Reading . . . the key to many “doors”.

The Foundational Skill for Success
In Anything

With September comes the start of the school year.  Even though it means the end to free time, the feel of the warm sun on the face, and fun times at the beach, there are many kids who look forward to returning to school and the challenges of learning.  There are also those who don’t necessarily look forward to the rigors of the educational experience.

I was one such “student”.  Why?  Because in the third grade I was labeled a “slow reader” and no matter what I did, it seemed like I was always just a step behind.  Thus, my enthusiasm for reading wasn’t all that great because I felt I wasn’t any good at it.  Reading was a labor for me, and not one of love.  Even today it haunts me.  My wife, Kathleen, will say, “Honey, I have something I’d like you to read.”  My programmed response, “How long is it?”

On some level I still drag that anchor of “slow reader” around a bit.  I eventually made a decision to focus on improving my reading ability, and read 100 books in one year.  It helped a bit being stationed on an island that experienced frequent foul weather.  I haven’t stopped reading since.  I went on to get my degree in engineering (talk about boring, dry material . . . it doesn’t get much worse than that), plus I explored additional fields of study, as well as teaching.

My point is this – reading is the foundational skill for all learning, for all success.  If your child is having difficulty with reading, they need help and understanding.  It’s essential that you, their parent, be a calm and supportive advocate for them.  Learning to read is not like learning to speak.  Reading must be taught.   For an excellent resource on teaching the skill of reading, for both parents and teachers, go to Reading Matters to Maine.

My two daughters started in the public school system, were homeschooled during their junior high years, and then attended an independent high school in Vermont.  The one thing their mother and I encouraged continuously was reading.  Reading solo, out loud and, as a family.  I also attempted to get them excited about math but didn’t get very far.  I finally realized that very few of us develop a love for math. Differential calculus will not balance your checkbook, but addition, subtraction, and the use of a calculator will!

We were very fortunate that both girls learned to read relatively easily.  But what about the kid, like “moi”, who doesn’t?  What do you do then?

When we were just starting to think about homeschooling the girls, I found a jewel at the library, Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax.  The authors explained how they arrived at their decision to home school, while I gained a better understanding of education in general.  Impactful for me was Micki’s questioning the system of “age appropriate curriculum” and how it may create a disastrous learning experience.

Their youngest child had reached the age of ten and had not yet learned to read.  (note: both David and Micki are educators and know the value of reading)  But there was something in Micki that kept telling her to be patient . . . no matter how much outside pressure she felt.  Well, one day, the non-reader child, with excitement and curiosity, brought home an Indian arrowhead he found on their property. Perfect opportunity!  She whisked him off to the library to find a book on arrowheads.  Within a year he was reading at better than eighth grade level.

I’m a champion for reading.  It’s the key for all doors.

If your child is struggling with reading, ask him how he feels about it.  Then ask how he’d like it to be different.  And finally ask how he’d like you to help.

And make sure you take time to read together.

With patience, education, and practice, you will become a more confident and effective parent.

And remember . . . It’s ALL about the relationship.


The happiest mums in the world?

Thanks to Abby, one of Results Parenting’s advisers,
who sent this BBC News 
story to us.

Check out what expectant mothers get in Finland.

To receive one of these awesome Maternity Boxes, you have to get to the doctor or health clinic before your 4th month.  Obviously, the whole program — now 75 years old — was put in place to reduce infant mortality.

When I first looked at this, I could feel how much fun it would be to get my box!  Like a baby shower for every mom-to-be — regardless of means.

I felt that babies in Finland were of utmost importance.  Fabulous!

Surely, many would comment on the bureaucracy and tons of government issues that must be present in Finland.

But I just wanted to share this concept of the maternity box . . . “Uniting generations of women”.

After you read this article, please leave a comment below.  I’d LOVE to hear what you think!

Teaching leadership to children

The author of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, said that leadership is “. . . the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal”.

So, IS there a way to teach this art of persuasion?

You bet.  You must

provide your child with opportunities to practice being the leader.

Here’s how one mom found an opportunity for her 5-year-old. Whenever they got into the car, the battle would begin about putting on his seat belt.

She decided to make him the SEAT BELT MONITOR.  She told him she felt bad about the arguments they had about the whole thing, and asked him if he’d be willing to help her with “her problem”.

As the SEAT BELT MONITOR, he’d be responsible for making sure everyone in the car had their seat belt on before the car could move.

He agreed.  Now, as Mr. Seat Belt Monitor, he was practicing being a leader.

Family Meetings hold another opportunity to practice leadership.

They’re a great way to solve problems, or plan a family adventure.

And even very young kids can learn to lead a Family Meeting.

The leader makes sure agenda items are covered, and that all family members get a turn to speak.

Encourage your child to pick the spot for a picnic.  Where to go out to eat.  When and how to clean the car.  She’ll learn how it feels — and what it takes — to be in that leadership role.  And she’ll learn how to follow, as leadership shifts to others.

If this has been valuable to you, please share with others, and encourage them to sign up to receive your free copy of End the Struggle and our  newsletter Results.

We’d love to hear what creative things you’ve done in your home to provide opportunities for your child to practice leading.  Please tell us all about it below.

Setting Limits

Have you ever felt like the PROVERBIAL DOORMAT ?

At work? With your partner or spouse?  With your children?  When YOU were a kid?

It’s because you weren’t taking care of yourself by SETTING LIMITS.

Limits are important because . . .

  • You respect yourself

  • You eliminate most reasons to resent others

  • You show caring for others

  • You communicate what you expect

  • You model for others how to respect themselves

I know . . . easier said than done, right?

 Setting Limits can feel uncomfortable — or even impossible —  because . . .

  •  You feel guilty
  • Asking for what you want is just selfish.

  • It’s futile and you’ll just “cave” the next time

  • You want to be “nice” and cooperative, and have others like you

  • You’re afraid of conflict.  God forbid someone gets upset or mad at you.

  • You want to look like the “good” or flexible person (as compared to the other one)

  • As a kid, your boundaries we not respected . . . or were violated.

Ignoring an issue with someone will NOT MAKE IT GO AWAY.  It might even make it worse.

You can waste tons of time and energy. . . endlessly going over someone’s disrespectful behavior toward you.  Don’t make excuses for their actions, either!

“Grow a pair”!  Be courageous and take charge!

 The steps for SETTING LIMITS:

  • Honor your feelings.  Feeling BAD about something that’s happened is great because now it’s got your attention!  You want something different here.

  • Get real clear about what you want.  About what you’re willing to do, and what you’re not willing to do.

  • Find a good time to get with the other person, then use an “I” statement.
    Say, “I want. . .”, or “I feel. . .”, etc.  This is about you owning where you are,  and not about blaming, shaming, laying on guilt, exaggerating, complaining, or making the other person wrong. Do this step ASAP to prevent becoming unnecessarily resentful!

  • Stick to your guns.  Be consistent and follow through.  Don’t be “all talk” and “no action”.

You now have a plan . . . so figure out where you most want to set limits . . . and get to it!

Results Parenting teaches how to set limits.  To become more skilled in doing this, look at our Parenting Training and Coaching program.  We can help you with your relationships with your kids, and with adults.  (Adults are just big kids)

Please leave your comments below.

Take the No Tablet, No Smartphone Challenge

Recently, Ross and I decided to spend one day a week without our technology.

Know what?  It’s turned out really great!  Felt weird not to text, or google, or check email. But  the rewards of doing this were astounding.  We’ve had such fun together!

The complaints about kids looking down at their smartphones seem to be growing.  It’s hard to blame them.  I do it too!

And if you’re one of the frustrated parents constantly competing with devices . . .

take the no-tech challenge!  As a family!  Just for one day!!

Pick a Saturday or Sunday, plan a hike or bike, beach or lake adventure.  Plan the day’s meals, play some games, read a book out loud together.  This is about time TOGETHER.  To talk, to have fun.  To connect with each other.

Without the tablets, laptops, and smartphones.

You might get bigtime resistance from your child!

You might hear, “NO WAY! I can’t do without my tablet for a day!”

Instead of engaging in a power struggle (where one of you WILL be the loser) . . . here’s an opportunity to practice win-win negotiating!

You can calmly say, “I hear that you feel strongly about having your smartphone all the time.  And I want you to win.  I really want to do this as a family.   If I give up what I want, then I lose.  I want to win, too.  So, how can we BOTH win?”

Then, with your child, come up with creative possibilities .   Such as:

  • next Saturday would be a better day because . . . .
  • how about just part of one day?

  • can I have a friend over for the day? then, I won’t be texting her.

  • how about not having my tablet, but keeping my smartphone?

  • how about just you two (parents) do this?

  • we could try it out during meal time.

  • how about no devices when we’re in the car?

  • (OK. Keep going. . .you both can think of more creative options)

Then pick one solution YOU BOTH can live with.

So, what if the only solution your child can live with is “How about just you two (parents) do this”?

If it’s real clear that — no matter how hard you try — you’re not gonna get agreement, consider just you and your spouse doing it.

This is not about giving in.  It’s about choosing your battles.

Your child might need to see that you can survive this crazy experiment for one day!

After you’ve done the challenge, please tell us about it below.  And . . . if this has been valuable to you, please invite your friends to visit our site!