I just finished reading Duct Tape Parenting by Vicki Hoefle, and it's probably the best parenting book I've read in about a year. Such a wake-up call and such a dead-on diagnosis of problems I've personally experienced.
The title sounds silly, but so many friends and authors I respect recommended it to me, so I checked it out. The title comes from the core strategy: putting duct tape over your mouth and hands to stop yourself from nagging/directing/commenting on/fixing your child's problems. It focuses on training and relationship strategies rather than "band aid techniques" (e.g., nagging/time-outs) for treating bullet wounds (severe training and relationship deficiencies).
I found a lot of value in the examples of how parents applied the ideas in the book to their lives. I also liked the detailed training roadmap that goes through the life skills and social skills kids should master at each age level in order to be ready to be independent by age 18.
I highly recommend this and wish I found it sooner. Now I just need to go get some duct tape....
See below for my full notes on the book.
Dr. Adler and dryker’s work
Preschool director and mom of 5
Go slow. Takes time.
Problem solve and collaborate with kids
“The parents handbook” book by Gary McKay
Misbehaving child is discouraged child
Duct tape to manage mouth and controlling tendencies
Hands off approach. Neither doormat nor dictator.
Section 1: what needs fixing / it’s not the kids
Don’t worry about getting your kids to do stuff
1 feeding the weed: your focus is the problem
Parenting strategies and attention are the fertilizer for the weeds of bad behavior
Bad behaviors often start by accident
Don’t rush in to pay attention, even with babies
Baby trains the parent to react
Don’t swoop in and react
Be calm, unemotional, even
Just hold tongue and reactions
Don’t label kids
Glue butt into chair and don’t be referee when kids fight
Don’t coax or comment on child’s role
At meals, just sit and wait and let child do whatever and if he gets up remove food and conclude his meal
Identify the weeds of your kid’s behaviors
Turn off the water to the sprinklers
Change what YOU do, and children’s behavior will change
Put weeds in a dark closet and suffocate them of air or light. Don’t talk about it.
2 bandaids on bullet wounds
Sending to room
Talking through how should behave
Play by play
Saving kids when forget homework
All of these are bad
No quick fixes
No more “just for today” temporary saving or concessions of kids
Causes for bullet wounds: lack of training and fractured relationship problems
Pretend to not even hear the craziness kids do when whining and yelling. Tape over ears and mouth.
Training bullet wounds
Kids aren’t trained to take care of things they need to during day
Train kids to take on more responsibility for their lives
Kids learn to do own laundry: wash, dry, fold, put away
Kids pack own lunch and manage own lives
Kids don’t grow out of behaviors. They grow into them and make them worse as they age.
3 being the maid: doing it for the kids is the problem
Kids should just have fun
Give them real responsibility and tasks
I’m a perfectionist and it’s better if I just do everything. Micromanaging
Refrain from correcting and inspecting all kids’ work. Put tape over eyes.
If my kids don’t do the right thing all the time, I’ll look like a bad parent. Children as extensions of them.
Cover the peephole to the outside world. Family over image.
Want child to need the parent so they’re around them more
False belief is about the parent not about the child
Kids want to be self sufficient
Kids want to feel capable
Kids want ownership
4 holding onto discipline: your fear is the problem
Previous chapter was about the training bullet wound
This chapter about the relationship bullet wound
Trying to force their real child into their dream child
Instead of building a relationship with the unique individual, parent focuses by mistake on getting the kid to act the way they want. Forcing real child into dream child.
Four basic fears lead to a discipline approach rather than a relationship approach to parenting
Not addressing bad behavior means mom and dad become the doormats
Relationship strategies are not the same as permissive parenting
Best adult relationships are balanced and no one trying to change the other. Respect personal preferences. Clear boundaries.
If the kid doesn’t feel bad, he’s not learning a lesson
Natural consequences are much better teacher than feeling of worthlessness due to punishment
Natural consequence is result of behavior that occurs without any involvement of parent
My kids are hooligans, and if i back off, they will get totally out of control
Stop saving kids from discomfort
Don’t say I told you so or give your commentary
These relationship strategies won’t work
Not about cuddling or reading books
Not about spending quality time
Long term, not event based
Create healthy habits
Support routines that support all family members
Teach problem solving techniques
Demonstrate effective communication
Distribute family work equitably
Handle squabbles between siblings
Create realistic expectations
Instill purpose and values
Model values and behaviors
5 cul de sac syndrome: Your thinking is the problem
A new strategy is not new thinking
Having behavior as the focus leads to weeds and micromanagement
If it’s not morally or physically dangerous, I’m going to let the child try and stay out of it
Use duct tape on your mouth and hands and butt to not interfere
6 duct tape for the relationship: repairing family fractures
Think of child’s traits that annoy you as future positive traits potentially
Focus on their positive strengths
Think of the labels you have for your child in a positive light
Find ways to redirect those traits to good directions
15 relationship strategies
Mistakes are opportunities to learn
Take time to train the kids to help run the house. Work comes before play.
Focus on child’s innate strengths and talents. Focus on pointing out real strengths not bad behaviors.
Find challenging time
Pick the goal
Ask family members for ideal scenarios
Look for commonalities
Agree to practice
Let them learn from mistakes like forgetting backpack or sleeping through alarm
Include kids in the decision making process
Hold regular family meetings
One evening per week
15-20 min timer
Everyone invited but no one required to attend
Every member says something they appreciate about all other members
Schedule special activities
Hand out allowance at end. $1 per each year ($5 for a 5 year old).
Create a family roadmap
Where you are now versus where want to be
Be a role model
Start an appreciation board
Become your child’s mentor
Focus on effort, improvement, and progress and forget about perfection
Ignore everything unless morally or physically dangerous
Encourage. Notice. No judgment. Acknowledge.
You are tying your shoes faster than you did last week
You are throwing the ball straighter than before
Don’t say I told you so when they screw up. Let them deal with the pain and learn themselves from the mistake. Ask what can you do different next time?
Ask questions to find out what’s on child’s mind instead of assuming
Hear with their ears and see with their eyes
Kids change daily. Don’t summarize or label them.
Be curious about who they are becoming
Show faith. Trust they can learn themselves.
7 duct tape for mouth. Keep mind open and mouth shut.
Stop nagging, reminding, and nudging
Assumptions packed with fear
Use duct tape to cover your mirror. You and kids don’t have to look and act perfect.
Putting out clothes for them to wear
Pouring their cereal
Packing their backpack
Controlling allowance spending
Lecturing and calling teachers to explain late assignments
Don’t focus on what if instead of what is
Do nothing say nothing 5 day duct tape challenge
Stop talking, start watching, leave kids alone long enough to show you what they can do
Put duct tape around kitchen counter
Put tape on mouth whenever about to say something to kids
Note down your interfering strategies you are using and the assumptions behind them
Make a list of worst case scenarios and fears and assumptions
Go over 5 day challenge plan with kids
Use it as information gathering exercise
Understand that things could get really messy and kids could get really frustrated
Write down assumptions and then note what actually happened during the challenge
8 duct tape for your body: quitting your job as the maid
Stop saying good job
Instead say, so you did x. What was that like for you?
Timeline for training
Birth to 18
9 at center, should be able to do half of everything necessary to live life independently
Train for self, life, and social skills
Birth to 9: life and self skills 101
Get up on own
Take shower or bath
Drying and styling hair
Organizing their time
Remembering sports gear
Cleaning their room
Making grocery lists
Helping with bills
Identifying personal preferences
Age 10 to 15: plugging into social circuit
Asking someone out
Breaking up with someone
Fighting for what believe in
Talking to a teacher about a grade
Making phone calls
Accepting those who are different
Exploring new interests
Age 16-18: rebooting into real life
Buying a car
Finding a job
Opening a bank account
Balancing a budget
Planning a menu
Choosing a college
Deciding where to live
Handling offers of drugs and alcohol
Taking positions on moral and ethical issues
Identifying personal preferences
You can’t quit overnight
Gradual intentional shift
Not judging or saying I told you so
Assess kids skills
What can and will do
What can and won’t do
What can’t do because haven’t been trained
Watch and document for a few days and be silent
Write down in columns things child can and will do without any prompting and other columns for can and won’t do, etc
Invite the kids to rsvp yes. Invite not tell kids what to do.
The art of the invitation
Pick a good time. May need to repeat dozen times.
Tell them need them to learn to be independent so can move out when 20 and be happy
Tell them need their help if want to spend more time playing and doing projects. Would they rather u be parent or maid?
Brainstorm together tasks they want to master
Ask child which ones he wants to learn first
Train kids and keep duct tape handy
First acknowledge what she can do
Not about praise
Family counts on you
Focus on the positive
I see you picked out your own outfit today. Those tights can be tricky, and you put them on all by yourself.
Ask them to talk about how they did. How did you know what to do first? What part was difficult? How did you solve that? What part was really simple? What would u do different next time and what again?
Once task is mastered, no need to discuss it again
Next work on what child can do but doesn’t do all the time
I’ve noticed you know how to set your place at the table and brush your teeth
I wanted to ask if you can do it every evening. Make low spot on shelf for kid dishes so doesn’t have to ask for help.
Invite kid for conversation weekly or biweekly in what he wants to learn
Ask child to show u first their attempt at the task to see baseline
Break up training into small manageable steps
Agree with child on time and place she will do the task daily
Anchor it to other daily activities and routines
Let him try
Talk about how important their tasks are and how much contributing to family
If they can walk, they can work
Bored kids make trouble. Busy kids do not.
9 duct tape for eyes and ears: ignoring the drama and mischief making
Don’t talk them out of what they’re doing
Tantrum only exists with an audience
Just walk out of the room. If he follows u or gets louder then it’s a performance for u. If he stays still and keeps crying, then maybe needs a hug and ur help.
What would the world do? Just ignore
Use duct tape
Ignore: duct tape over your ears
Opt out: stick butt to chair
Feet on floor: do not walk over
Close lids: close eyes shut and don’t watch the show
Stay cool: tape ice pack to neck and don’t get heated up
Clever left field distractions: ask random questions to divert attention
Excuse yourself to bathroom
Stop, drop, and go out for ice cream
Consider rescheduling tasks
Consider spending more time with them
Consider they might not be ready
Consider deeper problems
10 prepare for departure
Stepping into adulthood
Invite kids into their own lives
Family mission statements
4 types of roadmaps
Personal parenting roadmap: Who do I as parent want to be and how will get there
Short term roadmap: how do we develop useful skills and habits
Kids roadmaps: who do I as child want to be and how to get there
Put roadmap where will see it
Identify family values
Identity where at now as parent
Identify where want to be in and in what time
Creating personal parenting roadmap
What word would you want your kids to use to describe you as parent in 20 years
Use one word to describe how you are today (e.g., dictator)
Explain how you exemplify that word today
What word do you want kids to use/final destination
List what must do every single day no matter what to demonstrate that desired word
Creating a family roadmap
Pick main value like mutual respect and write up mission statement in plain view
Several sample family mission statements
Family time: 2 hours per week all together, 3 breakfasts per week together, 15 min per child daily together
Trust. Saying yes more than no.
Short term roadmaps
Sample goal: nag less this week
Keep focus on relationship not todo list
Get out of the house on time. Try to leave calm, pleasant, connected one time this week. Ask kids to show us what they can do on own. Write a new roadmap each week.
Child get self ready one time in week
11 duct tape works: stories
Pour drinks on dishwasher door so if it spills it doesn’t matter
Kids set own bedtime if can get themselves out the door to school all on their own
12 duct tape good for the family
Stories of families
Let kids figure out how to set own bedtime and how much sleep they each need
A misbehaving child is a discouraged child
Contributions to family and meals makes kids feel happy and connected
13 simulating the real world and raising leaders
Effects spill out into community
Responsibility as adults
Asking for family meeting with teacher at kid’s direction
Family meetings at home with lists of appreciations
Kids build confidence in selves
Packing own lunch and backpack for kindergarten
Allowance at 7 years old
Every member of household having a weekly chore
“The parents handbook” book by Gary McKay