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Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting

Five Strategies That End the Daily Battles and Get Kids to Listen the First Time

Noel Janis-Norton - Author

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ISBN 9780142196922 | 448 pages | 30 Apr 2013 | Plume | 5.35 x 7.99in | 18 - AND UP
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A simple yet revolutionary alternative to helicopter parenting and tiger moms

Tired of nagging, pleading, negotiating, or yelling just to get your kids to do the simple things you ask? There is a better way.

The best English import since Supernanny and an instant bestseller in the U.K., Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting brings the joy back into family life.

Based on her forty-plus years of experience, behavioral specialist Noël Janis-Norton outlines a clear, step-by-step plan that will help any parent raise a child who is cooperative and considerate, confident and self-reliant. Transform your family life with these five strategies: Descriptive Praise, Preparing for Success, Reflective Listening, Never Ask Twice and Rewards and Consequences. You’ll begin to see results almost immediately:
• Kids start cooperating the first time
• Mornings, bedtimes, mealtimes and homework all become easier
• Even very resistant kids start saying” yes” instead of “no” Full of examples and real stories from parents, this book gives you the complete tool-kit to achieve Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting.


“The instruction manual every parent should read” —Helena Bonham Carter


INTRODUCTION

Many years ago I was a new and inexperienced teacher, fresh out of teachers’ college at New York University. In my ?rst post I noticed that in some classrooms the children were shouting out, ?nding excuses to get out of their seats, throwing paper airplanes across the room as soon as the teacher’s back was turned, and ignoring the teacher’s repeated pleas for silence. But in other classrooms the pupils were sitting where they had been told; they were concentrating and learning—and smiling. Clearly they were enjoying school, and they were proud of what they were achieving.

I was in awe of the excellent teachers who were able to motivate and inspire. I could see that it was not a coincidence that these were also the teachers who were able to give an instruction and know that it would be carried out. Within my ?rst few days in the classroom I became painfully aware that my four years of teacher-training had taught me almost nothing about how to manage a classroom. I had learned a lot about how to teach, but the unspoken assumption of my professors had been that all I had to do was turn up, and I would be greeted by a classroom full of quiet, motivated children gazing up at me raptly with sunshiny faces, eager to soak up everything I could teach them.

I had assumed, without having given it much thought, that I would enjoy teaching and that I would be good at it. But I saw immediately that I just wasn’t equipped for reality. The pupils in this school did not automatically respect teachers. These children did not believe that it was their job to pay attention or do their best. So during my lunch hours in the staff room I listened carefully to the conversations of the seasoned veterans, hoping to learn the secrets of their success. I approached the teachers I admired and asked them how they managed to achieve such calm, focused classrooms.

One kindly teacher tried to reassure me: “Don’t worry, dear. In a few years you’ll get the hang of it.” This did not reassure me because I was worried that unless I ?gured out how to bring order to my classroom, I wouldn’t last a few years. One teacher, whom I frequently heard shouting at her unruly class, interrupted to give me this piece of advice: “These children! They’re animals! Don’t expect too much from them, and you won’t be disappointed.” I knew that couldn’t be right because there were a handful of teachers at the school who had earned the respect of their pupils. These teachers expected a great deal from their pupils, and they were not disappointed.

One teacher tried to explain: “You just have to show them you mean business.” This sounded promising, but it didn’t tell me how. Another teacher told me, “You have to show them you believe they can do good work.” This also sounded good, but once again, I didn’t know how. And another teacher told me, “You just have to let them know who’s boss.” When I asked the all-important how, I was told, “You just have to put your foot down.” I felt like asking, “Which foot?”

I realized that these excellent teachers had been good at their job for so many years that they no longer had to think about how they got the results they got. They just didn’t know how to put into words what they were doing that worked. So, sadly, they were not able to give me any useful advice.

That’s when I began carefully observing those teachers and taking detailed notes on what they did and how they did it, what they said and how they said it. From distilling and studying my notes I realized that it was not any intrinsic quality of a teacher that got the children to behave and want to learn, but certain techniques the teachers used. I ?gured I had nothing to lose, so I started using these same techniques with my class, even though I was not con?dent that I could pull it off. I hoped that with time and practice I would eventually start getting some good results.

To my intense delight, the techniques started working within days. When I started doing what those effective teachers did, the kids quickly responded to me as if I were one of those senior teachers I admired so much. Within weeks, not years as that teacher in the staff room had predicted, I started to feel con?dent that I could achieve what I set out to do.

I was amazed when other teachers started noticing. One teacher said, “Has Frank B. been absent recently? I haven’t had to scold him in assembly for a while,” and another teacher replied, “No, he hasn’t been absent. He’s just much quieter now. Noël’s working her magic on him.” Soon I found that teachers were asking me, a rank beginner, for advice on how to handle the dif? cult kids!

Then the parents started asking me for advice. They could see that I was able to get their little rebels to sit and listen and do their work in school, so surely I would know how to get them to do their homework or go to bed without a tantrum or do what they were told. I was ?attered to be asked, but as I had no children at the time I felt I had no useful advice to give these parents. All I could think of to say was, “This is what I’m doing in the classroom, and it’s working. Why not try it at home?” Within days, parents came back to me saying, “It works!”

That’s when I realized that a lot of parenting is really teaching, and that anyone can learn the techniques to become a more skilled teacher, and consequently a more skilled parent. I learned that the behaviors and habits that annoy or trouble us in our children can be improved, and in many cases completely erased, once we start thinking about each problem as a teaching opportunity.

As I continued working with children, and then with parents and teachers, I learned more and more about how to help children become more cooperative, con?dent, motivated, self-reliant, and considerate. My fascination with this subject led me to further study. And as a mother, stepparent, and foster parent (and now as a grandmother) I learned even more. Over the years I learned about the effects of temperament on behavior, and how children with extreme temperaments can be helped to develop more balanced responses. I learned that many children with behavior problems are suffering from subtle and often unrecognized learning dif?culties, and that addressing the learning problems always improves behavior and attitude. I learned that chronic stress undermines a parent’s best efforts, and what can be done to reduce stress. Gradually I put together into one comprehensive package all the techniques, skills, strategies, and principles that I could see worked. I call this method Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and Teaching.

Over time I went from advising parents at the school gates to giving seminars, courses, and lectures. My next step was opening a center for families. Then I put what I had learned into books and CDs and DVDs so that parents who did not live near London could bene?t from these techniques. As the word spread, I started to ?ll the need by training Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting practitioners who coach parents worldwide, in person or by telephone.

Parents always tell us that their biggest frustration is having to repeat instructions numerous times before their children listen and cooperate. As you read this book, you will see that the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting approach gives you a step-by-step method to solve this problem (and many other typical family problems). Using positive and respectful techniques, parents can guide children into the habit of cooperating the ?rst time and without a fuss most of the time.

In this book you will ?nd strategies that will transform many typical family issues—everything from homework and music practice and sibling rivalry to cleaning up and bedtimes and mealtimes. These strategies teach children to see themselves as capable, considerate, and worthy of appreciation. This method helps parents to feel more relaxed and more con? dent in their role as parents. And it makes family life signi? cantly calmer, easier, and happier.

In the forty years that I have been consulting with parents, I have never seen these techniques fail. It gives me great pleasure to share them with you now.



Section One

FIVE CORE STRATEGIES FOR CREATING A CALMER, EASIER, HAPPIER FAMILY LIFE

 

CHAPTER 1

WHAT MAKES MODERN PARENTING SO STRESSFUL, AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

Changing frustration to freedom

I used to regularly shout at my children around bedtime. And, like clockwork, as soon as they were finally asleep, I would slump onto the sofa, almost in tears, so frustrated and feeling bad about myself. It happened so many evenings. I would vow to be more patient and calm. What I didn’t realize back then was that I didn’t have a clue how to get them to do what I asked. So I was making a vow that I just couldn’t keep.

Now I have the tools so my children do cooperate most of the time. Life is calmer; I’m not spending time bargaining, negotiating, and shouting; and I actually have time to get some of the things done that I need to do!

Mother of three, ages 9, 7, and 4

When I’m talking to a roomful of parents, laughter always erupts when I say to them, “It would be a whole lot easier to be a parent if we didn’t have kids. They slow you down. They get in the way. They make a fuss while you’re trying to get something done.”

As parents, we can all identify with this. Our “to-do list” is pages long. Yet when we cradled our newborn in our arms and looked lovingly into his eyes, we didn’t think, “I can’t wait to hand you over to someone else so I can get on with all my tasks.” Of course we wanted to nurture and spend time with our child. We envisioned a life of calm and happy parenting.

But the reality is that many of us are juggling work, children’s schedules, volunteer commitments, managing household chores, et cetera. We have an agenda, and we’re constantly looking ahead to see what needs to get done. When our kids aren’t listening or doing what we ask, it is incredibly frustrating. We ?nd ourselves losing patience and feeling stressed because of all the hassle—the repeating, reminding, negotiating, and shouting we have to do to get our kids to do all the things that need to be done each day!

Does this sound familiar? It may be that you’ve picked up this book because you are at your wits’ end from dealing with whining, de?ance, tantrums, and disrespect or with mealtime, bedtime, or homework battles. It may be that one of your children has a relatively more extreme temperament—more sensitive, more intense, and more in?exible—and you are at a loss as to how to parent this child. It may be that the problems you are dealing with are quite mild, and you just want to learn positive and effective strategies to help you be the best parent you can be. Maybe your child has a diagnosed special need and you want to know how to bring out the best in him.

This book is for all of you. In this book I will give you speci? c strategies and skills to signi?cantly improve cooperation and all the other habits that you want your child to develop. I will share with you ways to make the job of parenting calmer, easier, and happier.

The unique challenges that modern parents face

Why is parenting more stressful today, and what makes our to-do lists so long? Certainly being a parent in modern times presents new and different challenges from those our parents faced. Parents experience more stress today for a variety of reasons.

Most of us don’t have extended family living nearby to support us. There is pressure on parents to ful?ll an impossible number of roles, especially in families with two working parents—an ever-increasing percentage. With parents working longer and longer hours, tasks such as food shopping, cleaning, and cooking are increasingly experienced as hurried and stressful.

Modern telecommunications have made it almost impossible for parents to completely switch off. Cell phones and the Internet have crept into every corner of our lives—our homes, our cars, our purses, our pockets, and attached to our ears. On the one hand, technology makes our lives easier, and on the other hand, the communication and the pressure to respond are coming at us 24/7!

Another role that affects our stress level is that of “family taxi driver.” The number of enriching activities kids have available to them today is staggering, and it starts in infancy! This is an enormous shift from our parents’ generation. Everything begins earlier for kids today: football, ballet, music lessons, and even yoga can all start by age three or younger! This presents opportunity, but also stress. We want to expose our children to lots of wonderful experiences, so we are enticed by all these enriching programs. Then, as much as our child may enjoy the activity, we end up in the role of chauffeur. All this carting them back and forth in traf?c to classes and matches plays havoc with our patience and raises our stress level. We ?nd ourselves overscheduled right alongside our children.

The perceived threat of “stranger danger” has also drastically changed how children play and consequently our job description. In addition to our other roles, we’ve also become “entertainment directors.” It used to be that when kids came home from school, they had a snack, and then they were out the door. Parents had time to get things done while the children were out with the neighborhood kids, exploring, playing hide-and-seek, climbing trees, et cetera. Kids didn’t come home until supper. Homework either didn’t exist or was so minimal that it wasn’t even on parents’ radar screens. Our parents didn’t worry about sexual predators, so kids had the freedom to explore. Now kids are playing at home more, pleading for more screen time, exercising less, wanting us to play with them or to drive them to playdates.

Given the challenges facing modern parents, it is no wonder that we feel so stressed and are driven to nagging, threatening, criticizing, and shouting to try to make sure everything gets done that needs to get done every day. It’s unlikely that any of these stressors will be going away, so it’s up to us to ?nd ways to reduce family stress and to guide our children to become more cooperative so that parenting can be calmer, easier, and happier.

Parenting: The job with no training

Parenting is the most important job there is. But it’s a job for which no training is generally given beyond childbirth classes. How can it be that a job as diverse and demanding as raising children can come without training? This isn’t a management job we can just quit when it’s hard and our employees are annoying us! Parenting is a job we have to get up and go to every day without pay. Of course it’s also a job that can be incredibly rewarding. And we ?nd the job of parenting the most rewarding when we feel con?dent that the way we are parenting is positively impacting our children.

When we became parents, we were suddenly thrown into the role of educators. Most of us didn’t go to school to become teachers, yet this is the job we perform every day with our children. In fact, teaching is our main job. I’m not talking about teaching academic subjects. I’m talking about teaching our children the habits, skills, and values that we believe are important and right. But how do we effectively teach and train our children in the habits that are important to us?

How we learn to parent

So, since there’s no job training for being a parent, how do we learn how to parent? Most of us probably parent the way we were parented. Louise, a mother who attended my seminars, shared how her mother dealt with sibling ?ghting. Louise said her mother’s infamous threat was always, “If you kids don’t stop ?ghting, I’m going to knock your three heads together!” Louise and her siblings were always puzzled about the speci?cs of how their mother would actually accomplish such a task, which, thankfully, she never attempted. But what drove her mother to make this empty threat? Extreme annoyance with the sibling squabbles, probably. No doubt, Louise’s mother had learned this threatening tactic from her own mother, and, in the absence of any other parenting tools she knew of, she said it to her own children, regardless of whether it worked. If Louise had not learned the skills of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, she would probably be using similarly ineffective threatening techniques with her own children today!

The training most parents seek

When you decided to have a baby, you probably prepared yourself for the pregnancy and birth in many ways. Maybe you took classes to prepare for childbirth and the challenges of newborn parenting. You probably read all about the baby’s developmental stages. And if you had trouble getting your baby to sleep, you might have consulted books about how to get your child to sleep through the night. And that’s where the training ends for most of us. So that takes you up to your child’s first birthday. The training is over. You’re on your own now for the next seventeen years, thanks very much!

The training parents really need

So eighteen months pass, and now you have a darling toddler— most of the time. You also happen to have a toddler who throws tantrums, tosses his food on the ?oor, and ? ghts you over getting into his car seat. Help! Your toddler becomes two-and-a-half and suddenly everything is “No!” He won’t stay in his chair to eat. You can’t change his diaper without straddling him. He’s started hitting the new baby. Help! Between the ages of three and ?ve your strong-willed daughter becomes increasingly de?ant, whining and resisting so much that you’re ready to lose your mind. She dawdles endlessly about getting dressed so your mornings always feel rushed. Bedtime has become a nightly battle. Help! Between the ages of ?ve and ten your son begins to tune you out, and you ?nd yourself endlessly repeating and reminding. Your stress level grows. Help! And then come the teenage years. Help!

Lack of cooperation is very stressful!

Parents generally show up at my seminars desperate for more effective ways to reduce misbehavior and to improve listening and cooperation. Parents realize that what they are doing isn’t working, but they are not sure how to get their kids to do what they are told. The father in the following story had an especially challenging three-year-old, Katie.

Headstrong and defiant

Our first child, Thomas, had a sensitive temperament, but he was basically cooperative. Then we had Katie, and everything changed. By age two, she was headstrong and defiant, and my wife and I were pulling out our hair trying to figure out how to get her to do the things we needed her to do each day. She would resist by crying, throwing tantrums, and biting.

At age three she became more physical. The final straw was when she was at the supermarket with my wife. Katie got frustrated because my wife made her put something back on a shelf that she wanted. Katie expressed her frustration by actually biting my wife on the bottom in the supermarket.

A few days later we had a friend visiting, and she commented on a picture of Katie that she saw on the wall, mentioning how cute she was. I told her that there are only two times when Katie is cute. She’s cute in pictures, and she’s cute when she’s sleeping!

Father of two, ages 6 and 3

This is how a lack of cooperation can make us feel about these little human beings that we couldn’t wait to bring into the world. Does it mean we love them less? No. But liking our children and wanting to be with them are equally important, and it’s no fun spending time with an uncooperative child. The good news is that there are many simple and effective tools you can quickly learn that will help you develop cooperative children—at all ages. When you practice using these techniques, you can move from repeating and reminding and shouting to never having to ask twice, and you can achieve this miraculous transformation in a remarkably short period of time.

A tale of two boys

Let’s look at two very different snapshots of what mornings were like for a ?ve-year-old boy named Jimmy. The ?rst scenario illustrates what can happen when a child isn’t yet in the habit of doing what he’s asked to do in the mornings. The second scenario shows what mornings can be like for this same boy after his parents have been putting the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting skills into practice. Of course, Jimmy’s mother loves him very much in both the before and after versions, and, of course, she’s doing the best she can to try to get him into good habits. In the ?rst scenario, she simply didn’t realize that the way she was reacting was contributing to Jimmy’s dawdling and to his uncooperative behavior. Once this mother learned more effective strategies and started doing things differently, she saw that she could communicate in a way that makes Jimmy feel good and helps him want to do the right thing.

Uncooperative Jimmy’s bad morning

“Jimmy! You’re still in bed? It’s time to get up—we’re going to be late for school!”

Ten minutes later his mother goes back into his room. He has his socks on and nothing else. “You’ve been up for ten minutes and you only have your socks on? What have you been doing all this time? You’ve got to hurry now, and don’t forget to make your bed.”

Five minutes later his mother returns, and by now Jimmy’s got his underwear on, but he’s playing with some toy cars. Her frustration grows. “You’re playing with your cars? You know this is getting dressed time, not playing time.” “But Mom, I never get to play!” Jimmy’s mother starts helping to dress him because it’s faster and she’s worried about being late. She gives up on the idea of his bed getting made today.

Jimmy comes into the kitchen and sits down to eat his breakfast. He gets up from the table several times during breakfast to play with the dog, to find a toy, and to tease his sister. “Jimmy, sit down and eat. If you get up from the table one more time, breakfast is over.” Jimmy gets up again. “Jimmy, I mean it.” Jimmy gets up again. “Okay, that’s the last warning. If you get up again, I’ll take away your TV time after school.”

Jimmy finishes his breakfast and leaves the table. “Jimmy, you forgot to clear your dishes again! We talked about this yesterday.” Jimmy whines and complains. “Why do I have to? Polly doesn’t have to.” “Polly’s too little. Act like a big boy and set an example for your sister. Don’t argue with me.” He reluctantly comes back and clears his dishes, kicking his sister’s chair along the way.

“Come on, we’ve got to hurry and brush your teeth.” Jimmy slowly walks to the bathroom and brushes his teeth for about ten seconds. “Okay, run and get your shoes on so we won’t be late for school!” Jimmy slowly walks to where his shoes are. His mother ties his shoes for him, even though he knows how, and helps him into his jacket, even though he can do it himself, because they are running late.

They leave the house in a rush. Jimmy is silent in the car, and his mother is feeling annoyed and stressed, as she does most mornings. When they get to school, she drops him off and says, “Have a great day!”

Parents tell me that once their children are at school, the most stressful part of their day is over. They are exhausted by nine a.m.! For the ?rst two hours of their day, they’ve been trying to get a seemingly immovable object to complete all the necessary morning tasks. But the children are ignoring instructions, dawdling, and misbehaving. And when we try to get them to hurry up, they seem to go even slower.

We may become impatient and resort to nagging, repeating, threatening, and shouting. Lack of cooperation brings out the worst in us. And even if we can see that our annoyed reactions aren’t helping to achieve cooperation, often we don’t know what else to do. In order for us to break this endless cycle of repeating and reminding, we have to do something different to get a different result. We have to communicate differently with our children so they are motivated to do what we ask.

Let’s fast forward. Jimmy’s parents have been using the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting strategies, so now he does what he needs to do in the morning, most of it without even having to be reminded.

Cooperative Jimmy’s good morning

Jimmy is awakened by an alarm that he himself set the night before. He gets out of bed, turns off the alarm, puts on the clothes that he laid out the night before, and makes his bed. When his mother comes into his room, she gives Jimmy a hug and a big smile. Jimmy smiles and hugs her back. She notices what he’s already accomplished and mentions it: “Jimmy, you’re remembering to do so many things in the mornings. You’re getting up to your own alarm, you’re getting dressed without anybody helping you, and today you made your bed without my reminding you! You’re becoming very self-reliant.”

Jimmy comes downstairs and does his morning chores. At breakfast, Jimmy eats without getting up from the table, sings a silly song with his little sister, clears his bowl without being asked, and puts it in the dishwasher. His mother notices this and comments that he’s helping to keep the kitchen tidy. She also mentions that because he did all his chores without being reminded, he’s on track to earn his computer time that evening after his homework is done.

His mother asks him to come to the bathroom for teeth brushing, and he willingly brushes his teeth. He brushes his hair too quickly, missing a part at the back. “There’s one bit of your hair that looks like it still needs brushing.” He looks in the mirror, finds the part that’s sticking up, and brushes it. His mother says, “You got that part to lie flat.”

He then goes and puts on his shoes and ties them himself. He’s ready for school a bit early, so he has some time to play with his cars. Mother and son are ready to leave the apartment when she notices that he doesn’t have his backpack. She doesn’t get annoyed; she just gives him a little clue. “Jimmy, there’s still something to remember that you’ll need for school.” Jimmy looks around and sees his backpack and runs back for it.

They leave early enough to get to school on time. They chat during the drive, and they arrive a bit early so he can play with his friends on the playground. They say good-bye and hug briefly. His mother gives him a big smile and says she’s looking forward to seeing him after school.

Perhaps this second scenario sounds far too good to be true, but it is entirely achievable when parents are equipped with the right tools. Imagine how much calmer we could be in the mornings if we had this level of cooperation and self-reliance from our children! We could easily accomplish our morning tasks, we wouldn’t feel annoyed or frustrated, and we would actually have time to enjoy our children. Thousands of families who practice the strategies have experienced this transformation.

How our behavior affects our kids

Let’s think about the cooperative Jimmy. He’s getting positive attention from his parents for being self-reliant and cooperative. He’s getting smiles and hugs instead of annoyance. He’s hearing all about what he is doing right instead of criticism about what he’s not doing. He’s developing con?dence because he’s doing so many things for himself. He’s proud of himself. He is rewarded for his behavior with extra playtime and relaxed, unstressed parents. He starts his school day feeling con?dent.

On the other hand, the uncooperative Jimmy is only hearing about what he’s doing wrong from the moment he wakes up until he gets to school. Instead of smiles, he gets annoyed looks. He sees himself as someone who does things wrong and forgets everything because that’s what he hears most days. Of course he starts to tune his parents out because it seems like all they ever do is nag and threaten. He stops looking his parents in the eye because it’s no fun being scolded. Because Jimmy is not being required to do what he is capable of doing, he is not getting the opportunity to grow in con?dence. He resents his little sister because she gets to be the baby—where’s the fun in being older? He feels like there’s nothing he can do to please his parents. He starts his school day feeling de?ated.

I’ve painted two scenarios that may seem extreme because I want to make a point. But for many families, the ?rst scenario is not all that extreme! Many of us recognize our kids and ourselves as we read about the ?rst Jimmy. Maybe we’ve nagged and shouted and done too much for our children. Maybe we’ve gone further and even smacked our kids out of frustration with the lack of cooperation. The two scenarios illustrate how our communication affects our children. We want cooperative, con?dent, and self-reliant children, and when we’re not getting that, we feel frustrated and angry.

I’ve included these before and after scenarios to help parents understand that what we say and do either helps our children achieve the habits we want or unintentionally robs them of the opportunity to develop those habits. The well-behaved Jimmy wasn’t born that cooperative and self-reliant. He developed those habits because his parents had learned how to motivate him to want to be cooperative and self-reliant. They had learned simple proactive strategies to help prevent most behavior problems.

If you have a child who is older, perhaps eleven to thirteen, the type of uncooperative morning behavior you are faced with may be different. Your preteen or teen might moan or talk disrespectfully, “I’m too tired to get up—you’re always on my case.” It’s easy to get sucked into an argument about why she’s tired and what she needs to do: “Well, if you didn’t stay up so late texting your friends, you wouldn’t be so tired and grumpy. If you don’t get up now, you’ll make us all late. Don’t be sel?sh.”

As understandable as that kind of reaction may be, arguing isn’t how we want our child’s day (or our day) to begin, and it won’t motivate her to get into better habits. The proactive strategies I’ll be sharing with you will. I know many thirteen-year-olds who get up to an alarm, make their bed, greet their parents with warmth and respect, practice their instrument before school, and even do a few morning chores with no prompting from their parents. It is achievable.

Every family can make the transformation from a typically stressed household to a calmer, easier, happier household. It’s never too late, even if your children are already teenagers.

Who this book is for, and how to use it

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, or a professional working with children and families, I’ve written this book for you. The strategies I’ll be sharing will bring out the very best in children—and in you! Whether you want to know how to deal effectively with major misbehavior or minor misbehavior or anything in between, you’ll ?nd speci?c strategies in this book. These strategies are effective with all children, including children with more extreme temperaments or with diagnosed special needs.

My primary goal is for this to be a “how to” book that you will refer to for a lifetime of parenting. The strategies I’ll be sharing are so essential for improving cooperation and reducing family con?ict and stress that once you start practicing them, you’ll never want to go back to the old ways! These are strategies you will use every single day with your children, all day long. All of the skills are positive, all are practical, and the bottom line is—they work. I’ve never seen these strategies fail in the forty years I’ve been coaching families. I’ll measure the success of this book by how dog-eared, bent, stained, highlighted, and marked up it becomes. A book that’s well used is the greatest compliment I could receive.

Although this book is primarily written for parents with children ages three to thirteen, all the strategies will work for teenagers as well. Your delivery may need to be altered slightly for your “cool teen,” and some of the issues will be different, of course. But the core strategies I’ll be sharing in this book are essential to help bring out the best in teens too.

I have two strong recommendations. The ?rst is that you read this with your partner, if you have one, and that you discuss the strategies together. The strategies will be much more effective if you are being consistent and both following them. My second recommendation is that you start at the beginning and read this book from beginning to end. Now I know that I have no control over how you read it, but I can beg! There’s a very speci?c reason the book is organized the way it is. You’ll have much more success, and see bigger improvements in your children’s behavior, if you read the chapters and practice the strategies in the order I’ve given them.

Of course it’s natural to want to jump right to the chapters that talk about how to stop misbehavior. Here’s the problem: If you start with consequences and how to stop misbehavior, it won’t result in less misbehavior. It may help you stop whatever is going wrong more quickly than you are able to now, but it will not do anything to prevent it from happening again. You’ll be caught in a crisis-management cycle.

If your goal is to have less misbehavior, start at the beginning. Chapter 2 will explain what Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting is and why it is so effective. Then read the rest of Section One in order. Each chapter explains one core strategy in depth, giving many examples. You will also read real stories from real parents about how they overcame behavioral challenges by using that speci?c strategy.

At the end of each chapter, you have an Action Plan to help you put the new strategy into practice successfully. And, at that point, I recommend that you set the book down and practice that strategy for two weeks (but keep the book close by for reference!).

As you learn the next strategy, you’ll be able to combine it with the previous one. Each chapter will expand upon the last, and the examples and case studies will not make sense without an understanding of the strategies that came before. These strategies all work together to create Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting.

When you learn how to motivate your child to want to listen to you and cooperate, and when you learn a few simple strategies that prevent most misbehavior from happening in the ?rst place, you’ll understand better the chapters that deal with misbehavior.

The second section of the book will give you a road map for using all the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting strategies and skills to effectively tackle what we call the typical family ? ash-points. These are the times of day and the issues that tend to be the most problematic. I encourage you to wait to read Section Two until after you’ve been practicing the core strategies of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting. That way you will have the tools you’ll need to improve the ?ashpoints that you ? nd challenging.

Many parents return to our classes and our support materials again and again, so expect to keep referring to this book as you’re learning these strategies! This book will become your new support network.

Thank you for seeking out this resource. I am passionate about helping parents put these skills and strategies into practice successfully. You can achieve Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, and with this book you’ve got the tools to do it.




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