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Category Archives: Communication Skills

“Can I Kiss You?”

A simple question.

There are so many reasons that we don’t ask it.

The news is FILLED with accusations of sexual assault – from inappropriate touch, to underage ‘dating’ by older men, to well…. you know if you’ve listened to the news…Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Roy Moore….and that’s just in the past week.


It seems an overwhelming topic.

Who wants to consider that YOUR SON could become one of “those people”?!

I attended a standing-room-only event last night, hosted by 13-year-old Irie Page, who wanted to do something different to celebrate her 14th birthday (kids are amazing, I tell ya).

She invited Mike Domirtz of the DATE SAFE PROJECT to come to Portland. She fund-raised the entire speaking fee of $6500 and reached out for support from local resources including Portland State University, who hosted this event attended by nearly 500 people.  So cool, right?

Some take-aways:

We talk about consent.

But what does “giving consent” actually mean?

CONSENT is NOT permission.

ASKING is only the first step towards seeking consent.  It is NOT CONSENT until you have a YES.  That “YES” must be mutual – and be enthusiastically given.  Then you have consent (and doesn’t that feel good?! – no ambiguity.)

“Can I Kiss You?” is the first step towards consent.

Seems simple, right?

According to Mike, we must teach our kids to ask. And answer.

What if that answer is NO?

We’ve been taught that saying no is MEAN.  (And all of those women who are coming out now, somehow knew that saying no would jeopardize their jobs or their families.)  We must teach our kids early that they have every right to say no.

Mike suggests the no answer can be as simple as, “No, but thank you for asking.”  He reminded that we do not need to explain or justify the no.

The person who asked can respond with, “I’m glad I asked. The last thing I’d want to do is make you feel uncomfortable.”

An honest, simple interaction that is consensual or not but respectful either way.


All of the incidents that are coming to light from Hollywood, politics, and sports had a classic power disparity.

>>Look at the ways you imply your power over your child when he is saying no. Do you cajole him to give grandma a hug even when he is reluctant?  Do you require night-night kisses and hugs for visiting aunts and uncles?

>>MODEL CONSENT for your child.  Ask your child and your partner if you can give them a hug or a kiss before swooping in.  Let your children HEAR YOU saying yes to your partner and let them hear you saying no, too.

>>As I write this, I think about the times I was tickled unmercifully by my siblings – it was fun but there was a point where it crossed the line into “this isn’t fun anymore,” and I wanted it to stop.

>>Begin to notice times when your child wants to say no but maybe isn’t able to communicate that clearly or isn’t being listened to.

THIS IS HOW LEARNING CONSENT BEGINS and it must be practiced – and talked about – early and often.

If you’re wondering how to begin – let’s talk. CLICK HERE to schedule a complimentary call with me.


What to Do About ‘Wired’ Boys

I was recently introduced to the book, Wired to Move: Facts and Strategies for Nurturing Boys in an Early Childhood Setting by Ruth Hanford Morhard. She does amazing work as Ruth Reid & Company, consulting with Starting Point in Cleveland, Ohio.
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Whether you are parenting or teaching young children or older children, I think you’ll find great value in what she has to share! Thanks Ruth!


What to Do about “Wired” Boys!

by Ruth Hanford Morhard

Recent media stories in the New York Times and NBC talked about fidgety boys who are struggling in school, noting the huge gap in behavioral skills and performance between young girls and boys entering kindergarten—a gap that continues to grow throughout their school years.

The Times article noted, “today’s education system fails to acknowledge the profound differences between boys and girls. It asks boys to sit still for hours and provides them with too few role models in front of the classroom.”

This is an issue that can be addressed early—through simple changes in preschool classrooms and teaching methods—and that parents, too, can use at home to help boys perform—and behave—at their best.

• Why Boys Are Fidgety
Sure, boys are “fidgety”, and there are good reasons why. It begins with the way their brains are wired. Boys are “wired to move.” When a boy is physically active, his brain is active. If his brain is not stimulated, he tunes out. He’s not built to sit and listen for a long time. His attention span and learning ability are directly tied to movement and activity. While there are many other differences in boys’ and girls’ brains, this is perhaps the most significant.

• Why Girls Generally Do Better
Girls’ verbal and listening skills are normally better developed than boys’, and they’re more adaptable to change. Most early childhood programs are geared to the ways girls’ learn. The teachers and caregivers are female and more attuned to the ways girls learn and behave. They expect boys to sit still, listen and follow directions—but they’re not made that way. They learn differently and our teachers need to adapt.

• How to Engage Boys
It’s important to keep boys’ brains awake. Allow enough time for physical activity and incorporate movement into daily routines. If you’re reading a book, let them act out the characters or pretend they’re flying like the airplane in the story. Alternate quiet and physically active times. If they need to sit quietly, give them a squeeze ball or other object to manipulate. And keep verbal instructions to less than a minute.

• How to Help Boys Learn
Boys learn best by doing—so let them learn their ABC’s and numbers by manipulating objects—have them make ABCs out of clay or count objects like coins or blocks or crayons. Give them puzzles to put together. Boys are also visual learners—they see better than they hear—so display pictures of the things they’re learning about and use the bright colors they respond to best. Build on their strengths—like spatial-mechanical abilities. Give them enough blocks so they can make large objects and have lots of balls of different sizes

• What About Behavior?
When boys don’t sit and listen or when they won’t stop running and jumping and wrestling with one another, it’s easy to think that’s bad behavior. It’s not. They’re just doing what boys do. If they’re forced to sit quietly, they get frustrated and act out. They need time and space to get physical both indoors and outdoors.

Adapting to the way boys’ learn benefits the boys, their teachers, caregivers, parents and even the girls. Everyone benefits from a less disruptive environment.

There’s a lot more to learn about helping boys perform and behave at their best. It’s important to their future–and ours. Check out: Wired to Move: Facts and Strategies for Nurturing Boys in an Early Childhood Setting, available at booksellers everywhere. And if you’re in the Ohio area, check out: Starting

If you need strategies for your ‘wired’ boy, schedule a 20-minute complementary discovery call with Janet here.

And you aren’t alone!  Join us on Facebook:

“Help! Transitions with my son are the worst!”

Janet discusses how to make transitions more peaceful and productive with Jennifer.

Vlog with Jennifer - Transitions
Click HERE or on the image to listen to the 8-minute video.

Jennifer, mom of a 5 year old boy recently asked, “My son has trouble with transitions. Going to school in the morning, leaving a play date, or getting out of the house to go to the grocery store are difficult for him – and me!”

“How can I help him be more productive and help both of us have more peaceful transitions?”

Janet responds:

What comes before?

Notice your patterns. What comes before the “transition melt-down moment”? Are you rushing around? Are you commanding/demanding/nagging/reminding from the other room?

Imagine yourself in the place of your child for a moment. How would you feel to have your boss or significant other using just the words, body language, and unseen energy that you are giving to your child at these moments of transition? Yuk. We would’ve quit that job long ago!

It is HARD to leave what we’re doing. For adults. For children.

What to do instead –

Engage with him IN HIS WORLD for just a minute or two. If he is busy building a fort, be with him – FULLY engaged. (Sounds easy, takes practice). Now, use that moment as the catalyst for transition. Building a fort? Use that imagery to propel you both to the next activity. “We need to search for more branches, let’s brush our teeth and go in search of them.” You get the idea. Live into HIS pretend and stretch the bounds of your imagination, too (never a bad thing).

Children nourish us by being in the present. When we allow ourselves, we can fully immerse with them and forget about our busy adult lives. When we emerge from their make-believe, we are refreshed on a soul level. The present really is the ONLY place we can actually be…might as well enjoy it!

A ‘Magic’ Word –

Using the word “Let’s” with the accompanying ‘sweeping gesture.’ This works especially well with the young child. “Let’s go brush our teeth.” Then do it together rather than you being the director and he the actor…and likely a very reluctant one.

Jennifer comments, “I’ve tried reminding him, telling him what we have to do next, preparing him with all the steps to our day. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

“Just Tell Me ONE Thing!”

Fewer words, please! Many husbands, boyfriends, and sons would like to tell their wife, girlfriend, and mother those very words. And, indeed, I’ve had many report to me that they have!

Females talk — a lot! We process while we’re talking, compelling us to talk even more! The male brain works with language differently – it has fewer places to process all those words you use.

When you describe every step, ask multiple questions, and keep up a constant stream of chitter-chatter, you may be overwhelming his brain and he will likely:
• Ignore you
• Get silly or angry
• Have a meltdown

Silence really is golden! He just wants you to BE with him. So give him concise information, no more than necessary. He doesn’t need a run-down of the whole day, especially if you have a strong rhythm to your day’s routine.

Where are you when you talk to him?

Many times, as busy parents, we find ourselves giving directives from the kitchen up to the bedroom, from the bedroom down to the playroom…you get the idea. It is really easy for him to tune you out when he doesn’t have the physical connection with you..which means you nag, say it more, say it louder, etc.

Take a moment to go to him – enter into HIS world, his space, for a moment – put your hand on his shoulder and ask your question, make your request. As a wise speech teacher used to say to me, “Be direct, be brief, and be seated.”

When all else fails – SING!

Another wonderful way to facilitate transitions (known by many a wise preschool teacher) is to SING through the transition. It can be a silly song or a tried-and-true favorite. An added benefit to singing is that your breathing and heart rate become synchronized – what better way to face the world together than that?! (see article here)

Join him in his world FIRST.

THEN, with imagination and certainty, move him smoothly through the transition to the next event. Take the moment you need to be fully and deeply connected to him and your breathing and hearts will beat in unison and harmony.

If you’re struggling in this area (like many parents), join me for a 20-minute complementary Discovery Call here.

And join us on Facebook:

You Can Do Anything But Here’s Why You Shouldn’t

How three dollars reminded me that…

Even if we CAN do it all,

there are reasons why we shouldn’t.


Young girls get this message early and often:

“You can DO anything!”

“You can BE anything!”

(I’ll save the rant about the messages boys receive for another day. If you can’t wait, check out this New York Times article.)

Recalling my earliest memories of my mom, I see her with a screwdriver or paintbrush in her hand, fixing, painting, repairing, pretty much everything. We moved a lot. Each new home was a palette for her many talents. Plus, she could sew anything! (which I wasn’t always happy about…how I longed for store-bought clothes!)

Fast forward to early in my 25-year marriage. My parents were visiting, it was a casual lunch and sandwich fixings were out. As we helped ourselves, my mom commented to me, “Aren’t you going to make your husband a sandwich?” At that time, my ethic of “I can do anything” most definitely did NOT include making sandwiches for my husband! (He could do that himself, right?)

I think my ‘180’ came from watching my mom serve my dad throughout their 65-year marriage. He worked. She worked outside the home PLUS did all the laundry, meal prep, AND brought him ice tea while he sat in his chair commenting on his thirst. (I wasn’t going to be THAT wife – if I can do anything, he can, too).

Decades later, I began my own business and for years insisted, “I can do anything!”

I can build my own website!

I can write my sales copy!

I can write a book!

Sure, I did all those things – but did I do them well?

Only when I arrived at marketing, completely depleted, did I capitulate and hire help. Did it make me weaker?

No, only stronger!

HOWEVER, dear women: When we freely live the “I can do anything” mantra – are we also aware of our great capacity to hurt the men and boys in our world – without ever meaning to cause them harm?

“I can change that lightbulb.”

“I can fix that loose whatever.”

I can keep up with oil changes and tire pressure.”

“I can work, prep meals, supervise homework, change diapers”

…until YOU CAN’T.

Then the resentment builds: “WHY do I have to do EVERYTHING?!” said with a huge sigh.

Well, no wonder.

You’ve effectively pushed him out of any area that he feels capable in because you’ve had to prove “I can do anything.”

Try this: “Yep, I can do anything AND I don’t have to.”

You are no less capable if you turn some things over to your man.

As a single woman, I’m always sure to have some task for my friend’s husbands to do when they come to my house. They feel needed, useful, competent, capable and oh-so-happy to help! Their eyes shine. Their pride beams! Such a little thing to yield such great results!

There is freedom in knowing “I can do anything!” – and that I DON’T HAVE TO!

This ramble came about when I last visited my dad (He’s 90 years old with Parkinson’s).

On the morning when I was flying home, as we were getting ready to leave the house, he handed me three one-dollar bills.

“This is for the airport porters.”

My brain immediately spun off into thinking: Why in the world would I need that? I don’t even use porters at the airport because “I can do anything!” includes carrying my own bags!

My higher-self paused and recognized how much EFFORT it must have taken him to move his wheelchair over to where his wallet is stored, open the drawer, take out the wallet, open it, and pull out three one-dollar bills (if you don’t know Parkinson’s – any movement is arduous).

My higher-self recognized this significant gesture of love and care.

My higher-self took the three one-dollar bills and said, “Thanks Dad, I really appreciate that.”

Now, if I can only be as gracious when he wakes me up an hour before my alarm to make sure I don’t miss my flight…..there is love in that, too.

How will you love the men in your life by letting them DO for you?

Tell us on FB….



What’s Your “No” Number?

Think about it… how many times do you say NO to your boy – in a day, in an hour, in the next few minutes?

boy hiding face“No” might also be: “Stop” and “Don’t.”

I challenge you to make an honest assessment of yourself and note how many times you say no to your boy.

And his reaction to your no.

Then, find out how many times he is told no at school or day care.

And his reaction to their no.




How do you feel, as an adult, when another adult tells you no, or stop, or don’t?

Remember a time, as a child, that you were told no – how did it feel? where did it live in your body? what did it compel you to do next?

How do you feel, as a parent, when you tell your child no?

Are You Watering NO Down?

Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely times when it is appropriate to say NO! and STOP! and DON’T!

When we over-use those words, they lose their power.

You want them to have full-power when your child is running out into the street.

So use these words sparingly!

Make the No Into a Yes:

I recently observed in a kindergarten play yard. Kids were active in the sandbox, on the swings, and generally running around. However, the boys were told no way more often than the girls. Granted, the boys were engaged in much more active play (because that’s how boys like to play).

For every no the teacher told them, I could see ways that their behavior could be a yes.

It can be challenging at first to see ways to make a no into a yes but when you understand the deep-seated, biological imperative for boys to play the way they do, you can begin to see clearly how to shift their play into ways that it could be a yes.

For instance, these boys were slashing at each other with some fern fronds, laughing and connecting in a physical way. Of course, we don’t want the boys pulling up the plants but they clearly needed a physical way to engage with each other. Pool noodles are a great way to play “sword fight” and of course you’ll monitor and set parameters on the play, right?

The biggest take-away is that you are saying YES to who he is and how he plays!

And he reads you loud and clear – and feels heard and accepted.

A Constant No:

  • Encourages your boy to disconnect
  • Encourages him to tune you out
  • Encourages him to feel like school isn’t for him
  • Encourages him to feel like no one understands him (or likes him)

Ouch!  That’s rough.

The Two-Part REMEDY to NO:

  1. First, you MUST understand your son and what motivates him in his play, relating to his friends, communicating with you, and how he learns. (Get your own full-on Boys Alive! Surviving Boys self-study course HERE).
  2. Then ask yourself, “What do I want instead?” With your words, you give him the picture of what you DO want, not what you DON’T want. This may take some practice but once it becomes a habit, you’ll find yourself navigating sticky situations with ease!

That’s it!

When your no-number goes down, you’ll see your son’s relief and joy go up!

Now, go spread the word (the YES word)!

And join us in the Boys Alive! Private Facebook Group – ask a question, offer support, enjoy an article, laugh and cry with us. We are stronger together!

If you’d like to chat with me one-on-one, use this link to schedule a 20-minute complementary phone call or email me at I’m here for you!



The Peace of Muscle Memory

The PEACE and COMFORT that comes from doing something so familiar, so embedded in us, is a feeling like no other.

It’s why we love the holidays so much. It’s why we insist that the same ornament goes on the tree in the same place every year, year after year.

As I return as “Chief Teacher” for Year NINE of an annual Potlatch gathering of 4th grade Oregon Waldorf students – 3 days in the woods culminating their Native American studies of the year – 178 kids! – I marvel at the familiarity of loading the same equipment in the car – the peace that I feel in my core. I remember smells, sights, glimpses of faces, music and conversation. It rolls around me like a warm blanket of comfort.
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It also reminds me of the “muscle memory” of music I witnessed with my mom. She had a stroke in 2013 with speech aphasia – she could say plenty but the words were scrambled and didn’t make sense. She was often frustrated because she knew she wasn’t making sense and her understanding of what was being said was fully intact.

Enter “Amazing Grace.”

After she left the hospital and entered a rehabilitation center, I was eager (desperate) to get her outside and so we escaped as soon as, and as often as, possible. There was a big parking lot nearby and I’d push her in her wheelchair and we’d “talk” and take in the breezes…and I’d sing “Amazing Grace.” And though tentative at first, she soon found some “words” and some “tune” that was close enough. Hallelujah! Her muscle memory had survived…she could sing!

And so we sang.

The founder of Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner, talked about how what we bring to our little children – in word and deed – will affect our children over their lifetime – right down to the health of their internal organs. In 1919 that idea seemed a little far-fetched. Now, as with so many things Steiner, science is starting to verify. We do indeed have a muscle memory for early traumas…and early words and deeds.

How are you currently nourishing the old man or old woman your child will become?

Imagine – my grandma taught my mom so many nursery rhymes, silly childhood songs, and folk songs – that lived in her and even survived through her awful brain meltdown…so deep in her soul they were.
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CLICK HERE for our song!
(It’ll take a few seconds to download.)

“Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “The Alphabet Song” and “Home on the Range” live at a cellular level – who knew?!

The treasure lay dormant for so many years – opened briefly as children and grandchildren arrived but going back to sleep until this “memory muscle” was needed again.

This enduring treasure spans like a rainbow from childhood to old age.

Makes me wonder how lasting Pokemon, Minecraft, and the Frozen Princess will be? Do they also live deeply embedded in our muscle memory? Do we even want them to?!

Next time you are tempted to hand your child your phone or turn on a video for them, ask yourself, “How will this nourish him when he is an old man?” “How will this music/app/dvd or game sustain him in the end?”

It’s not only music, it’s those silly finger games we used to play, too.

With my mom’s right hand affected by the stroke, one of the games we loved was the simple game two people play – I call it “stack ’em” – you put your hand palm down on the table, other person puts their’s down on top of it, you put yours palm down, they put theirs palm down on top and you have a stack of four hands. Now pull the bottom one out and put it on top. Not as easy as it sounds (and especially not for mom!) but it alleviated many moments of boring wait time – no batteries or equipment needed.

Try it.

If you really want to have an eternal imprint upon your children – upon their muscle memories – that they can call forth even after a traumatic brain event – it’s simple: sing “Twinkle Twinkle” with them.

On The Days I Don’t Want to Be ‘Conscious’

Introducing Heather Chauvin, who is our guest on April’s BOY TALK.

Save your seat here and join us for an engaging, no-holding-back conversation!

Heather recently wrote about coming home to a quiet house (she has 3 boys) and MAKING A CONSCIOUS DECISION about what to do next… Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.22.23 PM

I walked into the house after dropping all three kids off at their Grandparents for Taco Tuesday. This is the night where my husband and I get 3 hours of ‘hello’ time. Where we can have a conversation in our home without interruptions. Eat dinner in silence.

I had 60 minutes until my husband got home.

My mind automatically wanted to lay down, but not because I was tired.

Sleep is my ‘go to’ place. It has been since I was a teen, just as facebook or pinterest might be yours. Our mind’s way of ‘distracting’ us from how we really want to feel.

I had a choice. I could feel it.

I stopped and asked myself, “Heather, how do you want to feel?”

I live my life in alignment with how I want to feel.

I parent in alignment with how I want to feel (and how I would want to feel as a child).

And taking a nap for me on that day was NOT in alignment with my highest good. So I said no to the nap.

I turned on some music.

I put some of my favorite oils in my diffuser.

I made myself a warm cup of tea and I journalled.

I put on some running shoes and I went for a short run.

I made a choice. I said NO to my Go To place. I took my power back. I felt in control.

The tempting place inside all of us that tries so hard to keep us safe (and small).

The silent whisper that can be felt on a cellular level.

Stop listening to THAT voice and start listening to your TRUTH.

I’m writing today to SHOW you change is possible.

And you might not know where to start and that’s OK.

It’s not about rush, rush, rushing to this appointment and that appointment.

It’s about FIRST getting clear on the life you actually WANT to live.

The parent you WANT to be.

Once you’re clear on what you want, then you can take action towards that life.

You can get the APPROPRIATE support that you need in order to become that person for yourself and your child.

The only things getting in the way of the person you want to become and the life you’re living now — is your ability to make a choice.

Choose to take one small step in the direction of how you want to feel.

Check out all of Heather’s resources here.

Save your seat for BOY TALK here.

Do you give him too much information?

Do you feel like he doesn’t listen?

Tunes you out?

Ignores you?

Flipside: Many boys and men often complain when they’re given too many details.
Just give him the facts so he can get the job done.

He may have tuned you out after the first detail because he just doesn’t need – and can’t process – all the information that you want to give him.

When you use fewer words, you enable him to “hear” what you are saying.

If you’re like many females, this may feel odd to you at first – but ask any adult male and he will likely say, “Yes, please, I don’t need all the details – just tell me what you need me to know.”

Say exactly what you need, even though it may sound harsh to you:  “backpack” “boots” “lunchbox”

Say one thing.

Let him respond.

Then ask the next thing.

Too many words overwhelm his brain, so give him a break – say less!

Join our conversation on Facebook – where you can talk a lot! Click the image below…


Do you say things a thousand times?

“WHY do I have to say things a thousand times?!”

“I’m so sick of saying things over and over and still he doesn’t do what I ask!”


So we ask.

And we ask again – a little louder.

And we ask again – even louder.

And we ask again  – and we’re really angry now!


What parent hasn’t experienced the frustration and anger that comes from having a request completely ignored?!

By the time you’ve repeated your request once or twice, he has likely tuned you out completely – if he even heard you in the first place.

You are angry, frustrated, and taking it personally.

Change your approach – and you are actually helping him to hear you.

NOTICE these specifics:
Where are you when you make your request?

Are you calling to him from the kitchen?

Is your back to him when you’re speaking?

Are you yelling up the stairs?

NO WONDER he doesn’t hear you!

Single focus is real:

Boys easily become enveloped in a single activity, with laser-focus.

You become ‘white-noise’ or an interruption for him.

His hearing differs, too. Most males hear a narrower range of sounds, so if you are a soft-spoken female there is a good chance that he can’t even hear the tone of your voice.

Here’s what to do:

Stop what you’re doing and go to him to ensure that he hears you and responds (for just a couple of moments).

Get into his zone – and just be with him there for a moment.

After you’ve been in his physical space – his zone – you’ll catch his attention.

Take a moment to comment on something he’s doing.

Let him feel you physically – touch his shoulder or leg, or give him a high five.

THEN ask your question and help him comply with your request.

PRACTICE!  It takes time to learn (and remember) to do this technique but you’ll soon find that it is highly effective!

It isn’t that he won’t listen — we just have to adjust so that he CAN listen!

Join the Boys Alive! conversation on Facebook, click the image below:

Asking Him to Look at You

“Look at me when I’m talking to you….”

What parent hasn’t said that?!

Add cheek-holding for emphasis….but it doesn’t work.

He STILL doesn’t listen!


This is a familiar refrain of MANY WOMEN – both with kids and with male partners.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you…” is often met with his glare, his resistance, or his melt down.

He probably doesn’t even really hear what you’re saying – much less being able to comply with it!

Do you end up taking his resistance personally?


Many males are uncomfortable with eye contact. They are designed that way.

If he has just had a run-in with you or with a friend, he is NOT going to want to talk about it in the moment. He may feel threatened if you insist that he make eye contact with you and he’ll shut down and close you out even more.

One dad explained it this way, “I tell my wife, if she wants me to listen to her, I can’t look at her. If she wants me to look at her, I can’t hear what she’s saying. I tell her to CHOOSE ONE CHANNEL.”

What should you do?

Connect with him side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder.

It takes practice to get used to not having direct eye contact with him (because females love and place value on eye contact). Yet, you CAN feel connected to him by touching shoulders or thighs as you sit, sharing a high-five, or making brief eye contact.

When you get comfortable without direct eye contact, you’ll be able to talk with him in a way that feels safer and easier for many boys and men.

If you encourage him to keep his hands busy – bouncing a ball, playing legos, crumpling paper – he’ll be even more relaxed and able to access his words.

And you’ll be well on your way to connecting at an even deeper level with him – whether he is your son, your partner, or your co-worker.

Give it a try!

Join us on Facebook! Click the image below:

Showing Up – on Facebook

“The act of showing up…” on Facebook of all places.Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.55.26 AM
There are many ways of ‘showing up’ on Facebook:
Do you surf?
Do you stalk?
Do you find your group and dig-in to fully contribute?

Showing up – on Facebook and in LIFE – allows us the opportunity to ‘bear witness’ for another, if we so choose.

Throughout time, pre-Facebook, ‘showing up’ or ‘bearing witness’ for another was a powerful act – one that comforted in times of distress or elation.

Perhaps you have a friend who naturally gets this – they are the ones that show up and are so simply just ‘there’ for you. If you’ve experienced this, you know it creates a deep connection unlike any other.

But seriously, can this really happen on Facebook, in a group full of strangers?

Yes, it can.

And it does, in the Boys Alive! private Facebook group (Consider this your first invitation to join us there).

Too often, it seems, we struggle with the feeling that we’re alone, that no one else feels the way we feel or has experienced what we’re experiencing.

This can feel overwhelming – especially as a parent.

After all, who cares about hearing all the mundane details of our lives – laundry, groceries, sick kids?

Yet, I’m sure you’d be the first to open your heart and listening ear to someone who said, “I need you.” “I’ve got a question.” “Can you help me?” “I would love your thoughts.”

You stand ready to bear witness to others who may be feeling alone:

Feeling alone, when our kid who has gotten in trouble at school – again.
Feeling alone, when our kid’s teacher wants us to have him tested for ADHD.
Feeling alone, when our kid makes us so furious we’re ready to leave home – for good!

YET, when we share – our victories and our defeats – we get down to being really human. We give and we receive – and yes, most of us are way more geared toward the giving than the receiving. (Yet in receiving we’ve just given the other the most precious gift of giving…funny how that circle works).

When we bear witness with each other in all of our moments – good and bad – we build community.

In her article, “The Power of Bearing Witness,” Judith Johnson explains, “When we bear witness, we lovingly give our attention to the other without judgment. We comfort without smothering. We play a supporting role – powerfully upholding the other starring in his or her life. It is not about us. It is about them… Bearing witness says, “You are not alone. I see you. I witness what you are experiencing. What you are experiencing matters to me. I surround you with my love.””

When we dare to ask a question or vent a frustration, then we may find ourselves surprised to realize that we aren’t alone – that someone else’s kid has done the same thing. Then we catch that lifeline tossed from another that says, “Yep. Been there. We’ve survived. You will, too.”

We realize we aren’t alone when someone ‘shows up’ with just the exact right article, book, or person to recommend – when we were positive there wasn’t a solution to our ‘unique’ issue.

When you reach out because you just need to hear a voice and receive a virtual hug – and you are heard and hugged – that is powerful.

Then you really know that this Facebook thing is okay.

Sure, there is no substitute for real-time, face-to-face contact, but there is something to be said for OUR community – for all who have clicked and said, “Yes. I stand together with you – no matter what.”

In this group, we advocate for boys.

But that doesn’t mean we leave girls behind. We advocate for understanding the uniqueness that we all have – and commit to changing our homes and schools so ALL kids can shine.

Along the way, our adult relationships change and grow, too.

We care.
We advocate.
We ask.
We share.
We cry, scream, laugh, and share some emoticon love, too.

We bear witness.
We show up.

Join us at Boys Alive! Supporting Parents and Teachers at Home and in School We’d love to have you!
Warm welcome,
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Click here for the Boys Alive! Free Report – “Living with Boys: How to Cope and Connect – HIS Way”

Boy Talk #5: “I want you NOW!”

Christina Perez of Little Sprigs Podcasts shares her wisdom and experience as a mom and preschool teacher.
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Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 8.51.38 AMAs I was sitting in my office, contemplating what to write for my dear friend Janet’s Boys Alive! blog, I noticed my daughter’s head poking through a crack in the door:

“What are you doing, Mommy?”
“I am working, my love.”
“But I want you!” she proclaimed.
“I will be out soon to have lunch with you. So go play in the playroom or ask Granny to get your crayons for you.”

She pushes the door further open and yells, “No Mommy! I want you NOW!”

I put down my journal, stopped working, and gave her my full attention.

Her body was tensing up, her face was getting red, and her eyes were expressing a deep need.

What!?! Her eyes were expressing a deep need?!

Here’s the thing:

My daughter is 4 and although I’m consistently amazed at her vocabulary, I’m also keenly aware that she’s only been speaking English for the better part of 2 years.

I, on the other hand, have been speaking English for 38 years and I still freeze up when expressing my needs. Sometimes it’s hard for ANY OF US to use our words to describe how we are feeling. Go figure.

So I get it, she has a need she wants to express, she doesn’t yet have the capability to express that need and that’s pretty frustrating…even a 4 year-old knows that.

So I spoke: “Come here a minute and let’s have a snuggy.” I said.

She looked at me, walked over to my exercise ball and gave it a good smack, which then caused it to roll over and hit my leg.

“No! I want you to help me with this ball!”

Oh dear… I wasn’t exactly sure WHAT she was asking for but I knew it had NOTHING to do with the ball.

When I asked her to tell me more about what she wanted to do with the ball, she lost it. She started punching the ball and screaming, “I just want you to help me! I just want you to help me!!”

Tears started pouring from her eyes and she threw herself on the floor. She repeated the same 7 words over and over while kicking and punching the rug.

I sat back in my chair, took a deep, slow breath and scanned my own body for any tension.

I said softly and confidently, “I see you are upset right now and that it feels good for you to push the floor. Get all of those sads out and you will feel better. I am right here for you if you want me to hold you.”
crying girl
I wasn’t trying to do anything.
I wasn’t trying to distract her.
I wasn’t trying to talk her out of it.
I wasn’t trying to dismiss her.

I was just there for her.

I sat taking deep breaths and putting my full attention on her. A couple of times, I put down a cushion where I thought she might hurt herself on a table leg and a shelf corner, but then sat back down.

“I see you sweetheart. I am right here,” I reassured her in a calm tone.

The tantrum lasted about 6 minutes.

For my mother, who was in the other room, it felt like hours. She popped her head in at one point, desperate to be the one who would calm her somehow. I just put my hand up and gave her a smile and a gesture that everything was ok.

When I saw that my daughter’s body had started to relax on the floor and her crying had shifted to a stuttering inhalation, I invited her softly to let me hold her. She climbed into my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck, and hid her face in my shirt.

“I love you so much,” I said, as I brushed back her hair from her face.
“I love you, Mommy,” she said as she squeezed me tighter.

I sat holding her for a few minutes and rubbed her back. I didn’t say anything. When she lifted her head to look at me. I kissed her cheeks and smiled.

“I want to go play with my babies now,” she said.
“Ok, my love. I will see you at lunch time.”

She jumped down, gave me a huge grin, and said: “Do your work Mommy. See you at lunch!”

Off she went, closing the door behind her.

Just out of curiousity, I looked at the time. The whole production, from the time she opened the door to closing it, was about 17 minutes.

In just under 20 minutes, I was able to show her 3 very important strategies that are building her emotional intelligence:

1. No matter what emotions she needs to express, I love her just the same. My love and support is unconditional.

2. No matter how huge or long the tantrum, she cannot trigger me. I am there for her, solid, calm, validating her feelings and offering my support.

3. I showed her that is ok to experience emotions. Sadness and frustration are normal emotions to feel. By not offering her any tactics to stuff them down or any distraction, she was able to fully experience the emotion and feel what it is like to move completely through it. This is strengthening her ability to navigate strong feelings on her own.

When our children experience strong emotions, it is an opportunity to connect with them. We can help them by offering language to label their feelings and needs so they are better able to communicate them in the future.

Emotional and social intelligence grows and develops through relationship and primarily through the experiences that a child has with his or her parents.

When we offer our children empathy and help them to cope with negative feelings like anger, sadness and fear, we create a foundation of loyalty and trust that our children carry with them throughout their lives.

One thing to add here would be that, although all feelings and emotions are acceptable and deserve empathy, not all behavior is acceptable.

For example, if your child is trying to hit you, that is not acceptable. You can say, “I will not let you hurt my body. If you need to hit something, you may hit the bed or this pillow to get these feelings out.”

It is important to support your child and be a witness to their expression, but safety first!

All the best,
Christina is the host of Little Sprigs Podcast, an experienced early childhood teacher, certified parent coach, and grateful mama. She spends her days running her Waldorf inspired, home based preschool in San Francisco, and supporting parents near and far. Her work and weekly podcasts are available to parents all over the world who are striving to shift from fear based control tactics to conscious parenting with love and acceptance. She believes all parents deserve to have access to the resources and support they need to cultivate a peaceful, loving home and a family dynamic based on core values, trust, and authentic guidance.

Click here for your Boys Alive! Free Report: “6 Keys to Parenting Success”

JOIN US FOR BOY TALK – Talking with Parenting Experts and Expert Parents each month – Save your seat here.

Janet’s Toolbox Tip: Compassionate Listening

…because you can never have enough tools in your toolbox.
Not only is Compassionate Listening an essential tool for every parenting tool-box, it is an essential skill to build into every relationship. With thanks (and adapted) from Christina Perez of Little Sprigs.

The Four Parts of Compassionate Listening

1. Listen intently to what the other person is saying. This means allowing children to finish their whiny request, even if we know where they’re going and we know that we’re not giving in. Even children deserve the respect of being heard. When you offer the other your full attention and allow them to be heard, they will begin to calm down.

2. Listen without judgement. When your child misbehaves and you feel they should ‘know better’ – judgement can slip in fast. When we consider brain development, we know that only through repetition (and more repetition), imitation/modeling, and loving guidance from us, will they have the tools to take the high road the next time.

3. Refrain from comparing. Your child is unique. It may be tempting to compare them to other children. Why can’t my kid get this by now? Why can’t he be like his sister? Let go and truly meet the other where they are in that moment.

4. Refrain from interrupting. When your child is whining, crying, or asking again after you’ve said no countless times, listening can be difficult. We can feel trig erred by their emotions and want to put a stop to it.

Read more about applying compassionate listening in your life here.

Click here for your Boys Alive! Free Report: “6 Keys to Parenting Success”

Boy Talk #5: Tear-free Transitions ARE Possible!

Whether you are transitioning from home to day-care; home to pre-school; home to a big trip; or from the play space to the kitchen… transitions can be a parent’s biggest challenge.

Christina Perez of Little Sprigs Podcasts shares her wisdom and experience gained through years of helping children and parents transition.
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Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 8.51.38 AMSomehow every year I forget just how challenging the first few weeks of school really are. Not just for the children, but for teachers and parents too.

Separation anxiety, stressful mornings, limit testing, and sads…oh so many sads.

Change can be scary all by itself.

When we have no idea what to expect, it can be nerve-wracking.

As a preschool teacher, I am often the first person caring for a child beyond parents and family. It is a role I do not take lightly. I love each child like they are my own. But during those first days, they could care less how much I adore and respect them. All I hear is, “I want my mommy!”

After about four weeks of school, we’ve now had a tear-free drop-off, adventurous outdoor play, great transitions, all children eating the same meal, all nappers sleeping, and friendships clearly developing.

How did we make it to this tear-free place?

I have created a daily and weekly routine that gives the children rhythm to their preschool experience (and you can do the same with your home routine). The daily routine is a “breathing rhythm,” alternating between focused concentration and expansion.

Just as we need to inhale and exhale deeply to feel relaxed, this type of schedule helps your child feel grounded and secure.

An ” inhale” could be eating, painting, drawing, or a nap. During this time, the child needs the support of an adult – not because they are not capable of doing it on their own, but because they need to feel your presence and know that you are there for them as they begin to relate to themselves.

The “exhale” happens during free play, outdoor adventures, or running. They are developing their relationship with the outside world. This is a great time to do the “real” work of the home like cleaning, cooking, folding laundry etc. Children play best next to an adult doing work they can imitate. I often have children asking me to help. They take great pride in their sweeping, dusting, and dish washing.

For parents who are saving all of the house work for nap time – STOP!

That is time for you to rest as well.

You, too, need the balanced breath of the day.

Many parents resist the idea of a routine because they are already experiencing a loss of personal freedom. But, I promise you that so much freedom and peace is restored for everyone when you are not making decisions moment-by-moment.

You know where you are headed, so when things go off track you have the ability to improvise.

For example, lunch happens at 11:45 every day. You have been running errands all morning, look down at the clock and see 11:23. Oops! Your child is in the back already expressing their frustration. But you know why. There is no time to drive all the way home and cook. So you assure your child you are on the way to have lunch and pop into a cafe.

All is well. Melt-down avoided.

Mornings can be the toughest. Do what you can the night before. Choose the clothing and lay them out. Prepare and pack lunches. Make sure water bottles are filled and backpacks are ready.

Create morning and bedtime rhythms:
Allowing time to connect first thing in the morning when she wakes is HUGE. It sets the tone for the day.

Morning rhythm:
6:30 wake up and have 10 minutes of connection/snuggle time.
6:45 get dressed, brush hair, wash face
7:00 breakfast together. Even if I just have coffee, I sit with her and am present
7:20 free play time for her while I prepare some things for the day
8:00 get ready to meet our friends outside in the park for school

Afternoon rhythm:
4:30 bath time, pjs, free play or help make dinner
5:30 dinner
6:00 potty, wash up, brush and floss teeth
6:15 stories and snuggles
6:30 lights out

Be sure to keep the meal and rest times throughout the weekend.

Setting limits for children is not mean, it is loving.
I hold these limits, these boundaries, for the children very consciously. I know why they are there and that helps them to feel loved and protected.

Boundaries are more about support than they are about enforcing a rule.
Think of setting limits as, “How do I support my child to make the best choice?”

Testing your boundaries is the job of a young child. They need to know exactly how far they are allowed to go. They need clarification on how the world works and where their power lies. They need to know that no matter how big their feelings are or how hard they push, that they cannot knock us over. If we seem threatened by them or they have the power to make us angry, then they are in charge and that is a very scary place for a child.

As you begin setting limits, notice when you get triggered. Make note of the feelings and thoughts that you have in those moments:

Discover exactly what is triggering you.
Is it that your child is not listening to you?
What action do you take when that happens?
Do you threaten a punishment?
Walk away?
Bribe them?
Offer a logical explanation?

If you find yourself setting a boundary on something one day and letting it slide the next, the child will not be able to respect it. This is exhausting for you and disorienting for your child.

The most challenging boundary I have to set in the preschool is nap time – especially if the parents have not done it at home. For the first few days of a new school year, nap time can be a cacophony of tired protests: whines, tears, and claims that they are not tired.

But, as the adult, I know this is what is best for their physical, mental and emotional health. So I am not triggered or stressed by their release. I breathe deeply and sing soft lullabies. I offer each, one by one, whatever they need to settle. A back rub, foot rub, an extra blanket…

Then I sit in meditation. This is rest time for me, too.

My presence in the room holds them. This is what we are doing now. There is no question.

After only a few days, they all go into the nap room without protest, hug their lovey, and are asleep within 5-15 minutes.

If we want our children to cooperate, we have to get there through connection, not control.

Wise words from Magda Gerber, Early Childhood Educator and Founder of Educaring (RIE):
“Know what’s important, both for you and for the child. If you are not clear, the child’s opposition will persist, which will make you, the parent, even angrier. This in turn highlights the conflict that exists already, leading to an unhappy situation combining anger, guilt, and fear. A child has a difficult time growing up with ambivalent parents.”

There are many ways we teach our children to shove their big emotions down.

We have so much of our own emotional baggage that a child’s tears can trigger us beyond reason!

Our tiny children are learning how to navigate their big emotions and need our support to see that they can make it through them and be okay.

It seems counter-intuitive to talk about the exact thing that is causing their upset. So our go-to is distraction, closely followed by dismissal of the upset altogether.

Like all of us: Children just want to feel heard.

When a child is crying after separating from a parent, I hold them and confirm their words and feelings: ”I hear you, you want daddy to come back. It is time for him to go to work and you feel sad about that right now.”

Once the big feelings have been acknowledged and expressed they move on and out naturally.

For example, a boy was crying on my lap after mom had left. He was saying that he wanted to go home and pet his dog. I told him that I understood that he loved his dog very much and that petting his fur would feel so nice: “Yes,” he responded, “I want my dog!”
He then calmed down and started telling me how he loves to throw sticks so the dog can chase them. I smiled and he smiled back. The next moment he was off my lap and playing with the other children.

When your child shares feelings with you, don’t dismiss them.

A common response to a child who says, “I don’t want to go to school,” is: “You are going to have so much fun!” Or “You have to go, so let’s get moving.”

Allow your child the space to express themselves.
Validate their feelings.
This doesn’t mean you are giving them the choice to stay home.

When you pick up your child from school, it is an “exhale” time for them.
One of the greatest gifts to offer is a quiet car ride home. By this I mean, refrain from asking your child questions. It can be very stressful for them when they have had a long day at school and need to relax and reconnect with you.

An honest, “Hi sweetheart! I am so happy to be with you now,” along with physical connection is good.

As you begin your journey home, notice what bubbles up naturally in your child. If they are quiet, then they really do need that time to “digest” their day.

Arriving home is the perfect time to connect. Take some time to sit together for a snack, or snuggle on the couch. They have missed you too.

After you have reconnected you can talk about the evening plan, which will help them flow into bedtime.

And you’ll be refreshed and ready to begin again the next day!

Many Blessings!❤

JOIN JANET and CHRISTINA for BOY TALK on Wednesday, November 25, 2015. Save your seat here. If you miss this date, you can download the interview for your personal library from the Boys Alive! Shop.

Christina is the host of Little Sprigs Podcast, an experienced early childhood teacher, certified parent coach, and grateful mama. She spends her days running her Waldorf inspired, home based preschool in San Francisco, and supporting parents near and far. Her work and weekly podcasts are available to parents all over the world who are striving to shift from fear based control tactics to conscious parenting with love and acceptance. She believes all parents deserve to have access to the resources and support they need to cultivate a peaceful, loving home and a family dynamic based on core values, trust, and authentic guidance.

Click here for your Boys Alive! Free Report: “6 Keys to Parenting Success”

RAISING BOYS: “I had no idea!”


3 Action-Strategies to be Your Best-BOY-Parent-Ever!

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Every parent with a son AND a daughter can tell you how extremely different they are!

Moms have told me they’ve been surprised when they learned they were having a boy — after all, what did they know about raising boys?!

Maybe you’ve felt like these moms…

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“My newborn daughter is so much quieter than my son ever was!”

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“I used to judge parents of boys – why couldn’t they just get their boys to behave? Now that I have a boy — I just want to run out and apologize to all those moms.  Boys are really different!”

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“I think you’ve just saved my marriage. I really GET my husband now!”


Many of these Boy-Moms were raised by a single mom or grew up with only sisters – which makes for VERY limited ‘boy-knowledge’!


As a teacher, I was shocked to see how very differently boys learned than girls – and very peeved that NO ONE HAD TOLD ME!

As the Founder of Boys Alive! I’ve worked with thousands of moms and dads – helping them get over the shock and move into practical reality!


Boys Alive! helps you understand how boys play, relate, communicate, and learn. (Which is NOT the same as most girls).

Add to that practical, parent-tested action strategies and you’re set to be the greatest BOY-Parent-EVER!

What is hard-wired really matters!

What if you knew the essential differences between males and females that would change ALL of your relationships – with your son, with your partner, and with yourself?

Knowing these essential differences, means you can: 
• Adjust your expectations, in a boy-friendly way
• Approach rules, chores, homework, and screen-time in a boy-friendly way
• Understand how to relate and communicate with him, in a boy-friendly way

Intuitively, parents and teachers have known that raising boys and girls was just different. Now, brain scan technology confirms it.

So far, neuroscientists have discovered over 100 differences between male and female brains – in structure, in blood flow, and in chemicals and hormones.

I’ve narrowed down the essential differences you need to know – the ones that give you the biggest ripple effect when you apply the practical strategies that go along with them.

Take a look at these brains scans:
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MALE BRAIN (on the left): Processing happens within each hemisphere, with less processing overall. Motor control (ie physical movement) is where processing crosses into both hemispheres.

FEMALE BRAIN (on the right): More processing between left and right, with more processing overall. More connections to the verbal, emotion, and memory centers of the brain.

As The Guardian newspaper comments: “It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are.”

COMPLEMENTARY – not SIMILAR – is the key to understanding each other.

Fascinating, isn’t it?! But all the brain science in the world won’t help you parent your son until you know how to use the information.


Here’s how to apply it!

KEY #1. He has fewer places in his brain to process your words. He may be quickly and easily overwhelmed by too many words. How can you tell? Melt-downs, ignoring you, resisting, glazed eyes.

Action: Use fewer words. Ask one question, make one request.

KEY #2. He processes information mostly in a single hemisphere, rather than cross-connecting. He may take a little longer to reach a solution or answer and it may take him a little longer to be able to tell you about it.

Action: Give him time to respond – up to an entire minute.

KEY #3. He processes information PHYSICALLY FIRST. Movement comes before words. He may be impulsive and reactive. If a friend bumps into him, he may just let an elbow fly back. When we tell him to ‘use his words’ he doesn’t always get how to do that.

Action: Let him have time to move his body before resolving, negotiating, and conversating!

99.9% of the time…

let him MOVE FIRST.

This will resolve almost every raising-this-boy-is-making-me-crazy situation. After moving his body, he’ll be ready to have the follow-up conversations, emotional dialogues, and negotiations that many females want to have first, second, and last!

Raising boys IS different!  Like one mom said, “I had NO idea!”

With Boys Alive! at your side, you’ve got some theory and, more importantly, the Action-Strategies to go with it!

You may be feeling like its already too late – it’s not – I assure you!
Get this Boys Alive! Free Report and you’ll be on your way to understanding him and connecting with him in a whole new way.

You may also discover what one mom did, “Sounds like this would work for my husband, too!”

Yes, yes, it will!

My promise to you is that your view of your boy is about to change – for the better!



Join our boy-friendly conversation on Facebook. Click the image below:

Janet’s Toolbox Tip: Changing Attitudes

…because you can never have enough tools in your toolbox.

Changing Attitudes

Here’s a little peek into the human mind and how you can actually help yourself or your child experience a complete attitude shift.

“I can’t do it.”

“It can’t be done.”

“No way!”

Do you answer with, “Of course you can!” “Just give it a try!”

How does THAT work out?
When a human brain hears a question – no matter how unthinkable or impossible – it automatically imagines an answer.

Try it for yourself. Imagine something you don’t think you can do…then ask yourself: “What would it be like if I could do ______ really well?”

Your brain automatically imagines it.  It can’t help it!

Here’s the thing: It moves your mind from the frozen “impossible” position to, “Hmm…what would it be like if I could??”

So, by asking a question, you are pointing your child’s mind towards imagining an answer. We’re WIRED to notice questions and imagine answers.

It also loosens up attitudes that seem to be stuck. “Yeah, I know it’s impossible. Of course you can’t. But I was just wondering, what would it be like if you could _________?”

So rather than start off contradicting your child – and locking him into his attitude – here’s what to do:

1. Agree with them that they can’t, or it’s impossible, whatever the limitation is.

2. Ask, “But what would it be like if you could?”

Try it out.  Let me know what happens.

Adapted from NLP Comprehensive, 2006.

FOR MORE POSITIVE LANGUAGE try these from @sylviaduckworth:

10 Growth Mindset Statements: What Can I Say to Myself?

I’m not good at this.  TRY: What am I missing?

I’m awesome at this. TRY: I’m on the right track.

I give up. TRY: I’ll use some of the strategies we’ve learned.

This is too hard. TRY: This may take some time and effort.

I can’t make this any better. TRY: I can always improve so I’ll keep trying.

I just can’t do Math. TRY: I’m going to train my brain in Math.

I made a mistake. TRY: Mistakes help me to learn better.

She’s so smart. I’ll never be that smart. TRY: I’m going to figure out how she does it.

It’s good enough. TRY: Is it really my best work?

Plan “A” didn’t work. TRY: Good thing the alphabet has 25 more letters!

Click here for your Boys Alive! Free Report: “6 Keys to Parenting Success”

Janet’s Toolbox Tip: Power of the Pause

…because you can never have enough tools in your toolbox.

The Power of the Pause

The male brain tends to take a little longer to process your words. That means you need to s-l-o-w down (especially if you are a very verbal female).

Use your breath. When you train your brain through practice when interactions are calm, you’ll be prepared to breathe during stressful situations and include a PAUSE – which may make all the difference in the result!

An added benefit: “Healthful effects of slower breathing coupled with a calm mind have been well-documented. Animals that breathe the slowest live the longest. Elephants are slow, deep breathers in comparison to mice.”
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Try this exercise, adapted from the book, Boys Alive! Bring Out Their Best:

  1. Place hands palm down across your belly button. Imagine you are floating a toy boat, slowly up and slowly down, upon your belly.
  2. Slowly breathe in through your nose on a count of 3, filling your lungs with air, and raising the toy boat.
  3. Hold breath for a count of 3 and release through your mouth completely, for another count of 3.
  4. PAUSE for a count of 3.
  5. Breathe in slowly and continue.

The PAUSE for a count of 3 is the habit you want to gain. This is the opportunity for you to assess a situation, realign your thoughts, gather your emotions, and a time for your child to process what you’ve said and make appropriate/alternative choices.

Focus on the Power of YOUR Pause to give you more of the right kind of power – in any situation. Your toolbox will overflow and you’ll be more calm and skillful!

Click here for your Boys Alive! Free Report: “6 Keys to Parenting Success”

Janet’s Toolbox Tip: Psychogeography

…because you can never have enough tools in your toolbox.


Psychogeography – It’s a big word – it simply means the effect your location has upon your interaction with another. In other words, when you call directions upstairs to your son from the kitchen, you’re likely going to get different results than if you were sitting side-by-side on the couch.

Here’s an exercise from my book, Boys Alive! Bring Out Their Best, that you can try with an adult partner. I encourage you to move through each location to truly experience the effect and to get your unconscious mind on board to help you realize the next time you might be tempted to send your voice up that staircase in the morning!

Many parents have found this exercise taught them the single concept that had the most impact on all of their communication with their children!

And they no longer had to ask, “Why do I have to repeat what I say a thousand times?”

Psychogeography Practice Exercise:

Speaking this nonsense phrase in a neutral voice: apples, pears, bananas takes the focus off of word meaning and voice tone and places it on body language.

In each of the following positions, be sure to speak in a neutral voice, take a deep breath between interactions, and allow the “child” to process the effect the “parent’s” words have had.

1. Parent faces Child about 1 foot apart. Parent says, “Apples, pears, bananas.”

2. Parent faces Child standing about 10 feet apart. Parent speaks phrase.

3. Still 10 feet apart, Child turns back towards Parent. Parent speaks phrase.

4. Parent stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Child, both facing in the same direction. Parent places hand lightly on Child’s shoulder. Parent speaks phrase.

5. Child squats down to about 3 feet, facing Parent. Parent speaks phrase.

6. Parent squats down to about 3 feet, facing Child. Parent speaks phrase.

Before discussing, switch roles and repeat the exercise. Use the following questions to guide you:
1. Which positions were comfortable for you?
2. Which position(s) were less comfortable for you?
3. When was it easier to listen?
4. When was it easier to ignore the speaker?

Consider your own parenting psychogeography:
1. When your requests are most effective, where are you located in relation to your boy?
2. Where are you located when you make requests that you have to repeat?
3. How often do you give directions or make requests from another room?
4. How often do you talk to your boy when your back is turned?
5. How often do you talk to your boy when his back is turned?
6. Note which interactions are least effective and re-run the scene through your mind, changing your psychogeography. How might the situation change?

This a subtle and profound tool for understanding our fellow human beings – they aren’t just for parent-child interactions! This tool will give you more flexibility and compassion in any interaction.

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Boy Talk #3: Teach Your Boys To Comfort Others In A Crisis

By Kim Hamer, Mom of Sons and Author of 100 Acts of Love: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Loving Your Friend through Cancer or Loss

“So, did he talk to you about their divorce?” I asked.
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I was talking to my 6’, 250lb. heading-to-college-to-play-football 18-year-old son. He had just returned from spending time with a friend — I will call him Matt. My son, L., has known Matt since the fourth grade, and Matt was part of the vast network of friends that helped L. navigate the first two years after my husband died.

Matt’s parents were getting divorced and I had hoped that L. would “connect” with Matt to help him through his tough time. What I meant by connect was, “talk about Matt’s feelings about the divorce.”

They didn’t talk.

Instead they “just hung out, played video games and went to the Promenade.”

There was a time I would have thought this wasn’t enough.

Our kids were 12, 9 and 7 when my husband died. How they processed (and still process) their father’s death exemplifies, in many ways, the differences between boys and girls.

My daughter, now 15, will cry and cry about how much she misses her father, why it hurts, how it hurts and how it will hurt in the future.

My boys will come to me quietly in the middle of the night and burst into tears. They will not talk while they cry. They will not cry for long. And then they leave. The next day, it’s as if nothing happened. I have learned not to ask how they’re feeling because I just get a shrug or an annoyed, “I’m fine!”

In the six years since my husband died, I’ve had to put to rest my stereotype of how boys should process emotions. What I have learned is the way they process is just different. My boys found others who got that, and didn’t put pressure on them to talk but were ready to listen when they needed to. Turns out, their instincts are pretty good!

How can you help your boys’ instincts grow without going through your own personal tragedy?

Before I get into the how, consider:

1. You will need to let go of the notion that boys need to process by talking. Asking an older boy to express how he’s feeling can be frustrating. Instead, let him come to you.
2. Trust your boys. If you ask a boy what he would like someone to do for him, given the situation, he may not answer but he will probably come up with a really good idea and then take action himself! Give him an opportunity to try it out.
3. Teach him a few do’s and don’ts. You can do a Google search or buy my book. I wrote super helpful, 208-page essential guide on what to say (not to say) and to do.

Teach your son to:
1. Acknowledge What’s Going On
Cancer, death, hospitalization, whatever. Saying something is very important! The boy who is dealing with a life challenge does not want to be the kid who people are afraid to talk to. He will want others to acknowledge what’s happening but NOT dwell on it. Have your son say “I’m sorry to hear about your mom/dad etc.” Short and simple goes far in helping the boy feel acknowledged but not ignored. It also spares your son years of guilt for being afraid of saying the wrong thing. It confirms and demonstrates his important role in comforting a friend. That matters.
2. Invite Friend to Do Stuff
Boys love to do stuff. So have your son invite the boy to do stuff. Combine the tip above with this one and your son can say “Hey, sorry to hear about your mom. Wanna come over to watch a movie?” Done. No fuss.
3. Keep Offering Support
A crisis causes great confusion. Make sure your son keeps offering to do stuff with the child. If your son is young, you’ll have to help him by calling. Keep calling. The offer, even if turned down, makes a person feel cared about. And do make it easy on the the parent to say yes— offer to pick up her son and drop him off.
4. Offer Food
Your son can say, “I’m thinking about you” without ever saying those words, simply by offering him a treat! Have your son find out what the child likes and then give it to him.

Just as important, make sure that your son doesn’t say:
• “If you need anything let me know.” While it’s an adult phrase, I have heard it said by a 9-year old. The problem is, it’s the LEAST helpful phrase ever! (Click here to find out why.) So depending on your son’s age, tell him NOT to say it.
•“I know how you feel, my dog died.” Unless the boy’s dog has died, this statement only alienates your son from the child who needs support. Death of a parent or grandparent is NOT like the death of a pet. It’s important that he knows that.
• “At least…” is dismissive and hurtful. If one of your children was diagnosed with cancer, someone saying “At least it’s the good kind of cancer,” is completely dismissive of the fear, the anxiety and the stress the family and child are going through. Make sure you son doesn’t say that either!

As a parent, here are a few things you should and shouldn’t do as well:
• Don’t “Talk” To The Boy About What’s Going On.
My older boys in general did not like to “talk” face-to-face. And don’t tell your son to “talk” to his friend in crisis either. It’s uncomfortable for both of them.
• Do acknowledge what’s going on.
Just like for your son, it’s important that you acknowledge what’s happening. “I am so sorry your mom has cancer. Please know that you are welcome to come over any time you’d like.” That’s it. Don’t ask him how his mom is doing. Go to another adult for that information.
• Do Stuff with Them.
Nothing says “I care about you” better than a play, a sporting event or just hanging out. Allowing the boy to be just a boy is a great gift!
• Do Let the Tears Come.
Sometimes a boy will suddenly cry. If that happens, keep your mouth shut and don’t say “It’ll be ok.” Let him cry for as long as he needs to. If you want to be the adult who is safe, hold your tongue and hold a space for him to release his sadness. This may make you cry. That’s ok. He’ll know that he’s not alone.

This past winter one of L.’s classmates committed suicide. It was/is a horrific experience. But L. stepped in. He made sure his teammates went to the funeral. He told them what to say to his classmate’s parents. He made sure that his classmate’s 13-year old brother received a lot of attention from the graduating seniors. And then L. took his little brother out. They didn’t “talk.” They had ice cream and threw a football around and with it a conversation occurred. (So I am told.)

But I do know that it was exactly what they both needed.

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Kim Hamer is author of 100 Acts of Love: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Loving Your Friend through Cancer or Loss, a modern, essential how-to guide, offering practical tips on what to say (and NOT to say) to friends in crisis. The book is available here. She lives in Los Angeles with her three relatively well-behaved children.

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Turn Your Child’s No into Yes

What if you could turn your child’s NO into YES?

Is your child’s first response to everything an immediate and adamant “NO”?

You aren’t alone.

Many parents share your frustration (and anger) when every single response seems to be NO.

You aren’t alone, even teachers get frustrated when their students say NO – sometimes before they know what the request is going to be!

What happens to YOU when you hear the word NO?

Notice how you feel when you read it right now.

NO is a powerful word.

NO can make you shut down.

NO can make you feel rejected.

NO can take you to a younger stage in life when adults held sway.

  • Do you feel like you have a little general at your house, ruling with a great big stick and a great big NO?
  • Do you walk on egg-shells, afraid that your next request will be met with a resounding NO?
  • Do you avoid asking just to avoid the NO?

Change your Frame

What if you viewed NO as just the beginning of the conversation?

What if you considered NO as simply an opportunity to learn more?

What if you decided that NO was the first step towards YES?

(Can you see how you might already be changing how you feel about NO?)

How did NO get into the room in the first place?

NO is the ‘easy’ answer when:

  • He’s overwhelmed with too many requests, questions, or words.
  • He doesn’t have enough information.
  • He feels strong emotions that he can’t put words to.
  • He is, by nature, an observer and needs time before joining in.
  • He is, age appropriately, using his own free will and choice.
  • He is tired and/or hungry.

What if you welcomed his NO with interest and curiosity rather than frustration and anger?

Accepting NO.
He said it. Can you accept it?
(By the way, NO may also sound like: “I don’t know,” or “I don’t care.”)

Resist going head-to-head and end up lamely saying, “Because I said so.”

Be patient. Wait.
(Deep breathing helps here.)
Stay neutral and calm – and then tell him what you DO want.

What do you want instead?
Because our brains think in pictures rather than words, it is important that you give him plenty of ‘food for thought.’

When you say, “Don’t run” or “Don’t spill your milk,” he has to picture himself running and spilling milk before he can picture not doing those things.

Ask yourself, “What do I want instead?”
Tell him with enough detail that he knows exactly what you want.

“I want you to hold my hand in the parking lot.”
“I want you to see if you can keep your milk in the glass.”

Choose your NOs with care.
At the river on a summer day, I overheard a dad telling his son, “Don’t throw sand.” There was no more perfect place to throw sand and I wondered if this dad was thoughtlessly echoing words from his childhood.

Where could you make your own NO be a resounding YES? Leave a comment below.

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