Posts Tagged parenting

5 Tips for Sibling Harmony

three siblings whisperingthree siblings whispering

three siblings whispering

It’s 7 AM, and you’re sitting in absolute silence, enjoying a steaming hot cup of coffee before diving into the usual morning madness. 

You let out a deep sigh of enjoyment. These are the mornings you live for. Nothing but perfect peace until you hear…




“He won’t leave me alone!”

“She’s not letting me use the bathroom!”

“I was here first!”

Ah, yes, the morning routine has begun. And once again, your kids are at each other’s throats. 

That hot coffee and silence were nice while they lasted, you think. But now the real day begins.

Sound familiar?

Let’s face it – sibling spats are a part of life.  

In fact, sibling rivalry is not only inevitable; it’s a healthy way for kids to learn how to compromise and navigate relationships.

But on the downside, the constant bickering can also wreak havoc on daily life, not to mention Mom’s and Dad’s nerves. 

Our goal is to achieve at least some measure of sibling harmony, right?

Right! In fact, this idea of “sibling harmony” is so desired among parents that we’ve dedicated an entire masterclass to the topic as part of our Household Harmony Trifecta Series.

Enroll in the Sibling Harmony Masterclass today and put an end to those frustrating battles tomorrow!

All parents want their kids to get along. But few feel confident in their ability to bring that harmony home.

But I can promise you, sibling harmony is possible! 

It may sound like an impossible dream, but it’s absolutely do-able with these 5 Tips for Sibling Harmony:

Tip #1: Don’t Compare or Label Your Kids

One of the easiest mistakes for parents to make is labeling and comparing our kids. I get it!

Perhaps you’ve found yourself saying something like, “He’s my shy little guy,” or “She’s always been the studious one in the family.”

Sounds innocent enough, but even subtle labels fuel sibling rivalry. It can also unintentionally lead to a feeling of competition between them. 

Think about it from their perspective…

If Mom refers to my sibling as the “studious one” by default, I assume that I’m not particularly studious. If she affectionately refers to me as “her wild one” or “her handful,” most likely, my sibling will feel rather superior as the “well-behaved” one.  

Knowing how you may unintentionally label your kids and fuel competition is a great first step in banishing the bickering in your house.

Tip #2: Spend One-on-One Time Daily with Each Child

The most important strategy to minimize sibling rivalry is to deliberate about daily one-on-one time with each child and build connections. We like to refer to this time as MIND, BODY AND SOUL TIME® togetherness.

That’s simply ten to fifteen minutes per day when your child has YOU to herself. This short time will go a long way toward reducing sibling competition for your attention.

It’s no secret that well-behaved kids are often ignored, while misbehaving kids get attention.  

Beat them to the punch by proactively filling their attention baskets, and you’ll find that their attention-seeing behaviors, such as squabbling, will decrease.

household harmony class

Tip #3: Be a Mediator, Not a Referee

At this point in parenthood, you may feel as though you should always carry a whistle and invest in a fully-stocked wardrobe of black-and-white striped shirts.

While you may feel like a referee, that is not your job! In fact, when parents referee sibling scuffles and choose sides, rivalry naturally escalates.  

As parents, our job is to mediate, not play judge and jury. Bring the parties together and help them devise a solution they can feel good about. That way, there are no winners or losers, and they’ll learn valuable skills they’ll use in future conflicts.

Yes, sometimes we really can all win.

amy mccready sibling harmony quote

Tip #4: Don’t Force Kids to Share

Learning to share is important, and so are boundaries.

When kids are forced to turn something over to a sibling (especially when it’s a new gift), it sends them a very clear message: Sharing feels bad, and I don’t want to do it again. 

Instead of forcing your child to “give your sister a turn,” you can say, “That’s Megan’s new toy, and she’ll let you have a turn when she’s ready.” 

This creates a feeling of safety for Megan. Over time, she’ll feel less territorial and be willing to share on her own.

Helpful Hint: Heather Schumacher offers great advice on this topic, including the words to say, in her book, It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids

Tip #5: Tolerate the Tantrums

Kids continue behaviors that work for them. 

When parents give in to a sibling’s tantrum and say, “Oh, just give her a turn!” it fuels sibling rivalry and reinforces that the best tactic to get what you want is to pitch a fit.  

Make sure the tantrum “doesn’t work” by letting it run its course. (I know it’s hard!) 

In the midst of the tantrum, you can empathize with your child. This may sound something like…

“It’s hard to wait, isn’t it? Would you like to play with something else now?”

While letting the tantrum run its course may feel particularly painful while it’s happening, over time, you’ll see your persistence and refusal to give in pay dividends on how your kids behave together.

Final Thoughts

Imagine a household where sibling rivalry and fights are a rare occurrence.

It may seem like a pipe dream, but I promise it isn’t! 

If you stay armed with these 5 tips and you’ll not only help your kids navigate sibling relationships–they may even achieve sibling harmony

If, after testing the waters with these 5 tips, you still need more sibling rivalry solutions — don’t worry. Enroll in our Sibling Rivalry Solutions Masterclass and put an end to these exhausting power struggles.

Here’s wishing you and your children the best, most harmonious household ever!

3 Communication Tips to Avoid Power Struggles

young african american family holding hands

Just imagine…

You’re 4-years-old, walking to the park with your mom and dad. The sun is shining, there’s a soft breeze in the air, and the twirly slide is calling your name. You can’t wait to get there. 

Just as you step onto the sidewalk, your mom shouts, “Don’t go in the street!” 

You hadn’t planned on walking in the street. At least not until this very moment. You stare at the smooth black pavement glistening in the sunlight. It’s just begging for you to run across it!

Why, oh, why did your mom even mention the street? Had she said, “Please walk with us on the sidewalk,” you probably wouldn’t have even noticed it. 

Now, it’s all your little mind can think about.

As parents, we can give commands to our children positively or negatively. Both, essentially, are asking the same thing, but the delivery–and the impression it leaves– can be exponentially different.

And in a world where the average child hears 432 negative comments or words per day versus 32 positive ones (Source: K. Kvols, Redirecting Children’s Behavior), it’s safe to say which style we typically rely on.

Don’t be late! Stop talking with your mouth full! Don’t touch your sister! No more fighting!

I’m sure a few of these sound familiar. But you see, when most of the language we use with our kids is negative (don’t, stop, no more, etc.) we create problems for both them and us.

Negative language is confusing, demeaning, and comes off as harsh. Kids don’t want to feel talked down to any more than adults do. 

Not to mention, it invites All. The. Power. Struggles.

Fortunately, the fix is as simple as swapping out those negative phrases for more positive ones. Trust me; this will do wonders for your child’s misbehavior!

Why? Because positive language empowers kids! It tells them that they can make good choices, and we value what they have to say. It’s a massive boost to their self-esteem.

Here’s the not-so-fortunate part. It may be simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. Making these changes isn’t going to happen overnight, especially if you’ve been using negative commands for years–it’s just second nature at this point! 

But with a bit of time, practice, and intentional effort, I’m confident you’ll get there. 

To get you started, here are 3 tips to avoid power struggles by using positive language.

Tip #1: Practice Using “Do” Commands

Don’t run in the street! Don’t talk with food in your mouth! Don’t forget to brush your teeth!

Do any of these sound familiar?

To put an end to the power struggles, try to rephrase these statements using “Do” commands….

Please walk on the sidewalk. Keep your lips together when chewing food, please. When your teeth are brushed, we’ll be ready for storytime!

Why “Do” Commands Lead to More Cooperation

As parents, we probably say the word “don’t” more times than we can count in one day. And with good reason! We want to keep our children safe, healthy, and happy. Naturally, we have to tell them what they shouldn’t do. 


The problem isn’t so much what we’re asking but rather how we’re asking it. You see, when we use “don’t” commands, our kids automatically have to “double-process” what we’re telling them.

They think, What does Mom NOT want me to do? AND, What does she want me to DO instead?

Not only is this discouraging, but it’s also incredibly confusing–especially for young children. “Don’t” reinforces the negative behavior and brings it to their full attention (remember the street scenario above?).

You say, “Don’t run in the street!” and they think, “Gee, running in the street sounds really fun right about now.”

You say, “Don’t play on your iPad,” and they think, “iPad, iPad, iPad! I REALLY want my iPad!”

Instead, try switching up your phrasing by stating what you do want instead of what you don’t. (Bonus points if you ask politely.)

For example, if you want to say “DO walk on the sidewalk,” try, “Please walk on the sidewalk. It’s so nice knowing we are being safe.”

Or, if you’re going for “DO stay away from the iPad,” try, “Let’s play outside while the weather is nice and save your screen time for when we’re in the car later.”

Doesn’t that sound much better?

Right off the bat, this eliminates the need to “double-process” the command. Your child knows exactly what you’re asking and feels especially significant because you asked in such a polite and respectful way.

It also does away with any looming frustration that tends to go hand-in-hand with negative comments. You’ll take their thinking from, Why can’t I? to Yes, I can! 

And with that boost of empowerment in your daily lives, you’ll be sure to see less misbehavior.

free parenting class

Tip #2: Find Opportunities to Say “Yes!”

One of the best ways to reduce power struggles is to shift our “no’s” into something that — to a child — feels more like a “yes.”

For example, just imagine…

It’s Saturday afternoon, and you and your 10-year-old son are perusing the aisles of your local pet store. All you need is a bag of dog food, but you’re making it an outing because you both enjoy peeking in on the new puppies and kittens.

You’re deeply enthralled with an adorable little furball when, all of a sudden, you hear your son call to you from across the store. 

“Mom, come check out this baby alligator! Can we buy him?”

Ummm, say what now? 

Sure, there are many amazing parents out there that would love to bring a pet alligator home. But you are NOT one of them. Of course, now you feel backed into a corner. Up until now, you’ve been a positive language rockstar! But that ends today.  

You have to say no.

And you know what? That’s fine! 

Parents can’t (and shouldn’t) give their children every single thing they ask for. If they did, I’m pretty sure the world would be run by entitled kids fueled solely on dino nuggets and candy.

So let’s set the record straight right now. “No” isn’t the problem. How we present the “no” can be.

Let’s say your immediate reaction is:

“No. We are absolutely NOT getting a pet alligator today, tomorrow, or ever!”

Can you see how something so negatively charged may be discouraging to your 10-year-old? He was only asking a question, but your answer leaves him frustrated, disheartened, and ready to push back.

So what can you do when the answer is “no,” but you want to maintain that positive language? 

Try shifting that power struggle paradigm by finding a way to turn that “no” answer into something that more resembles a “yes.” 

You could try:

“We can’t buy an alligator to take home, but let’s pick a day when we can come back and visit it in the store. Would you rather come back Sunday afternoon or Monday evening?”

This way, you aren’t driving home with a reptilian creature in the backseat, but you also don’t have to say no.

It’s a win-win. 

While this may seem tricky at first, I’m willing to bet that you’re actually much better at disguising no’s for yes’s than you think.

Maybe it’s your toddler, asking for the hundredth time if she can wear her purple polka dot snowsuit to the swimming pool because it’s her “favorite color in the whole wide world!”

“You can absolutely wear your snowsuit inside the house with the A/C on high! But let’s stick to wearing your purple swimsuit at the pool. Snowsuits are hard to splash in.”

Or perhaps your fresh-from-the-DMV teen really wants to learn how to drive in your classic (and newly restored) ’65 Mustang.

“Buddy, you’d look so awesome driving that car, but it can be really hard to learn the rules of the road in a manual transmission. Why don’t we start in an automatic until you’re more confident behind the wheel?”

See? Even when the answer is “no” you can always squeeze a refreshingly positive “yes” in there somewhere.

Try a Yes Day!

positive language quote

Another way to find more opportunities to say “yes” throughout the day is quite simple. Just say “yes!”

A popular trend in recent years has been for families to institute a “Yes Day” with their kiddos. Typically, this is one full day when parents say yes to any request (with ground rules and within reason) their kids ask.

Breakfast for dinner? Yes! 

Mini golf followed by a movie? Absolutely! 

Wear pajamas to the candy store? Um, if you say so!

The intention behind the idea of a Yes Day is to give your children something all Positive Parenting Solutions parents know they desire–a strong feeling of belonging and significance!

Saying “yes” to their requests tells them that you’re interested in what they have to say and what they want to do. They’re an essential part of the family, and you recognize all of their contributions.

Yes is powerful! 

Pro Tip: Positive Parenting Solutions Members, review Step 1 Lesson 2 of the 7-Step Parenting Success System® course to understand more about your child’s desire for belonging and significance.

Tip #3: Whenever Possible, Smile When You Speak

You may be thinking, Okay, Amy, what’s with you? This is getting a little weird. 

Trust me. I get it. 

But, believe it or not, lots of research shows that smiling when we speak has a significantly positive impact on both us and those we’re talking to! It may seem a bit out there, but I promise you’ll soon see just how helpful it can be when trying to switch from negative to positive language. 

Because the truth is, it’s really hard to say anything negative when you’ve got a smile on your face.

Let’s give it a try…

With your brightest smile, repeat after me: “Don’t ride your bike without a helmet on. It’s really dangerous, and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

I’m willing to bet that felt pretty awkward (and possibly looked a little terrifying). Why? Because the emotion on your face didn’t match what you were saying. 

Now, let’s try it again. Only this time, let’s also rephrase the sentence using what we learned in the first two tips.

Again, be sure to show off those pearly whites: “Please wear your helmet when you’re on your bike. I love knowing that you’re being safe.”

Ahhh, I bet that felt much better! And the funny thing is, you were still getting the same point across…just in a more positive way.

Final Thoughts

As the saying goes, old habits die hard! And, unfortunately, for most parents, using negative language is a very old habit.

Right now, it may seem an impossible feat. You ask, repeat, remind, and yell, only to feel nothing but guilt a few moments later. “No,” “don’t,” and “can’t” are a few of your most-used vocabulary words, yet the power struggles remain.

But that’s the very reason why Positive Parenting Solutions came about in the first place! I wanted to meet parents right where they are–in the hardest of places–and give them hope for a brighter, more positive way to parent. 

Yes, you can empower your children with positive language! You can reduce the amount of misbehavior you see every day. And you absolutely can be the positive parent you’ve always dreamed of becoming.

We’re happy to help you every step of the way!

Beyond “Do Your Best”: Three Ways to Lessen Your Child’s Anxiety About School

Young girl holding a pencil at her deskYoung girl holding a pencil at her desk

Young girl holding a pencil at her desk

A Guest Post from Dr. Kevin L. Gyoerkoe — a licensed psychologist specializing in anxiety and OCD-related disorders at The Anxiety and OCD Treatment Center in Charlotte, NC.

When I first started working with 12 year-old Sarah*, she was the picture of anxiety. Sticking close to her mom, her hair covering her face, she sat in the waiting room as I came out to say hello. She muttered a “hi”, and we walked back to my office.

We talked for a few minutes about movies, then–knowing her parents had brought her to my office because of her anxiety about grades–I asked her about school.

Sarah burst into tears as she described just how anxious she felt.

“I feel like I have to be perfect; I have to make straight A’s”, she told me. “I don’t know when to stop, I study all the time. It takes me so much longer to finish my homework than my friends. And if I get a B or worse, I freak out.”

Toward the end of our meeting, I asked Sarah’s mom to come into my office. Her mom was calm and relaxed, the exact opposite of Sarah.

She smiled easily and sat comfortably on the couch. She seemed genuinely puzzled by Sarah’s worries about school and anxiety about her grades.

“We don’t know where she gets it”, Sarah’s mom explained. “We never put any pressure on her to get good grades. All that we ask is that she do her best.”

As a psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety, I’ve witnessed this scene play out many times over the past 13 years.

At first, when I met with patients like Sarah, I expected that their parents would be hard-driving, achievement-oriented moms and dads who demanded perfection and straight A’s.

The first few times parents like Sarah’s mom breezed into my office more relaxed and low-key than most, I thought it was a fluke.

Over time, however, a predictable pattern emerged. These relaxed parents, it seemed, often shared the same approach when parenting their children: all we ask is that you just do your best.

As this pattern appeared, I started to wonder: Could the innocent-sounding, low-key, “just do your best” approach actually make a child feel more anxious?

As I considered this paradox, it occurred to me that there were three key reasons why telling someone to do their best could actually increase anxiety.

3 Reasons Why “Do Your Best” Increases a Child’s Anxiety

  1. It Creates Uncertainty

    One problem with the well-intentioned “do your best” is that it’s simply too vague. How do we know when we’ve done our best? There’s no way to measure that goal or track our progress, so we are left in a state of uncertainty.

  2. Uncertainty Creates Anxiety

    Uncertainty is a common cause of anxiety. Often, the more unsure we are about something, the more anxious we feel about it.

  3. It Can Cause Us to Personalize Negative Events

    When negative events occur, it’s natural to try to explain why. If we’re instructed to just do our best on a task, and we don’t do well, we are likely to blame ourselves and conclude that we are inadequate or incompetent in some way. This creates a sense of defeat and hopelessness, which could lead to less effort and resilience in the future.

So if “do your best” might not actually help our children do their best, what can we do instead? The next time your child feels anxious about school, try these three alternatives to “Do Your Best.”

Watch a Free Video at Go Zen

3 Ways to Help Reduce Your Child’s Anxiety about School

  1. Be Specific

    Instead of the vague “do your best,” help your child set clear, concrete goals to lessen anxiety and develop good work habits.

    For example, you might suggest that your child take three mock spelling tests before her weekly spelling quiz. Or you could encourage her to practice multiplication flash cards until she can do them with 100% accuracy.

    Being specific on the steps required to do well allows our children to shift their focus away from the outcome and focus on the process instead.

  2. Focus on Mastery

    Paradoxically, you can lessen your child’s anxiety and improve school performance by encouraging focus on mastery of specific aspects of the material.

    For example, if your child struggles in math, it may take a few minutes of practice to master the multiplication tables for the week. If he needs additional support, break it down into even smaller chunks so “mastery” comes with even less effort and pressure.

    Once he’s achieved this goal–or at least made progress toward the goal–consider it mission accomplished and provide lots of encouragement on the effort he put forth to accomplish that goal.

  3. Problem-Solve

    If your child receives a low grade, instead of asking “Did you do your best?” ask “What do you need to do better next time?”

    Consider it a learning experience and review the material with your child.

    What does your child need to brush up on? Evaluate study habits as well. Did she practice regularly? Was all the homework complete? Look beyond just the grades themselves and evaluate your child’s work habits. Do they need to improve?

    Remember, all the effort in the world won’t overcome bad habits. By the same token, a few small shifts in work habits can make effort much more efficient.

The next time your child is struggling with anxiety about school, instead of offering a “just do your best” consider using the steps above to reduce anxiety, build self-confidence, and develop invaluable skills for the future. Your child will build concrete tools to ensure life-long success and feel less anxious in the process.

Final Thoughts from Amy

We are so grateful to learn from Dr. Goerkoe and know that anxiety plagues even the most devoted Positive Parenting Solutions homes.

One of the most important things families can do to ward off anxious feelings is to maintain a calm, consistent, and compassionate home.

But trust me, if you’re like the thousands of parents I’ve worked with, it’s incredibly difficult to create this type of environment when you’re inundated with sibling rivalry battles and other frustrating behaviors.

If you feel like you’ve exhausted all discipline options without much success, I’d love for you to JOIN ME FOR A FREE ONLINE CLASS.

In one hour, I’ll teach you how to get your kids to listen without nagging, yelling, or losing control.

Will you join me?!

*Sarah is a fictional patient created to represent a composite of many children with similar problems.

About the Author

Dr. Kevin L. Gyoerkoe

Dr. Kevin L. Gyoerkoe is a licensed psychologist specializing in anxiety and OCD-related disorders at the The Anxiety and OCD Treatment Center in Charlotte, NC. To learn more about helping your child overcome anxiety, visit

Allowance: When and How Much?

It begins at an early age–your 3-year-old sees a commercial for a shiny pink unicorn that sprays glitter from its mouth and decides SHE. MUST. HAVE. IT.

It continues as your 7-year-old sets his eye on a LEGO set that not only has 2,000 pieces but a $200 price tag.

And then, it culminates when your teenager insists, “EVERYONE has their own car. I need one too! And look–this one is ONLY $8,000.”  (Insert parental eye roll here.)

If you’re like the majority of parents, you want to give your kids the world–both by providing them with opportunities AND with tangible gifts. But–also like the majority of parents–you know what a delicate balancing act it is to fulfill your child’s deepest desires and teach them gratitude and financial responsibility along the way.

Sure, we all want to raise financially responsible children, but what’s the best way to teach them those skills in our consumeristic culture? In a world where money equals power, it’s increasingly difficult to raise grateful children who not only understand the value of a dollar but know how to spend that dollar wisely.

I’ve been a parenting educator for 15+ years and have seen thousands of frustrated and perplexed families who just didn’t know how to deal with the topic of allowance.

When should we start?

How much should we give?

What are the pros and cons?

Should I pay my child to do chores?

I get it. I asked those exact same questions when my sons were growing up.

What is Allowance?

Before we dive into the questions I posed above, let’s get clear on some semantics.

Allowance is NOT Payment

Oh boy. This is where it can get tricky. Most parents position allowance as a “pay for performance” agreement right from the start. If the child does the chores, gets good grades, behaves appropriately, etc.–they get paid.

Simple, right?

Actually, no. Take a step back and look at it from a kid’s point of view:

“Mom and dad set up a system where I get paid for doing something I SHOULD be doing anyway. Awesome! Let the negotiations begin! Now, I know that every time I’m asked to do something, I can leverage that task into cold, hard cash! Yay!”

See what happened there? You’ve set up the perfect scenario for your kid to ask, “What’s in it for me?” Totally the opposite of what you really wanted.

Many parents use allowance like a reward or a payment for completing a task. But research has shown repeatedly that rewards are not an effective long-term solution for motivating children.

So what DOES work?

Allowance IS a Training Tool

By definition, allowance is an offering or an established amount independent of any external factors. Allowance is given on a non-conditional basis.

It’s meant to help your kids learn valuable lessons about how to handle money responsibly – how to spend, save, give and invest. As kids get older, they get to handle more of their finances independently so eventually (when they move out of your house), they are fully competent in all aspects of fiscal responsibility because they’ve been doing it all along.

Allowance is also a great way to remind your children you’re not an unlimited ATM that can be accessed when they see the newest and greatest gadget on the market. By giving your children an allowance, they will learn quickly that if they want something, they can save for it.

Allowance is NOT Tied to Chores

Before we talk about WHY you shouldn’t pay kids to do chores, let’s talk about the reasons parents DO pay kids for helping out around the house.  

  1. Parents think this type of compensation models real life–after all, you get paid to go to work. Why shouldn’t kids get paid for the work they do around the house?  
  2. We want kids to learn to work hard and understand the value of money.  

On the surface, that all seems to make sense, right? It was probably the way you were raised and maybe the way you’re raising your kids.  

However, paying kids to do chores (even when it’s set up as an allowance) actually does more harm than good.

Let me share 2 big PROBLEMS with paying kids for completing chores:

      1. It creates the expectation that kids should get PAID for helping at home. You may get paid for going to work, but you don’t get paid to grocery shop, make meals, do laundry, do yard work, or clean bathrooms.  We do those things because we’re part of the family and those jobs keep the family running. Let’s be honest. Our kids aren’t going to love doing household jobs–and neither do we–but it’s important they know their contributions make a meaningful difference in your family.
      2. It’s the slipperiest of slopes. Once you decide you’re going to pay kids for helping out, what do you do if only some of the jobs are completed? What if the job is only substandard? Do you pay ½ of the allowance? Do they lose it altogether? What if you ask your kids to do jobs that are outside their normal household tasks or responsibilities? Are you going to pay them for those TOO? Because of this slippery slope, parents get so frustrated with the whole system that they either ABANDON the allowance or–more likely–they keep PAYING their kids but stop asking them to help out b/c it’s just not worth listening to the backtalk and the lackluster cleaning.

When parents tie allowance to chores, they inadvertently commercialize the way the home functions. But the truth is homes aren’t businesses. Home is not the place children need to learn how to climb the corporate ladder or how to negotiate a contract.

Quite the opposite. Home is where children learn that everyone needs to contribute for the household to function. Family life is a team sport, not an entrepreneurial endeavor.

To make this a reality, it’s time to send the word “chore” packing. It invokes a foreboding sense of hard labor, dirty work, and drudgery–not a sense of worth and significance.

Instead, start having conversations with your kids about Family Contributions.

By making this small switch in your family vocabulary, you reinforce that their work makes a difference for your family. It reminds them that they are a vital part of the family, and without their important contributions, the family would not function as well. You create a new family norm where everyone has a role to play to keep the household running effectively.

When everyone is pitching in, things get done faster, there’s less stress, and each member of the family begins to see and feel their significance as an important part of the whole.

By shifting your language, you empower your children to help instead of forcing their hand to get tasks done–teaching self-worth, the value of contribution, and the importance of teamwork.

How’s that for a win-win-win?

NOTE: If you have been using allowance as a “carrot” to entice your kids to actually do their family jobs, Sessions 3 and 4 of the Positive Parenting Solutions® online course is FILLED with strategies to get kids to do what they’re supposed to do–without any reminding, coaxing, bribing or payment on your part.

When Should You Start Giving Allowance?

I usually recommend giving children a consistent allowance as soon as they are able to understand that money is necessary to purchase things they want–this usually happens around 4 or 5.

Even if your child doesn’t understand the value of different money pieces yet, it’s never too early to start learning. By elementary school, at the latest, most kids are able (and excited) to manage a weekly allowance.

How Much Allowance Should You Give?

There are many schools of thought on this question. Some parents use the $1 per year rule–one dollar per week per age year. So, a seven-year-old might get $7 per week.

However, to make the most educated decision about allowance for your kids, start by considering these questions:

What do I expect him/her to buy with that allowance?

What does that look like for your set of family values and budget?

Do you expect them to save part of it?

Do they have to use part of it for charitable contributions?

Are they expected to pay for their own activities? Lunch? Treats?

By considering the questions above now ask yourself, how much will he/she reasonably need to do that? (Factor in that they also might get monetary gifts from relatives throughout the year as well.)

Also consider how much YOU are paying for all the “extras” now. If you spring for a smoothie every week after practice, consider giving that amount to your child as a portion of her allowance. That “treat” becomes part of the “expenses” she is now responsible for managing.

You may find she only buys smoothies every other week because she wants to save that money instead. She is learning at a young age to make decisions about immediate gratification versus saving for something she wants in the future. (In contrast, if you were still footing the bill for smoothies, I guarantee she’ll want one every time!)

In the teenage years, consider giving a lump sum (not too much) for the purpose of buying clothes. The child can make the decision on how that money is spent. She can buy one pair of designer shoes or three pairs of fashionable, yet reasonably-priced shoes. Once the money runs out, that’s it. Do not give in and “float a loan” until the next allowance date.

Again, this is essential training in making decisions about how to manage limited resources. If resources are unlimited (bank of mom or dad), we rob her of those important learnings.

Lastly, consider the question, how much will make him/her just a bit uncomfortable?

We don’t want children to be too comfortable or flush with cash, as they’ll lack the incentive to find ways to make money! If the amount given is enough to purchase pretty much anything on their current wish list, there’s no lesson to be learned.

Make the allowance payment enough that it covers expectations (donations, app purchases, etc.) but not so much they won’t have to save for something special. Delayed gratification is an important thing to learn.

As for teens, less money is actually better than more. It will be a catalyst for their desire to get a job and even a deterrent for spending money on things they don’t need and aren’t good for them, like vaping or drugs.

Now that you’ve decided how much to give, it’s important to teach them how to manage their allowance responsibly.

Tools for Managing Allowance

Like anything else, managing money takes guidance and practice. Here are four simple strategies to help make learning this life skill easier:

1. Be Consistent

Whether you decide to pay weekly for younger kids, or monthly for teens, be consistent.  This way they’ll know when they can count on the money–in the same way we depend on our employers paying us consistently. When allowance is given randomly, there is no incentive for children to get organized about managing their money.

2. Equip Them With Tracking Tools

These days, there’s an app for everything! Money management apps work well for teens. Simple worksheets are best for younger children, or even different piggy banks with different categories. I love The Moonjar for preschool and elementary ages and the Mint app for teenagers!

3. Have Open Conversations

Like talking to kids about sex, talk early and often about finances. Get them involved in budgeting when shopping as a family. Give your kids a budget for school supplies each year and let them comparison shop for the best deal. Of course, any money they save as a result of their research, they get to keep–which only reinforces the lessons of doing your homework before making purchases. Lead by example and make saving money a game. Parents rave about the Savings Spree app for kids ages 7+. It makes learning about money fun and educational.

4. Say No to Handouts or ‘Floater-Loans’

This might be tough–especially when the whining, begging, and pleading reaches all-time highs–but let kids face the consequences if they don’t have enough money to purchase a previously agreed-upon item. It’s easy to get lulled into a “just this once” plead from your child but “once” turns into every time very quickly. When that happens, all the positive lessons you’re trying to teach go right out the window with your hard-earned cash.

Jobs For Hire

There is one last piece of the allowance puzzle that reinforces planning, entrepreneurial drive, and a sense of personal accomplishment–and that is Jobs for Hire.

As I mentioned before, allowance should never be tied to Family Contributions.

However, there are some cases where paying your child to complete a task is appropriate and will instill those hard-working values parents so desperately want their children to grasp. For example, if your kids are saving up for something big and they want to earn extra money. You can HIRE your kids to do certain jobs.

If we had more time, I would teach you a step-by-step guide for allowance that teaches little kids up to teens how to manage money AND makes SURE you never have a case of entitlement in your house. (I cover that IN DETAIL in the Positive Parenting Solutions® online course.)

But for now, you should know kids can “earn more by doing more” when it meets the following criteria:

      1. The possible Job for Hire falls OUTSIDE of their normal responsibilities.
      2. They’ve already done their normal, expected family responsibilities. (If you have to constantly remind your kids to do the expected jobs, they’re not ready for a Job for Hire.)
      3. The Job for Hire offers a significant contribution to your home – it’s something you are willing to pay someone to do so you don’t have to do it. For older kids, maybe it’s power washing the driveway, or for younger kids, dusting blinds or baseboards.
      4. They only get paid if the job is completed to your previously specified expectations.

Final Thoughts

Separating allowance from Family Contributions is a tough concept for many parents to grasp at first. Once you do, and you start facilitating conversations about both, you’ll begin to see how incredibly valuable allowance and contributions are to raising responsible, respectful children.

In a world where entitlement truly does feel like it’s reached outrageous proportions, it’s more important than ever to teach kids boundaries and expectations. With the right tools and training for both parents and children, you can avoid some all-too-common traps that lead to out-of-control entitlement behavior and attitudes.

I invite you to learn more about Positive Parenting and raising UN-entitled kids in my most recent book, The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World. 

Me Me Me Epidemic Book Cover

In addition, I’d love for you to join me for a FREE ONLINE CLASS. I’ll teach you how to get your kids to listen–no nagging, yelling, or reminding required!

As always, happy parenting. We’re here to help!

Tips and Tricks for a Relaxing Road Trip with Kids

Young kid sitting on top of an old car at sunset with hands in the airYoung kid sitting on top of an old car at sunset with hands in the air

Young kid sitting on top of an old car at sunset with hands in the air

Ahh, summer vacation. What could be better than the all-American, old-fashioned family road trip with kids?

Not much…until the whining starts.

Before you reach for the earplugs, try one of these fun solutions — suggested by the creative parents in our members-only Facebook Group — to keep your kids happy and you sane.

Road Trip Games

Games are a great way to include the whole family while painlessly passing the road trip with kids. Here are just a few of our favorite suggestions:

  • Name that Tune
  • Spot the State License Plate
  • Twenty Questions

Or, better yet, turn the tables around and put parents in the hot seat while teaching youngsters a bit about the country — have kids look at an atlas and quiz mommy and daddy on states and capitals.

Or if you’re crawling through a busy town, try Red light/Green light. To play, divide your car into teams and say, “If we make a light, we (green team) get a point and if we get stopped at the light, the red team scores.” This way everyone wins (gets points) and/or loses (hits red lights) and it’s a great way to prevent the whining about getting there and the potential road rage on my part.

Join Amy for a FREE CLASS

Road Trip Activities

When you’ve had enough road trip competition for one day, try your hand at some of these activities.

  • Audio books
  • Coloring books
  • Small Dry Erase Boards for letting writing or a game of pictionary
  • Dance Party — turn up the jams and let them get their sillies out in their car seats
  • Alluminum foil art competition — bring along a dollar-store roll of aluminum foil to keep the kids busy for hours. Little ones can wrap their sippy cups and books. Older ones can make sculptures and chains to hang across the car.
  • Pipe cleaners and post-it notes are also a great hit for littles. What crafty souvenirs can your kids create?
  • Final Road Trip Tips

    Just remember, a little control goes a long way towards keeping whiny kids at bay. Empower your kids by letting them help plan part of the trip: each child could pick an attraction to visit, or where the family will eat.

    And let kids have a say in such things as the music choices, snacks, or whether or not to take the “scenic” route. These small doses of power your kids experience will cut down on power struggles throughout your journey.

    If you need a little peace and quiet while you drive, try leaving at bedtime for longer rides. It’ll be seat belts on and lights out as your kids dream away the hours on the road.

    And if all else fails, the portable electronics can be a great distraction. But too many movies can turn kids into backseat couch potatoes, so be sure to set reasonable limits.

    Want to know the very best way to keep everyone happy on your next long road trip with kids? Don’t forget to set aside time each day for some one-on-one attention for each of your children.

    When kids get consistent positive attention, they are less likely to act out in negative ways, like throwing their flip-flops out the car window.

    Best of luck, my friend, we are wishing you all the best on your road tripping adventures

    Title Image: Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock / photos

Funny Things Kids Say

What’s The Funniest Thing Your Child Has Ever Said To You?

funny things kids sayI asked that question to our friends in the Positive Parenting Solutions Community and boy, did I get some hilarious quotes! They were too funny not to share!

(Last names have been removed to protect the innocently hilarious and some quotes were altered slightly for grammar & spelling corrections only).

Feel free to add to the list in the comments: Read More