss this as a group):

  • skills you discovered employers seek in their new hires
  • your strengths
  • your goals


We’ll be playing games (a revisited Pokemon Go, an adapted Poker) and engaging in activities where you will discover different views about life, yourself, and even your parents.

Your parents also grow through a refreshed perspective.  I invite all moms and dads who want to know more about the process, the philosophy, and the science-based psychology behind our activites to attend the workshop the week before.  (Click here to find out about future workshops)

About Me

I am a Harvard MBA, the mother of 4 boys, and certified in positive psychology coaching and training methods, namely Positive Discipline (to build cooperative and respect-filled relationships) and Appreciative Inquiry (to engage in individuals and groups in change management by building on strengths)

Is There More?

I’m interested in you.  It would be a delight to know how you are doing with your plan.  Your choice.  My (and hopefully yours too) pleasure.

Optional follow up by WhatsApp or Messenger Group or _____ (you decide)

RSVP workshop

Thoughtful brother

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, be more generous. To child, learn through a job.

We are coming to a close of our Family Feedback of the year. One son remains to give and receive his feedback with his parents.  This is the fourth in the series of posts to give you a glimpse into one our most precious and powerful family moments.

Click here for our How To’s.

Read on to learn how my son told me to be more generous and I encouraged him to grow by working simple jobs of manual labor or service.

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

We are seated at the dinner table and the boys chose to go around in the order of seating. It’s our second son who finally got the floor.

Son (17 years):  “Mom, what I really appreciate is your flexibility with letting me spend time (like the night) with my girlfriend.”

This is a very delicate issue between us because his behavior is in contradiction with my values.  Yet, you see, my job as a parent is to provide him with an education and to present him with a set of values.  He graduated from high school this summer and now lives out of our home.  My role as a mother has evolved now:   to allow my son to fly with his own wings.   I did my BEST while he was under our roof.   It is his life, not mine.  I have made mistakes and learned some of my best lessons from them. He too will blunder.  He might choose some or none of my values for his life.  He will live with the consequences of those choices.

With regards to my life and beliefs, I try to follow Jesus Christ.   Try.  Because invariably I fail. But  Jesus loves me.  Still.  So, if I follow Christ, I am to love.  Still.  And loving my son now means to be “less of me and more of him.”

Mom:  “I’m glad you appreciate it.”

To Change

Son:I really don’t have a way where you could change…

This is our son who has complained and COMPLAINED about …everything and anything.  He’s an expert at finding faults.  We have purposefully taught him to identify other people’s strength and to encourage them.  It’s been WORK.

Son: “…ah yes.  You didn’t do it this year for Christmas, but sometimes you offer people the gifts you would like to receive.”

Mom:  “What do you mean, exactly?”

Son: “Last year you gave everyone kitchen tools.  The ceramic knife, the knife holder, the latest fashion cookbook…you used them all.”

Embarrassingly, this is all true!

Mom:  “I see (all too clearly) what you mean.”

Son:  “Ok, what about me?”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom: “What you have done excellently last year is master your schoolwork.  You graduated with honors. Intelligence contributes to these results, and you also worked for those grades.  You exhibited discipline and determination…along with balance in your social and spiritual dimensions of life.  And it was not just last year.  This year your academic demands are even heftier and you’re at the top of your class and keeping up with a life.”

Dad:  “You’re ranked N°1 in your class?”

Son: “Didn’t you know?”

Banter between son and father where the younger bull gets to show off his size and the senior one grunts his consent.

To Change

Rowdy teen boysMom:  “And what you could do to change is considering getting a job.  Try working for money.  The jobs you’ll have at your age are mostly entry level manual labor or service positions.  It’s a good thing to know first-hand the value of sweat and smile.

Son: “I’ve thought of that.  But you see, I don’t feel the neeeeeed to work yet.  (oh, oh!)  I work at school and then deserve a vacation.  I can afford not to work now.”

Mom:You can afford it?  Who’s paying for your time off?  Until when?  Why?

Now that you have more of the privileges of adulthood, isn’t time that you also take on more of those responsibilities too?”


Mom:  “Aagh!  It’s tough when you want to eat your cake and keep it too!” (In French we say, ‘To have the butter and the money for the butter.’ ‘Avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre.’)

We can all relate…and smile.

Dad: “Are we finished with the analysis and mutual-flagellation?”

Everyone:  “Poooooor Dad!”  “If it were THAT bad, why did you stay with us?” “Yes, dear ”

Mom: “Everyone clear his plate and takes at least one other thing back to the kitchen!”

Thus closed the evening meal and the Family Annual Review.

Follow Through on the Family Feedback

Our comments now hang in our Frame of Fame…where they’ll stay several weeks and re-appear from time to time over the year…as behaviors might deteriorate and the need arises to

  • be humble,
  • be generous,
  • think before speaking,
  • advance step-by-step, or
  • dress one’s age


Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, stop being a fashion victim. To child, think before you speak

Two of our sons have already given (to parent) and received (from Mom) feedback about what each does well and should continue doing, and about one behavior to consider changing. (Catch the beginning of the discussion here).

Business (a.k.a. the meal) continues as usual.  We’re at the dinner table, getting close to dessert time, and it’s the turn of youngest of four sons.   The meal keeps on flowing throughout the exchange.

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

Mom:  “Darling, what would you like to tell me about what I do well and what I should think about changing?”

Son (12 years old):  “Well, like, you know…”

Brothers:  “No we don’t.  Be specific.”  It’s said with both a touch of impatience and sense of humor.

Son:  “Well, like, you’re more flexible…”

Mom:  “Flexible seems to be a key theme tonight…or last year!  What do you mean, exactly?”

Son, after some more humming and hawing and searching for words and being teased by his siblings:“It’s like you can laugh more at yourself.

Mom:  “Thank you.  And what about something where you want to see me change?”

Son:  “Well, like, you know…”

Brothers:  “No.  We don’t.  Move on.”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom:  “I’ll give you some feedback about what you do really well.  I’m so impressed by your insights into people.  Sometimes you’ll come home from school and describe a situation and comment about how that reveals the person’s character.  Wow.  You are making connections between what people think and how they behave.  It’s impressive.

Son:  Shy smile.

To Change

Teen thinks he's coolMom, quickly so that the older ones don’t break the positive momentum with a questionable comment: “What you can do to change is to think before you speak.”

Guffaws in agreement from the boys.

“Sometimes you call my name, I answer, and you reply, ‘Nothing.’   It doesn’t happen just once…and we’ve already talked about it and you’re better not doing this as often.  Yet now, you regularly react to your brothers by insulting them slightly.  Not surprisingly, they respond.  Then you reply, ‘Just joking.’”

Boys:  “Yeah, you do it all the time… It sounds stupid.  Either mean what you say or don’t.  Dig, dude?”

Mom, talking right at Son 4 without paying attention to the siblings:  “You don’t have to defend yourself, darling.  If you think before you speak, you’ll avoid many slippery slopes.”

Dessert time = Hungry for closing time.  Read here for our final exchange on the 2013 Family Annual Review.

Continued…Feedback to Mom

Well Done

My youngest son and I had not finished this conversation.  So, the next afternoon, when the older boys were not around, I approached him again.

Mom:  “I did not quite understand your feedback yesterday.  Could you please tell me again what I do well and what I should think about changing?”

Son:  “Mom, you are more flexible now.  Before you used to be too intense.  Now you can laugh at yourself.”

Mom:  “Can you give me an example?”

Son:  “Remember when (and he recalled a time when a friend of his described me as the ‘old lady’) Well, I remember not being embarrassed because you did not lecture him.  (Was I THAT bad?!)  Instead you laughed.”

To Change

Mom fashion victimMom:  “Thanks, darling.  Now, what should I think about changing?”

Son 4:  “Don’t be such a fashion victim.”

Mom:  “ME!”  (Are you kidding? My humble self thinks, “I make fashion; I don’t follow it.”) “Please, give me an example.”

Son:  “Your nails.  Stop wearing blue and green nail polish.  (This past spring and summer, I adorned my fingertips in turquoise and spring green.  In early fall, I opted for navy on my hands and a deep green metallic hue on the toes.)

“It’s just not you, Mom.”  (When the kids were small, manicures were UNIMAGINABLE.  I barely got to shave one leg at a time. So, this nail craze is new.)

Mom:  “Thanks for letting me know.  I see what you mean. I’ll think about it.”

I probably will give it up…and present him with my orange fingertips telling him how I hesitated on the purple and pink stripes but followed his advice instead.

Little bother for me.  ‘Lotta meaning for him.



Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
Teen boy

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, be flexible. To child, advance step by step

We’re on a roll with the Family Feedback.  Our eldest son has given and received his insights (read here) for the Family Feedback.  We’re sitting around the dinner table and our third son is next to him.

Perfecting Family Feedback Process

(In a teensy bit of a controlling style) I turn to our second eldest son.

Mom:  “What is your feedback for me?”

Purposefully, I did NOT ask, “Do you have____?”  Our purpose with this discussion is to create an environment where our children voice a compliment and a concern.  We’re going beyond “Yes” and “No” mutterings.  (Read here for Family Feedback How To’s and free download)

Son 2:  “Oh, we’re going this way?  By age?”

Mom, interpreting the question as a gentle invitation to allow the kids to take the lead:  “We don’t have to. Who wants to go next?”

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

Son 3 pipes up, “I’ll go.  Mom, you have been nice about getting special school supplies for me.  Sometimes I’ve run out of _______ or needed a specific book or _______ and it meant going to a specialty store to find it.  I appreciate your effort.  Thanks.”

Mom smiles…lips and eyes.

To Change

Son:  “And Mom, you have GOT TO BE more flexible with my going out at night.  I don’t want to have to give you a fixed phone number AND address AND friends’ names AND time I come home before you let me go out.”

Older brothers:  “Aaagh, we hated that too!”  “Now it’s your turn!”

Mom:  “Do you know why I ask for those?”

Son:  “Yeah, my older brothers messed up so now you’re tough on me.”

Mom repeats:  “Do you know why I ask those things?”

Son 3 grunts.

Mom:  “When you give your friend’s mobile number, they don’t answer.  There have been times when we found out that you boys were not where you said you were, so I like to have a number to call just in case.”

Son:  “The phone number is the worst thing.”

Mom:  “We had dinner with friends last night who, for sleepovers, systematically call beforehand to check that their sons are expected.”

Son 3:  “Don’t do that!”

Mom:  “And I ask about where they are and getting home so that you can work out public transportation and return on time.  ‘I missed the last train’ is not a valid excuse for being late…”

Dad:  “STOP the bickering!”

Brothers:  “Yeah, work this out the two of you.”

Mom:  “OK, honey.  Make me a proposal for a different way to get permission to go out.  Let’s talk more over something concrete.

Son 2: “My turn?”

Brothers:  “Yeah, let’s move on.”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to Son

Well Done

Mom:  “You have shown us your ability to be responsible. Admittedly your teachers are writing that you are insolent in class 🙁 and lacking in maturity. Yet over this vacation and through your job (as a high school freshman, he’s tutoring a French boy in English) you have demonstrated to us your leadership skills, positive initiatives, and commitment to completing your responsibilities well.  When you want to, you excel in maturity.

To Change – Have an optimistic view of you and your future.

You state these outlandish goals for yourself:  king of the world! You know these are unattainable (undesirable?) and I wonder if you say these things out of lack of confidence?…I don’t know.  No one expects you to reach them, so no one will consider you a failure if you don’t.

Raclette à l'ancienne

(“Pass the cheese, please,” someone requests…and we keep talking.)

What you can change is to think of how you can be a success…you choose the realm.  You are WAY MORE LIKELY to fulfill your dreams one step at a time than through a miraculous leap.   Break down your mega-perfectionist goals into smaller tasks…and you might even surprise yourself by how much you accomplish…and then you’ll have the courage to really dream big AND realistic.”

Son:  “Yeah…”

Mom:  “You have soooo much potential, darling.  You know that, don’t you?”

Son:  “I know.”

Brothers:  “Let’s pick up the rhythm.  Next!”

No room for mommy sentimentality!



Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
Eldest son

Family Feedback How to & Example—To Mom, be clear. To child, be humble

“A TABLE!”  That’s French for “Time to eat. Kids, come NOW! Prepare your taste buds and your conversation skills…”

On December 31 the family was dispersed in six different parties.  On January 1, we all sat down for a meal together…and shared feedback on the previous year and insights for growing forward.  We call this The Family Annual Review.

We do this every year and it is AN AMAZING family moment that the children request year after year.  

Friends (who also are parents) exclaim, “What a great idea….but I’d be so scared.”  We’re giving you the play-by-play so that you can get a feel for how it happens…and do it “chez vous” too!

Since we have four sons, we’ve given each one a full post.  Keep clicking to the next post!  Each child is different (don’t you KNOW!) so you catch a different aspect of the exchange from each one.

How To – Family Feedback

Children Give Feedback to Parents

Every year, and it has now been close to ten years, we set aside a moment to step back and review our relationships.  It began when I realized I peppered my sons with feedback all day long.  But when could they voice their likes and concerns to me in a way that I would receive them graciously?

The first year, the boys game me feedback.

One behavior I do well and that they want me to continue doing.

One behavior to talk about changing.
Sometimes this can be a no-brainer.  (The first year our youngest son did this he piped up, “No more lemon cake.” Go figure.  He felt the others got a treat when he was stuck with a cake he did not like.  Apple cakes became the norm.)

Sometimes discussions ensue.  We aim to close on an action step.

Parent Gives Feedback to Child

I learned so much from their feedback shared in this out-of-the-every-day-buzz-of-activity setting.  The following year, I requested to share thoughts for them following the same process.  It is one of my favorite times of the year.

I share an OFFICIAL affirmation (we take notes and review them occasionally throughout the year). This is what they do well.

I share a vision for their growth in character.  In this post, you’ll read about my son and a vision for him growing in humility.

Read on and discover the richness of the exchange…and the natural flow too.

Feedback to Mom

Mom, sometime between the green beens and the cheese (meals chez nous are served in courses.  We’re American AND French!): “Hey guys, let’s do the review.  Who wants to give me feedback?”


Well Done

Four sons

Mom: “Son 1 (of course I used his name, probably preceded by a ‘honey’), why don’t you start.  What is one thing I have done well this past year?”

Son 1 (19 years old.  Junior in college):  “I know I’m only supposed to say one thing, but here are two.  You have been very welcoming of my girlfriend coming to stay at our home (she stays in the guest room).  You’re becoming more flexible.  You have also been kind in driving me back and forth to school (he comes home some weekends and usually takes public transportation…which takes 1 hr while, at no-traffic times, the car takes 20 minutes) on some short notices.  Thanks.”

Mom:  “I’m glad we have been able to coordinate schedules so that we can do those runs outside of rush-hour.”

To Change

Son 1:  “…and to change, two things too! (meek grin)  First, consider letting my girlfriend and I sleep in the same bed at home.  And second, you’re not clear with the financial budget.  When I come to you with exceptional expenses (contact lenses, pharmacy purchases…) you say those are in the budget, but when I worked out finances with Dad we did not include funds for that.  So, I feel like I’m paying for too much.”

Mom:  “About the girlfriend, I hear you.  You know that we have different perspectives on this and I’m not willing to change (yet?).  So what is the budget exactly?…. (Discussion to clarify)…well, let’s get that written down and put it in The Binder (THE PLACE where we store family ‘contracts’, kids’ friends’ phone numbers, forms we’ll need in two months and  wonder where to keep in the meantime…)

For reimbursements, talk to me and bring receipts.  You usually do so when my hands are full of soap suds from the dishes…so I’ll put Post-It notes in the kitchen drawer on which you can write an IOU and stick it on top of the stove.  That way I’ll remember to pay you back.”

Son 1:  “Thank you.”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom:  “My turn for feedback to you.”  (Yes, all the other boys are listening…and eating.  We get a few ‘Pass the _______’ as we’re going along.)

“What you have done that is really great is to develop a relationship of confidence with your Chinese tutor.  (He helps a Chinese student with French and English…and with cultural adaptation.)  From time to time you tell us of his surprised (horror-stricken) reactions to events at school.  The entire family has benefited from your sharing those insights.  And what it shows about you, is that you have been able to secure his trust so that he can express both positive and negative observations with confidence. That’s GREAT.

Son 1: “Yeah, it’s been interesting for me too.  Thanks.”

To Change

Mom:  “Regarding growth for next year, be humble.  You’ll be studying in Asia for 6 months. Life doesn’t happen the same way there as it does in Paris.  We French are known for being aggressive and arrogant…and you have exhibited those attitudes in the past.  Being humble means purposefully listening and learning.  Be like a sponge:  take in before squeezing out.

Son 1:  “I hear you.”

That’s good enough…it’s even wonderful!



Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
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)


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

Download Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Free download

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

Dad and daughter cuddling and smililng

Spell “love” T.I.M.E.

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

Gift Certificates to offer to your children and your spouse – “My Time, Your Way”
by Denise Dampierre of SoSooper

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Time as a present to offer

Money cannot buy time.  Not when it comes to time spent with kids.

Play-together-time often misses the Christmas list…AND yet, it’s the gift kids crave.

How does one “give” time?  How can one make it feel like a present?

That’s why we created these Gift Certificates.  Personalize with your child’s name and you signature, et voilà!  You have a valuable stocking stuffer you and your children will cherish.

Click here to download Gift Certificates.

Kids and Parents Learn Through Play

Play teaches children how to overcome boredom, to follow rules, to win and lose well.

Let kids direct the play (that’s your gift). You’ll discover them WHILE helping your child learn life-skills.

You thought your daughter was impatient? She spends ½ hour dressing and undressing a doll! That’ll stretch the fortitude of many adults.

One Mom’s Story

The first year I offered these gifts to my sons they all invited me to play their favorite video game.  “Oh, no! Wrong gift!” I thought.

These shared screen times taught me so much.  This time was “extra video time” for the children and since the intent was to share a moment together, they willingly spent 30 minutes teaching me why they like this particular game, what makes it exciting, and how to win.

I observed their skills (or lack of) in anticipation, in strategizing, in concentration, and more.

And the following week when they struggled with homework, we applied ideas from the game to help concentration.  “Let’s create levels.  When you finish your first math problem, you reach level 2!”

The next year, I gave each child two gifts of time. One could be used for games on screens. The other was for something else of their choice.  One child wanted to learn more about his bank statement.  Another wanted to go shopping.

I kept doing this for years, even when our eldest was in high school.  He asked for a visit to the ophthalmologist to see about contact lenses!

You Don’t Feel Like It

Screen games or doll dressing isn’t your cup of tea? Is homework theirs?

Look to the bigger picture.  You’re creating memories, proving their importance, and connecting on their level!  You’ll be amazed how that encourages them to seek to connect on issues of importance to you…like picking up their bags and coats in the front hallway.  Seriously.

The Children Don’t Feel Like It

Kids might act like they don’t want to play with you.

“Children often resist love when they need it the most,”

assert Dr. Scott Turansky and nurse Joan Miller, authors of Parenting is Heart Work. Be creative and kindly insistent. They might be testing the sincerity of your offer.

If the kids don’t want to play, consider admiring them for 15 minutes. No words. No judgement.  Simply seeking to understand them in their environment.

Say “Thank You”

That magic word for all ages concludes your time together on a positive note.

The Biggest Kid of Them All

How about playing with your spouse……! We’ve got a gift certificate for them too!

Gift Certificate for couple's romance
Gift Certificate for couple's romance

To receive Gift Certificates click here.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash.com