Developing Capable Kids – Parenting Tips

If you have ever felt like the worst parent in the world – you are not alone.  At one point or another I am sure we have all wondered what the heck we signed up for and where the definitive manual that will lead us to our parenting award is hidden.

Help came today on this week’s Your Life, Unlimited radio show.  Parenting expert Kathy Lynn, ( made a lot of sense and shared some valuable ideas – not all of which are easy to execute, but all of which lead to the greater goal – developing capable people.

Here are some nuggets that were meaningful to me:

  1. Have weekly family meetings.  Discuss fun things, plan events to do together – don’t just use them a time for  discipline and orders for the week.
  2. If when your child is in adolescence you feel like you are losing control it’s because you should be – that is what is supposed to happen.
  3. Don’t make them feel guilty for growing up – help them by giving them choices and responsibilties.
  4. Respect their privacy  – they know if you are snooping and that just encouraging them to be sneaky.
  5. Make your home a  welcoming and inviting place, get to know their friends, see car-pooling as a privilege.
  6. If you have young adult children living at home, ensure they are living there as adults not as children. This means giving them adult responsibilities.
The Hot Dog Strike

Of course none of this matters if it’s only talk.  Mean what you say and say what you mean is probably some of the best parenting advise ever.  My friend Shelley set the best example of this when she told her family that if they didn’t start helping out she was going to serve hot dogs for supper every day. And she did.  Everyday for 3 weeks she served hot dogs until her kids finally broke down and started helping out.  That was about 7 years ago and she says she just has to mention hot dogs and the kids get to work!

Here a few more tips are adapted from Kathy’s book, But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home.

Helping your child become capable:

• Encourage free, unstructured play.  Free play allows children to direct their activity. It teaches them to problem-solve, to take control of their time and to be creative.

• Adjust your parenting style to the temperament of your child.  Every child is different. Once you understand their way of seeing the world you can determine how to interact effectively as you help them move toward independence.

• Get them involved in family chores from a young age.  Contributing to the family chores helps your child learn how to do the work needed to run a household. It will also have a positive effect on their self-esteem as they see themselves as successful working partners in the family.

• Let them take responsibility for their schoolwork.  Students need to take charge of their own learning. The parent’s role is to support them, to support the school and to offer advice and tips when asked.

• Encourage independence.  One simple way is to have your child walk to school. Kids need to learn how to get places on their own and walking to school is a great start. If school is too far, teach them how to take the bus once they’re old enough. Then have them walk to their friend’s house or the local corner store.

• Give them a regular allowance.  An allowance teaches your child how to manage money. They learn what it feels like to blow their money, to save it and to spend it.

• Support part-time jobs.  Teens learn valuable life lessons when they take on part-time work. The trick is to monitor just how much time they spend at the workplace and ensure that their regular social life, family time and schoolwork doesn’t suffer.

• Teach your children the life skills they will need such as doing their laundry, cooking, shopping and dealing with landlords.  When they’re ready to leave the nest, they will need to know how to look after themselves. The more they have learned at home, the easier the transition.

You can listen to our entire May 17, 2013 CJOB radio interview here as  a podcast:

Kathy recommended a book that she says all parents should read called “Hear Me, Hug Me, Trust Me” by Dr. Scott Wooding who asked kids across the country “What would the perfect parent look like.”  She said we will be surprised (and helped) by the answers!

Remember, at the end of the day, you are not alone – all of us have had disparaging moments when we were certain Child and Family Services would (or should) come and take our kids away but keep doing your best, seeking resources to help and loving unconditionally.
Best,  Steph 🙂

Stephanie Staples is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success and an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. She empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home.  You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at


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