Archive for June 30, 2014

The Not-So-Silent Killer Stalking Your Family!

There is a killer stalking your family. This killer does not physically attack families; but it will destroy family relationships and devastate each person’s self-image. Sometimes it works subtly, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hiding behind humor, knowledge, and deception. At other times it blatantly attacks family members. This enemy of your family goes by many names, but ultimately we know it goes by the name of disrespect.


馬鹿にするビジネスマンDisrespect harms individuals and devastates relationships. It creates wounds so toxic they can remain open and unhealed for a lifetime! Disrespect thrusts a person into an inferior role.  It creates an environment of inequality, an environment in which the disrespected person is treated as less valuable, less worthy, and less esteemed. The very act of disrespect sets up a hierarchy in which the disrespectful person assumes the role of a controlling master and assigns the role of a less capable, less intelligent serf onto the one he disrespects. The disrespected person naturally responds with anger and rebellion, self-hate and emotional withdrawal, or both. Communication falters and, eventually, the relationship dies. Disrespect is a killer stalking your family!


A person can show disrespect toward family in several ways. Jennifer Gill Rosier, PhD (The Family Coach) discusses five ways family members can show disrespect to one another:

  • Disgracing. Family members show this type of disrespect when they criticize or insult other family members. Disgracing includes name calling, shaming, and attacks on a person’s character.
  • Dramatizing. We dramatize by using absolute language (words like “always,” “never,” “all,” “none,” etc.) to describe other family members or their behavior in a negative way. For example, “You never did care about me;” “You never listen to me;” “You always boss me around;” “You will always be a loser;” etc.
  • Dictating. This type of disrespect occurs when we give orders, commands, or communicate in a way that implies a hierarchy with us on top. A person who shows this type of disrespect often expects family members to make huge investments in family relationships or household duties while making no investment of their own.
  • Disregarding. Family members disregard one another by ignoring or rejecting. Disregarding shows its ugly head when a person ignores a family member’s attempts to converse, a family member’s feelings, or family member’s interests, among other things. The disregarding person can also simply reject other family members directly—”leave me alone”—for no real reason.
  • Dominating. We exhibit disrespect when we control the conversation, inhibiting our spouse or child from involvement by interrupting them, talking over them, or simply overpowering them during a conversation. A person can also show this type of disrespect by telling another person what to feel, think, or find interesting rather than allowing them to determine their own feelings, thoughts, and interests.


We may all show disrespect to family members from time to time. However, if disrespect becomes the norm, family relationships die. So, if you find yourself becoming disrespectful, apologize and change your behavior. Here are some behaviors to replace disrespect.

  • Rather than disgracing family members, encourage family members. Build up your family members. Make statements that will bring them joy. Honor them with your words.
  • Stop using words like “always” and “never.” Instead, deal with each situation as it arises. Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Invest in your family. Rather than barking out orders and commands, work with your family to get things done. Make chores and household duties a family project. Involve everyone, especially yourself!
  • Honor family members with your time and attention. Turn off the TV, take a break from the video game, and focus on your family members.
  • Include everyone in the conversation. That means you have to listen. Look each person in the eye and listen. Get curious about each family member’s feelings, thoughts, and desires…and consider those feelings, thoughts, and desires as you make plans.

Those are just a few ways to replace disrespect with respect in your home. The ideas are simple, but they will have a long-lasting and magnificent impact on your family life and joy!

Your Teen & the Importance of Sleep

Sleep. I cannot seem to get enough of it, but get too much and I feel groggy, tired out, and lethargic…go figure. Still, sleep is a soothing balm of restoration after a long day. As adults, we need about 7.5-8 hours of sleep a day for “optimal functioning.” Our teens need closer to 8-9 hours of sleep per day for optimal functioning. I only mention this because I hear so many parents struggling with their teen and sleep.  I often meet teens who exhibit symptoms Teenager sleeps on the Booksof not getting enough sleep, symptoms like irritability, impatience, mood swings, and even feelings of depression. Sleep deprivation will also increase hyperactivity while decreasing impulse control and frustration tolerance…not a good combination when it comes to social interactions. If that is not enough, sleep deprivation impairs memory, concentration, and attention span, interfering with academic success. And, sleep deprivation slows reflexes and limits problem-solving, impairing sports’ performance. We need our sleep. Teens need their sleep. A lack of sleep interferes with academic performance, athletic performance, mood, and social interactions.


Unfortunately, several factors interfere with teens getting enough sleep. One is biological. Hormonal changes impact a teen’s biological clock, shifting their sleep/wake cycle by one to two hours. In other words, a teen’s desire to stay up late and “sleep in” actually reflects normal hormonal changes. Of course, school, sports involvement, social activities, and after-school activities also interfere with a teen getting a full 8-9 hours of sleep. Part of our responsibility as parents is to teach our teen to work around the obstacles to sleep and develop habits conducive to getting a good night’s sleep.    Doing so will help them function to at their best…academically, athletically, socially, and personally. To help, here are 6 tips to teach your teen about sleep:

  1. Create a good sleep environment in the bedroom. This means keeping the bedroom dark at night. Even lights from phones, TV’s, and other electronics can interfere with sleep. So, turn off the electronics. Avoid the habit of falling asleep to the TV or while texting. Turn off the lights and enjoy the darkness that facilitates sleep.
  2. Deep sleeping children girl closeup portraitTurn off cell phones, TV’s, video games, and other stimulating activities at least an hour before bedtime. An aroused mind has difficulty falling asleep. So turn off stimulating devices and games an hour before bedtime.
  3. Develop a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine. When you stop texting and gaming, take the next step in preparing for a good night’s rest…relax. Read a book. Listen to relaxing music. Have a small snack. Take a hot bath. Whatever your teen chooses to help them relax, work with them to develop a soothing routine to prepare for bed.
  4. Do not overschedule. When life becomes too hectic, it becomes difficult to unwind…for adults and teens alike. Good sleep habits demand that we schedule some time to unwind each evening. This can be difficult in today’s fast paced world. To find a balance between activity and rest, each person needs to learn to prioritize and make choices. Each person, your teen included, has to decide which activities to participate in and which activities they will “let go.” We cannot do it all…a lesson we all need to learn in order to get a good night’s sleep.
  5. On the other hand, an inactive teen will also experience difficulty getting a good night’s sleep. An appropriately active lifestyle promotes good sleep. Encourage your teen to participate in an activity. Promote some outdoor activity since daily sunlight helps stabilize the sleep cycle.
  6. As you to teach these sleep habits to your teen, practice them yourself. There is no better teacher than a good model! Your teen will learn from your example.


Sleep is essential to life. Teaching your teen good sleep habits will help them achieve their full potential academically, athletically, socially, and personally. So, do them a favor and get to bed!

Make Your Child “a Head Taller Than Himself”

I enjoy learning about and teaching child development. Recently I read that “in play a child becomes a ‘head taller than himself.'” Most people probably do not use the phrase “a head taller than himself.” I had to think about what that meant; and, as I read the example, I children playrealized it means a child is “beyond his years” or “mature for his age.” Play enables a child to go beyond his years in maturity, to engage in mature behavior expected of someone older than him. I don’t know about you, but I want my child to become “a head taller than himself” (well, herself in my case because I have daughters). Although play enables a child to grow “beyond his  years,” not just any play will do. Video games won’t do it. No, the play that helps a child to become “a head taller than himself” is imaginative, dramatic play…the kind of play in which a child takes on and acts out an imaginary role. Preschoolers do it when playing house, teacher, princess, or cops and robbers. This kind of play becomes the first activity in which children must control their impulses and resist the urge to instantly gratify their own desires. It becomes an activity in which children follow the rules of the character in a story line they first had to develop. A study completed in the 1940’s supported play’s role in helping children grow beyond their years. In this study, researchers asked 3-, 5-, and 7-year-olds to stand still. Not surprisingly, the 3-year-olds had difficulty standing still for any length of time. The 5-year-olds stood still about four minutes and the 7-year-olds could stand still for over 10 minutes. However, when 5-year-olds were asked to play the role of a “lookout” by remaining at their posts and not moving, they were able to stand still for as long as 12-minutes! Their ability to control their impulses and self-regulate their behaviors during this role playing activity had become “a head taller than themselves,” making them look more like 7-year-olds.


Interestingly, this study was repeated in 2004 and the children in the 2004 study were actually “a head below” the children of the 1940 study. The 7-year-olds of 2004 exhibited self-regulation and impulse control skills that looked more like the 5-year-olds of the 1940’s…and the 5-year-olds of 2004 appeared more like the 3-year-olds of the 1940’s in impulse control and self-regulation. Sadly, the children of 2004 did not engage in the same level of imaginative, dramatic play of the children from the 1940’s. They spent their time in adult organized activities and video games, limiting the time they had to engage in dramatic, imaginative play and the skills we learn in that play. They missed out on the creative planning and role playing that would put them “a head taller than themselves.”


Perhaps we need to take a lesson from the comparison of these two studies. Our children need time to engage in dramatic play. Dramatic play gives them the opportunity to plan out an activity, develop roles, and then act within the boundaries of that role. It provides them the opportunity to practice self-regulation and impulse skills as part of their mutually agreed upon story line. This translates into less “blurting out answers” in the classroom, less “striking out at others” in anger, more “thinking” before acting, and a greater ability to problem-solve with others, among other things. In other words, dramatic, make-believe play helps our children become “a head taller than themselves.” So I say, “Let the children play!”

A Taste of Heaven on Earth

Last weekend my wife and I enjoyed the opportunity to attend a wedding. It was a wonderful wedding.  The families of the bride and groom joyfully welcomed one another into their  growing The Holy Bible and the Crown of Thornsfamily. An acoustic guitar played quietly as the people gathered. The bride was radiant and the ceremony was beautiful.  A lovely young girl read scripture. The minister (also the father of the groom) shared some humorous family stories and, amazing to me, held back tears as he completed the ceremony that welcomed a lovely young lady into the life of his son and their family. Afterward, friends congratulated the bride and groom. The reception was a carry in dinner…the food was amazing and plenteous. Some people danced. Some people mingled and talked. Everyone smiled and laughed and hugged and hugged again. It really was a wonderful wedding.


Listening to the vows and enjoying the ceremony, I began to marvel at the people who had gathered to support the marriage of these two young people. All marriages need this type of support…a community to celebrate, nurture, and encourage their love. This couple is very fortunate to have this kind of supportive community…a community that extends beyond their biological family…a community that will reinforce their love when they experience the inevitable hard times.


I was also reminded of the joy marriage can bring to a man and woman. Two people who nurture their marriage will experience a little taste of heaven on earth. As they humbly submit to one another rather than “lord it over one another,” they will know the joy of acceptance, adoration, and true leadership. As each one becomes a student of the other, they will experience the wonder of being fully known yet delighted in and loved as they never believed possible. As each person strives to please and encourage the other, they will both find they have become their best  because of their relationship to one another. As each one sacrifices for the good of the other and serves the other from a heart of generosity, they will know the euphoria of becoming one in a sense that only love can teach us. They will know laughter in times of joy; and they will know comfort in times of sorrow. They will grow intimate beyond what they can currently believe possible. All in all, they will know God in a sense they could never imagine. They will experience a little taste of heaven on earth. And, as they do, they will share that taste of heaven with everyone they meet. Their children, their parents, their church family, their friends, and even their coworkers will enjoy a refreshing taste of heaven in their marriage. So, to Stephen and Melanie…God bless you as you enjoy your own taste of heaven, a celebrating community of honor and grace.

Parents, Are You a Slingshot or an Anchor?

Michael Byron, Smith, retired Air Force officer, wrote an excellent blog for the National Fatherhood Institute (click here to read it). In this blog, he wrote: “Families should be slingshots, throwing children into the world prepared for what lies ahead. Unfortunately, the problems of dysfunctional families are like anchors, dragging down their children’s potential….” So, I have to ask: Have you created a family environment that will serve as a slingshot for your children or an anchor? 

Anchor families:

  • Punishment concept.Place unrealistic expectations on their children.
  • Make demeaning, degrading, and discouraging remarks about their children or their children’s activities.
  • Imply greater acceptance of their children only after they have performed to a certain level (good grades, starting team, practiced their instrument, etc.).
  • Punish or demean children for times they experience failure.
  • Offer rude criticisms about their child’s character or performance.
  • Engage in name-calling.
  • Disregard their children’s feelings…or even punishing their children for “negative” feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, or tearfulness.
  • Tell or imply they know more about what their children feel, think, or like than their children do themselves.


These behaviors act as anchors around your children’s neck. They weigh your children down, drowning them under the waves of guilt and shame.


Slingshot families, on the other hand:

  • grandfather and granddaughter with computer at homeLearn about the development of children, their children’s development in particular, so they can maintain realistic expectations.
  • Encourage their children.
  • Make sure their children know they are loved even when they fall short of perfection or have a particularly bad day.
  • Teach their children that failure is an opportunity to learn. They encourage determination and healthy persistence.
  • Offer their children constructive criticism in a loving manner.
  • Use “negative” feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, or tearfulness as opportunities to grow more intimate with their children.
  • Remain curious about their children’s feelings, thoughts, and interests…using them as touch-points from which to deepen intimacy.


These behaviors serve as slingshots for your children. They help your children develop the skills necessary to navigate the world with courage, confidence, and poise.


So, I ask again. Which one are you—an anchor family or a slingshot family?

What Drives Your Family?

What drives your family? I am not asking who drives your family…nor am I asking if your family owns a Chevy, Ford, or Toyota. I am asking, “What motivates your family life?” What Fun Vaninfluences your family decisions? What is the heartbeat of your family? Many families allow fear or guilt to sit in the driver’s seat.  When fear or guilt sits in your family’s driver seat you are in for a wreck. For instance, families driven by fear of bad behavior believe that structures and rules will make everything “work out alright.” As a result, when the fear of bad behavior sits in the driver’s seat, the family finds themselves on the road of over-rigid, legalistic, and unrealistic expectations.  Fear-driven families remain overly vigilant to assure the loose morals of society do not creep into their family. If anyone’s behavior starts to do down the “wrong road,” the family simply adds another rule to detour the negative behavior; and rules of avoidance are put in place to keep family members away from the “immoral influences” of society.  Rules pile upon rules. The structure becomes the top priority in the family…until the family experiences the inevitable collision with rebellion resulting from an inability to meet the expectations. Yes, the wreck is inevitable. Family members never internalize healthy limits in the family driven by the fear of bad behavior. When they find themselves “out from under” the family rules, they rebel. Or, when they feel that “no matter what they do it is never enough,” they give up and rebel. As the saying goes, “Rules without Relationship leads to Rebellion.”


Other families are driven by the fear of looking bad. When children throw a tantrum in the store, the parents in this family begin to worry that everyone will think they are bad parents who have no control in their home. Their embarrassment overrides the need to stand firm; and, they give in to their children’s tantrum behavior. This family, driven by the fear of looking bad, is more concerned with appearance than character. Their children have to perform to a certain level to experience acceptance and feel appreciated. This family believes that only the star athlete, the straight “A” student, the lead actor, the first chair musician, or the first whatever has truly achieved their potential. Anything short of this visible success brings “encouragement” in the form of prodding, nagging, or comparisons. Appearance, however, is fleeting. Achieving top status is not fulfilling. Sooner or later we all fall short of perfection. And, we all want something that no amount of success can grant us…acceptance. When that moment hits the family driven by the fear of looking bad, the wheels go into a skid, the sparks fly, and the family crashes into the wall of disappointment, anger, resentment, and isolation.


Families may also find guilt in the driver’s seat. Families driven by guilt often want to make up for some past hurt…the divorced parent who gives their kids everything they want; the parent who feels guilty when inducing the pain of discipline so puts up with inappropriate lovebehavior; the spouse who hurt his partner unintentionally so now gives in to her every desire. Each of these families, and more, are driven by guilt. Families driven by guilt may “discourage” unwanted behavior with guilt-inducing discipline. When guilt drives a family, you can expect a wreck. Intimacy is replaced with anger and bitterness. Family members help one another while harboring resentment that “I have to do this.” Even activities normally thought of as enjoyable become a burden, stressing the family relationships.


Instead of letting fear or guilt drive your family, put love in the driver’s seat. With love driving your family, each person will find acceptance and intimacy. The whole family will experience honor and respect. Mutual acceptance, honor, and respect will open the door for reasonable rules and structure to be internalized. Positive behavior will be lived out more intentionally. With love in the driver’s seat, no one worries about being made to look bad. Instead, each person encourages and lifts the other person, striving to make other family members look good. A family driven by love still disciplines as well. In fact, they discipline more effectively because they discipline with truth and grace, love and limits. They do not easily give in or give up. They graciously discipline in love, teaching a better way to live sensibly in this world.


So, what drives your family? Fear? Guilt? Or love? Think hard and answer honestly. A wreck awaits your family unless love is in the driver’s seat!

Sibling Rivalry–The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Siblings argue. They have disagreements that escalate to yelling and screaming…maybe even name calling, pushing, and physical aggression. Not all sibling rivalry is bad. Some of it is good…and some is downright ugly. Take a moment to consider the good, the bad, and the ugly of sibling rivalry.

kids arguing 5 and 6 years old

Some sibling rivalry is good. As long as the argument gets resolved and the conflict does not become abusive, sibling rivalry, competition, arguments, and even minor fights can result in positive growth…especially with adult coaching. Consider some of these areas of potential growth:

  • Sibling rivalry and conflict can increase children’s self-control. In the midst of anger and frustration, siblings can learn to stay calm or walk away rather than hit and scream.
  • Sibling rivalry increases effective emotional expression. Siblings learn how to express their emotions in a way that increases the chance of being heard during a conflict.
  • Sibling rivalry teaches conflict resolution skills like listening, negotiation, and compromise.
  • Sibling rivalry accelerates the learning of social understanding—the awareness of other people’s emotions, the ability to “read” another person’s facial expressions, the knowledge of when to quit “pushing” your point and walk away, and the ability to empathize with another person’s point of view.
  • Sibling rivalry provides opportunities to learn positive problem-solving skills, skills that can lead to a “win-win” for each person involved.
  • Sibling rivalry also teaches that a person does not always get their way. As much as I hate to admit it, life is not fair. Parents strive to find fairness for their children, but sometimes it just does not happen. Sibling rivalry is one way in which children learn to cope with the minor breeches in fairness they will experience throughout life.


Sibling rivalry can, however, escalate to the bad category. Once sibling rivalry escalates, parents may need to become involved and teach their children the skills necessary to resolve the conflict.

  • Sibling rivalry becomes bad when the loud, intrusive, and inappropriate behavior of children in the midst of conflict begins to interfere with other people’s life or experience. For instance, children’s behavior in the midst of conflict may interfere with a parent’s desire for peace and calm in a house…or exacerbate an already aching head…or interfere with a parent’s need to complete some task. In public, sibling rivalry may create discomfort for the family or other people in close vicinity to the conflict. You can see this happen in restaurants or parks when siblings engage in loud and intrusive conflict. Public episodes of sibling rivalry can build a reputation of disrespect, selfishness, or poor emotional control. A parent can respond to public incidents of sibling rivalry by removing their children from the public forum and taking them to a more private setting. In addition, parents need to take the time to teach their children to remain aware of those around them and to consider the impact their behavior has on those around them.
  • Sibling rivalry also moves into the bad category when siblings get stuck in the same argument over and over with no apparent resolution. Parents can step into these situations and teach their children problem solving skills. Help the children learn to calm themselves, listen to one another, actively seek to understand each other, identify each other’s needs, and brainstorm mutually acceptable solutions.


Finally, sibling rivalry can get ugly. Parents must step in for the safety of the children involved.

  • Sibling rivalry gets ugly when it escalates to physical or verbal violence. When either sibling becomes abusive of the other, parents must get involved. To assure that all involved parties are safe, the parent may have to separate the siblings and allow them a “cooling off” period. After the siblings have cooled off, parents can bring them together and help them work to resolve the conflict. In addition, parents can set up some basic ground rules for all conflict–guidelines like no name-calling, no physical aggression, and a “hands-off” policy. Guidelines may also include knowing when to walk away and allow one another to calm down.


Sibling rivalry—the good, the bad and the ugly. A parent’s job is to keep sibling rivalry in the realm of “the good” as much as possible. A parent who does this will eventually enjoy the benefits of children who know how to resolve conflict, listen, negotiate, and compromise.

Welcome to the Family Games

We love to watch competitions—to see our favorite athlete in the Super Bowl, the Olympics, Lively family playing tug of warthe World Series, the World Cup, or any number of various competitions. Many of us also love to compete. Competition hones our skills and motivates us to improve. Why not use that competitive spirit for good in your home?  Let the power of competition motivate your family to reach new heights of intimacy, fun, and camaraderie. Maybe some of these family competitions will help your family hone skills that will strengthen your family.

  • The Race of Apologize. We all do things from time to time that hurt members of our family. But, you can be the first to apologize for the hurt you cause. Cross the finish line to apologize first and win the joy of restored relationships. Take a victory lap and enjoy the newfound freedom of knowing you took the monkey of guilt off your back and opened the door to deeper intimacy when you apologized for the hurt your cause.
  • Score a Compliment. I can hear the announcer now… “He takes a step toward the table and looks at the food. He smiles. He shoots…a compliment;” or, “Wow that compliment was the perfect shot;” or, “He sees his wife’s look of confusion. She doesn’t understand his compliment. Look at that—he recovers and compliments again.” Imagine a simple comment like “Supper really smells good” followed by the announcer—“What a shot, straight to the net. His kids nod in agreement. His wife’s eyes sparkle and her smile grows. And, he scores!” That’s how to score a compliment. Keep track one day to see who offers the most or greatest number of sincere complements over the course of day…shoot and score!
  • The Kindness Swish. Acts of kindness will surely score you points in the family games. Most acts of kindness are shot from the 3-point line: hold the door—3 pointer, give a backrub—3 pointer, give a hug—3 pointer, do the dishes—3 pointer, throw in a load of laundry—3 pointer, bring home some flowers—3 pointer…the list goes on. As you can see, The Kindness Swish is a high scoring game. Points add up quickly and relationships grow exponentially!
  • Politeness Polo. We do not play politeness polo as much as we used to; but, it is a fast-paced family game filled with anticipation and action. In this family game you score big points by “hitting it with politeness.” You know, statements like “Thank you,” “Please,” “Excuse me,” “Sorry,” “My pleasure,” “You’re welcome,” and “Let me help you” become big scoring runs. This is a fast paced game with family members having the potential for scoring as many five to ten times in a matter of minutes.  Imagine the scoring sequence (scoring is capitalized): “Will you take out the garbage, Kids on Victory PodiumPLEASE?” “MY PLEASURE.” “THANK YOU.” “YOU’RE WELCOME.” We have four scores in mere seconds! Imagine the score over the course of a day!
  • Out of the Park. This game is a hard hitting game of grace. Showing grace will “hit it out of the park.” You can show grace by giving your spouse, your kids, or your parents a gift with no expectation of anything in return. To become a really good player of Out of the Park demands sacrifice, but the benefits are worth it! Hit it out of the park by doing someone else’s chore for them, giving up the last cookie, letting someone else sit in your favorite seat, giving up your free time to help another family member with some task, giving up your right for an apology to apologize first, giving up your choice of movie and going to one your wife likes…with no strings attached. You get the idea, give up your desire and fulfill another family member’s desire to “hit it out of the park,” a grand slam over center field!


Try these games out. They are easy, fun, and add joyous intimacy to family life. Maybe you have some other family game ideas. Please share them with us…we’d love to play. Now, let the family games begin!

Parents, Get Out of the Reaction Rut

Many parents believe that a good punishment will end misbehavior. “If the punishment is military policepowerful enough, children will learn their lesson.” “If we just have enough rules, our children will be good.” Unfortunately, these statements are not true. The key to addressing our children’s misbehavior is NOT punishment. In fact, there is no single key to addressing misbehavior. Addressing misbehavior is actually more like putting a puzzle together…there are many parts to the puzzle and they have to be assembled in the right way to make a complete picture.  One piece of that puzzle is realizing the need to address the before, during, and after phases of behavior.


The Before Phase: We can avoid many incidents of misbehavior simply by planning ahead and preparing our children for upcoming events. We do this naturally with toddlers when we put safety locks on cupboards even before we bring them home from the hospital or remember to take their favorite blanket on our trip to grandma’s house before they even ask about it. As our children grow, we continue to address potential problem areas by establishing routines. For instance, a good bedtime routine can prevent many difficulties that occur around the process of getting our children to bed.  Mealtime routines, morning routines, and cleaning routines all help prevent unwanted behaviors as well as teaching daily life skills. Parents can also prevent unwanted behaviors during the “Before Phase” by talking with their children about “what’s next.” For instance, explaining the purpose of a “store run” as well as the expected behavior can often prevent misbehavior. If there is an especially problematic situation that you consistently run into, you may want to role play that event at home. You can then take a few “trial runs” in which you simply go through the motions of an activity without having to accomplish any particular goal (like going through a grocery store without any intention of buying anything). Practicing behaviors in the Before Phase can prevent many unwanted behaviors and teach desired behaviors at the same time.


The During Phase: No matter how much we plan ahead, our children will still misbehave at times. The key to responding during the event is to intervene rapidly and calmly to redirect the unwanted behavior. Intervene rapidly. Intervene as early in the behavior as you can. Do not let the behavior escalate; intervene early. Intervene calmly. Children follow a parent’s lead. If the parent escalates, the child escalates. If the parent stays calm, there is a greater chance the child will calm.  Redirect the behavior. Rather than simply complain about the misbehavior and tell them to stop, redirect them to another more appropriate behavior. Doing so offers your child a solution to the question, “What can I do then?”

Woman - Tough Rapper

The After Phase: After the misbehavior has stopped and all parties have calmed down, discuss what happened. The After Phase is a wonderful time for teaching. Discuss why the misbehavior is not wanted, restate the expectations and boundaries. Teach your children what other behaviors (appropriate behaviors) they can engage in. An important and often overlooked aspect of teaching appropriate behavior is to set firm limits and clear expectations while showing empathy and compassion for your children’s desires. Help them learn that you empathize with their feelings, wants, and desire, but you also have firm behavioral limits and expectations that need to be met. For instance, you empathize with their anger, but have a clear expectation of appropriate ways to express anger…teach them the expectation. Or, you empathize with their boredom and their desire to run around, but have clear limits on the appropriate places and activities in which running around is allowed…teach them the limits and appropriate activities for the appropriate place.


Responding to misbehavior in the Before Phase, the During Phase, and the After Phase will help you get out of the rut of reacting to misbehavior and into the joy of teaching the behavior you desire for your children.