Positive Guidance Tools – The Art of Disengaging

As I work on getting things ready for the switch to my new blog design, I thought you might enjoy this “oldy but goody” from a little over a year ago, which has also been incorporated into my ebook, Parenting with Positive Guidance: Building Discipline from the Inside Out

Additionally, there were unintentionally two deadlines given in some of the media surrounding the Simplify Your Family Life Sale (some said it ended 3/24, others said 3/25).  As a result, the later end date will be honored.  That means that if you thought you missed out on the opportunity to get 31 great ebooks at 90% off, you actually have a few extra hours to take advantage of this amazing offer!    Click here to purchase your collection today! 

My childhood and teenage years were shaped quite a bit by the fact that my dad was a lawyer and then a judge.  Building and presenting a logical and convincing argument was a favorite family pastime.  We engaged in (usually) friendly debate the way other families play Scrabble.  As my father’s child, I learned the art of pursuing an argument.  As a parent and a teacher, I have learned the art of ending one.

Often times, when we find ourselves engaged in an argument with children, the logic is sometimes lacking.  But that doesn’t matter much to the child.  It all makes perfect sense to him.  He still wants a sucker for breakfast in spite of the fact that you already told him he needs to choose from one of the healthy options.  She wants to play at her friend’s house NOW, even though you’ve explained that her playdate is tomorrow.  

Often, we get passionate arguments when children realize the consequences of their choices and are trying to escape.  Susan begs for you to pick up the puzzle pieces, even though she is the one who threw them.  When a discussion with a child reaches the point that you find that logic isn’t going to bring you eye-to-eye and that you’re simply going around in circles, it’s time to disengage.

Disengaging means you, as the adult, has to take the high road and stop feeding the flames so that the fire of argument can go out rather than flare into an all-consuming inferno.  Monitoring your attitude and voice, very kindly and softly explain just one last time what the situation is, so that the child knows he has been heard.  Then follow it up with a terminal statement.  (A common one from Love and Logic is, “I love you too much to argue.”)

 Here’s how that would sound:  “John, I understand that you want to watch the show.  But you chose to play with your Legos for twenty more minutes instead.  That time is gone and now it’s time for bed.  I love you too much to argue about this anymore.”  “Sasha, I understand that you want a sucker, but I don’t even have any.  So I’m not going to argue about it anymore.”  “Tyler, I know you want to paint now, but your name is right here on the sign up list.  So as soon as Ellen is done it will be your turn.  Arguing with me won’t change where your name is on the list, so we’re not going to talk about it anymore.” 

I can’t stress enough the importance of monitoring your tone and temper as you make these statements.  The point of disengaging is to defuse the situation.  If you say all the right words, but with all the wrong non-verbal cues, you’ve just upped the tension.  Say it calmly, give a little hug, and then stick to it.  You can’t disengage and then jump back into the argument when the child inevitably tries one last shot.  You can ignore, change the subject (“Now who wants to read this hilarious story?”), or calmly repeat your terminal statement (“I love you too much to argue about this.” or “We’re not going to talk about this anymore.”) like a broken record. 

Sometimes a child will turn from an argument to a tantrum when she sees that you have decided to disengage.  Treat that as a new situation.  (Check out my Tools for Tantrums and see if that helps.)  Give the child space and help her to get control.  Then offer some choices of where to go from here.  (“Do you want to play with some playdough now, or go play outside?”  “Do you want to pick up those puzzle pieces now or in five minutes?”)  Trying to reason with them while they are out of control, going back to the argument, or simply caving in aren’t options.   

You’ll find that as you are consistent in disengaging, it will become more effective in the future.   This practice lets the child know that we each own our own behavior.  Just as he gets to make his choices, you, as the adult, make yours.  When you choose not to argue, you are modeling positive behavior.  So even if you are a passionate arguer like I am, with careful application, you’ll find that you can actually “win” more arguments, simply by ending them.

Read more about Positive Guidance in my ebook.

Top photo by davidlat.



Filed under Positive Guidance and Social Skills

A Thursday Post?

I know I don’t normally post on Thursdays, but there were two quick housekeeping items I wanted to take care of.

First off, I’m planning on switching over to a new design format in the next few days.  It will still be the same content in the same place (www.notjustcute.com) but a better layout and organization.  I’m really excited about making this switch and have been working on it for quite some time. 

Now my computer expert helping me out with this says odds are 99.9% certain that all the email and feedburner subscriptions should all transfer just fine.  But I don’t want anyone getting left behind!  So if it seems I’ve disappeared from your reader or inbox in the next few days, please know it wasn’t intentional.  Find your way back to www.notjustcute.com and add the subscriptions again.  I really think you’re going to like what we’ve done with the place!

Last of all, I wanted to remind you that the Simplify Your Family Life Sale ends in a matter of hours!  If you were planning on getting these 31 great ebooks for 90% off, you’ll need to act now.  Click here to purchase your collection today!  (I didn’t one anyone missing out just because they had lost track of time as I tend to do!)

Have a great Thursday!


Filed under Uncategorized

Early Birds and Night Owls {Simple Kids Guest Post}

“Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.” – Yehudi Menuhin

Routines are wonderful for creating continuity and a predictable rhythm in your family life.  But what happens when the internal rhythms of individual members of one family are drastically different?  Perhaps nowhere is this difference in personal rhythm more striking than at bedtime.

One Room, Many Sleep Patterns

 We have three boys sharing one room.  While our oldest is often hammered from the day’s activities, our middle son remind us almost nightly that he is “noctownal” and doesn’t actually need sleep.  (Sometimes we almost believe him.)  Our youngest still naps, so depending on how that goes each day, he may be out as soon as his head hits the pillow or he may still be winding down for a while.  I’m certainly not ready to spend three hours in a revolving door of three separate bedtimes.  So we had to come up with a routine that would fit different rhythms. 

Slide on over to Simple Kids to read the full post!

 :: And don’t forget that the HUGE Simplify Your Family Life sale ends tomorrow at 2pm EST.  Don’t miss out on 90% off of some of the best resources for you and your family! ::

Top photo by popofatticus.

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Filed under Article, Transitions

Good Reads, Good Deal, Good Cause: Simplify Your Family Life

::Simplify Your Family Life:: 

Click here for more details!

Anyone who knows me well knows that if I was listing some of my favorite things, right up there in the top would be good books with useful information (please refer to my aforementioned nerd status if that surprises you), finding a good deal on something I can really use, and helping a good cause with meaningful work.  And of course, aren’t we all looking to simplify and improve the most important part of our lives – our family life?

Corey from Simple Marriage and Mandi from Life…Your Way must have read my mind because they have brought together some of the top authors in the family life space with over 30 great ebooks covering a variety of topics related to family life.  (And I’m so flattered to be included!)

When purchased separately, these ebooks are worth over $450, but for four days only, you can purchase the entire collection for just $47!  (Nothing says good deal like nearly 90% off!)

 A portion of each sale will also be donated to The Mentoring Project, which seeks to rewrite the story of the fatherless generation. (How’s that for a good cause?)

IMPORTANT DETAIL:  This collection is only available from 2 p.m. on March 21st to 2 p.m. on March 24th. There will be no late sales offered.  ****Correction!!  Due to conflicting media dates (some saying March 24th, some March 25th) the sale will end promptly at 2pm, March 25th!!****

Click here to purchase your collection today!

When you purchase the Simplify Family Life collection, you get instant access to each of the 30 ebooks listed below:

Family Minimalism


Food & Cooking

Green Living

Intimacy & Marriage






Personal Development


Work at Home


 Click here to purchase your collection today!
The sale ends at 2 p.m. ET on March 24th, and there will be no late sales offered, so don’t wait.
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Weekend Reads 3.19.11

20 Small Steps Toward an Easier Day — Fifteen Minutes at a Time {Simple Kids}

Green Fizzy Fun {I Can Teach My Child}

Funnel Painting {Tinker Lab}

The gift of reading: Finding the “gift” in any book {Teach Mama}

This post is about 2 years old, but it’s new to me:

Feel like a failure as a parent?  You may be doing everything exactly right. {Confessions of a Mean Mommy}

Enjoy your weekend!

Top photo by Fischkuh.
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Little Shoulders

My grandmother had a lot of sayings.  “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”  “Do not throw upon the floor the food you can not eat.  For many a starving children would think it quite a treat.”  And when my husband asked if I was OK dating him at 10 years my senior, Grandma’s words jumped right out.  “Better to be an old man’s darling than a young man’s slave.”  (Though my then-suitor didn’t appreciate the old man reference at the tender age of 34.)  But apparently there was one I had forgotten until my mom used it the other day:

“You can’t put a big head on little shoulders.”

 It’s a quick reminder, in Grandma’s style, that you can’t expect a small child to think as an adult.  You can’t expect a child to act as an adult.  Children are, after all, children. 

And yet we do it from time to time.

We expect them to wait patiently without giving them something to do.  (And then get upset when they find something to do.)  We say things like, “the baby’s sleeping” but leave out the real message, “it’s time to be quiet”, and assume they’ll fill in the blanks.  And we expect them to ignore that wriggling worm on the sidewalk because we are in a hurry. 

Too often we project our understanding, our perspectives, and our priorities on to the children we love and teach.   Developmentally, children are supposed to be ego-centric.  What’s our excuse as adults?

Monitor your expectations and the words you use with young children and beware of trying to put big heads on little shoulders.  Slow down now and then and see things from their view.  (You were there once, remember?)  Keep expectations appropriate to their abilities, and instructions clear for their understanding. 

Be patient when kids act like….well, kids.

Top photo by Wynand Delport.

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Three Little Pigs

The next time you share the story of the Three Little Pigs, don’t just tell it, have the children be a part of it!  These masks are inexpensive and easy to make.  And the kiddos have a blast as they step into the story!

Start out with some simple supplies: a toilet paper tube, felt, scissors, glue, a Sharpie, and yarn or elastic string. (Oh, and the hole puncher and pencil were sluffing class when the picture was taken, but they’ll come in handy too.)

For a pig snout, cut the tube so that it’s not quite in half.  I would use the piece on the right for the snout.  Then trim down the other to match and you’ve got two snouts from one tube.  (It works out to about a half-inch strip cut out of the center of the tube.)

Punch holes in each side of the tube to aid in stringing it later.  Use your pencil to mark how wide your tube snout is and then roll the tube along to measure how long it is.  You’ll end up with one long rectangle to cut out and then glue around the snout, covering the sides (and the holes – don’t worry, we’ll get to those later).

Set the snout down on the felt again and trace around the outside.  That extra little bit from the pencil will push the outline out a bit and create a circle that is slightly larger, which is exactly what you want.  Cut out the circle and draw on those cute piggie nostrils with your Sharpie.  Then glue the circle to the top of your snout.  (Be sure to align your nostrils with the holes you punched for your string.) 

If you’re using yarn, snip the felt over the holes and thread the yard through, knotting at the holes.  So you’ll end up with two yarn strings that can be tied together.  If you’re using elastic thread, thread it through a needle and feed it right through the fabric and the hole and knot it at each side, creating a band to be stretched around your child’s head.  For the wolf, follow the same directions, but use a full tube.

Enjoy acting out the story with the children you love and teach.  After acting out the basics of the story, let them continue the story or create new stories in their dramatic play.   Not only is storyacting more engaging, but it builds comprehension and fosters language and literacy skills for our budding readers.

Now that’s one fierce wolf!
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Filed under book activity, Building Readers, language activity, Learning through Play and Experience, Uncategorized