www.chickmoorman.com --- www.thomashaller.com December 7, 2005
The Response-Able Parent Newsletter #47

Mission Statement

Our mission is to strengthen families and improve parent communication skills (including our own) by helping parents learn practical, usable verbal strategies for raising responsible, caring, confident children.

In This Issue

1. Explanation of Unique Edition
2. We Get E-mail
3. Schedule of Events

1. Explanation of Unique Edition

Welcome to this unique edition of The Response-Able Parenting Newsletter. Our e-mail response has been so heavy recently that we decided to publish this special edition that deals almost exclusively with responses to e-mail.

It is not possible for us to answer all the e-mails we receive. Even with two of us, many have to go unanswered each month. We do read them, though. And we love to get them. Thank you for sending your questions, concerns, appreciation, encouragement, and affirmation. And, most of all, thanks for reading.

Because of the tremendous demand for our time and the heartfelt concern that parents have been expressing for the welfare of their children, we are contemplating organizing parent coaching and parent mentoring programs. These programs would give parents direct e-mail access to us as well as structured phone contact. The details have not yet been worked out. An announcement in our Response-Able Parenting Newsletter will be sent when the plan has been finalized.

If you have suggestions or ideas on this coaching/mentoring program, please send them to us at ipp57@aol.com.

2. We Get E-mail

Hello there,

I have been receiving your newsletter for about 3 months now. I like it a lot. I want to keep getting it, but something puzzles me. How did I get on your list in the first place?

Ann Arbor Mom

Dear Ann Arbor Mom,

Many people sign up for our newsletter lists (parent and/or educator) at our workshops. Both of us have been in the Ann Arbor, MI, area this past year doing parent and teacher programs. Often people read one of our articles on the Internet. The tagline on all of our articles tells about our free e-mail newsletters. Maybe you read an article, went to one of our sites, and signed up. It could be that a friend or relative forwarded a newsletter to you and you signed up because of that. You either signed up at a workshop or went to one of our sites. We do not put people on our mailing lists without their permission.

We are happy you are enjoying the material we create. Feel free to pass it on. Just scroll down to the bottom of this newsletter and follow the instructions.


Chick and Thomas

Dear Mr. Moorman and Mr. Haller,


I have read several of your books and have made a ritual of reading something from Parent Talk every night to continue reprogramming my parental language center. I have two daughters, 6 yrs and 3  years old.  My six year old has had difficulty with the concept of competition, especially losing, since I can remember. As parents, my husband and I have been sensitive to this over the years and have concentrated on playing cooperative games with each other. My daughter wanted to play soccer last year, and we supported this. She cried every time the other team scored a goal. We have worked hard with her to de-emphasize the winning/losing aspect of the game and emphasize the other aspects such as exercise, being with friends, kicking the ball, running, etc ... .  We have used descriptive terms with her and have stayed away from using evaluative language. As time has gone on, and she has had more experience, her response to the other team scoring has been somewhat less emotional. Interestingly, even though she experiences a fairly intense emotional wound, she doesn't want to quit, she just keeps moving through it. Also, this has been a perfect opportunity for me to work on my own shame around her crying, and I have been somewhat successful.


The problem that is beginning to surface is occurring in first grade. Yesterday, one of her teachers called to tell me about a "problem" she had with my daughter in her classroom. She described the game the teacher was playing with the class as "hot potato." She turned the lights off, and the children would pass the potato to each other. Then the teacher would turn the lights on, and whoever was holding the potato was "out" and had to sit on a chair outside of the circle. Also, as she explained, the children who did not have the potato would cheer for themselves because they did not lose. Well, my daughter was one of the first ones out of the game, and apparently lost it, according to her teacher. When the other children cheered, she cried very hard and was inconsolable for a while.


My daughter explained to the teacher that she "felt sad" because she felt as though the other children were laughing at her because she "lost." The teacher, unfortunately, told my child that she was going to get into trouble because she was "not telling the truth." The teacher did not think the other children were laughing at her. So not only did my daughter feel wounded from this game, but also because she was accused of lying about her own, seemingly accurate, perception.


How can I help my daughter work through this ego attachment to winning and losing? What language can I use? How do you feel about competition in the schools for children this age and should I approach the teachers/principle regarding this issue?


1. How can I help my daughter work through this ego attachment to winning and losing? What language can I use?


2. How do you feel about competition in the schools for children this age and should I approach the teachers/principle regarding this issue?


Any words you might have to share would be so incredibly valuable to me. Thank you for your time and attention.




Not Hot for Hot Potato
Philadelphia, PA


Hello Not Hot,


We like the way you are going after the Parent Talk concepts. That is a great way to integrate the skills into your life.


About the competition challenge . . .


Sounds like you are doing much of what we recommend . . . cooperative games, emphasizing the other aspects of the game, using descriptive comments, etc. Way to go!


Make sure your child has an empowered choice around the issue of participating in competitive activities. Competition may not be her style and she needs to know she can choose not to participate if that does not fit with who she is or who she wants to be. Let her know that if she does choose the activity, she is choosing it for a different reason than many of her teammates. They are playing to win. She is choosing to play for exercise or to be with her friends, or to improve skills or to run fast.


Debrief after every experience. "What was it like for you?"  "What did you enjoy?" "Tell me about the hardest part or the part you didn?t like." "How is this similar to playing checkers?"  "How is it different?" Debriefing makes sure she has a voice both before and after the competitive experience.


Our biggest concern here is the teacher's Hot Potato activity. It is like musical chairs, dodge ball, and other games of elimination. We are totally opposed to these activities. There is no sound reason for any FORCED competition before third grade. And even then, competition should be voluntary.


Why is it that one emotional response to the game (crying) is described as "lost it" and another emotional response (cheering) is not described as "losing it?" Both are valid and real responses on the part of a child. Why is one OK and another not valued? Both are honest, open reactions by a young child. Both should be validated by the adult in charge.


Your daughter was not validated. Her feelings are real for her and need to be honored as such. To tell her that she was lying is difficult to understand. Does this teacher know what your daughter?s feelings are? Can she get inside her skin and feel for her? We can see where she may feel your child's perception is inaccurate, but to describe it as a lie could well be a perception error on the teacher's part. Shall we tell her she is lying about your daughter? We don?t think so. But she may have a perception problem. She does have a "how do you treat children caught up in 'strong emotion' problem."


Check with the teacher and see if it would be OK for your daughter to choose not to participate in the potato game. There is NO educational value in it.


Your daughter may gravitate to individual sports like running and do it just for her pleasure, not to compete. She may ride horses not to show them but just to enjoy their existence and beauty. We need more people like that.


We think you are on the right track.



Chick and Thomas

Hey Chick,


I love the idea of becoming a Parent Talk Facilitator. Spreading these language skills to parents is something I feel called to do. Is there any chance you will be coming to New York soon?


Eager to Participate


Hello Eager,

I have had inquiries on the Parent Talk System Training of Trainers seminar from New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Germany, South Africa, and Australia. At present, we offer two trainings a year. Both are in Michigan. The next one is in Grand Rapids, MI, January 26-28, 2006. There is still room and time to qualify for the early registration discount.

I would be happy to offer a Facilitator Training in New York or any other location that has enough interested participants to make it worthwhile for me to travel that distance. I would be happy to send you my Organizer's Kit, which will help you organize a training in your home town. If you think you can get 10-15 participants, this would be the most cost-effective way for you to get the training.


Click on the highlighted link to view the brochure of the January training in Grand Rapids, MI. http://www.chickmoorman.com/trainTrainers.pdf




Hey you guys,


I have been receiving your e-mails for over two years now. You have helped me with specific parenting strategies on several occasions. I have not ordered any of your books as of yet, so I don't know too much about you. Who are you anyway?


Lexington Larry


Hello Lexington Larry,

We could write a book in response to your question. Here is the short version.


Chick Moorman
I am a former classroom teacher and a lifelong educator. I use my writing and speaking abilities to support and inspire others to raise responsible children in enlightened and loving ways. I am a cancer survivor who loves dancing and riding Arabian horses. I enjoy three grandchildren, with one more on the way.


Thomas Haller
I am a family therapist who has been in private practice for over 18 years. I am devoted to teaching others how to enhance the health of their mind, body and spirit. My wife, Valerie, and I believe in putting family first and we put that saying into practice while we enjoy helping our sons, Reese (age 9) and Parker (age 5), grow and learn. I run a horse rescue and retirement ranch located on our property.

We offer seminars, workshops, books, and other materials on raising responsible, caring, confident children. We have brought the talents of an educator and a therapist together to help adults work effectively with children. Beginning January 1, 2006, we are formally entering into partnership with the launching of Verbal Skill Solutions, LLC, a business that will be our vehicle for delivering our verbal skill expertise to adults working with children.

Hi Chick and Thomas,


I have a son who is in 4th grade. I just got a call from his teacher at home last night letting me know that he is failing every subject and his report card will show all "E's." My son has brought home mostly good grades and I was surprised to hear this. The teacher explained that he has several missing assignments that didn't get handed in and his test scores were bad. We have had trouble with him staying focused in the classroom, but when he does get his work done, he does it well.


The teacher has him seated separately away from the other students because he causes a lot of distractions. I really don't like that he has been separated from the rest of the class. I imagine him sitting in a corner with a dunce hat on. My husband has been to the classroom a couple of times to observe the situation. My husband says it's very boring to sit in the classroom because our son doesn't need help with his work. He just needs help to stay focused on the work. The teacher thinks maybe he has ADD, but I had him tested at Sylvan Learning Center when he was in 1st grade and the results were negative. The teacher thinks we may need to retain him in the 4th grade if he doesn?t make progress by the end of the year. I have been searching the internet trying to find ways to help my son learn to concentrate and stay focused. There isn't a lot of information out there that I can find. So far, I've been talking with my son frequently about concentration, pointing out times when I notice him doing it. I bought a couple of games such as Simon, where he has to concentrate on the color pattern and repeat it. I have noticed that he gets bored with it after about 2-3 minutes.? Do you have any suggestions at all? I would appreciate anything that can help.




Troubled Parent

Hello Troubled Parent,


It is difficult for us to respond without knowing much more about the actual situation. It could be that your son is bored out of his mind in that class. What activities does he have to do? Is it all seat work or are there learning centers and opportunities for students to engage in cooperative learning going on? Can he work at his own pace, or is he forced to go along with everyone who may be behind or ahead of him? Is the learning active or does he have to sit for long periods of time? Does the teacher bond with the children and work to build relationship or is she more interested in power and control? All of these considerations and more feed into your son's behavior.


We are wondering why you were not notified by this teacher before the situation got to the point where your son was failing every class. It is much easier to catch up when you are not so far behind. You may want to ask that question.


If you are satisfied that the classroom is being run effectively, you might want to consider creating a plan to give your child the structure he needs to complete his work.


1. Tell him if he chooses to complete his work at school then he has chosen to have the weekend free to do his normal activities. In other words, opportunity equals responsibility. If he keeps his responsibility up (completing his work and turning it in), he continues to earn opportunity (fun activities on the weekend). If responsibility goes down, so does opportunity.


2. Check with the teacher every Friday. Make a list of all missing and incomplete assignments.

3. Set a weekend time for your son to complete his work. ALL missing and incomplete assignments need to be made up on the weekend before any other activities are engaged in.


4. Stick to this plan.


5. Remind him that if he chooses to do his work at school, then he will have none at home. If he chooses not to do it at school, he can choose to do it at home. Leave that choice up to him.


6. Don't make him wrong, bad, lazy, or non-focused. Just make him someone who needs to get his work done and make sure he does that first. And do it with an open heart.


Consistency is the key. Hang with it. If he continues to have trouble, get him a tutor.


Hope this helps.




Chick and Thomas

Good Morning Gentlemen,

A concern that has developed is that my son is enthralled with "bad guys" and wants to become one when he grows up, according to a comment on a form he dictated to a tutor. His teacher also validates that he tends to be more aggressive than other boys and seems to be excited by the thought of the tough guy image. On the other hand, he can be the most caring, compassionate child I have ever met. He is aware of others? feelings and is empathetic to their situation and experiences.

Another comment on his form was "My family is.......mad." This also raises a huge red flag in my mind. I don't believe we are mad. At times we do get frustrated with behavior. However, overall we are very loving and involved with our children. Could this behavior/attitude be an attempt to receive extra attention?

What suggestions can you give us to encourage comments that reflect a compassionate frame of mind from our child and possibly us if we really seem mad? I will be rereading the Parent Talk book and listening to the Parent Talk CD's as I await your response.


Concerned Mom
San Diego, CA


Concerned Mom,


Yes, aggressive behavior is often a call for attention and more specifically a call for love. See it as an indication that your child is unskilled and needs love from you in the form of attention and teaching.


It is hard to say whether or not you are "mad" as he describes it. Maybe he is right about that. Maybe he isn't. But what if he is right? If nothing else, it is part of his perception. It is part of what he believes.


Help him learn how a loving family communicates when they are mad. Model for him the Describe, Describe, Describe technique that we include in the Parent Talk book. Describe what you see. "I see juice spilled on the coffee table." Describe how you are feeling. "I feel frustrated." Describe what needs to be done. "Juice spills need to be cleaned up with a wet rag." When you use this Parent Talk technique, you refrain from attacking character and personality.


Teach him to communicate his anger effectively. Teach him to say, "Your voice is too loud for me now. Can you tell me softer?" or "Yelling scares me." If you teach him to communicate this way, he will be giving you clues as to when he thinks you are mad. This will give you some feedback to determine how you are coming across to him and help you decide if you want to change the tone or content of your language patterns.




Thomas and Chick

Dear Mr. Moorman and Mr. Haller,


Thank you for all that you do to help parents be all that we can be!? Your newsletters are wonderful and so helpful.


My children are 9, 7, and 6. My question is this: Despite the dangers involved, regardless of where we are or what we're doing, I have a hard time getting my children to LISTEN. I can ask them to stay by me in the store or pick their dirty clothes up after a shower, but I cannot get them to respond without persuasion or threats. And if I succeed once, there is no guarantee that it will happen the next time without intervention. I have repeatedly explained to them the dangers involved in wandering?off on their own as well as the responsibility that they have as a member of this family. My youngest responds to the rationalization that if he doesn't do his jobs it just makes more work for Mom and will leave less playtime for us. The other two, however, appear at times to simply "take control" of the house and make up their minds what they are going to do and what they are not. I hate using the divorce as an excuse and I don't really believe that is the underlying problem. I understand that the choice to be a "whole family" was taken away from them and that they may be acting out accordingly, but we have been through a year and a half adjustment time already and I think for their own safety, my sanity, and the well being of our family, something needs to change. If that needs to be me, please tell me how and I will work toward that.


Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon!




Desperate for Answers


Hello Desperate for Answers,


You are right that it is difficult for us to give advice knowing so little about your situation.


There are some things we know about children that we will share with you here. You can fit them to the situations as you feel appropriate.


1. It is not appropriate for children to "take control" of the house. The parent needs to be in control. Children of all ages can have some choices, but the adult needs to structure those choices and be in charge.


2. Children need consistency. They need a consistent routine and consistent consequences when they make inappropriate choices. When discipline is handed out haphazardly, children are willing to play the odds that this time will be the time the consequence is not delivered. Follow through every time.


3. Talk less. Act more. Spend less time convincing, arguing, talking into, threatening, persuading, etc. Just take action. Say it once and then follow up with whatever you would do if you say it the tenth time and they don't follow through. They may not be listening because they know you are not serious until the 5th or the 10th time. Be serious the first time, every time.


4. Do not use divorce as an excuse. Children are changed by divorce. Some for worse. Some for better. They need to learn to be self-responsible whether or not you had a divorce. It may be harder on you because you have to do more of the work. Do it. They are worth it.


You cannot control the divorce thing. It is over. What you can control is the amount of structure, love and consistency you provide. Concentrate on that.


Read parenting books. Get parenting CD's. Take a parenting class. Go after this responsibility seriously. Find a single-parent support group. Make some time for yourself so that when you come back to them you are refreshed and have more to give.


Your children's behaviors are not abnormal. All kids do those things. And you need to respond with structure, love and consistency.


You can do it. Stay on it. And do it with an open heart. Implementing consequences is one of the most loving things you can do. Give them that love, regularly.


Hope this helps.


Chick and Thomas

Hi Chick

I read in your last issue about Fred the Mouse: The Adventures Begin, written by Reese Haller. I assume that Reese is Thomas's son. Is that correct?


Sarasota, FL


Hello Bill,


Your assumption is accurate. Reese, now in fourth grade, is Tom's oldest son. He is the youngest published fiction author in America. He talks to students about the 6 traits of writing and presents staff development programs to teachers on the same topic. He will be presenting at the Michigan Reading Association this year. Not bad for a nine-year-old kid, eh?


Reese has just produced a 6+1 Literacy Packet that he sells to school literacy coaches and librarians. It contains a DVD of his presentation on the 6 traits of writing and 6 Fred the Mouse books. The feedback from educators has been exciting. They tell us that the importance of writing message has a big impact on students when it comes from a kid their own age.


More information and ordering directions on all of Reese's products and presentations are available at his website, www.reesehaller.com. He loves e-mail from other students and answers all of it.




Chick Moorman


3. Schedule of Events

Dec 12 - Bay City, MI
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm, Reducing Power Struggles Presented by Thomas Haller, MacGregor Elementary, Bay City, MI.

Jan. 16 - Dearborn, MI
9:00 am - 3:00 pm, Celebrate The Spirit Whisperers Presented by Chick Moorman, Dearborn Heights Montessori Center, Dearborn, MI.

Jan 16 - Bay City, MI
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm, The 3 Best Parenting Strategies You?ll Ever Need Presented by Thomas Haller, MacGregor Elementary, Bay City, MI.

Jan. 26 - 28 - Grand Rapids, MI
8:30 am - 4:00 pm, Parent Talk System: Training of Trainers Presented by Chick Moorman, Spring Arbor University, Grand Rapids, MI. For information and/or registration email ipp57@aol.com or call 1-877-360-1477.


Chick Moorman

Contact Chick at 877-360-1477 (toll-free) or email him at ipp57@aol.com.


Thomas Haller

Contact Thomas at 989-667-5654 or email him at thomas@thomashaller.com.


To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses presented by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, contact them at (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or visit www.thomashaller.com or www.chickmoorman.com.

Copyright 2005 Chick Moorman Seminars and Haller?s Healing Minds, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.

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