Responding to Poor Grades

By Dr. Charles Fay

The kids are back in school and it won’t be long before they start getting report cards. One of the most common questions I’m asked by parents and educators is how to respond to bad grades.

The first thing to remember is that the child’s report card is the child’s…not ours. While it’s easy to get down on ourselves when kids perform poorly, it’s very important to our mental health and theirs to remember the following:

We can’t learn for kids.

Continue reading Responding to Poor Grades

Cell Phones

By: Dr Charles Fay

More and more really good kids are getting in big trouble with cell phones.

Teachers are pulling their hair out over students who spend more time text messaging than learning. Some students are even using phones to take inappropriate pictures of test answers…and each other!

Teen drivers and cell phones create havoc…and death!

Parents are finding themselves in constant battles with their kids over huge cell phone bills, lost phones, stolen phones, damaged phones, phones being used at the dinner table and during church, phones being taken away at school, etc.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Be a good model. Don’t use your phone while driving, and show respect for others by turning it off when you should.
  • Let your child know that they can have a phone only when they can pay for the privilege.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of believing that your kid has to have a phone for safety reasons.
  • If the phone is lost, stolen, or taken away at school, it’s gone. Don’t buy them another.
  • Take it away if it becomes a problem.
While this advice may seem old-fashioned, parents who follow it raise far more respectful and responsible kids.

Want Your Child’s Teacher to Listen to You?

By Jim Fay

There was a problem on the playground during recess today. Even though it involved only some of the classmates, the entire class was punished with loss of recess for two days. Patty and Wanda were incensed.

“Most of us were being good! It’s just not fair for all of us to miss recess,” they told their mothers. “You need to call the teacher and make her change her mind,” they insisted.

Wanda’s mother went to the phone, and when the teacher answered said, “Punishing all the kids for what a few of them did just doesn’t make sense. You just need to handle this in a better way. Both Wanda and I think that this is totally unfair!”

Patty’s mother called the teacher and said, “I’d like to share what the girls have told me about the recess problem and get your thoughts on it.”

I bet you know which mother’s concerns the teacher was more receptive to hearing and accepting.

I visited with this teacher. She told me that Wanda’s mother called first and that she immediately found herself being defensive about the situation. The call didn’t go well. The conversation she had with Patty’s mom went better.

She went on to say, “I didn’t feel defensive at all when Patty’s mom called. I liked her opening statement so well that I’m going to be using it in the future when I have to call parents about a problem.”

What was that opening statement? “I’d like to share what I’ve been hearing and get your thoughts.” It’s a surefire way to keep the other person from feeling attacked.

Learn more of these techniques on our Audio CD, Putting Parents at Ease. It’s all about home/school communication techniques that work for both teachers and parents.

Gaining Wisdom and Resilience

By Jim Fay

Phil, a recent business school graduate, got his dream job. He did so well that he was invited to a retreat with the big shots of the company. Not only did he get to attend, but he also had a chance to rub elbows with the top man, the CEO of the company.

Almost jittery, he approached his idol, “Sir, I was told that I could ask you a question, and what I want to ask is what does it take to become as successful as you are?”
“Well, young man. Success like mine takes a whole series of good decisions.”
“Oh, sir, I’m sure that’s true, but what does it take to make those good decisions?”
“Well, here’s the hard part, son,” the older man responded with pride. “It takes wisdom.”
“Oh, thank you, sir. But that creates a burning question for me. How do you acquire such wisdom?”
“Bad decisions, son. It takes a whole lot of bad decisions. Wisdom comes from learning from your mistakes.”
Continue reading Gaining Wisdom and Resilience

Step Parenting: Shoud I Discipline the Kids or Not?

By Dr Charles Fay

To get a handle on what successful step-parents do, it’s helpful to first get a glimpse at what less successful ones try. I call the first well-intentioned yet doomed approach the “Wrecking Ball” step-parenting style. These folks take on the role of demolition expert in the family. They storm in with a crash, trying to rebuild every aspect of the kids’ behavior. Like drill sergeants, their favorite tools include lectures, threats, lots of new rules and plenty of micro-managing.

I call the second well-intentioned yet ineffective approach the “Refugee” step-parent style. Because they don’t want to step on any toes, these folks never really live in the home. Instead, they set up camp in the backyard. Peeking out of their tent screen, they watch the kids throw their daily refuse onto the lawn in front of them. Because they don’t want to insult the kids by trying to replace their “real” parent, these step-parents use no tools. They simply walk on eggshells, adopting an outsider, doormat role.

Successful step-parents obsessively follow the first rule of Love and Logic:
Take great care of yourself by setting limits without anger, lectures, threats, or repeated warnings.
Instead of trying to reconstruct through strict discipline…or walk on eggshells by remaining an outsider, they use Enforceable Statements to assertively describe how they will operate. Examples include:
  • I’ll listen when your voice is calm.
  • I’ll be happy to do the extra things I do for you when I feel respected.
  • I’ll get that for you when I see that you’ve finished your chores.
  • I argue at six o’clock on Saturday mornings.
  • I’ll let you know about that after I talk with your dad (or mom).
  • I’m fine with you having that as long as you have the money to pay for it.
For more ideas on setting limits with Enforceable Statements, study our CD, Love Me Enough to Set Some Limits.

Big Ears

By Jim Fay

Six-year-old Paul was at the family reunion when he asked his uncle if he could see the moths in his billfold.

“What do you mean?” asked Uncle Fred.

“My dad told my mom that you were so tight that if you ever opened your billfold, moths would fly out, and I want to watch,” replied Paul.

 We all know where Paul picked this up. Kids remember all the things they hear through eavesdropping, while they often don’t listen well to the things they are told directly.
Unfortunately, Paul has another problem. He has overheard his parents criticizing his teachers and the school. That could be the reason he believes that his bad grades are not the result of laziness, but because he doesn’t have to do what the stupid teacher says.

Regardless of how we feel about the school or the teacher, it is real bad business to say it where our kids can overhear it. Better we send a consistent message that achievement comes through hard work and listening to the teachers.

Study the DVD, “Hope for Underachieving Kids” to get practical techniques for helping your kids become top students.

The 48 Hour Test

By Jim Fay

Trish and Dad were walking through the mall when Trish spied the most “spectacular” pair of dark glasses.

“Oh, Dad. They’re perfect. They’re just what I need to complete my collection of eye-wear. I’ve got to have them, but I don’t have the money. Will you loan me some? Pleeeeze! I’ll pay you back.”

Dad knew that a loan to Trish was never a loan. In the past, asking for re-payment drew fits and sulking. With this in mind, he knew that he had only three choices:

Continue reading The 48 Hour Test

Battling Over Meals

By Dr Charles Fay

Have your kids ever twisted-up their faces and proclaimed something like, “I’m not eating that!” or “Yuck! I want something else!”? If your children are like most, you’ve experienced at least some challenges getting them to eat what you’d like them to eat. In many families, these challenges turn into a full-fledged war, turning meal times into epic battles.

Continue reading Battling Over Meals

Don’t Lose Your Status as a Role Model

By Jim Fay

Question: What is one of the primary ways that kids learn?

Answer: Modeling (subconscious imitation of adult behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes).

Question: Who becomes a model for kids?

Answer: A person they see as both strong and loving at the same time.

Continue reading Don’t Lose Your Status as a Role Model

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