EP Contest Winners III: Creating a Culture of Accountability

Posted August 21, 2009 by

Photo of elisabeth

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

This week, we are posting the final three winners of our contest in the EP Blog, accompanied by a response from 1-on-1 Coach Carole Banks. Each of our 10 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


How One Grandmother Learned to Give her Grandkids Choices
by Neta Dawn

My husband and I are raising two of our grandchildren, a 15-year-old grandson and a 13-year-old granddaughter. Our grandson has been with us six years and granddaughter has been here now for close to four.

The technique that we feel is most effective and has taken away a huge amount of frustration is giving the child with an option when conflict presents itself. We believe that it is very empowering for a child to see that they have the “option” to make a “choice.”  No one likes to be backed into a corner no matter what the circumstance; and 9 times out of 10 they will come out swinging.  So when we heard of giving the child an “option” we decided to teach them to be empowered by their own decisions and learn how to weigh the consequences in their mind.  We regard this as such a “gift” to the children to be passed to future generations.This technique promotes great reasoning powers which in turn results in a calming affect and more self control due to the confidence we believe is instills.

Thank you for caring, Mr. Lehman, and thank you for taking the time to put together such a detailed and feasible teaching tool.

Dear Neta: You have succeeded in stepping out of the power struggle by stating rules and giving your grandchildren choices.  Your grandkids are learning that if they make a poor decision, there will be a negative consequence. Good for you for putting this wonderful technique into practice!

Don’t Worry about Getting Your Child’s “Buy in” by Stephen Limpe

We have a 13-year-old daughter who has ADHD and auditory processing issues.  We have found the Total Transformation Program to be a very effective and practical sanity check and primer on how to get more cooperation from—and better quality time with— our daughter.

Sometimes, some of the most simple techniques are the most effective.  While I could cite numerous examples, one technique that has really worked for us is to avoid getting dragged into banal arguments justifying our actions with our daughter.  I think that finally seeing and believing that we, as parents, do not need to justify each and every consequence we are forced to impose upon her has been very uplifting.  We now provide her with warnings for her inappropriate behavior, give her a moment to decompress, then if she follows down the same wrong path, we follow through with the defined and understood consequence.  We no longer seek her “buy-in” and understanding for the consequence—we now believe she knows perfectly well that her inability to act responsibly has led to the consequence. I think we were probably giving too many chances and doing too much justifying and explaining to her than necessary.  In retrospect, we were probably doing that more to assuage our own guilt about imposing the consequence.  James is right – kids will never give us the pleasure of “buying in” to a consequence. Now, we just don’t sweat it any longer since we know we are doing the right thing for her in the long run by making her accept accountability for her own actions.  Simple but valuable advice that is hard to figure out in the thick of everything!

Stephen: Letting go of the need to get your child’s buy-in is truly freeing, isn’t it? Your letter is a great example of how parents can use direct statements regarding their expectations for compliance to the rules. It also sounds like you and your wife have stopped allowing your daughter to use “the turnaround” to blame you or make accusations. Kids often do this in order to take the focus off themselves by putting parents on the spot—and the parents wind up explaining themselves and becoming defensive in their efforts to get a ‘buy-in’ from their kids.  Great work, Stephen. We’re so glad The Total Transformation Program is working for your family!

Teaching Our Son to Take Responsibility by Jayne Lee

Just when my husband and I had reached the end of our rope regarding our fourteen-year-old son, we came across the Total Transformation. We thought that since we’d tried everything else, why not give this a try? Boy, are we glad we did. At first we didn’t think what we were learning would work for us. We thought we were already doing what James Lehman was recommending. The one thing that we had been missing: we finally realized our son needed to take the responsibility for his actions and face the consequences. By going through the program, we were able to learn how to talk with our son in a way that would make him think about what we were saying and know that we were going to stick by what we said. After sticking to our guns, things started to improve. We went from yelling at him from the time he got up to the time he went to bed to talking to him in a normal tone—but in a way that he knew we meant what we were saying. We are talking about a boy who has no learning disability or mood disorder. He is a normal teenager with a bad attitude. Sure, we still have our moments, but we are quick to remember that we aren’t going anywhere doing things the old way. Now we stop and think about how to turn the situation around to a positive outcome. Total Transformation has not only helped us learn how to deal with our son and get him started on the right track, it has also helped us learn how to communicate with him and get good results.

Dear Jayne: You and your husband have found out how important it is to create a culture of accountability in your house by holding your son accountable for his actions.  That link between responsibility, consequences and accountability is so important. It also sounds like you have stopped yelling and started communicating with him much more clearly and effectively. It’s wonderful to hear about the positive changes in your family’s life. Keep up the good work!

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

EP Contest Winners 2009

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


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.

Popular on Empowering Parents

View Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Been there with a 19 year old Report

    Liz, one of the most difficult consequences I enforced was the one where I said she couldn’t come home for 24 hours. She immediately became a “small child” again; Where will I go, what will I do? I said, you are 19 and an adult. You made the choice, you knew this consequence, now you have to live with it. She no longer comes into my house in the middle of the night, she no longer yells obscenities at me when she doesn’t get her way. Was it hard for me to stick by my guns, yes, but was it worth it YES. Also, you might think since they are gone so much, this won’t work, but, just taking away that option for my daughter, worked wonders. If only more parents would just enforce the rules and consequences….

  2. Liz Report

    I still have trouble finding consequences for 17-19 year old children that are not at home half the time. I don’t see taking away their financial support as an option.

  3. David Report

    Many times we hear, “when I was a kid…”, as if operations in homes have changed in a fundamental way. We like to believe something(s)is to blame for troubles with children. Blame is too often looking not within but outside our forces. And we do have the forces on our side. Just as parents before us rewarded and punished kids for breaking rules of the household,just as the schools should do. What we have is the opportunity to raise the kids we have not ones we wanted or would design. So we should not fear not being loved by kids or making the wrong decisions. In fact, we are in charge of forces-love, care, nurturing,teaching, coaching, money,counseling and constructing boundaries and expectations. Now the hard part. Train our kids to know we can cut-off their resources without abusing either them or their abusing us. They know who has the keys, car,house,money and the law on their side. We do. They cannot operate without a troop leader. They can participate but not breach the rules of order in the family without being graded just as in school. My father lived until age 84. “When I was a kid” he would say to us four boys- “I will make you believe me”. He did what we seem to forget we can do. He made rules and we were expected to adhere to them. Too much of anything was correctable by reducing exposure to that element. Kids have more stuff, electronics, entertainment, all of which harbors them inside the house. The out of doors is passed by with little notice by many kids.Boredom has become a lamentation cry for the kids. Chores, charities and playgrounds cure tha cry.Same fundamentals as “when I was a kid”. THEY KNOW WE LOVE THEM WHEM WE INVEST TIME TO LEAD, LOVE, LISTEN and REPEAT THE RULES. They have their fears too. And without our harping and their results of their actions their is no outcome for them and little to make them believers.

  4. Brooke Report

    I just wanted to let you know how many tips I have gotten from your website. My children are only 2 and 5, but I hope by implementing your advice know we will have the fundamentals in place when his behavior gets more challenging. My husband has never read any parenting books, but he will read your articles which cut to the chase and offer quick, practical solutions.

    I particularly like your editor Elisabeth Wilkins who takes the time to give encouragement and feedback to readers who submit comments. She is also very funny.



Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help


Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families