Building Positive Skills to End Those Meltdowns


In our coaching session Krista and Ted were frustrated that they had let their tired daughter, Carlie, go back up the ski hill just one more time at the end of the day.

“We should have known better. The low point of our whole vacation was her huge meltdown on that last icy slope. She kept screaming, ‘I can’t get down!’ Everyone was staring at us!” Krista tried to calm Carlie down (with a fair degree of embarrassment) while Ted followed their younger, more confident daughter down the hill.

“So how did Carlie get down?” I asked as they shook their heads at the memory.

So you’re raising a feisty spitfire? Cool!


Julia was a spitfire. When she was a tyke, she was ready to take the world by storm. All who knew her mom, Maggie, knew of this little one’s intensity. Creativity, exuberance, a ferocious snuggle instinct, and excellent vocabulary were sometimes difficult to enjoy amidst defiance, meltdowns, sleep issues, and definitely a plan for how she wanted to run the family, even as a pre-schooler.

Maggie wrote, “Julia, you are a little firecracker. You know what you want and how you want it done, and have always been able to communicate that.” Maggie, also a horse trainer, carefully navigated how to train this feisty “filly” in a way that captured her heart and didn’t break her spirit. It wasn’t always easy, to be sure.

Helping Kids Deal with Trauma [video]

Broken bones, scary surgeries, or moving to a new school — all these things can be traumatic experiences for kids to handle. How can parents best help their kids survive and even learn from difficult situations? To answer this question, Chad Hayenga sat down with CF co-founder Lynne Jackson.

(If you cannot see the video, click here to watch it on YouTube or click here to download the transcript.)

The “Whole-Brain” Perspective

According to Lynne, it really helps kids to process difficult circumstances using their whole brain. Here is an overview of the breakdown she gives in the video of how to help kids use all three major areas of their brain:

  1. Left brain: language and logic. Explain to your child the facts of what’s going on – how to understand exactly what happened in the past, and/or what to anticipate in the future.
  2. Right brain: emotions. Once you’ve talked about the facts, help your child give words to the feelings that they’re feeling about the situation.
  3. Frontal lobe: planning. Facilitate your child in making a plan for what to do when they feel those feelings and encounter whatever is ahead.

From this launching point of facts, feelings, plan, you can use whatever difficulties your child is facing to help build in them an identity as one who perseveres, who overcomes tough stuff. In the words of one precocious little girl whose parents Lynne coached, “Dad, I love you. You helped me persevere with a cast on!”

For help implementing these principles with your family, check out our coaching options!

Turn Anxiety into Opportunity

anxious-girlFear is everywhere. I have it. My kids have it. We’re all afraid of something.

When the fear is persistent it becomes anxiety. Whether or not the anxiety is rational, when my kids are anxious and hurting, I tend to be anxious and hurting too. Of all the emotions that can paralyze, anxiety tops the list. I’ve found that my anxiety rarely if ever does anything to help my child.

So now what? This is a deep subject, but here’s one story about how we overcame anxiety with our daughter.

Planning a vacation this year? Read this first.

How to be intentional as you plan a trip.

Your kids are watching you. Constantly. All the subtle messages from the way you live life are being absorbed by their active little minds, even if neither you nor your child are aware of it. During the summer months, there are more chances for together time as well as opportunities for you to show your kids the kinds of ideals you want them to embrace. How you do vacations is no exception. Family vacations can be memorable and deepen relationships with one another.  But, going on a trip somewhere together can also be a wonderful opportunity to teach about the principles that will help your child grow in wisdom.  So it’s a good idea before you plan your summer trip to be “biblically thoughtful” about the messages you are sending your child regarding how you vacation.

Planning a Vacation this Summer

To Serve or Be Served?

In our hectic society, it’s often easier to skip a vacation because we can’t carve out the time, or collapse in an over-priced luxurious spot just to have rest and ready made entertainment. But…

early family camping trip

1994 – Our first mini “mountain” climb. Trip motto: “I laugh in the face of danger!”

If you lounge on the beach under palm tree while your lemonade is kept topped off, might your child get a message that we are here to be served? If you flit from one expensive, engaging activity to another, might your child conclude that we are here to be entertained, at any cost?

Years ago a co-worker of Lynne’s shared that his kids were bored and irritable after visiting a series of elaborate amusement parks for their vacation. That comment strengthened our resolve to avoid extravagant vacations.

So if you’re planning some fun time away this summer, it’s helpful to consider carefully, as a family, what is the purpose of your vacation? Can it be more than just a memorable time together?  Can it be more meaningful? And how might you work together toward those goals, instead of coming back having spent a lot of money and accumulated a backlog of emails to deal with, but not sure what you accomplished.

How to Address Bullying: Part 1

The Diamond in the Rough of Bullying

This is the first in a series about a thoughtful and graceful approach to bullying. It’s a little longer than usual. Hopefully you’ll see why.

You learn that your child has been bullied at school. Your blood pressure skyrockets. You want justice NOW! “THIS IS NOT OK! I’M CALLING THE SCHOOL!!” An understandable reaction. It is natural to quickly and emotionally defend your child against harm. But to do so is to potentially miss the great opportunity to find diamonds in the rough of bullying.

Don’t get us wrong. We hate bullying and want to do what we can to make it stop. But let’s be honest. The things people typically do to get bullying to stop aren’t working. Just look at our politicians! Look at our justice systems. Look at our juvenile detention centers. Mean talk and punitive approaches are only leading to more bullying.

Even in our own homes, when parents react strongly and try to take immediate control, they may unwittingly add power to the bullying and disempower their children!

Michael Phelps’ Secret… and What It Tells Us About Parenting

Michael Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian in history. Winning 19 Olympic medals has made him — according to many — “the greatest Olympian ever”.

So what is Phelps’ secret?

Well, it could be his high-altitude sleeping chamber. But we think it has a lot to do with Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, and a somewhat strange coaching philosophy.