How to handle a bully.

Usually you hear about how to “bully-proof” your child, or what to do if your child has been bullied. But what if it’s your child who’s done the bullying? What do you do to handle that situation?

If it’s happened at school, there will most likely be procedures in place that both you and school will have to follow. Just hang in there and work through it.

Mom listening to feelingsIf you’re like most parents, at first you’ll want to stick up for your kid, reacting with something like, “You must have the wrong kid. My child wouldn’t bully someone. They must have been provoked. They certainly didn’t learn that from me.” We are all allowed a bit of denial – at first.

This can be embarrassing. You’ll quickly feel the necessity to administer some “corrective” punishment on top of what school is already doing to “correct” the behavior. Yet, still in the back of your mind you keep thinking, “There must be some mistake. I don’t understand, why would she feel the need to bully someone? What if it happens again? How can I keep it from happening again? What am I missing here?  Do I need to be more strict? Does the punishment need to be more severe?”

Discouragement opens the door to bullying.

Bullying happens in many different ways, both verbal and physical, and it’s easy to miss the underlying cause:  discouragement.  Figure out what your child is discouraged about, address that and their need to bully someone will end. This will require you to tune into, and ask more about, how he or she is feeling on a regular basis.

Rudolf Dreikurs explained, “A bully is always a child who, as a result of initial discouragement, has assumed that one is big only when he can show his power. He’s discouraged; not naughty or mean. We must distinguish between the doer and the deed. We must recognize misbehavior (bullying) as a mistaken approach brought about through discouragement.”

Explore why — dig deep — why your child is discouraged. Then follow our instructions on how to get them encouraged.

We all have the capacity to be a bully. It’s an inappropriate way to feel powerful when we’re feeling overpowered, or when we’re discouraged and not feeling good aboutDad yelling at son ourselves. Can you recall a time when you said a hurtful comment to someone, but disguised it as just teasing? It wasn’t teasing. You were being a bully. Or maybe a time when you overpowered someone physically, or with your voice? If you are physically or verbally overpowering your child on a regular basis, you are setting them up to be a bully.

You may also be setting the example of being a bully without even knowing it.  Take a moment and seriously ask yourself, “Where in my life do I feel overpowered? Where am I feeling discouraged? How do I then react, and what is my child observing?”

Bullying is a learned behavior that can be unlearned.

So what’s the best thing you can do to handle discouragement?

Learn how to better handle feelings while replacing threats and punishments with more effective and emotionally intelligent methods. We can help with that.

You can start by simply asking your kid, “How do you feel about that?” Then listen. It really doesn’t take much more than your willingness to listen, and then be vulnerable and share your feelings with him or her.

And should your child be bullied by someone and they’re feeling hurt and discouraged, you can really help by first asking how they feel about it, and then ask how they think the person who bullied them is feeling. Empathy is a powerful tool.

Remind yourself that your kid is not mean or bad, that he’s discouraged.  Each and every day deliberately look for ways in which to encourage, and be encouraging.

Anyone who’s feeling good about themselves will never – NEVER – bully another.

If you want to learn more about how to handle feelings, be more encouraging, and strengthen the relationship with your child, just subscribe to our newsletter –
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It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you’re so moved.

And keep asking yourself, “If I approached my parenting as seriously as I do my profession, what would I be doing to improve my skill, and get better results?”

Is Being Right Getting You What You Want?

I like to be RIGHT! I really like to have the BEST answer. I really like to have the BEST way of doing something. Doesn’t everyone? Especially us parents. Isn’t that our job?

Wanting, and needing, to be right all the time didn’t work very well with my relationships. Especially as a parent.

Father Son Listening

In parenting, when “being right” becomes the top priority, you run the risk of weakening the relationship. My question to parents when this topic comes up is always . . .

Is it more important to be right, or to be close?

Your child feels he’s right.

You feel you’re right.

Guess what we’ve got now?

TaDa! Another power struggle. And nobody wins.

This quote from Abraham-Hicks says it oh-so-well:

Even in your rightness about a subject, when you try to push your rightness toward another who disagrees, no matter how right you are, it causes more pushing against. In other words, it isn’t until you stop pushing that any real allowing of what you want can take place. —Abraham

So the next time you find yourself making being right at all costs, stop. Take a deep breath. Take a step back and say . . .

“I’m sorry, I got a bit carried away with wanting to be right. What do you think about this whole thing that we seem to be at odds about?”

Then just listen. Remember, deep down you want to be emotionally closer to your child and not push them away.

It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.

And keep asking yourself, “If I approached my parenting as seriously as I do my profession, what would I be doing to improve my skill, and get better results?”

You can get started right now by subscribing to Results, our newsletter. In doing so you will receive our publication, Handling Feelings, absolutely free.


Is THIS On Your Back-to-School List?

Remember to . . .
Ask my child how he or she feels about going back to school.

Father Son Listening-2

It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of “outfitting” your child with all the latest and greatest school supplies. New clothes, shoes, coats, jackets, boots, backpacks, gloves, hats, binders, pens and pencils, new glasses, and the most up-to-date devices.

Of course, all schools require certain items and supplies. But don’t overlook the most important thing you can do for your child as that first day of school approaches — take the time to connect and to ask the question . . .

How do you feel about going back to school this year?

Don’t make it a huge deal, like saying, “Hey, we really need to sit down and talk.” What your kid translates that to is, “Time for another lecture.” (Can’t wait.)

This is about giving your child the opportunity to share with you what it is they’re excited about, anxious about, confused about or scared about.

Mom listening to daughterNo matter how well you think you know your child (or anyone), the only way for you to know what’s going on inside their head is for them to tell you. And in order for that to happen you must listen — really listen — unconditionally and actively.

Remember – when you’re listening, you’re learning. When you’re talking, you’re not learning about them. Learning about them is the goal here.

It could go something like this . . .

“Well, it looks like we have just about everything you need for school this year. If there is something you find you need that we forgot, or didn’t know about, we can go get it later. Each year, when we do this, it always takes me back to when I got ready for school, and how it felt. I always had mixed feelings about the whole first-day-of-school thing. What about you? How do you feel about going back to school this year?”

Father Daughter Listening

Now this is where you go into your listening mode. Just be quiet. Most likely, there’ll be silence at first. Let the question hang there. Again, you have no idea what’s going through your kid’s mind, all the thoughts and feelings they’re attempting to sort out, especially if you’ve never asked this before.

If no reply is forthcoming, make it okay. Say something like, “It’s okay if you don’t have anything to tell me right now. Tell me later if you think of something you’d like to talk about.”  If it feels appropriate and timely, share something specific about how you felt going back to school. Keep it short and in a “matter of fact” kind of tone and stay with a feeling. Such as . . .

“I remember how I felt so excited to see my one friend who was gone for the whole summer.”  Or . . .
“I was always so anxious, scared even, about my new teacher, and if they’d like me.” Or . . .
“I’d get so uptight about being late for class, or forgetting where I was supposed to go to next.”  Or . . .
“I really was happy to have the time to talk with my friends.” Or . . .
“I started a new school, and was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends.”

End it with something like, “Those were definitely fun and crazy times for me.” and then just leave it there. The main thing is that you’ve opened the door for your child to share with you.  It may happen right then or at a later time. If later, just be ready to switch into listening mode.

Listening mode looks and sounds like . . .

Your child shares something with you they have strong feelings about.
You say, “I see. Tell me more.”
They tell you some more.
You say, while affirmatively nodding your head, “Hmmm, is there more?”
There’s more.
You say, “Wow, I can see why you feel that way.”
There’s still more which includes the desire for some type of solution.
You say, “So how will you handle it?” or “What will you do?” or “How can I help?”

Mother hugging teenage son as he packs for collegeIf there’s an issue or problem to address, don’t you be the one solving it. Guide your child in figuring it out and solving it on their own. Give assistance when asked, but not from a place where you feel they’re helpless. They are totally capable.

Initiating this dialogue will go a long way in helping your child feel confident. They’ll feel safe in talking, and expressing their feelings. And now, you’ve invited this type of sharing for the days and weeks to come. You’ve deliberately opened the door.

So grab that back-to-school “to do” list and make sure you have on it, “Take the time to connect with my child” – you can list it more than once.

It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.

And keep asking yourself, “If I approached my parenting as seriously as I do my profession, what would I be doing to improve my skill, and get better results?”

A Moment of True Connection

We are who we are because of our connections with those in our lives, however extended or brief. Our core desire is to experience relationships and figure out how we belong in all of it. In the back of our heads, since first arriving, we each continue to ask ourselves – “How do I fit in?”, “What img146_9_1is my purpose, my value?” It’s our never ending quest. That is why it is so important for you, as a parent, to have this understanding in order to better support your child on their quest of figuring out how they too “belong” in the world they’re experiencing.

One of the best ways you can support your child in their “belonging” quest is to take the time to fully connect with them, daily. In our parenting intensive classes we call it A Moment of True Connection. This is a time when you give your child 100% of your attention (see instructions below).

Seems simple enough, but my personal observation tells me different. It seems like everywhere I go I see parents with their faces buried in their devices while pushing the stroller, pushing their kid on the swing, or just standing there talking away while making it look like they are engaged. Know this, your kid knows different. They know you are not present. I watched one father, cell phone in hand – talking away, pulling his young son around the park on his bike for 15 to 20 minutes. Dad just kept on talking, never looking down to see if his kid was still there. And Junior? He had the look of, “what am I doing here?”  I know this is my judgement. I attempt to convince myself that not all parents unknowingly ignore their kids. I guess I just have to look harder.  I did just recently compliment a group of parents at our local playground – there was not a cellphone out among them – they were fully engaged with their kids as they swung back and forth on the swings giggling and laughing together.

A Moment of True Connection

Here’s the deal. Each and every time you’re with your child or she comes to you to tell you something, you have three choices:  ignore her, pretend to listen, or listen attentively.  When you listen attentively, you’re having a Moment of True Connection.  She gets 100% of your attention;  you’re not thinking about what to have for dinner, an issue at work, or the argument you just had with your spouse.  Moments of True Connection img147_10_1also work best when you’re at her level, looking directly into her eyes, touching her, and trying to feel what she’s feeling. These Moments are not times for lectures, advice or lessons.  They’re times for heart to heart, not head to head, communication. In other words you need to be listening and saying things like, “Wow, that is so great!” “I see. Tell me more.” “How do you feel about that?” “Hmmm. (while nodding your head).” “Can you teach me how to do that?”

It isn’t humanly possible for every conversation with your child to be a Moment of True Connection.  However, if you can arrange to have several of these moments each day, you’ll see a marked improvement in your relationship and you will witness your child feeling better about who they are and how they belong. Make it a priority to put whatever it is you are involved in aside for just that one moment. You’ll be so glad you did.

It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.

Keep asking yourself, “What is it that I don’t know?”, in your quest to becoming a more effective parent.

Are you taking your eye off the parenting-ball?

Can you find me and my dad? Click the pic.

It’s summertime and that means baseball – America’s pastime. I loved the times my dad and I played catch in our back yard. It was a great way for us to challenge each other and connect. I’ll never forget his mantra, “keep your eye on the ball,” whenever I would flub a grounder, drop a fly ball, or swing the bat with my eyes closed. “Don’t let yourself get distracted. Follow the ball into your glove. See your bat connecting with the ball”, he’d coach. When I followed his instructions, and kept my “eye-on-the-ball”, magic happened.

The same goes for parenting. Don’t let yourself become distracted from putting the relationship first. Follow that “parenting ball” all the way to your “parenting glove”. Parent with the end in mind.

Are you keeping your eye on the “parenting ball”?

There are so many distractions from doing the job of coaching your child to be a caring, responsible, and powerful human being. The media is filled with suggestions that sound great, but in reality may distract you from connecting in meaningful and emotionally intelligent ways.

Taking your eye “off the ball” with technology monitoring.

One area in which parents can be very distracted is in keeping tabs on, and controlling, their kid’s cellphone (device) activity. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take this lightly. Kids today have, in the palm of their hand, the power to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, 24/7. And in those young hands is also the potential to get into some serious trouble. In one of our parenting sessions, a father, who had not yet become fully aware of what is available on the internet, declared, “I wasn’t concerned before we started talking about it, but I am now. When I was a teenager my parents only had to worry about me and my brother hiding our newly acquired Playboy magazine.”  So true. It definitely feels like there is no more innocence remaining for our children.

There is hope.

There are apps that allow parents to monitor and control their child’s electronic life. Of course, one of the things about technology is that it upgrades in a seeming blink of an eye. It can become all-consuming of your time and energy to stay on top of it all. And you already have another full-time job, right?

So we encourage balance here. You can quickly lose sight of your original desire, which (we hope!) is a strong, trusting, relationship with your child, and supporting him in gaining the life skills and emotional intelligence required to feel confident in taking care of himself.

Don’t let yourself get distracted from the goal – a meaningful relationship.

From a coaching standpoint, I’d point out that in an attempt to keep your child safe, through monitoring and controlling, you can become so distracted in your efforts – looking for something inappropriate or questionable – that you begin to lose sight of the relationship.

Consider sexting. If you’ve seen on their device, or suspect, that they’ve sent or received explicit photos, approach it as a problem that YOU are struggling with (not something you’ve caught them doing that’s bad). Otherwise, they’ll become defensive, and you won’t communicate effectively. Ask for their help in solving your issue. It could go something like this:

You:  “I’m really worried and afraid about this whole sexting thing. Would you be willing to help me figure out how to best handle it? Are you comfortable with that?”

Child:  “Okay, I think so.”

You:  “I know that sexting is out there and I know that it is possible to receive such a message innocently. Have you ever received a sexting message?”

Child:  “No.” (many kids will say “No” first)

You:  “Okay. Good. But let’s pretend for minute here. How do you think you’d feel if you had received a sexting message from a friend?”

Child:  “I don’t know, kind of weird I guess. It’s hard for me to talk to you about this.”

You:  “It’s difficult for me too. I do know this, when I’m feeling not so good, or weird, about any action I’m taking, or thinking about taking, it’s my own inner guidance telling me that maybe I should rethink what I’m about to do? Does that make sense?”

Child: “Yeah, it does.”

You:  “Then that is the most I can ask of you, to tune in to how you’re feeling, because that is the best guidance you can ever have. What do you think?” (give your child a chance to say anything else about this)

You: “You’ve really helped me feel better about this whole issue. I feel that it’s my job to keep you safe while teaching you to keep yourself safe. I’m not always sure of the best ways to do that. Talking like this helps me a lot. Thanks.”

Child:  “It helps me too. It feels better when we talk it out.”

Stay focused on “how it feels” and what it means about him or her to participate or not. Share your own feelings and experiences around the issue.

Whatever you do, please, do not make it your life’s work to control all that your child is doing, because that’s when you’re “taking your eye off the ball.”  It’s when you’re attempting to control everything in your child’s life, that you miss the opportunity to create the magic in the relationship . . . closeness.

Remind yourself that control is only an illusion. However, you can have a direct, and positive, impact on your child. Knowing that your long term goal is for him to respect himself (and others) and take responsibility for his actions.

The more you can talk to your child about your issues while asking questions, and asking for his help, then listening, the more success you’ll have at keeping your eye on that “parenting ball”, following it all the way into your “relationship glove.”  Play ball!

Oh, and more more thing, if this issue is a hot topic in your family and you would like to learn how to better approach it, we would cover it more in depth in our Private Intensive Instruction.

Here are two resources for exploring internet use and monitoring. and

It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.

Keep asking yourself, “What is it that I don’t know?”, in your quest to becoming a more effective parent.

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