Tag Archives: cooperation

Love is the Force

dad and daughter

“I want her to know she can come to me.”

Ben was referring to his twelve-year-old daughter, Madison. He sought my advice because 1) he’s concerned about her grades and 2) he realizes his approach is alienating her.

When Ben talks to Madison about her grades, he doesn’t talk. He yells and puts her down.

“Suppose your boss wanted you to do better at something, ” I asked, “would he get very far by getting upset and criticizing you?”

Ben sighed and said: “I get what you’re saying. I think I take after my dad. He was never physically abusive but he would be up my a** with his tone.”

A closed heart . . . an angry, critical approach only creates resistance and defensiveness.

What’s more, it creates separation and bad feelings—our relationships suffer.

I suggested he try approaching his daughter differently: “I’m noticing that your grades are slipping. What’s going on, hon? How can I help?'” The attitude of kindness that accompanies those words will give Ben his best shot at making something positive happen.

An open heart spawns trust and a close bond. Parent and child become partners instead of adversaries. It says: “Hey, I like you, and we’re together in this.”

Another client, Kim, was equally frustrated with her teenage daughter, Nicole’s, tepid response to a family outing. Kim was pushing, and Nicole was tuning her out. To break this deadlock, each would need to go beneath the surface and see the other’s true feelings—the pain. Such is the pathway to compassion—the only avenue for resolving differences. Interestingly, Kim’s true feelings centered around grief. Click here to read about our session.

By far, the single most important task of any parent is to build a strong bond with their child. Without that foundation, parents are handicapped in their ability to guide and discipline effectively. They may get obedience—which is usually no more than a mere superficial display—but they won’t get the respect and cooperation necessary for influencing a child’s life for the better.


Names are changed to honor client confidentiality


Filed under Client of the Week, General Interest, Parenting

How to Get Hippos to Eat Their Veggies (Not Easy)

According to Newton’s Laws, any force we exert will result an equal amount of force in the opposite direction. Somehow this principle escapes us when our child refuses to do something.

My clients, Sara and Mark, are keen examples.  Force hasn’t worked–their efforts are backfiring when it comes to their seven-year-old son, Brendon.  “He just doesn’t listen!” Sara said in a state of full exasperation.

This monster, in a cute-little-boy costume, connives daily to bring misery to his parents’ lives.  He refuses to pick up his toys, pretends to brush his teeth, jumps on the bed, and takes an immense amount of time to get dressed.

Is Brendon a monster?  Not really. He’s just guilty of trying to be in charge of himself at a very early age. No one can fault him for that, but he’s not the wise one here–his parents are.  I first told them about Newton and then advised them in ways I do all parents with young children.

Click here to read about Abby and Bryan with a similar problem.

By our next session Sara and Mark had some successes to report. Brendon was asked, “Do you want your snack tonight, or do you want to keep throwing your fit?” He decided against the fit-throwing, and when given the choice of putting his shoes on at home or in the car, he balked–refusing to make a choice.  So his dad made it for him.  Without a single word spoken, Brendon and his shoes were quickly ushered out to the car. Driving down the road, Mark broke the silence, “Are you going to walk into your school with shoes on or off?” Brendon cooperated.

Giving children appropriate choices empowers them.  Parenting then becomes about teaching your child to use their power wisely, instead of him or her fighting you to obtain power.

Names used in this post are changed to honor client confidentiality.

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Filed under Client of the Week, Parenting