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Raise Awesome Kids! This 4-Point Plan Gets Results

Are your children truthful, kind, and helpful? If so, read no further. If not, please listen to Colby and his mom.
- All my friends cheat,' announced 11-year-old Colby.
- What?' exclaimed his mother? 'You don't cheat do you?'
- Sometimes,' answered Colby. 'But I never get caught.'
- It's not all right to cheat, young man,' scolded his mother. 'How many times have I told you cheating is wrong? What is the matter with you?'

Whether it's lying, stealing, cheating or some other problem behavior, do you find yourself giving lectures on being honest while your child rolls his eyes?

I remember counseling one father who loved his daughter so much that he would give her two-hour lectures. She not only rolled her eyes, but tapped her fingers too. He would yell, 'Are you listening to me?'

Uh-huh,' she'd answer.

Parents, there is an easier way. It doesn't have to take two hours either. Consider using the 4-POINT PLAN:

No Criticizing

Instead of worrying, whining, or wearing yourself out with lengthy lectures, make your goal one of understanding what and how your child thinks. By knowing what your child thinks, you can better influence how he or she thinks. This simple PLAN will help you communicate more effectively.

Let's go back to Colby. Instead of lecturing '

Ask nonjudgmental questions. Get as much information as you can in order to understand how and what your child thinks. Guide your child with questions like:

How do you feel when a cheater gets better grades than you get?
How do you think honest kids feel about cheaters?
How much would your class learn if everyone cheated?
What advice would you give to cheaters?

Depending on your child's answers keep probing with thoughtful questions of your own.

Listen with respect. Avoid interrupting with your own advice. If you interrupt, your child may shut down and only tell you what you want to hear. Then you'll be stuck where you started-not knowing what or how your child really thinks.

Look for thoughts from your child that you can truly praise. Smile, agree, and let your child know what you liked about his or her thoughts. Hopefully, your child will have already changed some old thoughts about cheating, like 'It's okay to cheat if I don't get caught.'

Why not criticize and lecture? Because you need to reflect on what your child said. You need to consider new ways to influence your child's thinking toward a stronger healthier character. You need to create a thoughtful plan of your own for your child's further improvement.

If you follow this 4-Point PLAN you will be giving your child the three priceless gifts that all human beings want:

To be heard
To be understood
To be appreciated

These gifts will bond your child with you and influence his or her character too.

This 4-POINT PLAN is a powerful tool for discussing problems in movies and on TV. You can also use it to discuss real life difficulties at school, in the neighborhood, within your family, and, especially, in stories with dilemmas. The next time you have something important to discuss don't lecture. Next time Probe, Listen, Appreciate, and No criticizing. Try it. You'll like it. Why? Because this 4-POINT PLAN will get you the results you want, an awesome kid with an awesome character.

About the Author

Jean Tracy, MSS, former teacher and family counselor, now author and speaker, is an award winning Distinguished Toastmaster. Jean helps parents and teachers raise awesome kids with awesome characters. You will find her parent/child discussion book, Character Building on BackTalk Street, her parenting products, and FREE bonding activities, parenting tips, and articles at

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