Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Posted January 13, 2016 by

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Earlier this week, we wrote about celebrating success with your family. But what if things suddenly seem to be getting worse? Don’t panic.

Setbacks are a normal but difficult part of the change process. With a good plan, you’ll get through these tough times and back to celebrating more success.

Here are some tips for when you feel like you’re taking two steps forward and one step back.

  1. Expect setbacks, they’re normal. It would be amazing if change happened smoothly, but that’s just not the case. There will be plenty of bumps in the road. Know that setbacks happen and try to think of them as opportunities to practice your skills as a parent.
  2. Don’t panic. A setback does NOT mean you’ve slipped back to the beginning. It doesn’t mean your strategy isn’t working. A setback just means you’ve had a bad day, or need to make an adjustment. Acknowledge what happened today and think about it, but don’t throw in the towel.
  3. It’s okay to feel frustrated or angry. These are normal emotions. Expect those feelings, acknowledge them, and then see if you can become calmer. Recognizing your frustration can help you move forward calmly.
  4. Think about the last three weeks, not just today. Try to be objective. What does the big picture look like? Focusing on the larger view keeps your perspective in check, and can take some of the pressure off of a bad day.
  5. Get Support. We know bad days and how discouraging they can be. This is when you need the support of friends, family, or maybe a good coach.

Wishing you the best this week,

Marissa S., Empowering Parents Coach


Marissa is a proud mom to two boys, age 10 and 5. She earned her degree in Sociology from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and has been a 1-on-1 Coach since 2011. Prior to coming to Empowering Parents, Marissa gained experience working as the House Manager of a group home for teenage boys, as a Children’s Mental Health Case Manager, and also spent several years working on the Children’s Unit at a Psych. Hospital.

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  1. anxiousgran Report

    I sympathise with you. When our grandson first moved in with us. We were warned that there would times where he would push us to our limits, and he often does. There have been times when I have screamed and shouted at him, but seriously, it doesnt work. Its obvious that your a loving, caring parent & that is half the battle. My grandson didnt get that from his mum & that is why he tests us – to see if we will reject him too. To add to his internal battle, just like your child, they are going through the early stages of puberty. Hormones are kicking in & all the turmoil thst comes with it. I am learning to ease back a bit when he acts up & seize the moment when hes calm to talk things through. I dont want him to think im the enemy, but someone who cares & loves him dearly, who, only wants the best for him. Somedays, hes a nightmare & at his worst after an occassional visit to his mum. I allow him a little space so as not to suffocate, but give him reasonable boundaries that we have agreed to. Involving him in this arrangement has made it easier to uphold. I wish you luck. We all need it.

  2. Charlene Plati Report

    I have a 12 year old son who will not obey when he is told to do anything. We have restricted his computer, tv and his phone.
    He only has sports and food left to take.
    If I take away sports I feel like I might make things worse. As far as food, his friends at school buy him junk and he hides it and eats it when we aren’t around. He won’t eat the healthy food I make.

    • rwolfenden Report

      Thanks for writing
      in.  I speak with a lot of parents who feel hopeless when the consequences
      they have are not working, and there’s nothing else to take away.  You are
      not alone in feeling this way!  We do not recommend using sports or food
      as consequences for kids.  Sports can be a healthy outlet for kids, and
      can be another avenue to teach your son values like teamwork, accountability,
      and responsibility.  In addition, using food as a consequence can lead to
      unhealthy power struggles and control issues around food and eating.  One
      option for you at this point might be setting up an incentive system for your
      son to be rewarded when he follows your directions and rules.  For more
      information on this, check out “  Take care.

  3. sandie Report

    no kidding one step forward, and sometimes it seems blocks backward. it can be so trying, how can one day go so well and the next, with no seeming changes be horrible. I try to step back, try to understand, but in a household of four adults,who are old school and pretty much demand compliance with no say so. I am trying to talk and hold back on the one here is into trying diff tactics. the kid says shes just bad and cant change or uses the I dont know tactic. everyone thinks I’m the loose cog in the machinery. I’m at a loss

  4. anxiousgran Report

    We had a really bad day last Sunday. The family were all set to sit down for lunch and despite an earlier request to switch off his xbox, our grandson kept using delay tactics to stay on it. As explained in an earlier post, he lives with us. He is 11 years old & had lots of things to deal with prior to moving in with us. He has issues with discipline, but taking guidance from many of your newsletters we are slowly seeing signs of improvement. When he wouldnt turn off his xbox my husbsnd did. Our grandson went mad. Threw his controller, headphones & cushions on the floor. Stormed out of the room slamming doors. I called him back & got no response, so we left him alone to cool down. Later when family members had left, he came to the table. We spoke quietly for a time & he ate in silence. I pointed out that the xbox was only a game machine & not worth getting all stressed out over. He agreed & together we made an agreement to minimise its use. Given a set amount of time each day, (in his case 1 hour after school & homework). This time limit is to prove to him that switching it off when required is not an issue. All things in moderation. This week, so far, he has been great. In addition, he is much calmer in general.dealing with a crisis in a calm state of mind certsinly makes a difference. Im sure we will have more incidents in the future but they are getting less. Thank you for all of your advise, it has been invaluable.



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