"Can I spend the night at Becky's?"
"Yes! As soon as you clean your room and finish your chore in the garage."
Only one word has been changed in this dialogue. By replacing "no" with
"yes," you'll get a more favorable response, less resentment, and less
resistance. As soon as your child hears "yes," she'll relax and be more
likely to hear the rest of your parent talk. Hearing your whole message,
she may conclude that the overnight at Becky's is within her reach.
It is easier to resist and fight "no," than it is to complain and argue
about a "yes." Remember when confronted with a child who enjoys power
struggles, just say, "yes."
Parent Talk: Words that Empower, Words That Wound by Chick Moorman is
available from Personal Power press by calling (toll free) 877-360-1477.
4. Subscription Information [back
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Invest in experiences, not in things.
My neighbor recently purchased a four hundred dollar sand box for his
young children. "How can anyone spend $400 dollars on a sand box?" you
might wonder. Simple. It's a state of the art sand box with a swing set
and slide attached to it. It's high quality through and through.
With all due respect to my neighbor, who I am sure loves his children
and has the best of intentions when making major purchases for them, children
do not need a $400 sand box. What they need is the experience of going
out in the back yard and building a sand box with us. They need to hold
boards together while we pound and pound while we hold boards together.
They need to get a sliver and have it removed and bandaged. They need
to help us sand the boards so slivers are kept to a minimum. The need
to rub shoulders with us, sweat with us, smell us, see us, and touch us.
They need the experience of building a sand box much more than they need
the sand box.
Instead of buying expensive toys and other material objects for your
children, give them the experience of going to the zoo. Take them horse
back riding. Let them experience a farm, a skyscraper, a fire engine,
a camp ground or a foreign country. When investing in your children, invest
in experiences, not in things.
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Coming Attraction: The Language of Response-Able Parenting cassette
tape series will be completed soon. It will contain five cassette tapes
with Chick Moorman sharing Parent Talk System strategies. Watch this space
for further announcements.
How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you're
7. Parent Talk System Training of Trainers [back
Do something extraordinary for the parents in your community. Become
a Parent Talk System trainer.
July 25-27, 2002 are the dates of the next facilitator training in the
Parent Talk System. Scheduled for Dearborn, MI, this training will give
you the skills necessary to help parents raise responsible children. You
will learn training competencies that will allow you to teach the program
with expertise and confidence.
Join the growing number of people in seven states and Mexico who are
helping parents in their communities learn verbal skills and language
patterns that build family togetherness and reduce family conflict. Call
toll free 877/369-1477 or email IPP57@aol.com to request a detailed brochure.
By Chick Moorman
"Grandpa, I have a note from school. I’m supposed to give it to
That’s how Austin, age ten and in fifth grade, chose to begin the process
of explaining his fight at school. I had been alerted to the situation
earlier in the day by the building principal who called to give me the
details. The letter was not unexpected.
"What does it say?" I queried.
"It says I got in a fight at school."
"You got in a fight? I’m really surprised to hear that. Tell me
"Grandpa, I just get fighting mad. They tease me all the time. They
say I talk funny because I’m from Texas."
"So you chose to slug someone."
"Grandpa, it’s not like that. I didn’t choose to slug him. I couldn’t
help myself. He kept bugging me. He made me fighting mad."
"And that’s when the fight started?"
"You hit him?"
The problem here is not that Austin got in a fight. It is that he is
not seeing himself as response-able. He does not realize he has several
alternatives from which to choose. He is making an automatic response
to this situation without considering alternatives and without thinking
through potential consequences.
Children who make automatic responses are at the mercy of their environment.
It is the event, the circumstance, the situation that controls their response.
They have no sense of personal power. Until they see themselves as response-able
they will keep making the same ineffective response.
In this situation the parent/teacher’s job is to help the child see
himself as response-able. The adult’s effort should be to increase the
child’s response-ability, that is, their ability to see and make responses
"So what else does the letter say?" I asked.
"It tells that I got in a fight and that I can’t go to school for
"If I do it again I get kicked out for a week."
"What are the chances of that happening?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you think you’ll be choosing to fight again any time soon?"
"Grandpa, I told you it wasn’t a choice. They made me fighting mad.
That’s just how I get when they call me names and tease me. It makes me
"How about getting spitting mad instead?"
"Why not just get spitting mad?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You know how to spit don’t you?"
"Yeah, but what does that have to do with anything?"
"Come on outside. I’ll show you."
Outside on the grass I gave Austin spitting lessons. One of the important
roles of grandfathers is to give their grandchildren spitting lessons.
Where else are they going to learn important concepts like spitting if
not from a grandparent?
"Now that I know you can spit real good, here’s what I’d like you
to do. Next time one of those kids starts teasing you, turn immediately
and walk five steps away. Count them out...one, two, three, four, five...like
I just did. Then turn and face them and say, ‘When you call me names like
that it makes me spitting mad.’ Then spit a real big, good one into the
grass. Then say, ‘See how spitting mad that makes me.’ Then walk away."
"Grandpa, I can’t do that."
"Sure you can."
"It wouldn’t work, anyway."
"How about trying it once?"
"You don’t understand. They make fun of me because I’m from Texas.
They call me names and say I talk funny."
"You can’t control what they do. You can only control what you do.
Why not get spitting mad the next time it happens?"
"I can’t do that."
"Sure you can. Come on let’s practice. I’ll call you some names
and you get spitting mad and let’s see how it goes."
"Grandpa, this is stupid."
"You’re probably right. It is kind of stupid. In fact it’s so stupid
it might just work. Let’s give it a shot."
"I’ll be a kid at school and you see if you can remember to get
"Austin, you talk funny. Can’t you speak English like the rest of
us? And you’re bowl legged, too. You walk funny. You get that from riding
horses or are your legs just shaped funny? Can’t walk or talk right, can
At his point Austin spun around and walked away. After five steps he
turned back and faced me. "When you do that I get spitting mad,"
He said. Then he deposited a huge ball of saliva on the grass in front
of him. "I am spitting mad right now," he said, "because
you’re calling me names and I don’t like it." He then turned and
I congratulated Austin for choosing to be spitting mad instead of fighting
mad and we continued to practice. After three repetitions I could see
that he understood the concept and had internalized the skill. I challenged
him to use it the next time a similar situation happened at school.
"Grandpa, this isn’t going to work."
"Maybe not. We’ll see."
Two weeks later Austin came home from school and shared a related incident.
"Grandpa, I did the spitting mad thing at school today."
"Yeah, and it worked, too!"
"Tell me about it."
"This kid was teasing me on the bus. Bugged me all the way to school
about my accent. I didn’t think I should spit on the bus so waited till
we both got off. Then I did it. I walked five steps away like you said,
then I told him, ‘I get spitting mad that when you call me names and I
don’t like it.’ Then I spit and just stared at him."
"Then what happened. Did you walk away?"
"He said, ‘I didn’t know. I’m sorry.’"
"So it turned out pretty well."
"Yeah, I was surprised."
"I’m happy to hear you choose to be spitting mad instead of fighting
mad. And I’m happy it worked for you. Congratulations."
This is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning. Austin still
needs to learn additional behaviors he can use instead of fighting or
spitting. Yet, at this point he is now twice as response-able as he was
two weeks ago. He has doubled the available responses at his disposal
when peers taunt and tease. Because he no longer makes an automatic response,
he now has a greater ability to respond. He is developing response-ability.