How to Go From a Buzzkill to a Top Motivator With One Simple Vocabulary Tweak

This article was originally entitled, The Power of ‘And.” accepted the article and changed the title to the catchier “How to Go From a Buzzkill to a Top Motivator With One Simple Vocabulary Tweak.”


We’ve all had it said to us.

You’re boss has said it.

“You did really awesome on the project, but your teamwork could use some improvement.”

Your mom has said it.

“I am proud at how successful you are, but when are you getting married?”

Your best friend has said it.

“You look really pretty in that dress, but you would look so good with your hair down!”

Do you even remember the first part of that sentence?  The part that came before the ‘but’?  You know, the compliment?

It turns out no one does. Especially not our kids.

But we’re supposed to give feedback, right? Isn’t that how we help our kids develop grit and resilience?  Isn’t this how we help them build up and develop their talents?

How can we help them grow and achieve wonderful things if they think we don’t value them? If they believe they’ll never be good enough?

Don’t worry. There IS a way.   ——->>>


10 Simple Tools from Parenting and Psychology Experts that will Make You a Better Parent

This is part of a two piece series I did for a Positive Parenting Conference. It is FREE from May 22nd until May 26th. All the speakers are amazing and have really learned a lot about how to help my children become successful, happy, and intelligent adults. It is well worth your time.

10 Simple Tools from Parenting and Psychology Experts that will Make You a Better Parent

Why does parenting have to be so complicated!?!

There are so many things to know! And not just know, but to be an expert on. During my almost 12 years of parenting I feel like have had to become an executive assistant, strategic planner, dietician, psychologist, nurse, and wizard. (If only that last one came with a wand!)

And I’m constantly searching the Internet for ways I can be a more effective parent. That’s why I go looking for simple and easy tools. I don’t have time for complicated and hard!

I was helping Sumitha summarize the “deep dive” talks for her FREE online Positive Parenting Conference and I found myself jotting down note after note about the simplest things I can do to help get through my most complicated parenting issues.

Like handling school stress. Just last night my oldest called me into his room at bedtime and let out all his anxiety and anger about these Basic Skills Tests that he and his class have been taking for the last 9 days. It turns out that he’s so anxious his feelings are leaking into his relationships with his friends and coming out as anger.

Because of all these amazing experts I was able listen to him and then help him to express his anxiety and reframe these tiffs and hard words with his friends into something not quite so scary. (You’ll read more about all that below!)

I’ve put together a list of these simple tools from 10 amazing experts that helped me with the parenting issues I feel most at-sea about. I know they will help you, too!  —> CLICK HERE

How to Teach Your Child to Curse

My latest parenting article is out and published at AFineParent!

It’s called How to Stop Your Kids’ Swearing “Experiments” from Becoming Habits.

(Caution: This article contains salty words)


The shock I feel when I hear my sweet little child swear never quite goes away.

Who said that? I think, still jolted off balance.  Where did he learn that kind of language anyway?

In our case it was the tram: a treacherous place where my children are receiving their first exposure to the Real World.

In our urban Swiss life-style, our ride to school comes complete with teenagers making their way to the English language high school. It makes me cringe every time I hear a high schooler drop some “colorful metaphors” (as the late, great Leonard Nimoy called them in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).  I always look at my children to see if they are listening.

And, of course, they always are.

Swearing. Curses. Profanities. Obscenities. Vulgarities. Expletives. Everyone uses them at some point. Some people have perfected the art of speaking complete sentences made entirely out of expletives.  Comedians thrive on the titillation they create with salty language.  For example, George Carlin’s most popular routine was his Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV.

Our society is fascinated with swearing. From explicit lyric labels to FCC regulations, it seems we spend a great deal of energy thinking about colorful language.

Is swearing ever okay though?

Studies have shown that when you drop an F-bomb or two after smacking your shin against the coffee table you actually experience less pain.  Swear words are also highly effective for expressing strong feelings.  “Jerk!” doesn’t quite have the same punch of emotion as “Asshole!”

However in both examples above, the relief or release felt is lesser for someone who uses expletives all the time than for someone who hardly ever does.  And company you’re in determines whether the repercussions of swearing are worth the temporary relief. So it does pay to be judicious with your swearing.

People also swear as part of mastering a language.

Think about all the babbling your child did as a baby. Amongst all the cute cooing and babbling they began making meaningful connections between those sounds and objects around them. Suddenly mamamama became Mama!

Once they mastered the vocabulary they began to understand nuances like irony and sarcasm. Then came experimentation with alternative meanings to words. And in the final phase of developing linguistic mastery we hear swearing.

Understanding the nuances of swearing, when and where it is acceptable, is a crucial part of becoming indoctrinated into a culture and developing maturity.  Because it’s taboo, kids swear with peers whom with they feel safe. Swearing with friends is a sign of acceptance and equal standing within the group.

So ok, hard as it is for me to admit as a parent, there is a time and place were swearing might be okay.

But I definitely don’t want my kids swearing experiments to turn into a habit.

What can I do? Here’s what I’ve found helps –  —>

How to get Back on Track after a Shouting Match

I wrote this article for and it was published this week.  I am so, so proud of this piece. It’s not just for parents, though! It’s for anyone who has ever had a disagreement with their spouse, friend, sibling, or co-worker.  The steps here are things I use as an organization development consultant when I go in to help resolve conflicts.

Okay, maybe I don’t have co-workers tell each other “I love you.”  But it is important to find a way to show respect for your  co-worker and their ideas. The concept of Unconditional Positive Regard is universal and there are many ways of conveying it.

I hope you enjoy the article. I would love it if you could leave comments at AFineParent, like it on the site, and share it with your friends.


How to get Back on Track after a Shouting Match

In my house 90% of all arguments start with a “Can I?” followed up with a “No.”

Then CRACK! We’re off to the shouting matches.

Here’s a recent shout-a-thon.

“Can I have a PS4?”


“But why can’t I have a PS4?? Alex has one! And so does Miles!”

“But you are not going to have one. You don’t need one!”

“But they have Star Front Battle Wars! I love that game!”

“I said NO!”

“But I WANT it! And I am GOING to get it!”

“You. Are. Not! Now, you listen to me, young man! There is no way, on this green earth, that I am going to buy you a PS4!!”



Did all that shouting solve anything? Nope.  Am I proud of myself? Not in the slightest.  In fact, as soon as I calm down I feel awful.  I shouted at my child! I’m not even sure why. I must be the worst parent ever!

Sound familiar?

I’ll let you in on a little secret …


Free Range Parenting

I’ve had three friends forward me a story that appeared in The Washington Post on January 14, 2015, asking me to comment on it.  It’s a story about how two parents in Montgomery County are under investigation for letting their children go out by themselves.  Specifically, they are being investigated by CPS for neglect because they let their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter walk home from the park – a distance of about 1 mile.

Now these parents practice a parenting philosophy called “Free Range Parenting,” which is means parents don’t supervise their children every minute of the day, letting them build self-confidence and competence by doing things by themselves and taking on bigger responsibilities without parental assistance.   It has been seen by some as the counterpoint to “Helicopter Parenting.”

Free Range Parenting may feel very familiar to my generation (Gen-X) because it is in the same parenting vein as we were raised in. We walked home or took the school bus home from school by ourselves or with our group of friends, let ourselves in with our own key, made our own snack, did our homework, and got our chores done. All before Mom and Dad came home from work.  Some of us even started dinner.  Can I get an “Amen” from my fellow Latch-Key Kids?

So what happened that made this a crime?

To have free range, or latch-key, kids requires an explicit or implicit social contract with the community at large that states “we are all responsible for the care and safety of our children and our community, not just the parents.”  This harkens back to the day when adults could correct the behavior of children who are not their own without fear of a lawsuit or someone knocking on your door to yell at you for interfering.  To have such a contract requires a certain amount of trust between strangers that has been all but beaten out of us. Starting with the sensationalization of kidnappings in the late 1970s and early 1980s and continuing through the barrage of school shootings in present day.

The Helicopter Parent emerged as a response to these and other horrible crimes.  One result is a law in Montgomery County that prevents children younger than 8 years old from being left home alone or in the care of someone younger than 13.  It is this spirit of the law that the family from the article has apparently violated.   There is no such law here in Switzerland.  It is just known that, typically, children around the age of 8-ish can go to the park by themselves. Can and are expected to.  It’s how children become responsible adults.  My neighbor warned me when we first moved in that I were to accompany the 9 year old to the park someone would come and talk to me.  There are, of course, exceptions to every rule so parents here have to use their judgement.  What a novel concept.

It wasn’t always the case that parents hovered over their children to protect them from every danger imaginable.  How many of us rode our bikes around the neighborhood for hours on end?  How many of us walked to the ball field with their glove and bat over their shoulder for pickup game?  Who only came home for dinner when they heard their mother shouting for them?  I myself spent my summers down at the creek with my friend Susan hunting for crawdads and with my cousins building dams in the cow pastures.  And we (including my mother) ware happier for it.

Is it reasonable to expect parents to be with their children 24/7?  No, it is not.  Even animals in the wild leave their young from time to time.

Is it fair to punish parents for using their judgement to raise their children just because their philosophies don’t match the accepted norm or there are circumstances that make parenting laws unreasonble?   For example, a friend of mine had a daughter with the flu.  She left her daughter in her bed and ran to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for her.  Technically it was against the law for her to leave her daughter home alone, but would it have done more damage to bring her along for a 20 minute ride and bring her inside to infect who knows how many people? (Because, of course, it is against the law to leave your child in the car alone, too.)  I have also been know to let my oldest run some items to the next door neighbor’s house.  Technically, this is against the law, too.  However, I saw it as the first steps in me being able to trust my son to follow instructions and act in a safe manner and his confidence was boosted because I had trusted him with something important to me.

Parenting isn’t just about love.  It’s also about fear and risk.  Getting over your fear and letting your children take risks.  Risks aren’t just for kids. You have to take risks, too, or you will never be a confident parent.  And that is the biggest problem our generation faces.  We do not have confidence in our parenting or in our community.  We have been made to fear what could happen to our children. We have forgotten what could happen for our children.  It’s time we started to remember.