How to get kids to cooperate without nagging

Are you constantly repeating yourself? 

“Go to bed” “Time for bed” “It’s your bedtime!” “GO TO BED NOW!”

“Put away your phone, cell phones off, no phones at the table, gimme your phone.”

If you are like most parents, there are a few areas where you keep having the same argument over and over again. Whether it’s “do your homework” or “don’t leave wet towels on the carpet” repeating ourselves can make us feel ignored and disrespected which only makes us more frustrated. Raising kids is a lot of work and you deserve to feel as much joy and appreciation as possible!  Try the following steps to gain cooperation from your children and resolve the repetitive nagging in your home. I’m going to show you with real example where these techniques worked like a charm in my house.

My daughter hated going to bed so she would drag her feet, stall, come up with excuses every night. At that time of day I was so tired I would inevitably lose my cool, yell, or get really annoyed with her.

  1. Step one – Write down every silly or illogical answer you have in your brain and finish the statement “A good Mom would…….” especially when it comes to the particular issue you’ve been arguing over. Think about every judgement you have of other Moms and all the things you beat yourself up for. My crazy mental list goes “A good Mom would never yell, she would have obedient children who go to bed on time happily. She creates bedtime rituals the children look forward to and therefore comply easily.” When you can see your beliefs written out on paper, it’s easier to see the perfectionistic expectations we carry around in our culture. Notice how much pressure this “good mom” stuff puts on us, and then how much pressure we put on our kids to do everything right all the time, even when it’s illogical and ridiculous.
  2. Step two – Imagine that there is an amazingly wonderful Mom out there who keeps a messy home, who’s kids aren’t perfectly polite, hard working, helpful or happy.  Think of three examples of Moms you admire who’s children aren’t perfect. Let’s do our kids a favor and keep our identity out of their behavior. (Julie, Heather, Laura, the list goes on and on…..)
  3. Step three – Once you feel calm and clear headed, and can laugh at your own brain, take your paper and pencil to your child and ask him or her to help you solve a problem.  Describe the problem while presenting both sides of the story. “When it’s your bedtime, you ask for more stories, more snuggle time, and find reasons to get up out of bed. When I’m tucking you in, I’m tired. Often I get cranky, yell or snap at you and then our nice snuggle time has turned nasty. This bedtime routine isn’t working for me and I’d like to change it, are you in?” (wait for them to agree on making a change).
  4. Step four – Take a guess at what you imagine your child wants. “I think you want me to snuggle with you all night long, is that right?”
  5. Step five – Tell them what you really want (their obedience is not the answer. Ask yourself WHY you want them to comply). “I want to go to bed feeling loving towards you instead of annoyed.” or “I’m so tired I just want to go to bed and not talk to anyone.”
  6. Step six – Let’s write down every possible solution we can think of to solve this problem for both of us.               “If you slept with me in my bed, you could get sleep and feel loving.” (child’s suggestion)

          “I could tuck you in and you could just stay in your bed.” (parent’s suggestion)

          “I could sleep in your bed with you and Daddy.”

         “I could give you 15 minutes of my time and you can choose I how spend it, read, play a game, tickle your back, whatever you choose.”

        “We could get a dog, and it could sleep with me so I’m not alone in my bed at night.”

        “We could move your bedtime up earlier so I’m not as exhausted and less likely to snap.”

        “We could have a silent bedtime tuck-in where nobody speaks.”

Write down every idea you have and your child has, no matter how wacky. This shows your child you are a team, you take him seriously, and that his needs are just as important as yours.

7.  Step seven – Take turns eliminating one option at a time. You might cross off “Sleeping in bed with Daddy and I.” Your child might cross off earlier bedtime. When you’ve crossed off the most outrageous ones you get down to the final few ideas, consider combining them to make a compromise that works for you both. Each of you signs the paper, you shake on it, and posts it on the bedroom wall.

8. Step eight – This usually works so well it doesn’t require consequences but it’s nice to have them written down just in case. Pick something reasonable that you know you can follow through with. “If you get up after I’ve tucked you in, know that you will lose your treat privilege the next day.” or “If I yell and snap at you and you have upheld your end of the bargain, I will give you an extra 10 minutes of cuddle time the following night.” Kids cooperate really well when they can predict the consequences of their actions with 100% reliability.

Jump onto my Facebook page and let me know how this problem solving technique works in your home. You can get the cooperation you deserve.

The most powerful influence on your daughter’s life.

You work hard, taking care of everyone and everything. You are responsible and you get things done. You’ve been invited to a super fun event with super fun people. It’s right up your alley: relaxing, interesting, inspiring, and will leave you feeling more like yourself when it’s done. Sounds good, right?

But here’s the thing…..it costs money AND it requires you to be away from your children and regular duties for a day or two.

If you are like many Moms, you’ll hear yourself saying things like “We don’t have the money”, “I can’t afford the time away” “I can’t leave my children” “Who would take them to school?” or “I’m fine, I’ll just stay home, I don’t NEED to go.”

Now picture this…..Your child has been invited to a super fun event with super fun people. It’s right up her alley: relaxing, interesting, inspiring and will leave her feeling more like herself when it’s done. It costs money and requires her to be away from her regular duties for a day or two.

If you are like many Moms, this is an easier thing to say yes to. We like spending money on our children. Their happiness is our happiness. It’s no big deal if they miss their night to do dishes or have to reschedule their dentist appt. We are happy to facilitate their fun, but struggle to allow ourselves the same.

The problem is, MOMS are the most powerful influence on daughter’s lives. Not friends, not TV, US. She is watching US to learn what it means to be a woman and a Mom.

What is the message our self-sacrificing sends to our daughters? 

That other people are more important than you are? That it’s ok to sacrifice your wants and needs for the sake of others?  That it’s okay for us to earn money and work hard, but when it comes to spending it we aren’t worthwhile? That life is about hard work, doing for others, and not about having fun, exploring new ideas or new experiences? That the older you get, the more boring and serious your life becomes?

I used to have a hard time leaving my kids, spending money on myself, or even recognizing how it would benefit me. It was like the anxiety and stress of taking the time away, wasn’t worth the imagined reward. My husband had to make me go. My parents had to give me money. It wasn’t until I started taking time away that I realized how valuable it was and what it felt like to be ME again. Sure I could indulge in a pedicure or Moms night out, but when it came to something personal and expensive, that was only important to me, it was hard. Now, I love going to life coaching events, yoga retreats, mastermind weekends, even traveling by myself!

I’m noticing this same difficulty come up for Moms who would love to join me at my Mastermind Event in Austin, TX but haven’t had the experience of taking time away and spending money on things that feel like fun.

Here’s what it boils down to…Would you want your daughter to live the life you are living? 

Of course we want our daughters to be hard working, self-sufficient, and giving, but we also want them to believe they have the right to relax, play and have fun.  Imagine what it would feel like to spend three days, just focused on you and your future. Eating what you want, being inside your own head, thinking your own thoughts, using your creativity, learning new life skills, connecting with other amazing women who share your passions, feeling more energized and excited to come home to your family. If my Mastermind Event in Austin doesn’t sound right for you, use your imagination to create a fun, inspiring, re-connecting event for yourself. Your daughter is watching to see what is expected of her as a women, why not make it fun.

If you are stuck in the SuperMom trap like I was, here are three steps designed to help you remember what it feels like to be responsible AND have fun. To be YOU and MOM.  

  1. Do Nothing. Designate a day, an afternoon, or if this stresses you out, a half hour.  Start with whatever feels comfortable and set the intention to do nothing. You can be outside, inside, in the bath or in your car, the important thing is to be alone and DO absolutely nothing. When so much focus is spent giving to others, it’s hard to even know what you need. Doing nothing will help your focus turn inward so you can just check in with your children’s mom and ask “How are you doing? Are you getting everything you need? What do you want? What’s missing?” Stare into space, be with yourself, stop trying, stop doing, just be.
  2. Spend imaginary money.  If you HAD to spend $50. on YOURSELF today on something only you would benefit from, what would you spend it on?  How about $500.?  $5,000?  $50,000.?  You are not aloud to save it, it must be gone by midnight. Find an amount that is slightly uncomfortable for you, and mentally spend it every day. This helps you loosen up and re-connect to the fun and frivolous side of you. When we focus attention on what we want (with fun energy), we feel heard and validated. Plus, we are more likely to actually get it.
  3. Create imaginary free time. Imagine you when you go to bed tonight, instead of sleeping, you get to have an adventure. You will wake up in your bed, fully rested and your family will have no idea, but you get to have a secret adventure every night. What would it entail?  Where would you go? What would it feel like? What sights would you see? Let your imagination run wild, even if it’s hard at first, keep at it oh responsible one. If you took my SuperMom Quiz and your result was Octopus, it’s time to work out your “ME” muscles and have more frivolous fun. 

If you want a big leap instead of simple steps, I’d love to have you join me for my Launching Girl Leaders Mastermind Event in Austin. You can stay for Martha Beck’s Gathering on the weekend as well.

Let’s have fun, the children are watching!

Got Homework Hassles?

Lana* was going crazy trying to get her daughter Olivia* to stick with a homework routine. She couldn’t understand why it was so hard to just get it done! She tried sitting down with her right after school, but hours later, after cajoling, bribing, reminding, she would only be half way though. So Lana let Olivia go outside, ride her bike, have a snack, then set her up at the kitchen table while preparing dinner. No luck. Arguments, delays, and stalling still happened. So she let it go until after dinner. No TV, no ipad, until homework was done. Sometimes it worked and she did it, sometimes she would fall asleep, but often she ended up doing it on the bench during recess the next day or staying up too late at night. Lana couldn’t understand why it was such an ordeal! Olivia’s brother just came home and got it done without any hassle or drama.   

Olivia is a rebel when it comes to meeting expectations. The thought of having a scheduled time every day to do ANYTHING made her not want to do it. She doesn’t mind doing her homework when it’s her idea and she’s in the mood. She could be getting her books out and sitting down at the table, but as soon as Mom says, “Oh good, I was hoping you would get your homework done now.” It made Olivia the Rebel think “I was going to do my homework, but now that you want me to, I can’t.”

Noah* was a hard working kid who liked to follow the rules at school. He had every possible sticker on his chart and was appreciated by every teacher he ever had. He was diligent with his homework, always doing his best to fulfill every expectation. Sometimes, this was hard for his Mom to watch. He could spend two hours on an assignment that should take 20 minutes, trying hard to get it right. Mom would plead with him, “Tell the teacher you don’t understand it.” or “She doesn’t want you doing this much homework, it’s time to stop, even if you aren’t done!” or “I’m writing her an email right now telling her you are only doing half the problems, it’s past your bedtime.” No matter how logical her arguments were, Noah wouldn’t hear them. He had one mission, to complete the assignment as directed and it was exhausting for his Mom to watch.

Noah is an Upholder. When expectations are on the table, he rises to them. Whether they are his own expectations “I want the most stickers on my chart” or someone else’s “You are to complete all 20 problems”, he will meet that expectation no matter what. These kids are great at creating habits but when you want them to deviate, they can seem rigid and stubborn. Logic and reasonable arguments do not persuade Upholders to deviate from their routine.better than before

I am obsessed with Gretchen Rubin’s, book Better Than Before, where she outlined these four different tendencies when it comes to fulfilling expectations. This should have been required reading before marrying a rebel!  When you have the same tendency as your family members, life is easy.

I am a Questioner, so raising a Questioner son was simple for me. Questioners don’t follow external expectations unless they also align with their internal expectations. When my son asked me “Why do I have to go to school?” I had well thought out, logical reasons that made sense to him. Questioners make all external expectations, internal, or else they won’t do them. Just because a doctor tells you to take a vitamin, isn’t reason enough for a Questioner (like it is for an upholder). Questioners need to do their own research and come to their own conclusions before deciding the doctor is right. The most frustrating thing for a Questioner child is the old parenting phrase “Because I said so”. For Upholder parents (like Olivia’s Mom, Lana) it is reason enough. If you want your child to get good grades or go to church every Sunday, find reasons that tie to their sense of logic or morality and chances are greater they will adopt your expectation as their own.

The fourth tendency is an Obliger. Obligers are great at meeting external expectations but struggle to meet internal expectations. If you are an Obliger, you might never miss a work deadline, always give your best effort on PTA projects, and never forget a carpool, but trying to exercise regularly or floss your teeth can prove a huge challenge. For kids, this shows up as people pleasing. Obliger kids are usually easy to raise, are great with homework, but problems arise as they enter adolescence. Ella agrees to spend the night at her friends house even though she doesn’t want to and cries while packing a bag. Nathan ignores his best judgement when playing truth or dare, doing something stupid just to please his friends.

Getting to know how we react to expectations, internal and external, can help us accept ourselves for who we are with appreciation and compassion. Understanding the tendency of our children, helps us argue less, enjoy parenting more, and create positive habits. To learn more about ways to work with your natural tendency, check out Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before, listen to her podcast, Happier, or take her quiz by clicking here. 

*names have been changed

Have you learned these five powerful life lessons?

I’m offering a free call about the important life lessons girls can learn from friendship drama (it’s going to be SO GOOD, check it out and sign up!) but it also got me thinking, you can learn these life lessons from work stress, parenting, or any kind of relationship challenge. Take a look at these five life lessons and see if you have mastered them yet. You’ll know you are still learning if life keeps slapping you upside the head with the same lessons over and over again. 

  1. People get to do whatever they want.  This life lesson drives us all bonkers because life would be so much easier if people would just do what we tell them to do!  But as we all learned, you can’t make a baby sleep, eat or poop, if they don’t want to. You also can’t make people like you, be nice to you and you can’t make your husband remember Valentine’s Day. You can’t make bosses treat you fairly. You can’t make your husbands pick up his socks or take out the trash. You can’t even get kids to get their homework done, if they don’t want to.  Just like the book, “He’s just not that into you”, realizing “People get to do whatever they want” will set you free.  It helps you stay in your power, and take control of the things you actually have control over. If you get frustrated with how other people are behaving, then life is still trying to teach you this lesson.
  2. The only constant is change.  One thing we do that helps us feel safe in the world is we categorize things into two categories: black & white, good & bad, mean & nice. The problem is, life isn’t black and white. There aren’t “mean girls” and “nice girls”, we are all just girls, sometimes we say mean things, sometimes we say nice things. Believing we are only one or the other, sets us up for perfectionism and self-hatred. People are always evolving. Your best friend today might change her mind tomorrow. Your boss thinks you are great today, so she gives you more work tomorrow. You are feeling good financially so you move to a nicer neighborhood, now you feel poor. Black & white thinking gives us the ILLUSION of safety, but an easier way to go through life is to remember we are constantly evolving and to focus on how we want to grow.
  3. Feel your feelings. If you are fully engaged with life, you are going to experience negative emotion. We don’t get to pick and choose some feelings and not others. To be fully human and feel fully alive, we need access to our full range of emotions. When friendship drama happens, or any challenge in life, it’s a great opportunity to learn how to feel a feeling all the way through. Where in your body does that feeling show up? What color is it? Does it have a texture? Does it appear to be solid, liquid or gas?  Getting really familiar with your emotions creates a long lasting and trusting relationship with yourself. You aren’t dependent on other people to act a certain way because you know, the worst thing that can ever happen to you is a negative emotion and you’ve got it down. Once you realize you can feel any feeling that comes your way, you have nothing to be afraid of.
  4. You get to decide what you make it mean. Your friend doesn’t want to be your friend anymore. You get fired from your job. Your teen has depression. Your husband forgets your anniversary. Bad things happen but you get to decide what you make them mean. You can decide to make it mean “I’m a loser.” “I’m a failure” “Nothing ever goes my way” “My husband doesn’t love me.” but those thoughts don’t feel good. You get to choose the thoughts that feel good to you. “My husband doesn’t care about celebrating anniversaries” might feel freeing. I give my husband permission to forget our anniversary” might feel empowering. Many people experience something negative and without even realizing it, they pick up beliefs about themselves that aren’t true “I’m unlovable” “I’m not worthy” Stopping the negative self-talk is the most important step to living an honest, fulfilling life where you know your power and trust yourself.
  5. What do I want? Every life challenge or experience is giving another clue about who we are meant to be. Our job here on Earth (as I see it) isn’t to follow all the rules and live a perfect life, it’s to figure out who we are meant to be, and be that person!  To use the natural gifts we were given, to help make the world a better place. When someone betrays your trust, your job is to use that experience to add to your list of “This is what I want” and “This is what I DON’T want.” That’s it! No drama necessary. You hate your job? (or lack of a job?)  Be specific and add a few items to your list. I want more autonomy around my time. I want co-workers who get my sense of humor. I don’t want to sit at a computer all day. I don’t want to work weekends. The older we get, the more we get to know ourselves. As our list becomes more refined and specific, our life becomes more finely tuned to who we really are and what we really love to do.                                    Do you have a passion for empowering girls? Click here

Are you being lied to?

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott

Nobody likes being lied to but when we lie to ourselves it creates a lot of confusion and discontent. We get the feeling that something is wrong, but we can’t pin point exactly what it is. Before we can improve the quality of our lives, we have to identify what the problem is. This starts with telling ourselves the truth.

The problem is, our brains tell us all sorts of crazy things that may or may not be true. It can offer contradicting thoughts that drive us crazy like, “I have to quit my job.” “I can’t quit my job.” or “My daughter could benefit from extra support services.” “My daughter is going to be fine.” How do you know which thought is the truth and which one isn’t?Truth

One of my teachers, Martha Beck, developed a tool called The Body Compass that helps us tune in to our truth.  We life coaches call it, “the gateway drug to your essential self.”  My SuperMom clients find it helpful because when you are good at what you do, it’s easy to confuse external validation and success, with internal joy and purpose.  When you are optimistic, hard working, and people depend on you to take care of them, it creates a smokescreen to our truth. You feel drained of energy, have trouble sleeping, gain weight, develop chronic pain or illness, you know something isn’t right, but you can’t figure out exactly what it is. The Body Compass is a tool you can use everyday to help you figure out which activities are energizing and life-giving, and which are weighing you down.

Click here and listen in as I teach a client how to use this body compass tool.  She has an optimistic personality and is quick to say “Everything is fine” but her body tells her otherwise and the more she denies it, the louder and more painfully it speaks. Notice how she resists the negative readings she gets from her morning run, driving her daughter to practice, and the girl scout meeting.  We think of our intuition as our best friend, and it is, but when we ignore it and deny it, it becomes the cause of our greatest suffering.

Listen to this 30 minute recording, then do your own body compass reading and see if you can tune in to what is true for you.

Write a number line across the page like this:

-10 ——————5——————- 0 ——————5—————–+10

Spend a few minutes thinking of the worst thing that ever happened to you. Really hold it in your mind with full sensory detail: sights, sounds, smells, etc. Notice how your body reacts to the memory of this event. Describe the physical sensations in your body without analyzing or interpreting it and write it down. Look for tension, heaviness, nausea, emptiness, crumpled and small. Describe your sensation in a few words: “Whole body cramp” “Pain cashew” “Cement body cast”. This is your -10, write it down.

Then shake off the feeling and the memory and bring to mind your best experience ever. Whatever comes to mind when you think of the greatest thing that ever happened to you, fill your mind with the memory and notice how your body reacts. Scan your body from toe to head and describe how your body reacts to this memory “floating upward” “falling onto clouds” “solid and calm”.  Write it under the +10.

Now you know how your body says “YES” this is right for you, and “NO” this is wrong for you. Write a list of 5 things you have to do today and assign them a number on the number line. See if you can notice any differences between what your head thinks, and how your body reacts. Try writing down the names of 5 people, 5 foods, 5 chores, just learning to practice this tool is SO valuable to learning to listen to your gut, your intuition, your truth.  Don’t judge or interpret your readings, just notice. You may get a different reading tomorrow and that’s okay. Your body holds the key to what is right for you, learning to listen to it will benefit you the rest of your life.