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EP Contest Winners II: Giving Consequences and Avoiding Power Struggles

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!

We’re featuring all 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


Take the Emotions Out of It—and Tie the Consequence to the Behavior by John and Christine Zanetti

My husband I and get very emotional in discussions with our children.  They talk back and argue relentlessly and know all of our hot buttons — and how to push them.  It tends to get us off track from the lessons we are trying to get across. Recently, my son did not do an important job he was supposed to have gotten done.  Because of tips I’d learned in Empowering Parents and The Total Transformation Program, instead of stewing until he got home and then throwing the book at him and grounding him from everything (which is what my husband was angry enough to do), we took the time to talk and determined an appropriate consequence tied to the lesson we wanted him to learn. This was not emotional and not a power play. I typed it up so we wouldn’t get emotional when he talked back and left it on his bed for him. When he came home,  he read it, felt it was fair and agreed.  It took all of the emotion out of it!  The consequence was appropriate and was tied back to the lesson we wanted him to learn.  If only we can continue to do this even in emotional situations, more peace will reside in our home.  Thank you, James Lehman!

John and Christine: It sounds like you are turning around your whole family’s behavior in a very positive way.  Putting off the discussion until you are calm and making sure not to confront your child in anger is one of the keys to parenting success.  This also allows you to focus on the behavior and not the emotions. Nice going! For more on this, read: Temper, Temper: Keeping Your Cool When Kids Push Your Buttons.

The Importance of Giving Choices (and Consequences!) by Ruth Rubelt

While reading an article in the Empowering Parents newsletter, I remembered the value of giving choices to kids. We have three granddaughters and a great nephew who come to stay with us from time to time.  Two of the girls, ages 10 and 15, are cousins and they don’t like getting up in the morning. (If we let them, they would sleep until noon!) Well, we happen to live on a ranch where we get up relatively early as there are chores to do every day. I told them after the first morning of hearing “No, I don’t want to get up!” that for every half hour they were late waking up, they would lose two hours of their precious cell phone time. They said, “What if my Mom calls, what if it’s an emergency?” I told them it was their choice: if they get up, they can get their calls; if they sleep in, they’ll miss the calls—too bad. They kept complaining about it, but I didn’t argue or scream, I just kept repeating, “It’s your choice.” You know what? They both got up on time from then on! No hollering, no arguing. I loved it!

Ruth: Giving kids choices can eliminate power struggles quickly. You also established a specific consequence related to a behavior—and found something the girls would miss if they lost it. You used a great technique to bring peace to your home in the mornings!

Don’t Over-Explain by Chris Italiano

One of the things I have learned from the Total Transformation Program is not to give a huge, detailed explanation when asking my son to do something. In the past, I would tell him all the reasons why he should or shouldn’t do something, explain the future benefits to him, blah, blah, blah… and he would just glaze over. Now, I say “just do it” and walk away. I’ve also learned to remove myself from a heated situation until I’ve thought my words through. And I always tell him that I may not like what he did, or I may not like him right now…but that I will always love him.

Dear Chris: Congratulations! You have learned how to keep it simple and direct, without over-engaging with your child.  I like how you are also remembering to consider your child’s esteem by holding him in high regard even though he may engage in inappropriate behavior at times.

When It’s Time to Call the Police by Alice Birchfield

All your tips help me, but if I had to pick one, I think one of the most freeing was the encouragement to get the authorities involved if my son became too out-of-hand.  I think we all have a fear of the system, which is mostly irrational.  Especially when dealing with a child who is basically acting like a criminal! Thank you all so much.  I love the newsletters and share them with my friends. Please keep up the good work!

Dear Alice: Good for you for adopting James’ philosophy: “There is no excuse for abuse.” Being clear in your home that abuse will not be tolerated – and letting kids know that you won’t hesitate to call the police if necessary, in order to keep everyone safe—is a strong message to send your kids. For more on this, check out When Kids Get Violent: There’s No Excuse for Abuse.


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 our blog next week, 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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