Hello Everyone! I hope this Newsletter finds you a little closer to BETTER this month!


This Month’s Issue:


The Journey to Better Parenting: Responsibility is Learned!

The last newsletter encouraged parents and caregivers to consider goals and parenting relationships with themselves and for the children in their lives. The questions posed in last months article cover important areas that can lead to BETTER parenting. I have asked more than 3000 parents and caregivers to ponder those particular questions as a starting point to work to BETTER.

“To be Responsible.” is by far the number one response provided by parents and caregivers when asked, “What do you want for your children? Now? In the Future?

I have to admit that this particular newsletter has been inspired by the conversation at the next table (sitting in a café). It is a conversation and a topic area that is actually quite common among parents and caregivers. Sitting beside me is a group of parents that are complaining about their teens and young adult children. The topic; their teens and young adults, according to them, are not responsible. The parents seem frustrated, confused and a little angry; they cannot believe that their “children are not responsible yet and they are 17, 19, 22 and 23!”

Responsibility does not just happen. It is not tied to chronological age.

Responsibility is a skill that must be taught, supported and nurtured by the collective actions, interactions and relationships that children and youth have with the adults in their lives; primarily parents and caregivers.
Many frustrated, confused, angry and disheartened parents can unfortunately fall into the trap of blaming their children for not being responsible. This can cause a great deal of conflict in relationships and bring stress for both parents/caregivers and the children in their lives. It is imperative that when we are dissatisfied with our children, their performance, their behavior, etc., that the analysis start with us as parents. Remember, people are not just born; they are made.

This is not parent blaming. This is an important and also one of the many difficult aspects of being a parent and/or caregiver of children. If you are feeling a little beat up, I encourage you to stop here and read last months article.

We owe it to ourselves, and to the children in our lives to ask some important questions. What have we done or are we doing to teach responsibility? What are or have our expectations been? What do we model or, have we as adults modeled about responsibility (and accountability) for that matter?

For instance, if we would like our children, teens and/or young adults to be responsible, we should consider what we are doing or not doing that may or may not contribute to the development of responsibility.

  • Is it helpful to pay them for every single chore or important task they complete?
  • Is it wise to do things for them that they can do for themselves (clean their room, do their laundry, interfere in minor sibling disputes)?
  • Is it helpful to have little to no expectations for school or work?
  • Is it helpful to have little to no rules or consequences for “unacceptable behavior”
  • Is it helpful to not follow through on consequences that have been set?
  • Is it helpful to tell them what not to do without modeling or guiding expected behavior?
  • Is it helpful for our kids to see us call into work “sick”, because we were up all night partying with friends and we don’t feel like going?

These things are not very helpful for developing responsibility in our children and teens. However, I no longer tell parents that they SHOULD or SHOULDN’T do certain things. It doesn’t feel good for either of us and often leads caregivers to feeling judged, blamed and just plain “bad”. It does not create an opening to learn something different. Instead, I will encourage them (and you also) to consider the things they are already doing that foster or shape responsibility with the children in their lives. Once they do that, it is important then to consider other parental actions/interactions and assess if those particular behaviors are helpful for what they want for their children and/or for a preferred relationship with their children.

If we indeed discover that what we are doing as parents/caregivers is not helpful for bringing about preferences in goals and/or relationships, the choice is ours; we can change what we want for the children in our lives, which is pretty darn hard to do or, we can try to change what we are doing to bring that about. It’s up to us.

Good News – Because responsibility is a skill, it is never too late to learn. Yes, the older people are, the more difficult the task of teaching new behaviors is, but the latest brain research is showing us that teen brains are still under construction until the age of 24! Yes parents and caregivers, there is HOPE! The group of parents in the café, that inspired this newsletter, was very relieved indeed to learn of this.

Future G2B™ newsletters will focus on specific and practical tips and skills for developing Respect, Responsibility and Resilience among other things with and for our children.

If you have a question about this article or, a query that you would like help with, please leave it in the comment section below or, send us an email at steve@gettingtobetter.ca and we will do our best to provide some information and resources through future newsletters.


More Information and More Support with Dr. Jean Clinton!

I am so excited to announce that Dr. Jean Clinton has agreed to assist in making contributions to future Newsletters! Jean and I have teamed up in the past with an article on Relationships and the Brain and have initiated a journey of developing and presenting seminars for people who are responsible informally and formally for the care of children and teens.

Jean brings a wealth of research, knowledge and experience and is well known for promoting the importance of relationships, brain development and optimizing the growth and well-being of the whole child.

Jean will make contributions on important topic areas such as:

  • How parenting sculpts children’s’ brains
  • How love builds brains
  • What is the “right” kind of praise for children
  • The number of words a child hears before 3 influences whether he/she finishes high school
  • How family stress interferes with children’s’ learning
  • The teen brain under construction
  • Why we should teach our children how to lose
  • …and much much more!

If you are interested in reading about any particular topic of interest due not hesitate to write it in the comment section below or send an email to steve@gettingtobeter.ca. Jean and we will do our best to address topics that are important to those who are doing their best for the children and youth in their lives.

Latest from the Leadership Blog

How to Lose Your Best Employee in 30 Minutes or Less

Getting to Better™ Kindness Partners and Friends

Life Vest Inside™

Orly Waba, founder of LVI, is busy working on some really exciting projects. As we eagerly await the public release of her TED Talk, she is tirelessly working on some innovative and exciting projects for a KINDER world. Some of these developments include a social app for kindness and a Kindness Education Curriculum for schools. While the new website is still under construction the current one is still up. You can always stay in touch and updated by checking out the LVI Facebook Page.

See Beautiful™

I am consistently inspired by the amazing work of Lydia Criss Mays, founder and CEO of See Beautiful. Did you know See Beautiful™ promotes non-profits and supports many different initiatives with financial contributions to help them Get to Better! Just recently See Beautiful gave away 100 dollars to 10 teachers so that they could encourage their students to see more beautiful! WOW. Check out all of the great work and the organizations See Beautiful™ has and continues to support!

VOICES Manitoba Youth in Care Network

FREE HUG DAY – It’s that time of year again, for the VOICES Free Hug Day. The 2012 Free Hug Day was a great success. View the video here!.

Free Hug Day is organized by VOICES and Getting to Better™ to raise awareness about the importance of making connections and building relationships with children, youth and young adults in and from care.

Thank you again to all of those who participated last year.

This years Free Hug Day is scheduled for May 18th, 2013. If you would like to get involved and/or you would like to host a Free Hug Day location, please email Marie (marie@voices.mb.ca) or Steve (steve@gettingtobetter.ca). You can also visit the Voices Free Hug Day Facebook page for updated information and locations.

Dr. Jean Clinton

Dr. Jean and I are happy to announce that we have formally initiated our partnership by developing and facilitating our first seminar for service providers who work with Youth Justice Ontario (YJO). On April 3rd we presented, “Engaging Youth: Understanding the Brain and Connecting with the Whole Child”. Feedback was GREAT! Jean and I are working to develop more presentations for all service sectors responsible for the provision of care for children and youth. Our goal is to provide information and research on the importance of relationships, brain development and the whole child. We are also excited to offer hundreds of practical strategies for fostering the well being of children; optimizing the development of their brains and; enhancing the relationships with important adults in their lives, to the greatest potential possible. Stay tuned for many exciting developments.

Dr. Michael Ungar

Dr. Michael Ungar continues to inspire and impress me with his work. Michael has a keen ability, among many others, of making complex ideas easy to understand. In his recent blog post for Psychology Today, Michael sheds light on and provides important insights for considering the question, “Is there effective treatment for traumatized kids?”

A great read for people approaching formal intervention with children and youth who have experienced trauma. Thank you Michael!


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