Fearless Parenting Blog

Tammy Fisher, M.Ed. was named Washington State School Counselor of the Year in 2014. A former junior high teacher for 11 years, she has been a school counselor for the past twenty years, working with all levels: pre-K to high school. Parent, educator, counselor and researcher, Tammy has coached hundreds of adults with her books, columns, and published articles; supporting parents in managing the ongoing, ever-changing, challenges and joys of parenting children/students of all ages. In addition to her work at St. Thomas School, she is also a full-time doctoral student in Counselor Education at Seattle Pacific University.

Best Practices: Great Parenting Moments Worth Sharing
Tammy Fisher, STS School Counselor

Focusing on what is going right, what works best, and the ultimate power of our clarity in relationship

Where is the pedagogical "Best Practices" for parents? In most professional fields, there is a body of researched skills and approaches that are deemed "best." While many of these may change with demands of the client, business and technology, some factors are still stable. This idea is common in education – and as I coach parents in my weekend parent success group, I find that this really is the case for parenting, too. Best practices? Of course! What amazes me in each parent conversation is how many of those best practices we already do – or take for granted. And also how quick we are to be self-critical about the Not-So-Best Practice we fell into when we were yelling at a tantruming toddler or lecturing our teen.

Consider what you do well. You got your child to school (in uniform, with lunch, on time... well, just a few minutes late – because, um, you forgot their soccer gear). But they are here. And no one is crying! J Below, I share some of the Best Practices stories I heard recently from parents working so hard to step away from complaining, nagging, bending rules, rescuing their child from life's consequences or choices, and naming what is going right, even when they are angry. Interested in learning more about the Nurtured Heart Approach® and Fearless Parenting? Read on and come connect. Enjoy – and then share some more with those around you. We all love a good story.

Best Practice #1 Energizing Independent Problem-Solving

A father is taking a stand to not engage in his children's sibling conflicts. Rather, he is working to energize their ability to work out their own problems - after they solve it! When they come for the referee, he simply says nothing and leaves the room. Without dad to add fuel to the conflict, it begins to lose its impact. Bam! Dad returned to the room and recognized how powerful they were in stepping away from the issue and solving their own conflict. He was impressed at the maturity! He poured on the relationship – and that was the last conflict for the rest of the whole Saturday! (Certainly not forever – but a darn good peace-building start.) Not bad for a family with five kids!

Best Practice #2: Lemonade Out of Leaking Lemons

Scrambling to get out the door, a mom finds her six-year-old daughter attempting to make breakfast (and successful making a disaster) in the kitchen. She begins to yell, hearing her own tirade, she catches herself mid-holler. She continues yelling, but now she changes what she is saying, not how she says it! "What are you thinking?" becomes a compliment rather than criticism. "You are really trying to take care of yourself! You were such an independent thinker. Let's get these shoes on, Miss Independent. I am so proud of your initiative. etc.." All the while she is speaking loudly and with great energy. She calms herself down, surprises her daughter enough to shock her into getting out the door quickly, and turns her own negative leaking into positive recognition that shifts the situation from disaster to amusement. (The daughter later says to her, "You were so loud about my good job, mom."J)

Best Practice #3: Bullies to Buddies Lens Shifting

A parent, frustrated with her 2nd grader's endless negative complaining about the other girls in her class, switches it up. Using a positive list of adjectives, she asks her daughter to name two things she likes about "Suzi." When the girl protests, the mom persists – and models it. I was frustrated with my co-worker," Mom says, "but he is motivated and can be funny sometimes." The child then is game. She thinks about it and names a couple of things. Then she expands it to a story of a time the "offender" actually was kind to her recently. Wow! That is great – and really shows that the daughter is also compassionate. Now they play that game in the car nearly everyday – and even before school to set her daughter up for naming what is going right. Daughter is also learning she gets more relationship from mom when she is sharing the view from that lens in life (academics, friends, events, etc.)

Best Practice #4 – The Creative Hijack

Discovering that asking his child to give a reset or time-out sometimes results in non-compliance, the father decides to hijack the child into compliance. When his child was talking back, he turned his back on him and left the room. The very second he was quiet, dad turned right back to him, "Wow. You handled that reset well. Beautiful job resetting yourself." Needless to say, the child was a bit surprised. But it worked. He stopped the arguing and was able to ask for what he needed politely. (Dad basically reset himself, but taught his son that the energy of their relationship would be given only when he followed the rules of civility!)

Best Practice #5: The Underachieving Achiever Her junior high son is capable, earns high test scores but low grades for lack of homework completion. Adapting the Nurtured Heart Approach®, she builds his capacity and already existing strengths. She stops ineffective nagging, restrictions, lectures. And simply makes all of those parent/kid conversations intentionally on what he is doing right – and what his gifts are: the assignment he turned in (not the ones he didn't), the start of his research paper (not the unfinished portions), the scores on his successful quizzes, the teacher feedback (which is now requested in positive terms) which builds his capable capacity. She tells his teachers this is what she is doing – and within two weeks, her son has improved assignment completion, time management, attitude toward his own success and engagement – and even better, a stronger parent relationship which doesn't focus on the problem.

Our school is living evidence of the many success stories of Best Practices – so many examples of parents taking a stand to empower their children – and teachers standing with them. What are some of yours? I would love to hear more creative strategies to energize our children into their positive future.