coaching, homework, teens, Working with teens

Your teen and you – No 4 – time to create a win-win deal

teen and parent negotiating

It’s time to get down and decide a win-win deal together and take turns speaking and listening to each other. For negotiations to be successful  create a situation where your teen will stay comfortable and alert enough to listen closely to you. The most important thing you can do is to keep any of your positive or negative emotions out of the negotiation. Instead aim to be helpful and positive about the agreement you are negotiating, but in a businesslike fashion, even when they are derailing the negotiation.

Here are my best tips when negotiating with teens:

  1. With teens who are extremely private, don’t stare in their eyes, stand higher than them, or even stand or sit very close to them. They might find that close proximity threatening and too personal. Instead, position yourself so that you can glance at or towards them occasionally.
  2. Speak briefly in short and simple sentences.
  3. Speak in a low, quiet, businesslike voice.
  4. Speak slowly and pause briefly between sentences, checking they have understood what you are saying.
  5. When they seem easily distracted, you might ask them to repeat your main ideas in a mild and helpful voice. Listen closely to their responses,
    • and if necessary briefly repeat any information they might not have heard, understood, or remembered.
    • Then check again that they have understood and remembered what you have said. Helpfully repeat this sequence until it is clear they are paying attention.
  6. If they interrupt you while talking you can choose to either stop talking briefly to listen closely to them to understand their concerns, or ask them to remember that point for when you are finished talking.
  7. There will be a time to ask for their opinion of what you have said. Listen closely to understand. Repeat what they have said until they feel you have understood them, then discuss any concerns they might have.
  8. Sometimes it is helpful when deepening your understanding of each others’ concerns to write down what those concerns are in a pros and cons list.
  9. Only accept win-win solutions or there is no deal. You both have to be relatively happy with the agreement otherwise you have one winner and one loser. However, the perfect agreement is hard to reach and you both might have to compromise on some of the things you wanted. Still, if you are both happy enough with the deal, then you have created a deal you can both live with.
  10. Take your time to find an agreement you both believe is the best possible one you could find. Sometimes you may negotiate for several days until you are both happy. There is no hurry to come to an agreement.
  11. Remember that all privileges relating to the agreement as  consequences are suspended until an agreement is reached. At some point this will negatively affect your teen and they will want solutions decided so that they can have their privileges back.

Put the final agreement in writing then you and your teen can always refresh your memories as to what was agreed. However, you can both agree to modify this agreement as you go along because situations change. I want to warn you that your teen might know you better than you realise. Many are shrewd negotiators who might push you to change agreements with them before you have had time to think coolly and calmly about what you really want, and what your bottom lines are.  So check out my suggestions on working with teens before you agree to any changes

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on Twitter; and share this post and the website with other like-minded families.



coaching, goal-setting, self-care

The modern-day cult of busyness: What happened to relaxed time with family?

parents and children making timeAre you enjoying your family?

Having a conversation with a parent today reminded me that what I best remember as a parent of young children were the special times when I was relaxed and completely there with them. I wouldn’t be thinking about work, or a problem, or about something in the future or past; I would just be enjoying whatever was happening. We could be having a deep conversation while I drove us somewhere, sharing a lovely meal we cooked together, playing on the floor (Lego, barbie dolls, play fighting), watching them, sharing a laugh.  It didn’t matter. What was important was that my mind and body were relaxed and there with them.

Home is where the heart is.

Is your home a peaceful place where you and your family can recharge and relax? When you create regular ‘down-time’ for your family where you all can relax and enjoy each-others company or have time alone, you are also giving yourselves time to recover from the stressful lives you have been living, and live happier and healthier lives. My grownup children remember these moments too. I planned time to relax with my children because I knew that relationships are built and developed in those times, and that it was also good for my wellbeing. I’ve come across others who think like I do.

An article by Mary Grant (Autumn 2013, Parenting) is about the importance of spending unhurried time with those we love. She  says the human heart feeds on time spent being with loved ones, time spend doing simple unhurried activities such as  eating together, going for a walk together, talking and laughing together. However, these simple, deeply pleasurable moments happen less as we strain to accumulate all the things and experiences we believe will make us happy. Today people often spend more and more time on getting things, and less and less time just relaxing with their loved ones.  Perhaps with our busy lives we need to set goals around creating daily/weekly times we relax with our family and with ourselves.

Stephen Covey (The 7 habits of highly effective people) always put the most important things first, his family and his own personal development. He uses the idea of a tiny tug-boat moving a gigantic liner to explain how with small changes we can improve the quality of our lives and our family’s life.  His busy jet-setting career was built around spending regular quality time with his children and grandchildren, as well as regular time reading and thinking and writing. I meet his ideas more than 17 years ago. He helped me plan to succeed in my business, but more importantly he helped me regularly rethink what I wanted to develop or change about my relationship with myself, my children, my home, and with friends.  My life is all the richer for the gentle coaching in Stephen’s books.

What can you change to create a richer more relaxed home for your children and yourself?


Maybe it is time to re-look at whether you spend time and energy on nurturing the most important things in your life. Small changes in your routines- 15 minutes at a time – create big changes in your life. Regular relaxed contact with those you love (which includes yourself) feeds your soul and helps you function more effectively in the world. Check out my coaching on how to set goals here.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on Twitter and share this post and the website with other like-minded families.



homework, Math, reading and writing skills

How to help your child so reading, writing, and Mathematics becomes fun.

Reading, writing, and doing Mathematics: How not to help your child.

Think back to when you were a child and being told that you would like something you had already got to dislike. Do you remember how annoying and unhelpful those talks were? You didn’t believe them. You wished they would stop trying to convince you. You avoided talking with them about it if you could.

In my memory that well-meaning adult would just keep on trying to convince me that understanding Physics, eating lumpy porridge, or throwing a baseball was fun and easy.  I have stubbornly persisted in not finding lumpy porridge or throwing a baseball easy. Fortunately I am learning to be very interested in Physics, but I have had some good coaches along the way who have persisted in discussing ideas with me, shown me how Physics ideas work, and believed I’ll understand physics ideas over time.

Here is what I find works when helping your child read and write and do Mathematics – and anything else, even Physics and skateboarding.

having fun learning reading, writing, and MathematicsDon’t ‘just tell’ them something is fun and interesting. A mistake adults often make when helping their children learn a reading, writing, or Mathematics skill or any other skill, is to ‘tell’ them encouragingly how much fun and how interesting a particular skill or topic is that the child doesn’t yet like and can’t yet do. They won’t believe you, and why should they? Their experience is that that skill or topic is very difficult and quite boring.

Show them how fun and interesting you find a reading, writing, or Mathematics skill or topic. When you truly do like that skill or topic, you can show them it is fun and exciting by smiling as you do it, even glowing with enthusiasm and excitement. You can also talk enthusiastically about the topic. Just don’t over-do it, and keep enthusiastic comments brief. You can gently continue to say and show that you really enjoy/like/love that type of mathematics, that book, that topic, each time you work with them. They don’t have to like it yet but you already do.

Tell the truth. If you don’t like a reading, writing, or Mathematics skill or topic, be honest and tell them how you managed to learn it anyway, or how you will now learn it with them. If you also find that skill or topic difficult, please tell your child. You can let them know you will both learn how to do it together so that you both get to like/enjoy/master the skill. This means that you can  work on an equal footing together, as two students, to understand and master difficult reading, writing, or Mathematics skills. I have personally found this a very powerful and useful way to coach a student when I am unsure yourself about a topic or skill.

As a coach, I have found that being honest about my thoughts and feelings when coaching reading, writing, or Mathematics skills is always the best policy. Some of my best coaching sessions have been when I was not comfortable with teaching the topic or skill, and we worked together to master it. As I tell them – the best way to learn something is to teach it.

Thank you for any feedback. Love hearing from you!


reading and writing skills

Learning how to handwrite is not an unnecessary skill….yet.

Handwriting helps our children

learn easier – and it can be taught.

I’ve already written  in a previous post about how handwriting can help us learn and remember. Many of you might have children with dyslexia or learning disabilities and I still firmly believe that even if your child has poor motor skills, they can still learn to hand write much better than they currently are. It will cost them more effort, but your child can  learn to write more fluently using reasonably legible handwriting over time and with regular, steady practice. They might not believe they can learn to hand write legibly, even the professionals might not believe they can, however, in my experience your children can learn to do things generally considered impossible with your support and their determination, and this includes hand writing legibly and fluently.

However, you might have to supply most of the determination at first. Decide what both you want and go for it. Check out this post for how to begin working with your child.

I still believe people need to learn how to physically write down their thoughts and ideas. To summarise what I’ve said in a previous post, when your children write facts down they are more likely to learn and remember them. Check out my post on how to coach your child handwriting.

How your child forms their letters, is vital. The direction that letters are written improves fluency and speed and neatness.Worksheets to help your child remember where to begin writing and which direction to write in will help make  learning to use the correct writing technique so much easier.

Between the four sites listed below, you will have many options to produce that type of handwriting worksheets that you want to use. You can start beginning writers out with the Amazing Incredible Handwriting Worksheet Maker so that your child will have a starter dot to know where to begin writing the letter.

This Amazing Incredible Handwriting Worksheet Maker website gives you a starting point:

After they know where to begin when writing a letter, you might like to experiment with  worksheets on other websites to find the most useful for your child’s hand writing lesson:

Check out their hand grip when writing. Are they using the correct pincer movement when holding the pen? I personally like to keep the coaching of new skills as light and easy as possible. Look at the post on coming from left field to help your child remember faster how to hold a pen. Just reminding them works so much slower than ‘the first up to five’ game, and is a whole lot less fun for you.

Coaching is fun!


coaching, Math, reading and writing skills

Win-win agreements make coaching your child reading, writing, and Mathematics skills more fun!

Create agreements that make you both happy.

This week I’ve asked permission to share an email from a concerned family coach who is working with me. She has a young boy who is working on improving his Mathematics and reading and writing skills and he is a very skilled negotiator – even though he is only seven years old.

Hi Anne

 I just thought I would give you a heads up that we have had some real challenges with my son this week, to get him to do his reading, writing, and Mathematics  work.  He has been really pushing back about doing it, and has flown into “tantrum” mode at the drop of a hat.  We have persisted and through a lot of negotiation (which feels a bit like black mail) managed to get him “eventually” to come back to the table and do the reading, writing, and Mathematics work (all be it very messy and under a cloud of resistance and stress). 

Basically we have said – if he says no to his reading, writing, and Mathematics homework, then we will need to say “no” to something he wants, for example last week we said if he didn’t do his reading, writing, and Mathematics then he couldn’t go to his friend’s party.  This week he has a school disco on Friday and we have said if he doesn’t do his reading, writing, and Mathematics without fuss then no disco, and then next Friday he is going to a footie game if he does all his reading, writing, and Mathematics without fuss.  This usually gets him back to the table and doing some work. But my question/concern is – is this the right sort of precedent to be setting?

Also, with using the lure of a reward or something he really wants, he eventually does come and do the reading, writing, and Mathematics work, but not without tantrums and a huge fuss – so should we take the reward away the minute he makes a fuss?  We would then have no leverage to get any  reading, writing, and Mathematics done the rest of the week!?  I suspect there is also something (?) in the way we are approaching his reading, writing, and Mathematics homework that sets him off, but I don’t know what, or if he is using “us” as an excuse to try and get out of it?  He says we confuse him and put too much pressure on him.   Is this just “a stage” and we need to persevere? He seems to put up barriers to working on reading, writing, and Mathematics no matter what we try (making it a game, making it fun).

From concerned family coach

Dear family coach,

I agree that blackmail/bribes never work for long, and they feel wrong too. I think it is a stage all coaches and students work through – the time when the honeymoon is over and the student wakes with a start and thinks, “What am I doing extra reading, writing and Mathematics for? I don’t want to do more reading, writing and Mathematics after school.” This is a time when the extra attention, new reading, writing and Mathematics skills, and new and amusing reading, writing and Mathematics activities no longer intrigue. Your son is very good at the art of negotiation and so we have to be skilful when we negotiate how he will work on his reading, writing and Mathematics skills with you.

Create a bottom line – the reading, writing and Mathematics coaching will happen regularly. From there you can create positive and negative consequences for when he is willing or not willing to work on his reading, writing and Mathematics skills. I’ll support you and him to find consequences he agrees to so they are part of a mutual agreement, and not punishments or bribes. He has to be very clear about our bottom line – that the reading, writing and Mathematics coaching is happening, for this long, and in these skill areas – but within that, he has to have some leverage, some choices. What about before we meet you explain to him that any fun thing that happens is not a right, it is something he earns, and it happens after the reading, writing and Mathematics work is done. So instead of saying you can’t go if you don’t do this reading, writing and Mathematics work….which is a threat….try – when you have practised your reading, writing and Mathematics skills …then we can…. Make consequences immediate for now rather than something that happens at the end of a week, for example he can play Lego, watch television, or play, you can read a story to him.

Examine your own thoughts/attitudes towards the reading, writing and Mathematics coaching and your son’s learning. Perhaps something needs to change there. As a coach I usually find that it is my thoughts about how a student is learning to read, write and do Mathematics that needs to change first, then everything else falls more easily into place. Spend time examining your responses to his avoidance behaviours when learning reading, writing and Mathematics skills.

Never shake on a deal immediately. Negotiations on working with reading, writing and Mathematics at home, especially win-win negotiations, take place over time, which allows both parties time to examine and change the agreement until they are both happy. After you have re-examined your own fears, hopes, beliefs, attitudes, relating to your son’s reading, writing and Mathematics learning, talk with him so he can realise that he will still be doing the reading,  writing and Mathematics practice, no matter how many tantrums or blocks he puts up. Don’t argue with him. Instead if  if you quietly and clearly explain why you want him to have good reading, writing and Mathematics skills and how exactly you want him to learn them, he will gradually become more willing to learn reading, writing and Mathematics skills with you.

His point of view is also valid. Who wants to do extra reading, writing and Mathematics work at home when  you have never enjoyed this work?  However, that doesn’t mean we are ‘soft’ on him. Instead we are creating  a workable win-win situation for all of us. In the process we ensure he will do extremely well with reading, writing and Mathematics skills at school.

I hope that these thoughts are helpful and check out my blogs on and see if there are more ideas there you can use.



coaching, reading and writing skills

Make haste slowly: Coaching your child reading, writing, and Mathematics the fast way.

Haste makes for slow reading, writing and Mathematics progress: Relaxed, steady focus works.

One new different thing reading, writing, Mathematics skills at a time. I often only begin coaching one area (reading, writing, or Mathematics) that a student finds difficult, and one reading, writing, or Mathematics skill they are comfortable with, and love. To begin working comfortably with them – begin to build a comfortable and relaxed coaching relationship – I usually suggest that we work on a reading, writing, or Mathematics skill they like first.

The other day I met a new student and we began fairly immediately talking about books we liked. The eleven year old boy was an excellent reader and loved science fantasy. He wasn’t coming to me for coaching on reading at all, but to develop his writing and Mathematics skills. However as we began to talk reader to reader and I offered him some books out of my library and asked him to lend me books he was reading, we naturally progressed to talking about a small science fantasy novel he might write. He actually came to me for coaching to develop his writing skills (spelling content, and sentence structure), and his Mathematics skills which in the first session we only touched on. He walked out with some of my books to read, very excited about the story he’d write, and also hooked into developing his Mathematics skills with me.We bonded well. I believe that he looked forward to working with me on developing his writing and Mathematics skill the following week and I certainly looked forward to working with him again.

It is extremely important for the respectful, harmonious coaching relationship you are endeavouring to develop with your child, that while you  are actually working with your child so that they will improve their reading, writing, or Mathematics skills, the coaching time should be enjoyable and relaxed (most of the time) for you both.

I suggest that you offer your student regular moments of pleasurable achievement and fun. The coaching of new skills is of course hard work most of the time, but the reward of having some pleasant, fun time with you each coaching session will mean that you both will be more likely to keep the coaching going through the hard times when the work is not easy to coach or learn. When you both have regular moments when you have a laugh together, get excited together, enjoy a chat, or both feel very pleased when something is understood or mastered, means your child will keep coaching reading, writing, or Mathematics with you, even when something is hard to learn and definitely isn’t fun.

Here is another post with tips on creating a respectful coaching relationship with your child when coaching reading, writing, or Mathematics skills.

Check out an excerpt from my coaching guide.

Because of all the past good and harmonious coaching times your child will be able to keep focused and learning reading, writing, or Mathematics even when they are not feeling like learning and so will you!

Please share any successes you’ve experienced when coaching your child.



coaching, homework

Respectful partnership: A buzz for you both

If you are really going to co-operate with Nature’s plan for the development of intelligence, you take your signals from the child. Not from some book, not from some expert, … take your signals from the child.

(Joseph Chilton Pearce cited in Brownlee, P. 2007)

Taking our signals from our children: The importance of attunement. There has been a lot of research done recently on the importance of having a close and respectful attachment with your baby and young child so that they develop in to more independent, emotionally stable, loving human beings. Pennie Brownlee in ‘Dance with me in the heart: the adult’s guide to great infant-parent relationships’ writes that when you are partnering in a respectful way with your young child, you listen to them and watch them closely, so you can discover what they are experiencing and what they really need. Only then can you support them with the deep understanding that creates respectful relationships.If you are reading this, you are probably already aware of the importance of attunement or being ‘in tune’ with your young child, so that they feel understood and  cared for.

As our child grows older relationships often become less close. You might have noticed that as we get busier, and as our children become older and more independent, we often forget to create the moments that help develop and nurture a close, harmonious and respectful relationship with them, and we can grow apart. The moments when we stop to listen closely to them and do things with them can become fewer and fewer. The television and computers are always on, visitors arrive, we are more tired, our children have busy after school schedules. All the diversions of our busy and modern lives often severely limit  those moments of intimacy with our children when we stop, play, relax, have a laugh, and most of all, listen to our children.

As our children get older, the busy schedules and life-styles of the whole family get in the way of spending time just being with our children until they can become almost strangers, and become people we can no longer easily support, or even connect with and enjoy anymore. As our children become older, it is even more important we continue to have special regular time with them we both enjoy, so we stay ‘in tune’ with each other and so weather any future storms together rather than miserably apart. Taking time out of your busy life to attune yourself with your child means that at any future point when they are feeling alone and lonely, they will always know in their hearts how deeply we care for and enjoy them, and that they can always come to us for help and comfort. Please create the time to continue building and developing your relationship with your child into adulthood.  Here are some ideas I’ve found work for developing the mutual pleasures and benefits of nurturing a close relationship  with your children.


  • Regular special one-on-one dates. Busy entrepreneurial time-management guru Steven Covey had regular dates with all of his nine children. I guess if that is what it takes – do that. In the past when I’ve been especially frantically busy, I’ve diaried in special weekly times with my children. That is how I taught one to ride a bike for instance.
  • Seize moments that Pennie Brownlie calls ‘care moments’ when you are doing something with or for your child. She suggests you give those moments your full attention. Bed times are good moments to just sit quietly with your child and listen to them.
  • Read books with them long after they can read for themselves. It allows them to open up and discuss ideas and opinions they have with you, and perhaps share problems and triumphs as well. I have more ideas here about why and how you read books to your child.
  • Say less – listen more to deeply understand what they are experiencing. This is very, very hard to do when you have strong opinions about what they should be doing, thinking, feeling. Then especially – you need to listen. Think to yourself, “Perhaps I don’t really understand what is happening for my child yet.

Especially as children grow older, family life can become one chore after another, and the little oases of just being together often become fewer and fewer. These moments to attune yourself with your child again can be wonderful opportunities  for you to relax and unstress as well. When you are partnering respectfully with your child, you often walk away from relaxed and happy and ready for the next chore after a close and loving moment with your child. To your surprise you might find you get more out of that moment from your child than you felt you gave. Check out this post for more tips to become closer with your child. Get in contact with me whenever you like. I enjoy responding to your comments and questions.