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EP Contest Winners I: "This Parenting Technique Really Worked for Me!"

Posted by Elisabeth Wilkins

Congratulations to the winners of our EP Contest, “This Parenting Technique Really Worked for Me!”

We received so many great entries, it was truly hard to choose just ten. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

For the next three weeks, we’ll be featuring the winning entries in our blog, with a response from 1-on-1 Coach Carole Banks. And each of our winners will receive a signed copy of James Lehman’s new book, Transform Your Problem Child.

Thank you all once again for writing in and sharing your transformation into an “Empowered Parent” with us!

— Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor & the Empowering Parents Team

The Importance of Avoiding Power Struggles

by Jessica A. Kaiser

“I am a marriage and family therapist and I purchased the Total Transformation Program. I also really enjoy the Empowering Parents newsletter — and have shared it with many, many parents with whom I work. One of the most important things I have learned and use personally — and pass on professionally — is to walk away: End the power struggle. All too often, parents continue arguing with their child and trying to convince or rationalize with a brain that cannot comprehend everything that’s happening nor has the maturity to rationalize. This technique of stating the expectation to the child and then leaving the situation has proven to be extremely powerful! Thank you!”

Jessica: You’re so right about the importance of ending the power struggle with your child. And the sooner you disengage when your child begins to escalate, the less you will fuel those distorted perceptions he uses to justify his behavior and the sooner the argument will end. This is a great use of an effective parenting tool—thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

For more on this technique, read the article Avoiding Power Struggles with Defiant Children: Declaring Victory is Easier than You Think!

Giving Task-Oriented Consequences Worked for Our ADHD Child!

by Kim Smith

“The best technique that we have implemented with our ADHD child is to ‘make the consequence task- oriented.’  I had been in the habit of sending my son to his room – mostly to give me a break from him – where he would yell, ‘How much longer? Can I come out now?’ He did this even if we set a timer or added minutes for each time he asked the question.  Nothing worked.

But when we made the consequence task-oriented, he was in control of how long it took him to get the task done.  It let him feel a little bit of control when there was a set end.  For example, he got suspended from the bus for 3 days for fighting.  I explained to him that I had to give up my time to prepare dinner and unload the dishwasher to drive him home from school.  As his consequence, he had to help me with my chores.  Whether it took him 10 minutes to unload the dishwasher or an hour, he was in control of how long it took.  He finally learned that he was only taking up his own time and that it didn’t matter to me how long it took him. This technique really really took away a lot of back talk and extra frustration for us both!!!”

Dear Kim: As you’ve learned, punishments do not change a child’s behavior, but a consequence that includes a task that has a learning component will help your child practice the skill you want to improve. We’re glad to see this is working so well for you and your family!

How I Deal with Excuses and Blaming

by Laura Smith

“I love the detailed explanation in Empowering Parents of how kids try to divert the attention from their own behavior when confronted. My most freeing moments come when I see this happening. For example, my daughter will say, “But he did . . .” and I remember to say, “This is not about your brother, this is about your behavior.” My most definite rule is to remember to allow my daughter to feel and think whatever she wants but to let her know that abusive behavior is not acceptable. This is such a clear rule, and hearing it in the parenting coaching really confirmed it for me and gave me the confidence to stand by this respectful boundary during an onslaught of adolescent frustration.”

Dear Laura: Teaching your child that excuses and blaming do not solve the problem is so important. Focusing kids on what the real problem is gets them back on track, and shows them that they can’t blame someone else for their mistakes.  And establishing the rule of “No excuse for abuse” is also one of the best things a parent can do to create a culture of accountability in the home. Great work! These techniques have truly made you an Empowered Parent!

For more ways to talk to your child when they use excuses and blaming, read “Kids, Blaming and Apologies: Everything after ‘But’ is Bull” by James Lehman, MSW.


Here is the list of winners for this year’s EP Contest, in alphabetical order. Congratulations to these Empowered Parents!

EP Contest Winners ’09

  • Alice Birchfield
  • Neta Dawn
  • Chris Italiano
  • Jessica Kaiser
  • Jayne Lee
  • Stephen Limpe
  • Ruth Rubelt
  • Kim Smith
  • Laura Smith
  • John and Christine Zanetti

The remaining winning entries will be featured in the next two weeks in our blog, so please stay tuned for more!


About Elisabeth Wilkins

Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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