The Case Against Fixing It

Why do parents feel so upset, and even angry, when their children are upset?
We have a theory. When our children are babies, they depend on us for everything.
If they are upset, it is our job (rightfully so) to figure out why, and to fix it.
So now, when our children are 8, or, 13, or 17, we are conditioned to jump into
action when our children are upset. If a child whines, rolls their eyes, cries, or
struggles, we think: “I need to fix this. If I can’t, I must be failing in my role as a
But consider this: As your children grow, they need to learn to rely on you less and
less so that they can rely on themselves. This is a requirement of independence.
Each time they are upset, they have an opportunity to learn how to take care of
themselves. They have an opportunity to learn coping skills.
As they grow older, your job is to slowly transfer more and more responsibility to
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Two Conversations About Money

Here are two tips for helping your children build healthy paradigms about money:

1. Replace “We can’t afford it.”

This phrase (and the belief it expresses) sets up a paradigm of being powerless with regard to money. On the other hand, if you frame it as a choice, such as, “I’m not going to choose to spend my money on that today,” you take your power back.

Sometimes you actually can afford it, you simply don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on the trivial or useless thing your child is asking you to buy. If you say, “We can’t afford it,” you are wasting an opportunity to say something that proactively builds a better paradigm about the relationship between values and money. More on that in a bit …

Even if you truly cannot afford it, saying that over and over to your child builds a disempowered model in their head of your family’s relationship with money. It communicates that you are never in a position to...

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"Help! My Son Is Bored."

Uncategorized Jan 26, 2020

Question: My ten-year-old son is bored. He does well in school, without trying, so he isn’t very engaged academically. We keep trying different sports, but he doesn’t like any of them. He likes to draw, but that doesn’t seem like enough. He needs focus. What do you suggest?


We believe that all people, children and adults alike, should spend as much as possible using their strengths and honoring their values. Spending time doing something you love builds confidence. It gives people a sense of purpose. It shows children how it feels to be passionate about something.

And, inevitably, developing a mastery of one strength leads to interest in related fields.

Beyond that, we all present ourselves much, much better when we are using our strengths. Our social skills improve when we feel confident. We are happier and more pleasant to be around, and people turn to us for advice.

Unfortunately, school is boring for a lot of people—in fact, it is boring for most...

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Baseball and Resilience

Our friend and the president of the Santa Monica PONY Baseball league, Marc Shrake, has this to say of coaching: “Most of the kids know what to do; they just need to be taught how to figure out for themselves how to do it.” 

In other words, the wisdom exists inside of them. They just need to be taught how to find it.

He goes on to say that kids don’t need to be told every single time what to do when they swing and miss. Intellectually, they know what they are supposed to do.

“Most of the time, they need to be told to relax, take a deep breath, wait, trust their hands.”

The goal of coaching, he says, is that the kids learn to coach themselves. Instead of looking to the coach for step-by-step instructions, they look inward at what they already know. 

This is also the goal of teaching resilience. The goal is that over time, your kids can figure out for themselves how to tap into their Inner Wisdom. The goal is that they figure out for themselves...

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Let Them Feel Pain

No well-adjusted parents enjoy seeing their children sad, in pain, or fearful.

Yet …

When your children are experiencing negative emotions, do your best to remain calm. Do your best to receive those emotions and communicate that they are acceptable. Demand of yourself that you step back and allow your children to work through these emotions.

You can and should help them process their pain through conversation, of course, but do not rush to sweep their icky feelings away.

When you rush to do anything—everything!—to make your children feel better …

When you panic and, through language and tone, express that you are also flooded with pain …

When you step in and save the day …

… think about what you inadvertently communicate …

You communicate that pain is an unacceptable condition. You model the frantic need to make pain go away at all costs. You model the behavior of reaching for anything to make negative feelings dissipate.

This is...

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Prod the Bear

Do you revisit conflict when tempers have cooled?

Or …

When your child has a giant emotional meltdown, do you breathe a sigh of relief after it passes and go about your business?

Don’t prod a sleeping bear, right?

The truth is, the gold is in the second half. When you and your child revisit a conflict with clear heads, you can find solutions. This is where growth happens. It is where you and your child can begin to appreciate each other’s perspectives, and it is where you can find solutions absent of the flood of emotions that were clouding your thoughts in round one.

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When You are Too Busy for Your Kids

Uncategorized Jul 10, 2019

I’ve been ignoring my kids a little more than usual this summer. The last two weeks, in particular, have been hectic: I’m working my normal job as a ghostwriter, working with Kristin to get MacDermott Method off the ground, and helping coordinate a philanthropic event I committed to.

As a result, the kids are sitting around the house during their summer break.

I would rather be taking them to the beach, vacationing, or sitting poolside with them. I will probably have some time to do that later in the summer. For now, though, I feel some guilt. More than once, I have thought that I am not being as good of a mom as I would like to be.

It occurred to me this morning that I have failed to “wrap words around the situation.”

One of the pillars of great conversations is leveling with kids—giving them words that express the reality of what they are observing.

At some point or another, we will all be “too busy” to give our kids what we want to give...

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