Monday, August 25, 2014


I must confess that when our kids were growing up we hardly ever used 'time out' as a corrective action.  It wasn't even thought of those days as a consequence.  Our parents spanked us when we were disobedient and we just followed suit with our own kids.  A good swat on the behind usually did the trick back then.  Of course spanking a child is no longer advocated and in some countries such as New Zealand, it is now against the law.  I do agree that spanking should not be used unless all other options have been exhausted and, of course, we do need to heed the law.
Time out is a great option because it provides the opportunity for both the parent and the child to calm down and for the child to think about what they did that got them there!  Some kids throw a fit in 'time out' because they can't have their way, but this is part of learning to obey authority.  It is a lesson they will have to learn for the rest of their lives, so it's better to get their temper under control early.

I am amazed at how well 'time out' works with my own grandchildren, even the two year-old.  The parent will say, do you want a 'time out'?  The child then chooses whether to continue the disobedient path and, if so, the parent will say, "Go to your room and sit on your chair' and they just go and sit there.  They will not move until told they can get up.  Imagine that!  It really is a great thing to watch.

Some parents give up when their child will not stay on the 'time out' chair.  It is just a matter of persistence.  Put them on the chair and if they get off, just put them back on it without comment or display of anger.  If it happens a second time say with a firm voice, "Stay on your chair until I say you can get off!"  If you give in then they know exactly what it will take to get out of the consequence and you will have ten times the effort ahead of you to make them do as they are told. 

You might think that 'time out' does not work if you are not in your own home.  I have included two photos as examples of 'time out' being administered in the most unusual of places.  Granted it might not have quite the same effect, but the child is being taken away from their play and that counts for something.

I know that some corrective actions work on some kids and not on others.  Time out will work for most young children if you persist.  If the negative behavior continues, it may be because they do not connect the bad behavior with sitting on a time out chair.  It may be because the parent doesn't sit them there long enough (one minute for year of age is a good gauge) or insist they stay there.  If you have persisted with time out and it doesn't correct the behavior then there are other options.

There is always something that will cause a child to think twice before continuing to be disobedient. Of course, time out as such will not work for older kids but,

Here are some suggestions.
a) Withdrawing privileges.
b) Extra chores like cleaning out a closet or washing the car - chores beyond their
    normal responsibilities.
c) Removing favorite toys or electronic devices for a period.
d) Apologizing to you or to any other person affected by their behavior
    (with an explanation).
e) Restoring what might have been messed up or broken.
f) Grounding if the child is older.

Avoid using as behavioral consequences things that you want your children to learn. Like, don't get them to vacuum a room as that is a common chore that you want them to master as a life-skill. The main points are to act quickly to correct behavior, and always be persistent and consistent.

I couldn't resist adding this picture of our grandson in timeout with Daddy at the mall.  I don't think he was getting the message that this was serious business although he was taken away from the play area!

 Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

Friday, August 15, 2014


Didn't you just love to swing when you were a kid?  Somehow when you are sailing into the air, fantasies form in your head and you imagine all kinds of supposedly impossible adventures.  There is really nothing quite like it!  Even big kids and parents love to get on the swing every now and again and relive those cherished thoughts and memories.

So, why do we love to swing?  Perhaps it is that great feeling of weightlessness.  There is nothing tying you down.  Perhaps that swing is associated with all the playful, carefree things you loved to do when you had no responsibilities or restrictions on your life?

Let's think for a moment about those things that restrict us.  Is it the voice in your head saying, 'No, you can't do that because it is too hard, it is too expensive, you have never done it before or you saw someone try it once and they got hurt'?  When I was young I told Dad that I would like to go to University.  He said, "We aren't that kind of people in our family!"  My immediate thought was, 'Just watch me!'  I could have just believed him and given up on the idea, but I am very pleased something made me override that voice.

When I was at University I learned about Erikson's psychosocial stages of development through life and clearly remember the 8th and last stage.  He stated that you can either look back on your life with integrity or despair.  I decided then and there that I would never allow myself to look back with disappointment due to lost opportunities just because I listened to my own thoughts, self doubt or negative comments from others.

As parents we need to seriously look at our own lives.  Will we look back with integrity, or despair?  Are we already planting seeds of doubt or fear into our kids' heads which would discourage them from trying anything outside their comfort zone, or ours?

We all know the motto, 'You can do anything or be anything you want to be.'  Sometimes we want to protect our kids from trying to do something we know, or think, they can't possibly do.  Should that stop them from trying?  The worst doesn't have to be failure.  It could easily lead into something they have not thought of before, so we need to encourage them to reach that place rather than wallow in disappointment.  When we protect them from failure they may never really discover their true talent, interest or gifting.

The most amazing thing is that sometimes the seemingly impossible, does happen!  Don't we want that to be our experience and that of our kids?  It is never too late to make positive changes in our lives.  Try it!

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
Photo source: Scott Crain - with my sincere thanks.

Sunday, August 10, 2014



                     "Thank goodness I have a teenager who knows it all so I don't have to use my
                                        knowledge, shaped by life experience, to make decisions.
                                                             Whew! They've got it covered."
                                                            - source Facebook status shuffle

Why do teens think they know it all?  The answer may lay in the fact that they are being influenced by many other groups of people as they grow up.  People who do not think like we do, who shed a different light on things, who think contrary to the information our kids have grown up with.  It can be quite an 'awakening' for them, but somewhat disturbing to us.

What are they thinking?  Do our teens begin to view us as 'stick in the mud, fuddy duddies'?  Do they consider us behind the times?  Is societal pressure taking over our carefully crafted and instilled family principles?  Are we losing our kids to a more influential world?


1.  We need to have constant involvement in our kids' lives.  That means we show active interest
     in what they do and who their friends are.  We spend one-on-one time with them.  We encourage
     them to talk through their differences in thinking and discuss the issues calmly without either side
     becoming argumentative. 

 2. Our kids need to know the reasons why we adhere to particular principles within the family.
     We should expect that they will eventually question our thinking.  It is all part of learning to stand
     on their own feet, to mature and take responsibility for their own actions.  When our values make
     sense they will usually want to continue to follow them even if they do initially question them.

3. We need to accept that some of our experiences in life have not resulted in our dealing effectively
     with similar circumstances and our kids can teach us a better way.  Sometimes we are wrong.

Sometimes our kids do know more than us.  We should all remain in a state of constant learning.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

Saturday, August 2, 2014


                     "I went to the movies today with my Granddaughter, Rose. We saw 'How To 
                     Train Your Dragon 2'.  She laughed out loud so much. It was neat just to sit 
                     beside this little girl and watch her total rapture in the movie. We shared 2 
                     bags of popcorn and it was one of my best '1 hour and 30 minutes' I have 
                     had in a very long time.

                     When we walked out of the theater she asked, "What shall we do now Poppy?"

                     It's a neat feeling when you get it right - a number one."

                                                                        -  Craig Robertson, proud grandfather, New Zealand

What a great story!  It really is a thrill to make a difference in the lives of our grandchildren.   And the best thing is that our grandchildren speak into our lives just as much.  They love us unconditionally.  They speak unguarded truth to us - something an adult is much more reticent to do. 
What a tonic it is when we see their faces light up at the sight of us!

Our grandchildren grow up so quickly.  Make the most of all those precious moments and take lots of pics.

Written by Sally Burgess