Have you ever looked up to the sky, thrown your hands up, and just screamed because of a parenting issue? Have you ever wanted to run out of the house to get away from the chaos that the children cause? Have you ever felt so lost with one of your kids that you just didn’t know what to do?  Enter Barbara Coloroso, the keynote speaker for the 2014 At Home Dad Convention this year.  She is going to help you get through all that, teach you why Kids Are Worth It, and arm you with effective ways to help your children.

barbara-coloroso-2Barbara has had experience with children in a her capacity as a teacher, a parent, and now a speaker who helps parents and schools alike deal with the issues that all children face. Whether it be the perils of potty training, dealing with divorce, or effectively disciplining a child where nothing seems to work, she will be bringing the  knowledge to our convention that will enhance the parenting skills you already have.

I had a chance to interview her about her upcoming presentation at the National At Home Dad Network’s Convention in Denver. September 19th-20th  and just what dads will learn from her.

CB – Often dads who are just beginning to stay at home with their children struggle with effective discipline for their children. What tips would you give to dads who need help?

BC – The first this is, to discern the difference between punishment and discipline. People often think if they are not punishing that we’re aren’t doing anything to them. Often they don’t want to use the same methods that their parents used so they end up doing nothing which is what I call “jellyfish” where they don’t do anything. Which is a crisis because they go back to the old tools. Punishment is something that we do to a child, discipline is a process of holding a child accountable for their behavior and helping them to move on in a constructive way.

In the case of a mistake. let’s say your three year old child broke a glass. The three types of families will handle that situation differently. The Brick Wall will say “Get out of the kitchen, you’re fussy, you’re never going to be able to use a glass again!” and send them to their room. This model says when you have a problem, you are the problem. The Jellyfish says “Oh sweetheart, don’t worry it was an accident, I’ll pick it up here’s some chocolate milk while I clean up the mess.” This model says when you have a problem, it’s someone else’s problem. Those kids come up with excuses for why something is not done. A Backbone Parent which I know dads want to be says “Whoa you have a problem, go get me a bag. They can’t pick up the glass but they can hold the bag. You pick up the glass, they mop it up and then you say which plastic glass would you like to use today? This says to your little one “I think you can handle this and I am here to help” Follow this simple formula when it comes to a mistake : Own it, fix it, and move on. 

For more on discipline and effective strategies check out Barbara Coloroso’s handouts on Parenting With Wit and Wisdom

CB – This year I struggled mightily with potty training my daughter. I had done it once before with our older child but no matter what I did, we had no success. How can you set yourself up for victory over the potty?

BC – The three P’s of potty training, no pun intended. First of all, you both have to be prepared.  Which means they have to physically be prepared and ready. Secondly, practice, practice, practice and finally, patience, patience, patience. Because it WILL happen and I don’t use bribes or threats or rewards and punishments. You’re little one learned to walk and talk right? You didn’t need rewards and bribes for that. [Kids] learn to pull sentences together but it didn’t happen all at once. I always wonder why we give rewards and M&Ms for potty training when in reality we didn’t do that for any of their other major hurdles.

CB – Your book Parenting Through Crisis helps parents to help children through difficult times in their life. What steps should parents take when dealing with tough situations like divorce?

BC – Divorce can be the trickiest because there is still another person involved. You can’t prepare them but just be very honest about what is happening. I do this very basic thing. You give the headline, you give them the facts, and then you be quiet for whatever your child needs to tell you.  In fact there is one woman who came home from school and there was a moving van outside of her house and her husband informed her right there that he could take half of the house, that his lawyer said he could, and that he was leaving her for his secretary. She went back to her school and met with a counselor and asked ” How am I going to tell my boys?” and the counselor handled it beautifully and gave her that formula. She said “You’re dad has left, he’s taken half of the things in the house, and mommy and daddy are going to be living apart for awhile” One of the boys hugged his mom and said “Mom, it’s going to be OK” But the five year old pushed her away and said “He can’t do that! He can’t do that! He has my soccer uniform in the car!” You don’t give them editorials, you save that for the neighbor. You gave the headline and the facts and beyond that be present for them for whatever they need. 

CB –  Have you noticed any differences in the way men and women handle discipline? What exactly is inner discipline and how do you pass it to your children?

BC –  Part of the exhaustion of stay at home moms or dads is that be do too much ourselves. We are trying to discipline them rather than see it as a process that they are going through. When there are consequences they must follow the RSVP model. They have to be reasonable, simple, valuable, and practical. If you do this, pretty soon your kid realizes that you believe that he is a pretty capable human being who can fix his own mistake. How do you do that? At a very young age you start them off with responsible decision making opportunities that are age appropriate and ability appropriate  but with limited boundaries. Your goal is by the time they are leaving high school, they are making all their own decisions. We need to make that happen, it doesn’t just happen on its own.

CB – As the number of stay at home dads rises and more children are products of more involved fathers, what do you think has been the main change in our culture surrounding dads?

BC – I can tell from my own lectures, there are more fathers in attendance. Whereas in the early seventies and eighties, that was not true.   One major change is the hands on involvement which is a very positive one but  also recognizing that stay at home dads [now] are forcing the issue.  They challenge the stereotype in what a stay at home dad is, why people do it which is a multitude of reasons, and how has it affected men’s roles in business world. A lot of what used to give men “meaning” was their job and that’s not true. Parenting is not a job, it’s a vocation that you do. Someone is going to raise the kids. They are going to grow up but are we going to be there to help raise them? It’s not just all moms or dads, it is all of us. 

For more about Barbara Coloroso visit her website and check out her book Kids Are Worth It as well as her other titles.