Category Archives: Stories

Stories people’s experiences of learning and using Present Moment Parenting and Adlerian principles.

Surprise Kids with Quality Time

Mommy was out of town, so I and boys Braden (4) and Cullen (1.5) were on our way up to the Shoreview Community Center, which is our favorite place to blow off a bunch of pent-up little boy energy during the winter months. We like to go the big indoor playground since he gym is usually full of too many stray basketballs to make it safe for Cullen to play freely. The boys were getting excited as we drove, and then we passed Flaherty’s Arden Bowl.

“Look Dad, it’s the bowling alley,” Braden observed.

“Yeah…” I started to say and then an idea hit me. “Would you like to go bowling?”

“Do you mean now?” He said, not quite sure what to make of this novel idea.

“Yeah, we could go bowling for a little bit and  then go up to the community center.” Braden was kind of shocked in good way. He couldn’t believe I was being so spontaneous. He has only been to a bowling alley once, with all of his older cousins, so the experience still held a lot of wonder and excitement for him. After putting on some cool looking shoes and being given a special 6 pound kid ball, he was ready to go.

We had a great time. Sure, it took his ball a good 5-10 seconds to get down the lane, but he still did a little happy dance every time he knocked a few pins down. Because there was too much room and two many heavy, toe busting balls around to let a one-and-a-half year old go free, I had to bowl with a toddler in one arm and swing a 15 pounder (ball, not kid) with the other.

My score was only slightly higher than Braden’s, but there’s nothing better than having your four-year-old yell, “NICE SHOT DAD!” and give you a high five.

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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Stories


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Being the Angry Dad

I was talking with a friend about the effects of anger on kids. This is an important topic for me, because I have been the crabby daddy. When I saw the effects that my anger was having on my family, I knew something needed to change.

Most of us know what it’s like to get angry at our children once in a while. That’s just part of being a parent. In fact, many of us can remember times when our parents got angry with us. We can also probably remember times when we knew we “had it coming.” No, I’m not attempting to justify parents losing their temper. What I’m getting at is that most of us pushed our parent’s buttons a little bit to see what would happen, and most of us have also had our buttons pushed by our kids. That’s a  normal part of kids learning about boundaries and emotions.

However, there are some of us who also know what it’s like to live under a dark storm cloud of parental anger that’s always there and always threatening to burst into a full blown thunderstorm of raging tantrums. We’ve had to walk on egg shells to try to keep the wrath from coming, and we knew that no matter how careful we were, it would eventually come anyway. There are some of us who know the physical impact of out of control anger.

One parent told me, “I lose my temper once in a while, but even though I get angry a lot, it’s usually under control.” This statement hit me hard, because it’s how I used to try to fool myself into thinking that my anger was “under control.” I realized that, at least as far as the impact on my kids and my own health is concerned, it’s not possible for me to be “angry a lot” and still “under control.” Being angry a lot means that our anger is controlling us and hurting those around us, especially the ones we love.

Here’s what brain science tells us about anger and how it affects kids. When I’m angry at my son, he feels like it’s his fault. Even for older kids who rationally know better, this is true. When I get angry, even if it’s not directly at him, it creates a brain connection to fear, guilt, and shame. The more often I’m angry, the more that brain pathway is fired and reinforced until it becomes almost an automatic response. Kids will learn to cope with and compensate for this in different ways. Some will seem to do fine. Others will develop anxiety disorders, hesitating personalities, or even post-traumatic stress. Regardless of how well a child learns to cope, the negative brain highways are still there.

This is where I often hear people say, “Wait a minute! I don’t want my kid to grow up being a wimp. He needs to know that when he does certain things, it’s going to make people angry. And he needs to learn how to handle it when somebody get’s mad at him or he won’t be able to take it when his boss lays into him when he’s grown up.”

It’s true that kids need to understand the consequences of doing things that can make people upset. It’s also true that all people need to learn to deal with anger expressed by others. However, trying to teach emotional intelligence to our children by getting angry at them is like trying to slice thin deli meat with a chainsaw: It doesn’t doesn’t get the job done very well and makes a pretty big mess in the kitchen.

I go into some very powerful and effective ways to help kids gain emotional intelligence in another post. I’ll also explain very clearly what we can do to help repair the damage done by out of control anger. We can build positive brain superhighways that are so smooth and nice that the negative pathways created by our anger won’t get any traffic.

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Posted by on April 15, 2010 in Stories


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Get Dressed with a Story

It has been hard for my three-year-old son to get dressed in the morning lately. Like me, it’s hard for him to hop right out of bed and be ready to face the world. We tried letting him take some time in his jammies and pull-up after getting out of bed, but we didn’t like the idea of him staying in the wet pull-up. In addition, sometimes he would…well…leak. If we tried to force the issue and physically wrestle him out of his pajamas and into his daytime outfit, it resulted in a lot of crying, which is no way to start the morning. Besides that, I know that the conflict reinforces a brain pathway of resistance, negativity, and uncooperativeness. That’s not the kind of emotion I want to download.

My son really likes stories, especially if I make them up. I decided one morning that I didn’t want to fight. I lay down beside him in the bed and started a story about a bear cub who went salmon fishing in the morning but forgot to take off his jammies. The cub couldn’t figure out why all the fish were swimming away from him, and then he realized his jammies were too bright. He needed to change so he could catch some fish, and he was sooooo hungry. Then I asked my son if he could help the cub. I told him that if he got dressed, then the cub would be dressed and he could get some fish. At first my son said, “No. I want you to finish the story.” I told him I couldn’t, because the cub was stuck with his jammies on. My son had to help him!!

In the end, he got dressed to help the cub, and I finished the story. The whole ordeal probably wasn’t any slower than the wrestling-match approach, and I was able to follow it up by downloading a lot of positives emotions into his heart by telling him how helpful it was to me when he cooperated. I pointed out how much faster and more fun it was too. This doesn’t just reinforce cooperation with getting dressed. It reinforces confidence, competence, and social interest. Social interest is an Adlerian term referring to our desire to connect with and help others. For more about parent coaching visit

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Posted by on January 11, 2010 in Stories


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