Monday, April 30, 2012

Parenting Mistakes: We are only human!

After having an argument with my teenage son this morning, I was kind of feeling like a parenting failure. I lost my cool. Raised my voice. He stomped out the door. Pretty typical parenting story, especially with a teenager in the house! The difference is: I am a parenting educator. I am supposed to know better. And I do! And so I felt like a failure. How can I teach parenting skills including not responding with anger if I can't even do it myself?

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But then, a few minutes later, I thought: “Wait a minute. Just because I know what to do doesn't mean I will always do it. It's the human condition. In fact, even Paul in the Bible struggled with this: “I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.” -Romans 7:19

So as I'm pondering this, I'm feeling kind of bad. But then I realize, knowing good parenting and communication skills doesn't always mean that things are going to turn out perfectly. Life is messy and unpredictable.

What it does mean is that even in the face of things going badly, I know what to do (even if I don’t pull it off perfectly). I know how to turn it around later today, after we’ve both cooled off. I know that the limits I set with my son are right (this is what caused his frustration and argument). And, I know that even if things don't turn out well in the long run, I did it right as a parent. Most of the time. :) 

Lisa C. Greene is the mother of two children with cystic fibrosis, a certified parent coach, parenting educator, and public speaker. She is also the co-author with Foster Cline, MD of the award-winning Love and Logic® book “Parenting Children with Health Issues.”  For free audio, articles and other resources, visit

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Be a Contagious Encourager!

When times are tough or when children face tough times, it’s natural to feel discouraged. However, both encouragement and discouragement are the most contagious of emotions. Effectively showing encouragement will help our children better cope with their health issues. 
Image: Stuart Miles /
Do you know what the opposite of encouragement is? It is generally the showing of frustration. Frustration creeps in as children grow older and parents start to realize they can’t control their children’s responses to their illnesses but somehow still think they should!

Show your children encouragement by the pleasure you display when you turn over increasing responsibility for healthcare to your children.  Start with small, steady increments in the early elementary years. “Wow, I bet you feel pretty good about the job you did on that!” Or, “How are you feeling about the decisions you are making?”  Correct wording such as this puts the problem on the resistant child while providing the child a sense of accomplishment for making healthy decisions. 
As noted, the positive attributes of Encouragement are contagious. Simply saying, “I bet you are proud of how you remember your medicine” is more effective than saying, “I’m proud of the way you take your medicine.” Effective communication is easily learned and especially effective for kids with special healthcare needs. We give many examples in our book, Parenting Children with Health Issues.

Praise and encouragement are very different. The better the parent/child relationship, the better praise works, but praise can be used to manipulate both sender and receiver. Encouragement through questions puts the healthcare issues and results directly on the child. Questions promote a high self-image and allow the adult to express both joy and disappointment while encouraging the child to think. 

Love and Logic, a popular parenting program, teaches that curiosity and interest about self-care issues almost always trump worry and concern, just as ideas and thoughts trump advice, suggestions, and pleading. Questions give resistant children less adult emotion to manipulate but do show curiosity and interest. For example, asking a difficult child, “How do you always manage to remember to take your medicine?” is generally more effective than, “Good job on remembering your medicine.”

Descriptive phrases help children focus on and evaluate their accomplishments, treatment decisions, and results rather than provide the child with outside judgments. Resistant children can easily negate non-descriptive praise for a number of reasons. “I notice that…” is a good way to begin a descriptive phrase.

So use descriptive phrases, ask lots of questions, and keep your frustration from showing. Your children will feel good about themselves from the inside out rather than needing your approval to feel successful and encouraged.  

Visit for articles, Ask Dr. Cline, and free audio. The book Parenting Children with Health Issues: Essential Tools, Tips and Tactics for Raising Kids with Chronic Illness, Medical Conditions and Other Special Needs by Foster Cline, M.D and Lisa C. Greene is available online and in bookstores. 

Dr. Cline is a well-known child psychiatrist, author, and co-founder of the popular Love and Logic parenting program. Lisa Greene is the mother of two children with cystic fibrosis and a family life educator.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Successful Transitions: Focusing on Medical Tasks

We have been blogging for several weeks about how to increase the odds of raising children with special medical needs who are responsible, confident, and independent in all areas of life including around self-care issues. Now let's look briefly at the subject of shifting the responsibility of medical tasks.

Knowledge of Disease, Medical Requirements, and Medical Tasks

Happy Family Photo
Photo by PhotoStock
There are many medical details around managing a long-term, serious, chronic illness including nuances that can only be learned over time. Even medical professionals don't always know the "right" thing to do when things start to change.

In addition to medical knowledge, there are also the financial, insurance, and legal details that go along with it all. The average eighteen-year-old, unless properly trained for years, will not be prepared to manage it all without substantial help. That's why starting a phased, methodical training program at a young age is crucial.

Some medical clinics have "transition plans" written out to help you know what types of medical knowledge and tasks should be taught at the different ages and stages of your child's development. Others clinics don't or are working on it but it takes time, even years, for medical institutions to start a new program. In the meantime, your child is getting older.

If your child is age eleven or older, start working on this on your own. If your clinic doesn't have a transition plan, check around at other medical centers.  There are also good resources available for transition in general. Here’s a link to one of our favorites from The Institute for Child Health Policy at the University of Florida:

With some planning and parenting education, parents can massively increase the odds that their child will be ready to move up and out into the adult world. Not only is this good for the child, but it's also good for parents and medical professionals.

Everyone wins when a hopeful, optimistic, young adult goes out into the world with confidence and says: "I can do it! I recognize this world because we practiced for it at home!"

Many of these concepts are from the award-winning book “Parenting Children with Health Issues" by Foster W. Cline M.D, child psychiatrist and co-founder of Love and Logic, and Lisa C. Greene, mom of two kids with cystic fibrosis and parent educator. Visit