Are My Kids on Track: Boys and Boundaries

I (David) worked with a fifteen year old boy who was an Olympic Gold Medalist in Manipulation.  He had a 4.3 GPA, was a gifted golfer, and played guitar on the side.   School wasn’t the only place this talented, bright young man would flex his well-developed cognitive muscle; he accessed his expansive vocabulary by throwing verbal daggers at family members when he didn’t get his way.  As is often the case with teenagers, mothers can become the target of choice.   

I coached his mom on the art of disengagement.  We discussed how staying in the argument would never yield a desirable outcome…

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How Can I Help My Kids Stop Lying?

“Honey, why are you sitting under the dining room table eating an entire cake?” a mom told me she had to ask her five year-old daughter in the middle of the night.  “Satan woke me up and told me to come eat it, Mommy!”

All children experiment at some point with lying.  Don’t worry, when yours does. She needs firm, consistent boundaries, no matter how cute she is or entertaining her lies are, like the girl in the previous story.  She needs consequences every time... 

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Sticks and Stones: An Ounce of Name-Calling Prevention

Your child wants to know that he matters.  She wants to know that she has impact.  Especially on their friends and family.  And there will be times, that he or she will try to impact those friends negatively.  He will call a boy in his class a name...  She will write a note that is hurtful.  Any time you are made aware of your son or daughter impacting another in a hurtful way, they need your input...

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Balancing Emotion

Another gift we give as balanced parents is having emotion but not parenting out of emotion.  Speaking and acting during emotionally charged moments with our kids is almost always a mistake.  Our kids are better served by hearing us say something like “I’m going to take a break” or “we both need some space.”  Time outs aren’t just for two year olds.  They are for kids and adults of all ages.  Taking a break is way of creating the space you need as a parent to respond with empathy, respect and wisdom. Parenting out of emotion is a little bit like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach.  We almost always end up making impulsive, less than thoughtful decisions that we later regret.  Taking a break allow us to step away and to consider if discipline needs to be a part of the equation, and if so, how to do that and let be about instruction and not emotion.

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Balancing Boundaries and Freedom

This most often shows up in our attempts to set healthy boundaries while also supporting our kids’ independence and allowing them to have freedom.  We speak to this throughout the Intentional Parenting book in our conversations about the importance of allowing kids to struggle.  Tim Kimmel calls them “designed dilemmas,” and the folks at Love and Logic call them SLO’s (Significant Learning Opportunities).  They are simply moments where we avoid jumping in and rescuing, and allowing our kids to learn through their decisions (good and bad).  These moments are always about developing character, and strengthening resilience.  

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Balancing Discipline and Relationship

One of the ways that we steward and protect our kids is with discipline.  We are asked about discipline in our offices on a daily basis, and about every time we speak on parenting.  The topic of discipline generates a plethora of questions, a range of emotions, and a variety of opinions.  We often get stuck on the mechanics of disciplining kids and lose the purpose of discipline.  The Message translates Proverbs 13:24 this way, “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love;  love your children by disciplining them.” 

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Failure to Launch/Boomerang Kids: Part 3

“Welcome Home.  When are you leaving?”

A Parent’s Guide to Boomerang Kids - Part 3

Here are some guidelines for parents who find they are moving from empty nesters to landlords.

How to Respond to a Child that Comes Home

  1. Go to the scriptures.  I recommend any parent with a child coming home reread the story of the Prodigal Son.  There is so much wisdom within the father’s response that can prepare you well for that moment.  
  2. Respond with mercy, understanding and empathy.  The father of the Prodigal Son didn’t greet his son with an “I told you so” lecture.  He greeted him with mercy.  We are told the son in that story came to his senses while dining with pigs, not when his father was lecturing him about blowing it.  Read More...
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Technology Tuesday: Alarm System

The Triple Threat:  Positive Peer Pressure, Faith and Fear (with an alarm system kicked in)

This week’s Technology Tuesday is a shout out to good old ADT, or any other alarm system that comes equipped with chimes and loud noises. 

For years, we’ve been saying there are really primary three reasons that teenagers stay away from bad choices:

  1.  Positive Peer Pressure.  They have a group of friends who are making better choices and encouraging them to do the same.  This is why peer groups whose voices you trust become increasingly important as your child moves toward adolescence.  Find a youth group—if your child is older, they can even have a choice in which youth group, but they need to have the voices of other kids speaking truth into their lives…not just yours. READ MORE...
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Failure to Launch/Boomerang Kids: Part 2

“Welcome Home.  When are you leaving?”

A Parent’s Guide to Boomerang Kids - Part 2

Prevent the Comeback:  How to prepare high school kids not to become boomerang kids

  1. Parent with a long view.  Let the decisions you make on a daily basis be for more than the here and now.  Worry less about raising happy kids and more about raising responsibleresilientresourceful kids.  
  2. Identify areas for reduced support.  Where could you take a step back to allow for great independence – financial, relational, or logistical support?  Having your child do their own laundry, setting their own alarm in the mornings rather than waking them up, paying for their own car insurance or managing a debit card through online banking.  
  3. Nurture an independent learner.  While most schools allow for checking grades online, avoid the tendency to do so on a daily basis.  Too much academic involvement creates dependent learners...  READ MORE
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Q&A Thursday: My son is struggling in school...

Question: My son is struggling in school.  He comes home in the afternoon and often says “I hate school.”   Is there anything I can do to help him?  

 Check out this great article on boys and school with 3 great ideas for helping boys in school.  

What Schools Can Do To Help Boys Succeed

If boys are restive and unfocused, we must look for ways to help them do better. Here are three suggestions...

Being a boy can be a serious liability in today’s classroom. As a group, boys are noisy, rowdy and hard to manage. Many are messy, disorganized and won’t sit still. Young male rambunctiousness, according to a recent study, leads teachers to underestimate their intellectual and academic abilities. “Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools,” says psychologist Michael Thompson. “Boys are treated like defective girls.”  READ MORE


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Technology Tuesday: Family Media Contracts

We talk often in parenting classes about the importance of technology contracts.  Contracts accomplish several things.  

  1. They clearly outline the terms of having a gadget or media privileges.  It eliminates a child/teen saying “you never said I couldn’t ________________.”   The terms are clear and we’ve agreed to those terms on the front side.  
  2. Contracts are a way of life.  They prepare kids for all of life.  I signed a contract when I purchased my first car, with the mortgage company when I bought my house, with my employer when I took my first job, with AT&T when I purchased my cell phone, and on and on.  Reading, understanding, agreeing to the terms, and acting within those terms will be a part of our kids journeys all throughout their young adult and adult lives. READ MORE
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Technology Tuesday: Creative Tech Parents

Every time we speak at a parenting event, we point out that “It’s not so much that we’re experts.  We just get to sit with kids and hear their hearts every day and learn from them, and then bring what they teach us back to you.”  We learn a tremendous amount from you, as parents, too…even on the subject of technology!

We love when parents use their creativity in a back door way to build boundaries around technology.  Take a look at these two terrific examples of what that can look like in your own home. READ MORE

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Q&A Thursday: What is normal behavior for a toddler?

Toddlerhood is known to be a time of discovery and exploration.  We get a front seat to fascinating physical, cognitive, emotional and social growth.  While this season of development involves discovery and wonder, it can be full of challenges and hurdles.  Let’s look at a few developmental norms for this season in our kids’ lives.  

1  Toddlers are literal.  “Don’t kid me, Mom, I know they’re my feet.”  - a 3-year-old boy in response to his mother telling him his shoes were on the wrong feet.  In terms of their cognitive development, the world is very black and white.  They won’t have an ability to see the “grays” of life until way down the road.  They need our responses to them to be concrete and literal.  

2.  Toddlers are strong-willed.  There are some benefits to being strong-willed.  Having a strong temperament and being stubborn can actually help children in terms of maintaining focus, problem-solving, attacking difficult tasks, having courage in the face of challenges, create opportunities for leadership, and standing up to difficult peers.  READ MORE

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Q&A Thursday: HELP me stop repeating myself!!

Q: I feel like I have to repeat myself over and over again before I can get my child to DO what I am asking! There has to be a better solution! HELP!

A: Repetition Doesn’t Necessarily Engender Response...

One of the biggest complaints we hear from kids is that their parents repeat themselves…over and over and over...

“Clean your room.” 

“I told you to clean your room.”

“How many times do I have to tell you to clean your room?”

And one of the biggest complaints we hear from parents is that you have to repeat yourselves…over and over and over.  This scenario doesn’t seem to be working for anyone. READ MORE

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Q&A Thursday: How do I teach my kids to self regulate their emotions?


We recently attended your Intentional Parenting Conference. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned quite a bit!! Thank you for that! 

 We have 3 children (2 boys and a girl) and my youngest is by far the most challenging. One problem I have is, after I have thrown down the gauntlet, ex. "Go to your room", my son will refuse or fall to the floor and throw a fit.

        Do I pick him up, arms and legs flying and put him in his room? If after I put him there, do I stand at the door and hold it closed?


I am certain that there are dozens of people reading this question, shaking their head in agreement and saying some version of “YES!  That happens to me too.”  It’s a great question, and we will inevitably find ourselves in a power struggle with a child who won’t follow through with a consequence we’ve delivered.   A helpful question to ask yourself is “can I enforce that?”  We are advocates of only giving kids consequences we can easily enforce.  For example, rather than saying “you were disrespectful, hand me your cell phone.”   Only to have a child hold it behind their back and say “you can’t take that from me, I bought with my birthday money.”   Your options at this point are to restate the consequence ten more times or start reaching for it behind their back - neither are good choices.  

 A better option would be to say “you were disrespectful and I’m going to log on to AT & T in a few minutes and shut your phone down. READ MORE

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